If you’re not paying attention to quantum technology development, you’re missing out on the most exciting tech evolutions happening. Quantum computers are still in development, but as MIT suggests, “Thanks to some recent breakthroughs, aggressive roadmapping, and high levels of funding, we may see general-purpose quantum computers earlier than many would have anticipated just a few years ago”.
Had I remained in the classroom this year I would have been building a library of quantum computing resources that I could introduce to my seniors in hopes that some of them might consider it as a viable (and much supported) pathway in their post-secondary journey. But I’m not in the classroom, so I’m considering quantum on a much bigger scale, ideally a national one where I can connect educators to accessible quantum technology learning opportunities for students both in STEM and in non-technical fields of study.
Back in January, the Minister of Innovation, Science & Economic Development for Canada (ISED), François-Philippe Champagne, announced Canada’s Quantum Strategy. Looking past the ambition in the announcement, Champagne described Quantum as “…not vertical, it’s horizontal. Like AI, it is going to have an impact on everything.” This emphasizes the breadth of this new discipline even more than the hundreds of millions of dollars.
When electronic computers caught on at the end of the Second World War an industry needed to grow up around them to support their rapid development. There will certainly be a need for quantum algorithm creators who emigrate out of traditional computer science programs to explore this new and quite different form of programming, and there will be a need for engineers to design the complex systems needed to create stable superpositioned qubits at near absolute zero temperatures in environments screened from all interference. But there will also be places for human resources professionals, marketing types and other personnel who need a working understanding of quantum technologies in order to understand the business model and support the engineering needed to make it happen.
Pathways development in information and communications technologies are what I’m working in at the moment and ignoring quantum possibilities, especially with the resources being poured into it and the rapid improvement it has prompted would be short sighted. As I said to open, had I still been teaching in class I would be introducing my graduates to quantum computing so that they can consider it moving forward.
Being in a strategic place this year, I’m more concerned with finding a way of introducing quantum opportunities to a wider range of students. Business students need to understand what fundamentals quantum requires in order to keep the lights on. Communications students need to wrap their heads around the tech, at least enough to be able to be able to create accurate outreach for it, and educators need to be aware of it because it’s a multi-billion dollar industry that’s about to get even bigger.
To that end, here are some quantum learning opportunities. Keep this on your radar! Your students will appreciate the heads-up.
The never ending winter drones on up here, so I’m putting my back into getting the ’71 Triumph Bonneville project closer to a state of mobility.
I have a new 750cc head and pistons on hand, so I gave the piston rings a go. Installing them is pretty straightforward and the first set went in no problem, but as I was compressing the second set into the cylinder sleeve it didn’t feel right, so I backed everything out and the bottom ring came out in pieces. I can only think it was already compromised in the package.
I sent Britcycle an email and they looked through the warehouse to see if they had any extras laying around, but I was out of luck, so it’s a $100 failure (new rings, taxes, shipping). Ouch. This got me looking at costs for this vintage project. The last one I did was the Fireblade. Those are my favourite kinds of restorations. Parts are easy to find and relatively inexpensive, the bike is rideable fairly quickly and, after riding it for a season, I can turn it over for at least what I put into it (or with a small profit as was the case with the Fireblade).
New cylinder heads and cylinders… and broken ring.
I think I’m still right way up on the Bonneville simply because these older bikes seem to work under their own economy. I was looking up prices of what I’ve got on eBay this evening and the frickin owners manual that Bryan threw in at the last minute is $50US! A used top end is $500US (and Bryan gave me 2 of the things!). I imagine I could double my money just parting it all out, though dealing with people doing that would be a giant pain in the ass – at least it has been with the newer bike crowd, maybe the vintage types are less adversarial.
I had a couple of choices when I was considering going old school, and I think I picked the hardest possible one to bring back to life. The technical side of it doesn’t bother me, but with costs increasing all around I’m bothered more about the high prices and difficulty finding and shipping parts than I am with what I’ve got to do to bring it back. That old BSA would have probably been a better choice for my first vintage resto, but it (and alas, Bryan) are long gone.
I’ve got what I’ve got, and I’ve got a lot of it, and I’m crafty. I’ll see what I can do about replacing fasteners and the other bits and pieces I’m missing without it breaking the bank, those these strange old British pre-metric fasteners are a story unto themselves. The goal right now is to rebuild the bike to an operational state and then maybe ride it for a bit before putting it up for sale. I still need a seat and exhausts and I’ll need other odds and ends like control cables. If I can get it back to a state of play, I think I can cover costs and move it along, then I’m thinking I’ll go back to my favourite hunting grounds: forgotten bikes from the 80s, 90s and 00s that I can turn over for next to nothing while giving me a chance to ride something different for a little while.
When the ring crumbled on me I changed gears and rebuilt the Amal carbs. That went well, but I’m missing two of the bolts to put the second carb back together – they weren’t on it when I wiped the mud and rust away. It’s these little setbacks that stall things, and it’s not like I can grab a couple of replacements out of my big tray of bolts (most of which are metric).
How simple can you make a carburettor? These old Amals are pretty close to first principles. The combination of archaeology and simple mechanics is very appealing when everything else I ride carries a computer and my day job is all about them – it’s nice to be fully analog!
I’d broken down the carbs in the fall and left them packaged in a segmented toolbox. Putting them back together was problem free and the kits I got from Britcycle replaced all the gaskets and rubber grommets in them. The old rubber bits were really showing their age.
Guess which one is the 50 year old ring (I;m assuming they’re original)?
If money and time were no object I’d dig deeper into this vintage resto thing – I dig the mechanical simplicity and I enjoy seeing how mechanical evolution happens over time. As a hobby in retirement, it has great appeal, but I’m some years away from that much free time on my hands.
I’ll see this one through and then refocus on the SPQR-WRO (small profit, quick return – with riding opportunities) side of it where the costs and time commitments aren’t quite so demanding.
I’m currently working with partners developing curriculum that creates an understanding of how computers work. The challenge is in getting adult focused instructional designers to recognize the enormous gaps students have in terms of their understanding of computer technology. Digitally fluent adults assume young people have an intuitive understanding of how these machines work, but they don’t. If you assume this you end up with frustrated and confused students.
We rolled back initial lessons to the point where we’re introducing students to how computers store local files, but even that wasn’t far enough. With no coherent digital skills curriculum in our schools, you have to clear away a lot of misconceptions and back up the truck all the way before you can start building a coherent understanding of how digital technology works. As in the case of most problems, thinking about pizza helps…
Only Old People Use Computers…
‘Wait a minute!’ you say. ‘I’m super cool! I don’t use old fashioned things like computers! I’m a digital native who lives on their phone.’
Newsflash! Smartphones are computers! So are tablets, Chromebooks, laptops, desktops, IoT devices like your smart thermostat or the Alexa that’s listening all the time. Because they’re all fundamentally the same thing, you can understand and fix them when they go wrong. You’re using a computer to read this right now, it just might not look like one.
ALL COMPUTERS ARE LIKE A PIZZA
If you think about pizza when you’re diagnosing a computer (which might look like a phone, car fuel injection system, laptop or smart fridge), it helps you to isolate where the problem is and clarifies what you need to do to fix it. All electronic computers share the same fundamental components, and those components are pizza-licious!
The Dough: HARDWARE
This is the part of the pizza that can look very different. The physical shell we put a computer in can range in size from a smartwatch to building-sized supercomputers. Generally, the smaller they are the slower they are because electronic computing generates heat and that’s hard to get rid of when you can’t install fans and other cooling stuff to get the heat out and let the processor run at top speed.
That’s why desktops always feel faster than laptops. Their architecture can be designed for speed because engineers can get rid of the heat made from running a processor fast. Mobile processors are often throttled down desktop hardware. Even smaller computers tend to be specialists only having to do a few tasks that engineers can optimize the hardware for. Phones can only run certain apps, watches are even more limited and single function computers like ATMs or smart thermostats can optimize all of their hardware to a single task.
If you’re having hardware headaches, like a computer overheating and locking up, you can fix it like a mechanic, with tools (and thermal paste) and some physical attention. If you get handy enough, you can even start building your own crusts.
The Sauce: FIRMWARE
Computer hardware doesn’t know what it is – it’s just STUFF. When you first power up a computer (phone, desktop whatever), you often see text appear for a second and then disappear. That’s the saucy FIRMWARE. Firmware is software that’s written onto a chip in the computer that tells it what kind of hardware its running on.
Firmware is sometimes called BIOS, which stands for Basic Input/Output System – which is literally what it is; software that tells the computer what hardware it has that takes care of inputting and outputting data. UEFI replaced BIOS on modern computers, but it’s just a fancy BIOS with graphics that make it easier to navigate. It’s pointless acronym expansion like this that puts people off learning about computers!
The Cheese: OPERATING SYSTEMS
On top of the firmware sauce you have the cheesy OPERATING SYSTEM. You’ve seen logos for them for years, but probably don’t give them much thought. If you’re a PC type person you’ll have seen Windows evolve through XP, 7. 8. 10 and now Windows 11 versions. Apple people know OSx (Operating System 10), and if you know any nerds they’ll tell you about Linux – the free, open source operating system that gives you great power to modify.
OSes are the software that span the gap between users and the machine itself. OSes have a lot of work to do running an incredible variety of applications, some of it very poorly made, without crashing, though sometimes they do. OSes have to integrate all the different input methods (touchscreen, mouse, trackpad, keyboard, etc) and all the possible output methods like screens, printers, haptic feedback or even the LED lights on the computer itself. Juggling all of that hardware and software, all of it engineered to different standards and coded with varying levels of skill, is a might task, though that doesn’t stop people from ripping on the cheesy OS…
Apple came up with a series of Mac vs. PC ads back in the day. Someone came up with the parody above – it’s funny, but the stretch operating systems have to do to bridge the gap between clueless users and complex layers of hardware and software is a massive.
It’s in the cheese of operating systems where you run into a lot of headaches, unless you make a computer so absurdly simple that it can only do one thing. Rather than learn the complexity computers are capable of in order to leverage the flexibility that a general purpose machine can perform, we’ve surged toward simplicity. It started with Apple’s ‘walled garden’ approach to iOS, where apps must comply with (and pay for) strict standards. This allowed the iPhone to create a larger user base because it simply worked – just not in as many ways as it might.
Android came along with a more open approach and took back some market share, but most people would rather do less if it means not having to learn anything about computers. Nowhere is this better shown than with Chromebooks. Chrome OS that runs on a Chromebook is actually a flavour of Linux designed to give you only a browser. They’re great because you can barely do anything with them and they’re easy to manage – which is why we use them in schools to teach digital fluency.
Of course, if you’re crafty you can work around all these blocks. You can ‘jail break‘ Android and iOS phones to allow you to update the OS (many companies freeze you out of updates after a couple of years in order to force you to buy a new device). Jail breaking usually involves finding a hacked firmware (remember the sauce?) that has removed any locks on what kind of OS can be installed. You overwrite the official firmware with deristricted firmware sauce and then you can keep updating your Android or iOS versions or install software on the device that the manufacturer blocked.
The Toppings: APPLICATIONS and PROGRAMS
A pizza wouldn’t be a pizza without some toppings that customize it to your taste. When you first start up a new computer it’s a plain cheese pizza. Your dough (hardware) powers up and runs your sauce (firmware), which makes the computer aware of its hardware and then hands it all off to the cheese (operating system), which loads you into a plain pizza starting environment.
If you’ve got any problems that prevent you from getting to your OS starting screen then you know where to look in the boot process to solve the problem. If the machine doesn’t power up, you’ll be working with the dough. If it powers up but gets stuck in a text screen before the OS logo appears, you’re focusing on the sauce. If the OS logo appears but you don’t get to the start screen, you’re fixing the cheese.
As you customize your pizza computer to your needs, you install apps adding another layer of complexity to your poor old operating system. Generally, the longer a computer has been with a user, the more toppings they’ve piled on. This gets complicated by apps and operating systems getting out of date, then you might have rotten toppings wrecking your otherwise yummy pizza. You’ve got to keep your toppings (OS cheese and even your FIRMWARE sauce) up to date or you can end up with problems. The vast majority of pizza lovers aren’t very good at looking after their cheese wheels, which makes hackers very happy.
If you really like pizza, you’ll make your own…
These PC pizzas were just coming into being when I was growing up in the 1980s. Early machines came complete as a ‘deluxe pizza’ with the crust, sauce and cheese all per-selected for me. My first two PCs, a Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore 64, offered crust upgrades (memory I could plug into the expansion port), and gave me control of the toppings, which we quickly learned how to customize.
In the late 80s/early 90s I got into i386 IBM clone computers. This was my first go at a truly DIY pizza PC. I got to select components to customize my crust, the sauce firmware comes with the hardware, but then I could pick my OS cheese too. I haven’t owned a ‘deluxe’ pre-made pizza PC since. My current desktop is a custom case I selected for its big fans so that it runs quick, cool and quiet (it also happens to look like the bat mobile). To that I added a high-speed motherboard, fast processor and lots of RAM (fast memory), so it never hesitates, even when I’m running many applications at once. A VR ready video card means my graphics are super quick and the whole thing is aimed at precisely what I want to do with it. Custom crusts are the way to go.
For the cheese I always install multiple operating systems. Right after my firmware sauce finishes it gives me a menu that lets me choose between many different OS cheeses depending on what I want to do. My desktop will boot into two versions of Windows, three versions of LInux (each customized for a specific task) and it even ‘hackintoshes‘ if I need to test something in an Apple environment. My pizzaPC changes its cheese based on what I need it to do!
The Pre-made Pizza Dilemma: DELUXE PIZZAS USUALLY AREN’T
The urge to Chromebook us has always been with us. The ‘game system’ industry is a Chromebook for games.
Pre-selected crust, sauce and cheese lead to a limited selection of
toppings (games), but this simplification and one trick pony reduction of multi-purpose computers into toys is where the money is.
When we simplify computers to satisfy simple people
needs, we end up even more oblivious to how they work. When I first started teaching computer technology in high school, I could assume my incoming grade 9s knew how to navigate file management in a computer (that’s deep in the cheese). But as Chromebooks took over I realized that (thanks to cloud based everything), students had lost their understanding of how local files are stored.
RESOURCES IF YOU WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN PIZZA PC
If you’re curious about customizing your own pizza PC, PC Parts Picker is
a great place to start. Once you realize what’s available in terms of
doughy hardware and what you can do with your cheesy operating systems,
computers suddenly turn from something you barely understand (even
though you use them every day) to a tool that you can fix and customize
to your needs.
But the best possible way to get these concepts across to students is to have them build desktops with their own hands and you can do this FOR FREE! Find the COMPUTERS FOR SCHOOLS program in your province and they will happily provide you with computer hardware to DIY your PC builds. I’ve worked with RCT Ontario for many years and they are fantastic, providing teachers who want to build genuine technology fluency in a hands on way.
Students love building their own machines, but the best part is the EQUITY and INCLUSION it enables. For students who don’t have a computers at home, they can build one and then take it home, making this one of very few times where the education system is actually closing rather than widening the digital divide.
All sides are going to drag their feet for as long as they can with the new teacher contracts in Ontario. I’d certainly like my pay to keep up with inflation, but that hasn’t happened in any time recently, so I’m not sure why it should be a show stopper now. My buying power, even with the sub-par increases we’ve eked out, is significantly less than it was in 2010. This isn’t a ‘this government’ thing – the last one was pretty good at making us poorer each time too. The difference these days is that this one also likes to cripple learning conditions.
A problem with how we get to a contract in Ontario is that you’d be lucky to find anyone at the table who has been in a classroom teaching recently. Most professional unionists have levitated out of classroom teaching, in some cases for decades. On the other side of the table there is most likely no one who has ever taught a day in their lives. These are the people deciding teaching working conditions and student learning conditions in our schools.
I’m already out of pocket significantly, so another 1% per year raise isn’t going to do much, but I know where resources could be put that would make a difference both to myself as a teacher and to my students as learners. I’d accept a three year deal that gets us to the end of this provincial government’s mandate with NO RAISE, but only if we also did the following:
2) Restore public education funding to prepandemic levels. In 2021, while COVID droned on, almost a billion dollars was cut from education in our province. Restore that.
That gets us back on an even keel by removing the system damaging politics that have withered public education in Ontario. With the politics deflated, lets look at how we can make the system more efficient so that we can maximizing our funding and produce better learning outcomes. I suspect many teachers would be willing to focus on improving our classroom learning because student learning conditions are also our working conditions.
Here are some ways to shake the tree and put the focus back where it belongs (…with kids’ learning? …in classrooms? No?).
3) THE FLUSH: Any teacher past retirement age is welcome to stay on, but they aren’t seconded and doing office work in a board or ministry or elsewhere. I’ve seen too many ‘teachers’ who are collecting top tier teacher pay who haven’t taught in a classroom in years (sometimes in decades). In many cases they are doing ‘support’, but how can you possible support a classroom that you have no experience in? If the last time you taught was in 2007, you have no idea how much things have changed no matter how well intentioned you may be.
3.1) THE FLUSH Part 2: make cross training is the point of curriculum support. No more life-time non-teaching roles for teachers. Every teacher can have a two year secondment to curriculum support, but must be back in the classroom for two years before being able to apply for another one. This would go far to end the nepotism and favouritism that defines many of these roles.
This focus on classroom familiarity includes vice principals. They should be teaching one class a year. You could then have more VPs in training in schools with the money saved. Cross training and future career progression should be the focus of curriculum support and junior administration roles.
4) THE REBOOT: do the maths. With this many resources on the table (restored funding, no extra money needed for raises, expensive senior teachers retiring etc), what could we do to bring class sizes down? If you told classroom teachers that their class caps are all dropping by 20% in the new contract, I imagine they’d be very happy. No one wants to lose kids in need in overcrowded classrooms. I suspect classroom teachers would be thrilled with this approach, but they aren’t the ones at the table.
4.1) REBOOT part 2: as part of class size restructuring, include multipliers for students with special needs. If I have a class cap of 24 students, none of whom have special needs, the learning will be equitable and the class manageable. If I have a class with ten students with special needs and they are weighted (for example, a student with high needs might weighted as a 2.2 in their IEP under the new, lower class caps), then the class cap wouldn’t be 24. That 2.2 student alone would lower the class cap to 23 and other IEP students would lower it further. Quality of learning is maintained because we’ve focused greater attention where it’s needed.
We currently have an Individual Learning Plan (IEP) system that is vague about students with special needs and offers little in terms of in classroom support. If you want students to learn productively (especially in destreamed classes), and good teachers to stay in the profession, include mechanisms that automatically reduce class sizes for students with special needs so that teachers can do what they are trained to do: help. Watching the system systemically work against that goal is one of the saddest things about teaching in Ontario these days.
5)Give classroom teachers time for professional development and improve their practice. PD has died in Ontario education in the past couple of years. The Great Squeeze has chased many teachers away from the profession and created a shortage. Encourage young teachers and potential new ones to come back to the profession while looking after them as they develop best practices. Currently classroom teachers are in such short supply that teachers are given no time to improve their practice. It’s demoralizing.
6) Offer earlier retirement. Teacher retirements haven’t changed in years. The pension fund is healthy. If it can offer tired pre-retirement teachers who have fought their final years through COVID and plummeting work quality a way out, then it should. The system benefits from this as senior teachers with maximum qualifications make more than twice what a new teacher with beginning qualifications does. You’d think senior teachers would be helping junior teacher training (they do, but they aren’t compensated for it). The people who are compensated for training teachers often have only a fraction of the classroom experience needed to do the job (see #7).
7) Honour classroom specialists by giving them time to support newer teachers. My last two teaching reviews were done by administrators with less than a quarter the classroom teaching experience I’ve had. I’ve worked with classroom specialists who are Jedi masters in terms of classroom and learning management, but they never get a look in on teacher training or reviews. Honouring expertise in education from actually working in classrooms isn’t something that happens, but it should. The education org chart is remarkably rigid and, frankly, quite top heavy. Teachers who pass into support or administration roles can find themselves reviewing and supporting teachers who have done the job for 10x longer than they ever did.
It’s the combination of worsening learning/working conditions and pay cuts for years on end that have driven many away from teaching in Ontario. Smaller caps with even lower limits for classrooms with high needs learners seems like a logical move that would also make destreaming make some kind of pedagogical sense instead of being used as an excuse to stuff more kids into a room in the name of equity. Many students in non-academic streams aren’t less capable, they are struggling with learning challenges, so modifying class caps to focus more teacher attention in classes with these students seems obvious, but has never happened other than in streaming, which we’re in the process of cancelling.
This round of contracts will end up being whatever it ends up being – classroom teachers won’t have much say in it, but it’d be nice if Ontario decided that reasonable funding focused on smaller classes with more equitable learning outcomes for a wider range of students is something we could all get behind. Would I like to just once not get a pay cut thanks to inflation? Sure, but it isn’t likely any time soon. In the meantime, focus resources on improving learning conditions (which are also teacher working conditions).
I recently did a talk with the awesome Heidi Siwak about how educators might understand and engage with emerging artificial intelligence technology rather than doing what education usually does and bury its head in the sand.
A few days later I’m reading WIRED and Kevin Kelly nails down not only a way to migrate into this disconcerting future full of AIs, but also how it works and why everyone shouldn’t be terrified of it:
“Generative AI will alter how we design just about everything. Oh, and not a single human artist will lose their job because of this new technology.”
That’s a pretty daring prediction, but Kelly goes on to explain that most AI generated visual art isn’t being used in traditional places. Instead it’s a deeply person form of visual expression hyper focused on the co-creator (the human working with the AI). As a result, much of the art produced by AI acts as a kind of art therapy. That hyper personal focus is something education systems (based on 19th Century factories) really struggle with, but it’s the future if honouring equity and diversity matter in any real way..
What has me most excited about AI is precisely that it treats people more like individuals than people do. If a future education system has AI teaching assistants that radically individualize instruction, then I consider that a massive win for children and a huge step forward in terms of pedagogical best practice. The only resistance to this individualized, equitable technology enhanced future would be the people managing the current status quo to their own benefit.
Instead of a teacher who barely remembers your child’s name, let alone his reading level or his neurodiversities, an AI that responds to his needs precisely and when he needs it to sounds like the kind of future I want to live in. We’re currently happy with loud attention seekers getting most of the attention in class while the quiet ones fall through the cracks, and by ‘we’ I mean the people running public education.
No humans may lose their jobs with visual arts AIs in circulation, but I suspect some teachers might. The ones making all the noise about banning AI are the very ones Clarke was talking about in his famous quote. A hybrid AI assisted classroom can offer the kind of individual attention that our schools have always struggled to provide, but not if education bans it and hides from this inevitable future for as long as it can.
In the article, Kelly goes on to talk about how AI democratizes visual arts. There is a follow up piece that talks about the 19th Century panic around the emergence of photography (painting is dead!). Each of these technology disruptions put visual mediums into more people’s hands. There was a similar panic when smartphones made everyone a photographer in the early 21st Century. Just because you have a camera in your hands doesn’t make you a photographer, any more than waving a paint brush makes you a painter. There is intentionality implicit in art that technical skill is only a part of. Machines that make it more accessible don’t give the users those esoteric art skills needed to make art, but they do offer a ‘lowercase’ opportunity to visually express your ideas.
Knee jerk reactions to these technological disruptions give Kelly a chance to talk about the ‘tech panic cycle‘. This is another not very flattering mirror for education to peer into. This cycle of panic defines how education has stumbled when facing every emergent technology in the past 40 years.The latest AI panic is just another in a long line of poorly managed evolutionary opportunities. Education has always been more interested in maintaining a self-serving status quo rather than exploring enhancements to pedagogy. The digital skills crisis and flurry of successful cyberattacks we’re in the middle of are the result of systemic failures to teach emerging digital media literacies that stretch back into the 1980s.
The presentation Heidi and I put together gives examples of how two teachers focused on evolving pedagogical best practices have explored AI in our classrooms. In my case we got into it five years ago when a parent who happened to be on the IBM Watson team offered to get us going on coding AI powered chatbots. We found this so easy to do that it ended up being part of our grade 10 coding curriculum along with web development. At the same time my game development students were discovering that we needed to get a handle on enemy AI scripting in Unity or our games wouldn’t play well (stupid enemies are boring). The introduction to AI had students learning about intents and thinking about coding in a collaborative rather than dictatorial way. This not only enriched our game development scripting, but it also led to seniors exploring adaptive algorithms in large data-sets and exploring GitHub’s CoPilot. This approach has had us learning ‘AI Whispering’ years before it became an emergent media literacy…
“Behind this new magecraft is the art of prompting. Each artist or designer develops a way of persuading an AI to yield its best by evolving their prompts. Let’s call these new artists AI whisperers, or prompt artists, or promptors. The promptors work almost as directors, guiding the work of their alien collaborators toward a unified vision. The convoluted process required to tease a first-rate picture out of an AI is quickly emerging as a fine-art skill.” – WIRED
Heidi leapt into ChatGPT when it first arrived and has done the hard work of building this new media literacy of ‘AI Whisper’. From there she early adopted Education CoPilot, which promises to be a time saver for teachers who want to spend more time individualizing their students’ learning rather than making tedious, one-size-fits-all lesson plans. The majority of our presentation had Heidi walking teachers through how ChatGPT works and showing examples of how Education CoPilot can produce excellent highly-stylized materials (like lesson and unit plans).
Reading Kelly’s article focused on AI visual design a week after doing that AI in the classroom presentation resonates. The one time I was allowed to teach visual arts in high school, I was given a grade 9 curriculum that was so prescriptive that the projects in it sounded like directions for an AI: ‘Make an acrylic painting using the techniques practised in class in the style of the Group of Seven’. ‘Using perspective drawing techniques, draw a picture of a room in your house’. I understand the need for these skills focused assessments, but the opportunity to create wasn’t something grade 9s were being encouraged to do. The entire course was entirely focused on lowercase creativity making it very easy for an AI to do the work. Maybe the seniors got to explore uppercase creativity, but I never got a look in at any of those classes. This raises difficult questions around how we’re going to develop skills when AI keeps stepping in to do work that students only see as busy work.
The other thing this visual arts department fixated on was photography, which they described as ‘real’ photography complete with dark room and chemicals. The follow up WIRED art history piece on the 19th Century photography panic casts a poor light on that thinking. Photography was considered the ‘end of painting’ when it first appeared, but nothing of the sort happened. What the new medium of photography did was create new influences that enriched both painting and the emerging medium. AI visual design will likely follow a similar path. What doesn’t work is clinging to an old way of thinking rather than encouraging this enriching influence.
Dall-E AI generated future makerspace
I took photography as a unit in art college and it bankrupted me. I loved it and I was good at it, but ‘real’ photography seems to be a be-spoke, privileged medium that the idle rich seem to find their way into. The cost of it caused me to eventually drop out because I couldn’t juggle 40+ hours of night shift work a week with full days in class. At the time I believed this was a great personal failure on my part, but with the benefit of hind-sight, I’m amazed at how much my immigrant socioeconomic status defined my access to and success in education, and especially in the arts.
I found my way back into photography when we lived in Japan after I graduated from university with massive student debts (another economically dictated decision). Digital cameras were just coming out in Japan in the late 90s and I got my hands on them early. This technology democratized photography and let me get back into it without bankrupting me. Hearing an arrogant gatekeeper-to-the-arts telling me that what I did wasn’t real photography was difficult to take. This approach to the arts is quite common in high schools.
Dall-E AI Generated: future classroom
Kelly suggests that AI supported visual arts won’t stop human made art because it serves a different need. In this way, like photography before it, AI visual co-creation will bring the ability to produce visual representations of their thinking to more people – providing we start teaching this new media literacy of ‘AI whispering’. AI art generation is a fascinating new combination of language skills, visual media and technology, and utilizing it will bring visual expression to more people. The only ones getting angry about it are those who are guarding the privileged gateway to it.
So much technology use is hobbled by the politics of education. Black and white politicizing means unions paint technology as teacher replacing evil, which gives politicians interested in pushing education into private hands exactly what they need to do that. When no one is focused on improving pedagogy, we all lose. What education should be focused on is using every means at out disposal (technological, social or otherwise) to individualize and amplify student learning. Sometimes that might mean technology supplants a teaching position, but more often it should mean we are reorganizing how we do things to produce better learning outcomes though intelligent use of emerging technologies.
AI will certainly shake the foundations of education. The dinosaurs fixated on taking us back to the good ‘ol days of rote learning and mono-cultural absolutism where all students learn rigorously in the same way should be far behind us, but those are the days every anti-technology educator longs for – when things (like photography) were ‘real’ and inaccessible to the proles.
The thing I’m most looking forward to with AI in education? It so quickly makes what we’re doing in our low resolution factory-designed classrooms look poor that it will turn over the apple cart and force public education to reboot into a more individually focused, student-success driven model. In those future schools students will experience mastery learning based on their own abilities and will be supported individually. Students able to may graduate high school at 15 years old, others may need it until they are 20. Learning would be hyper personalized and teachers would be conducting an orchestra of supports and data rather than overseeing a low-resolution classroom where individuals matter less than their age.
Education will focus on making this not true for as long as it possible can, but it shouldn’t.
From an artist’s point of view, Kelly doesn’t explain the place of human made art in a future where ‘lower case’, ‘rote’ art, ie: what is evidently taught in most schools, will be machine created. This raises some interesting questions about how we teach complex skill sets (like photography or painting) in a world where the skills are expressed by machines rather than people. If machines are reading to you and writing for you, do we need to know how to do those things either? Chasing that goal would lead to dire consequences. There are real benefits to human beings learning complex, tangible skills, both psychologically and economically.
When I take my decade old SLR out and catch a moment in nature because its talking to me, I’m not
chewing through processing resources so that a machine
intelligence with no understanding of nature creates an inherently abstract representation of what I’m experiencing. I take photographs to catch the light and make a moment permanent, so you can float in it. Technology assists me in doing that by helping me collect and share the data from that moment, but that data has a realness to it that no AI abstraction, no matter how well generated, will manage – because the AI and the media it creates is implicitly not in the world experiencing it directly.
When I was out in the polar vortex, I discovered that the ice crystal structures forming were incredibly complex compared to what I usually see, so I started working the macro lens as though I were seeing Joan Miro paintings. Imperfections and unconscious details render a natural truth in the photograph. Technology assists, but doesn’t replace the subject.
Dall-E understands macro photography and ice and creates a credible copy, but its always going to be inherently ethereal because it is an abstraction rather than a moment. Even well worded, maximum-AI outputs are going to lack an inherent realism until the AI itself is put into contact with nature directly – which too will eventually happen!
I’m also not tied to the internet
while I’m out in the world photographing. At its very best, an AI might be able to imitate
getting close to nature, but it could never actually do it because of
what it is. In the same way that a spectacular CGI effect in a film is
almost too realistic, a good old-fashioned stunt with IRL effects offers
nuance that makes it feel more genuine (because it is).
No matter how good AI gets, it’ll always be imitating that immediacy until it gets to experience it directly and then express its understanding of that experience.
Thanks to Ridley Scott we were imagining intelligent machines reflecting on their experiences back in 1982. AI may eventually replace human artists, but they would need to inhabit a physical body that lets them experience reality directly. “All those moments, lost in time…” Current AI cannot come close to that, but it can help democratize visual arts.
Is having machines do it all for you really good for you?
Kelly also doesn’t mention what all of this accessibility to visual expression for everyone is costing us in terms of resources. AI will get better in terms of energy consumption, but it isn’t a very efficient way to do simple things that people are too lazy to learn how to do themselves (like draw). If we’re going to keep off-loading work people are more than capable of doing in a world where we have more and more people and fewer resources to burn, does pouring billions into AI make any sense for anyone but billionaires looking for even cheaper labour?
I (like WIRED) still fall on the side of exploring and integrating emerging technology if it means better learning outcomes for students. One of our greatest underused resources are all those humans we’ve got out there struggling to make ends meet. A dozen of them are the Einsteins we need to solve the global problems we face. If AI can help us realize more students’ potential, then surely we should always be coming down on that side of things, even when it’s scary and involves us changing old habits.
I thought I’d give this a go when I discovered that one of the plastic dash bits (used) for the 2010 C14/GTR1400 Concours was upwards of $150US +shipping. One of the benefits of reading Practical Sportsbikes Magazine is that they’re always dropping technical hints and ideas. They mentioned plastic welding in one of their project bike articles, so I looked it up.
The repair kit cost less than $40CAD and includes a heating ‘iron’ with multiple ends and piles of plastic strips you can melt into a repair. Starting with a simple crack would have been easier, but I had to rebuild the broken end of a complicated plastic form, including a missing bolt hole.
Here’s the broken plastic dash panel:
I found a piece of plastic from a hex key tool with a matching sized hole, cut the end off the plastic bit and grafted it on.
While that was cooling I melted some of the filler on the back and healed the crack up the middle.
I was liberal with the filler because I figured it would sand back. The only problem with this piece is that it’s patterned on the surface and I’m not sure how I’m going to replicate that. The fix might be to take both pieces of and just paint them to a matching finish.
When I tried it for size, the panel lined up with the holes perfectly and is much more sturdy than it used to be. I’m going to finish sanding it and see if the raw finish bothers me while riding. If it does I’ll take both dash panels off and paint both sides so they match. If I use a vinyl paint, I should get a matching finish that also acts like the original and would Armor-All up nicely.
So, what’s plastic welding like? Pretty straightforward, and like most things if you practice you’ll get better at it. The filler sticks provided in the kit melt easily under the iron and fill cracks and holes well. If you don’t like the first go you can reapply heat and get it to set differently. If you’re looking at absurd replacement costs for old plastic on a well used bike, a plastic welding kit is a good purchase.
It’s been a busy winter and I haven’t gotten as much done in the garage as I’d hoped, but breaks in the gloom are beginning to appear so I spent the weekend getting the Tiger sorted and giving plastic welding my first go.
2003 Triumph Tiger 955i Fuel Injector Maintenance
The old Tiger is up at about 90k on the odometer. I did a deep maintenance a couple of winters back (swing arm out, everything gone over from the wheels up) and that seemed to solve most issues, except the fuel injection. These early electronic fuel injection systems in 955i Triumphs is touchy. What I’ve found that worked is to pull the injectors each winter and deep clean them in the ultrasonic bath, so that’s what last weekend was.
Injectors out! I put the end without the electrical connector into the ultrasonic cleaner and give it 10 minutes at 60°C. Once out I clean them up and back in they go. No hesitation or idling problems since.
That vacuum run stepper motor (upper left) is what manages the idle control system – it’s touchy! Make sure you’ve got good vacuum hoses (the black ribbed ones in the pic) and the gasket for the stepper motor is in good shape, or you’ll be stalling… a lot. I’m sorting a threaded holder for the fuel injectors here.
Tank off gave me a chance to sort out the airbox, which I now seal with gasket material. At almost 90k, maintenance takes on jobs like rethreading bolts and gasketing tired airboxes to keep everything tight.
Found a stowaway on the airbox under the gas tank. Probably good luck?
Tiger is back together again and ready to take a run at 100k in it’s 20th season.
How well did it work? We had a break in the polar vortex (it was -30° last week). In 5°C we went for a blast up and down the nearby river roads and it felt sharp. Doing that bit extra with an older high mileage bike when it comes to maintenance is the key to a happy riding season.
I had a talk the other evening with a Vancouver educator teaching cybersecurity curriculum at his local school board. Like me, Todd has been working alone, offering the local students he has access to the opportunity to learn cyber-skills that would benefit them in any field of study. And, like me, he has helped to launch a few students into careers in this radically underserved career pathway.
Despite being 3 time zones away, Todd is running into the same difficulties I am in Canada’s regionally siloed education systems. When he reached out to other districts in British Columbia they didn’t engage, and so his work remains isolated to his district. Cyber-attacks on education fill the news, yet the vast majority of students have no access to learning this emerging (and essential) digital media literacy.
In 2017/18 we got involved in CyberTitan, the Canadian centre of excellence for the international CyberPatriot competition (the world’s largest student cybersecurity competition). From there we developed a thriving cybersecurity extracurricular program that has since influenced our in-class curriculum in timely and diverse ways., but when I asked a system ‘lead’ if we could help other schools to engage in the same competition I was told, “it’s already running at your school.” Leaving us in the same place that Todd finds himself.
With headlines like these (an extensive list of Canadian education hacks can be found at the bottom of the post) wouldn’t cybersafety training in every school be a good idea?
Cyber-education is just the most obvious part of a much bigger digital skills iceberg.
Yet we barely cover coding in public schools, let alone the rest – even though we depend on it in every subject. Digital technology has become integral to learning in 2023, yet no one has a dedicated curriculum to teach the cybersafety and the technical skills needed to use it safely and effectively. It’s why remote learning during the pandemic became an abject failure.
Cyber-Education: an educational failure in education
You have to ask yourself why schools aren’t engaging in the cyber-education they should have started when eLearning and other online education technology placed student data and attention in potentially hackable online locations. The answer to this question has eluded me for years, but I’m starting to formulate a theory. It began with seeing yet another example of the rhetoric that public education likes to lean on:
“The lack of robust cybersecurity measures stems from underfunding within schools and #educational groups. Often, they don’t have enough resources or budget to invest in #cybersecurity or train staff and students to practice good cyber habits.”
ICTC-CTIC has been offering free cyber-learning opportunities for years in addition to running CyberTitan since 2017 with the support of the Communication’s Security Establishment (Canada’s cryptography agency charged with securing government communications). It doesn’t get more credible than that this, yet we struggle to engage individual teachers let alone school system ‘leaders’ with these FREE programs. The reticence isn’t about cost, it’s an unwillingness to make time and take responsibility for our rampant use of education technology. But why continue to ignore digital literacy when it’s so obviously necessary?
Perhaps picking up the baton now would highlight a failure that has been decades in the making. By doing nothing, public education remains the victim of cybercriminals and technology disruption, just like the rest of us.
We should have begun developing this technology media fluency the moment we placed student learning in hackable online spaces. It’s not a flattering analysis, yet moving past this head-in-the-sand approach is essential if we’re going to keep putting student (and staff) information where criminals can exploit it. Our collective ignorance is the cause of the current cybersecurity crisis and the global digital skills shortage; it’s a failure of education… by education!
Our Failure to Systematically Teach Digital Media Literacy Even As It Becomes an Expectation in All Subjects
Poor user digital fluency is the result of our failure to teach it in any kind of systemic manner. The cunning plan so far has been to hope parents are doing it at home* (*this link shows that they might be, if they can afford it). Meanwhile parents are assuming a comprehensive digital skills curriculum is happening in schools, and by comprehensive I mean year on year skills development in dedicated subject time using curriculum that results in functional and safe technology users. We obviously don’t have those.
If you see any attempts at digital literacy at all, it’s: ‘hey,
look, we’re doing coding!” Digital media and technology
fluencies are about much more that coding.
The students I see arriving in grade 9 suggest that this is not systemically happening, and where it does happen it is because a single teacher is trying to bridge this gap themselves. The assumption many parents labour under is that teachers are digitally literate, but they are much like the general population.
If we taught digital skills like we taught other foundational skills that are required across all subject areas (literacy, numeracy, etc), we would have periods focused on developing those skills and integrated subject specific digital fluency across all disciplines, but we don’t even cover digital literacy development as comprehensively as we do geography (mandatory k-8 dedicated subject time and a mandatory grade 9 course). There are no mandatory digital literacy courses in any Ontario high school and in K-8 curriculum, where it happens at all, it’s usually fixated on coding which does little to teach cybersafety. The ongoing digital skills shortage and a rash of user ignorance driven cyber incidents suggest that the piecemeal approach we’ve grudgingly adopted isn’t working.
I’ve been pointing to these embarrassing statistics and presenting on the importance of filling this foundational gap in our curriculum for years on Dusty World:
Perhaps now, in a maelstrom of bad press and the potential for real financial damage to staff and students (and their families), education will finally take on systemic transformation to address digital skills and especially cybersecurity awareness. The benefits would go far beyond reducing the number of successful cyber breaches. A more digitally literate society would be able to pivot to remote learning in an emergency and might also offer climate reduction possibilities by reducing the need for face to face schooling. It would even help create a less factory driven/age based system that relies on millions of gallons of diesel to deliver bodies to age appropriate facilities every day.
Nowhere has this failure to address digital literacy been more apparent in emergency remote learning where many students were thrust into online mediums that they have very little understanding of, with unsurprising results. Most students still equate technology with entertainment, which is why implementing it in classrooms has been fraught with problems.
One of the early myths used to justify this bury-it approach to digital literacy was that of the ‘digital native’ – the idea that students who grew up with digital technology were somehow magically imbued with the ability to understand it technically and use it safely and effectively. This is like saying that because I grew up in the 1970s and was familiar with cars, I already know how a car works and how to operate one. This absurd belief persists in many schools despite being summarily discounted by research.
Being familiar with digital technology means you don’t have to overcome the fear that older people have in making a mistake with it, but I can assure you, students are not immune to making poor technical decisions based on digital ignorance. The rush by students in my school to use ‘free’ VPNs to bypass blocks on social media sites isn’t digital native genius, it’s profoundly ignorant. The criminals offering these services aren’t offering them for free. This gives a fine example of how digitally illiterate school systems are. Blocking content and driving students to put their digital footprints at risk through questionable technology is about where we’re at in education these days. Incredibly, many educators then point to this as an example of just how good the kids are with technology.
Research on the poor state of digital skills across entire populations shows an astonishing lack of capability, even as we increasingly depend on networked digital technologies to support every aspect of public education. When technology fails, the learning stops in 2023..
“higher socioeconomic status was associated with higher proficiency both within & across countries – student experience of computer use & their frequency of computer use at home were positively associated with proficiency” – Because we off-load this essential literacy because we don’t want to take responsibility for it.
Cyber-education is the sharp end of this failure to teach digital literacy because of the fear that surrounds the subject and the dire consequences of not addressing it. Convincing educators to engage with cybersafety, cybersecurity and data privacy learning is virtually impossible, especially as most staff are no more digitally savvy than anyone else. You have to be trying exceptionally hard to not be using digital technology in 2023. Your lights are on because of it and your lessons are available to students because of it, yet no one wants to teach it, or learn it as a specific technology/media skill.
Beyond the sharp point of cyber, we have a population that spends an inordinate amount of their time, both professional and personal, in networked technology, yet almost no one knows how it works, what to do when it goes wrong or how to secure it. Younger people aren’t afraid of it, but their bravado creates dangers of a different kind.
If we’re going to use networked technology in every subject, we should have a K-8 curriculum in place with mandatory time given to specifically learning digital skills well beyond coding, and also include digital literacy integration with all subjects. This should begin the moment we put students in online learning. A systemic approach to this would start with teachers and eventually result in a dramatic drop in successful cyber-attacks as we begin to heal the ignorance that current attacks exploit. Many federal programs exist, but Canada’s chaotic, siloed education landscape means that with no central authority, provincial ministries and local school boards are left with the responsibility to engage with what is an increasing international threat.
Digital skills gaps cost billions in lost jobs and opportunities and exacerbate existing inequalities. By resolving this failure of vision that public education has been central in creating, we might finally assume the role education should have played all along. It doesn’t require lengthy apologies, but it does require some humility before a systemic failure we’ve all played a part in. I only hope the people leading education in Canada are more interested in doing the right thing for students, staff and their families rather than maintaining the expedient idea that digital literacy happens by magical birthright or at home.
Yes, it’s a tsunami of cyberattacks on canadian education:
The first time I laid hands on a computer in the early 80s was when my middle school library got Commodore PETs, so in my mind libraries are the spaces where we make first contact with new information mediums and media. When I started teaching it was my school’s librarian who asked me about this new fangled ‘wi-fi’ thing. I helped him set up a router in our library, making us (I believe), the first school in Ontario that offered wifi to those few students with new-fangled Blackberrys and PDAs. Librarians are always looking at emerging information tools that give their patrons/students access to the information they seek.
That’s why I was there, but the OLA Superconference became about much more than my work as it asks complex questions about the topics that tie society in knots. Librarians are the ones asked these difficult questions and libraries are one of few remaining safe spaces where people can go to get unbiased information without being treated like a consumer or a political target. Just like the BCTLA/Treasure Mountain national conference last year, the speakers and subjects at #OLASC were designed to challenge assumptions and offer librarians support in changeable times.
Mom at work… a message to our son who was at home doing full time shift work.
Vivek Shraya’s opening keynote about how your ‘self’ is always in flux offered some much needed insight on how to be gentle with yourself in difficult times, but immediately after I attended Cory Doctorow’s talk about his latest book, Chokepoint Capitalism, which I’d been reading when I attended the BCTLA/Treasure Mountain conference last fall. Cory stuffed 2 hours worth of thinking into his hour long talk, riffing on the attention economy trap we’ve fallen into and talking about how individual action to systemic failures aren’t an effective use of your time. He gave the example that if you spent hours trying to find locally sourced markers to make a poster for an anti-Amazon protest, but missed the protest because you spent all your time trying to not use Amazon, you aren’t putting your energy where it might produce a systemic response to a systemic failure.
As a public school teacher who has watched the past five years of education in freefall, this rang a lot of bells, but my problem is that I don’t trust the people or organizations that are supposed to be representing my interests (because they aren’t good at what they claim to be experts in). This too came up in both Cory’s talk and in Elamin Abdelmahmoud‘s closing keynote; the idea that expertise doesn’t matter anymore in a world where everyone is on a mic spouting their opinions.
Staring into the abyss of the many problems we face is something librarians have to do every day when patrons comes in with these difficult questions. Yet relevance and support for programming was a constant theme at the conference. Feather Miracle accepted the OLA’s President’s award for keeping up the fight even as libraries in indigenous communities closed at record rates. As I mentioned online, I missed the part in Truth & Reconciliation that focused on closing community supports like libraries in first nations.
These big problems thematically swirled around this conference in a way that you don’t see in education or technology events. Librarians need to collaborate on these issues because we’re all facing them and library learning commons are where they come up, but the conference also offered me ‘technology stream‘ opportunities specific to my current job.
On Thursday I listened to the Guelph/Wellington Public Libraries (my local) talking about how they worked on the front lines closing the digital divide during lockdown. I was told that our school board was providing connectivity for students in need, but it looks like they just tapped into the hard work that the public library was doing. The room was absolutely packed, suggesting that crossing the digital divide during a pandemic is another one of those systemic problems we’re all trying to solve individually. System failures surround us but individuals keep trying to make it right.
Friday morning started bright and early with Jonelle and Christina’s “Evolution of the LLC: Building a Future Ready Space” which emphasized how important patron input is in designing diverse learning spaces. Throughout the presentation they offered DIY solutions that save money (whiteboard painted tables!) and suggestions for relevancy and engagement that wouldn’t sound out of place in an entrepreneurship seminar. If you think libraries are where old teachers go for an easy final years before retirement, you’re doing it wrong. A constant focus on streamlining and redesigning your learning spaces to make them engaging and relevant to students is something every TL in Canada should be focused on.
The London Public Library and Crouch Neighbourhood Centres did a talk about how to cross the connectivity in gap by offering connectivity to those unable participate in Canada’s digital economy. The digital divide is deep and wide, but targeted programs like this work. LPL did the initial delivery of connective cellular technology and discovered that most of their devices were being used in cottage country by people who didn’t want to pay their own way in data (at their cottage), but by partnering with Crouch (LPL run a branch out of Crouch), the devices found their way into the hands of people who needed them. Talks like these showed me that there are solutions to these seemingly insurmountable social inequities, but no one to scale them systemically. Systemic failures surround us but individuals keep struggling to try and make it right. If only we had some kind of representative ‘democracy’ that governed in the peoples’ interest, but then maybe most Canadians aren’t bothered with helping those in need.
The closing keynote by Elamin Abdelmahmoud offered an unblinking look at many of the problems that face Canadian society in a decentralized social-media driven culture. Just before he came on a posthumous lifetime award was given to Caroline Freibauer‘s family for her work in Ontario libraries. This really changed the emotional temperature in the room, but rather than roll with what he had prepared, Elamin listened and responded by going off piste and picking everyone up from where they were feeling that loss; it was a wonderfully empathic way to finish the conference.
After attending the OLA Superconference I’m more focused on connecting with public libraries as they also reach children in need, but beyond our struggling public school systems. Every student (home schooled, public schooled, private schooled) students make use of their public libraries, so working with them to help close that digital divide is a new angle I’m keen to develop. It’s nice to know libraries are still working hard to help people manage the information tsunami we’re all trying to swim in – there are lots of opportunities to work emerging digital media literacies in there too.
I watched a number of author talks and book signings while at the OLASC. It’d be really cool to return next year for work, do a presentation on digital skills and cybersafety and then take a timeout to go do an author talk. Bring it on, OLASC 2024!
A World War 2 historical fiction novel coming soon to a bookstore near you! Under Dark Skies.
After 25 days on the road across the Iberian Peninsula, I have ideas about what I’m looking for in terms of travel photography tech. The Canon SLR with a bag of lenses is too much to lug around, and the recycled 7 year old Dell laptop doesn’t cut it when it comes to keeping up with modern file sizes. An agile photo tech set also works on two wheels, so here’s what I’d bring along if I were going light but looking for full technical flexiblity in terms of imaging while on the road:
An absolutely bonkers sub 2.5lb laptop with 2k of colour corrected display with 100% colour gamut. It folds away to almost nothing, offers the power needed to make high resolution photo and video edits on the road and even converts to a tablet for digital sketching.
After lugging the SLR with many lenses around Iberia for weeks on end, I’m looking for a more compact but technically robust option. The Cybershot has a massive sensor, shoots in RAW and outperforms my SLR in pretty much every area. Being smaller and less fussy (just the one do-it-all lens), it does what the best camera always does: makes it easy to have it with you. I ended up leaving the SLR behind towards the end because it was more trouble than it was worth
Simply the highest photo quality 360 camera you can get. A massive 1 inch sensor means good low light, RAW shooting, a programmable Android based OS that lets you push the limits of this emerging format by creating my own plugins.
I prefer photography to video so the Z1 is the weapon of choice when it comes to 360 photography. The only thing it can’t do is rough and tumble, but I have a plan for that.
I got an iPhone 13 last year and the camera on it is good – so good that I found myself leaving the DSLR behind because, for candid snaps, the iPhone is more than up to the job. As good as it is, I’m wishing I’d gone a bit further and gotten a 14 pro with extra lens and that bit more photographic range. I’m still struggling with adapting to iOS after owning an Android from the very beginning, but I’d stick it out for the software integration and quality on the iPhone (Apple’s stance on user privacy is appealing too).
This might all seem pretty expensive (photography isn’t a cheap hobby), but when a single pro 400mm lens costs you about ten grand, this entire $7665 set offers much more flexibility with a powerful all-in-one camera, two 360 specialist imaging tools and a state of the art lightweight laptop for post production, and all while taking up next to no room.
I did alright with the old DSLR (these are wild Portuguese seas), but lugging all that about wasn’t very travel friendly – I think I’m ready to migrate back to a prosumer grade all-in-one superzoom camera. I just need to make sure it beats the SLR with lense and includes the specs I need to improve my imaging (large sensor, full manual controls, RAW file saving, epic lens).
I’m pretty crafty with on-bike pics from the old Ricoh Theta I’ve got, but with newer (and tougher) tech I could push the boundaries there too.
Good example of how capable the iPhone is at photos (and a nice way to get to the beach – on a 90s vintage Africa Twin!). This is cropped in tight from the original and is still high-rez.