Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gaming for workplace skills

This post doesn't have a lot of information--just about something really cool I just saw:

Just came from a presentation on a project using a game design package to help teens develop job skills. (A joint project of Science Museum of Minnesota, Hennepin County Library and Minneapolis Public Library--funded by Best Buy Children's Foundation.)

Scratch is a game design system that uses the Logo operating system. Developed and supported by MIT Media Lab, it has a Windows and Mac version, will have a Linux version and will be on the One Laptop Per Child project laptops.

Scratch lets kids use programing to" create stories, games and animations." It has a sharing website that uses the creative commons license. The discussion by kids on ownership and building on other's programs has revolved around giving credit where credit is due and attribution.

It may surprise some but seeing a room full of librarians really excited about game design software wasn't at all surprising to me.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Technology vs. Community

I was at a meeting to present the plans for the MN Planetarium project to its new owner (As part of the merger of the Minneapolis and Hennepin County Libraries, the "ownership" of the future MN Planetarium will transfer to Hennepin County).

On county commissioner suggested that there should be no large central planetarium--or even a portable planetarium but that we just provide material that can be used on computers and flat screen projection systems.

The basic idea is that with technology, everything can now be done remotely, in your own home. This seems to be ignoring some basic people issues:

  • There is a basic difference between seeing something on a planetarium sized screen and on your computer screen.

  • There is a difference in brining your kids to your home computer to see the Universe and brining them to a high-tech facility.

But most important, people are social animals. Group experiences can be more powerful than individual experiences (For example, with DVDs, Direct TV, HDTV, why do a lot of people still go to movie theaters, live concerts, live plays and art festivals?) Events that bring people together help to build communities. Bringing people together help to build bridges between different communities.