Twenty-three Things: Activity 20: Image Generators

I’ve challenged some of my colleagues to take the 23 Things challenge to become more invested in online learning this summer. This website includes a 10-week game plan for learning some online learning and presenting methods that are useful for teachers, and that are appropriate activities for the age group we teach. There are other 23 Things lists out there, I know, but this is the one that we’ve chosen to work with, and that I’ve decided to complete.

The previous entries in this series are here:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Discovery
  3. Setting Up a Blog
  4. Starting with Flickr
  5. Find some Flickr Toys and Tools
  6. Blog about the role of tech in your classroom
  7. Initial experiment with RSS Readers
  8. RSS Readers continued
  9. Cloud Computing
  10. Web 2.0 Activty
  11. YouTube & Video
  12. Podcasts
  13. eBooks
  14. Wikis (a disaster story)
  15. Wiki Sandbox
  16. Tagging Links: Delicious
  17. Tagging Links: Technorati
  18. Twitter
  19. Twitter in Education

Activity 20: Image Generators

Image generators? Really?  So, I’m supposed to slap some text on someone else’s image, and call it “art”!?

How very Facebook.  I suddenly have a sense of where all those funny cat pictures clogging up the Interwebs are coming from.  And the Grumpy Cat saying various stuff.  And Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka calling people on their disingenuousness.

Though I have to admit, Cascadia Design Company’s system for generating Ambigrams for titanium rings is pretty cool.

So… how do I use this in school?

I have no idea.

I mean, every so often there’s a vast wave of these things on my facebook feed. They get rediscovered, re-passed around, reinvigorated.  In a sense, they’re the spirits of the tribe (Genii loco instead of genii loci? They’re perhaps evidence of our insanity as a culture, rather than our rootedness in place. But that’s not really fair).  I mean, I think even my parents would recognize some of these memes, and they’re not particularly internet-savvy people.

But what does it say about us as a culture that we can wed various “deepities” to a compelling, or not-so-compelling, image in seconds, and present it to hundreds or thousands of people at once.  Why is it that a picture of a cat being grumpy can get thousands of likes on the internet, and my latest scarf project barely gets noticed by people claiming to be my friends? (Maybe they’re afraid I’m going to give them the damn scarf — I can’t say I blame them).

Finished: green scarfBut we’re left with a culture in which a sort of false creativity is celebrated and shared widely; and any true creative work, the kind of labor that takes hours and hours spread over days, can simply sink into the ether unnoticed.  Oh well: It’s easier to move bits around than rearrange atoms.

All the same, I think that we’re coming to the end of the Meme Era, and the Image Generators.  A quick look through my Facebook and Tumblr accounts reveals no immediate signs of a generated image being widely shared. There’s not any major news going on besides the Perseid meteor shower. Nobody’s upset about Kony (remember him?), Egypt is about to go through another convulsion, and we’ll be getting a new Federal Reserve chairperson soon… but nobody on Facebook seems to be making memes about it.

All of which raises an interesting question…

Where is the internet going now, if not to Memes and Image Generators?

Blogging?  Not so much.  I don’t know many people who are regular bloggers any more.  Facebook?  Google Chat?  My friend J thinks both are basically malware — they encourage you to use their websites, while collecting and monetizing data about your viewing habits in order to sell products to you that you don’t need.  Actually, on a deeper level J thinks that http:// itself is broken, and that the World Wide Web is dangerous to use right now — too many ways to exploit and hack too many websites, and some very basic evidence that the reason the World Wide Web is vulnerable is because the alphabet soup of military-intelligence-agencies wants easy ways to spy on us.

And I’m going to teach kids about image generators…


The web has certainly grown up quite a lot since 2007, hasn’t it?  When I first began this series of posts about Twenty-Three Things, I expected to be reminded of a lot of useful tools online, and discover all sorts of new ways to re-engage my students.  Instead, though, what I find is that the tools that are available have become outdated; or the services that were on offer in 2007 have radically morphed; or like Twitter, they’ve grown so far and so fast that they’re not useful for the same things envisioned six years ago… and underlying it all is the awareness that someone is spinning, somewhere — that all this fiber-optic cable and all this flash memory is being used to spy on computer users as much as help them.

Houston, we have a problem.


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    • Yes, exactly. 🙂

      I’ve just about finished writing the last entries in this series. And I have to admit, I’m pretty grumpy by the end. It’s slightly upsetting that the list is so poorly organized… Or rather, outdated. But the deeper into the list I got, the more I found things that I wasn’t really prepared to share with my students…

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