The Drug War and Addiction go Hand in Hand

We would be disingenuous to say addiction is not a problem in every community in the United States. What disturbs me is we haven’t changed the way addicts are treated in our communities and our homes. We still advocate the unscientific 12 step programs and feel it is okay to practice tough love. Yes, tough love, tough love it to say the least, “tough”. But it isn’t the first option, often it is the last and without any other options something a parent or loved one doesn’t want to do but the topic needs to be discussed. You may find this TED talk about addiction informative: Everything You think You Know About Addiction is Wrong.

Most of us know someone young or old who have dealt with this tragic disease but is it really a disease or a result of the lack of caring and kindness in our society. Some argue it is a disease and in some cases it is a disease, but in other cases it is a choice the person is making to avoid other issues in their lives they may need to deal with, I think each situation is unique.

However, the stigma for addicts has not changed, even though you may know someone who has dealt with it, most families don’t talk about it in public because most parents/families wonder what they did wrong. Did I not discipline them enough? Did I not spend enough time with him/her? Should I have kept them involved in more sports? Did they hang around with the wrong crowd? Did the accident cause the depression? Are you different because the drugs were prescribed by a doctor?

The first step in recovery is admiting you are an addict, so it is appropriate to admit as a culture and society we have an addiction problem. So lets start talking about the elephant in the room — start looking at ways we can move from the unscientific ways of dealing with addiction and help our fellow citizens without judging them.

Let’s talk —

Please take a moment to read a good article on

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DIY Christmas

Site Recommendation

I’m planning my Christmas decorations — here is an article I thought many of my friends might find useful. There are some cool and easy DIY things to do which will save you tons of money — so check them out and I’ll be following up with the ones I make too and let you know the results.


We gathered up Over 60 of the BEST DIY Christmas Decorations and Craft Ideas to share with you today! Everything from Outdoor Decoration, Table Settings, DIY Holiday Crafts, and Home Decor…we have you covered!

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iThinkMedia & a Lot More!

Okay, that says it all, this blog has been online for 17 years and never really got its footing but all that is about to change. We are not only going to cover technology and media, we are going to start talking about a lot more issues and provide a technology and media angle. There is a “no hold barred” attitude going forward and we are going to let it all hang out, so to speak.

Lets talk about iThinkMedia’s future. This site will become a sounding board for not only myself but for many others who have stories to tell. We will have guest authors, anonymous authors covering topics that may be a bit controversial but is on the mind of most of us in the United States. We will talk about the current issues and tragedies going on in our world, especially in the United States. I know in my opinion as I watch the politics and social dynamics we are re-thinking many of the traditional cultural and social things as we move into the future. As I mentioned to one of my friends, we are living the future, just without flying cars.

This site, will provide you with resources, information, and something to think about. Our goal is to open your mind to the future, to “think” about how technology and media affects our lives.

I’ll quote Sherry Turkle, “We are inhibited from aggression by the presence of another face, another person. We’re aware that we’re with a human being. On the Internet, we are disinhibited from taking into full account that we are in the presence of another human being.”

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Free Online Classes from Major Universities

Higher education has always had a high price tag but there are ways you can gain the knowledge you need along with an official credential from the institution and signed by the instructor. The certificate verifies your achievement and can be used to highlight skills on your resume or LinkedIn profile.

You can do this from the comfort of your own home with a computer and internet connection. Check out and find the courses you want to take!

Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is an online learning destination and MOOC provider, offering high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere.

I’ve enrolled in HarvardX’s CS50x course – Introduction to Computer Science. I’ll keep you updated on my review of the course as I take it.

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Conspiracy Theories: Call me crazy!

Reality: you may not be crazy and all those touting conspiracy theories might not be either.

Typically I do not believe in conspiracy theories but I’ve been coming across several reputable journalists who are sharing their experiences and thoughts on the matter. So when this starts happening I wanted to review the topic a bit closer. Take a look at this video, she makes some valid points.


Article of Interest

U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News to Americans

For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government’s mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts. So what just happened?

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Presidential Campaign: Dumbing Down of America

college-1440364Most of us have tried to sit through the earlier Presidential debates but honestly it wasn’t easy because there wasn’t much substance. I recently read an article talking about a Carnegie Mellon University study that did a readability analysis of the 2016 US Presidential campaign speeches. I thought the findings where interesting in that Donald Trump scored the lowest, he spoke at a 5th grade level while Bernie Sanders came in at an 11th grade level.

I’m not sure what conclusions I can draw from the results but my gut says Donald Trump is connecting with the masses because he speaks on their grade level. According to education experts the average US citizen reads or understands on average at an 8th grade level. So it makes sense that people gravitate to Trump because his message resonates or is clearer to more Americans.

So what this says to me is our educational system is failing our democracy! Because an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people. Our survival as a FREE people is at stake people — wake up!

Articles of Interest

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Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain

Here are a few images I’ve taken over the years living in Colorado at the base of Pikes Peak!

Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The ultra-prominent 14,115-foot (4,302.31 m) fourteener is located in Pike National Forest, 12.0 miles (19.3 km) west by south (bearing 263°) of downtown Colorado Springs inEl Paso County, Colorado, United States. The mountain is named in honor of American explorer Zebulon Pike who was unable to reach the summit. The summit is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude.

[supsystic-gallery id=’1′ position=’center’]

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In Your Face or Interface?

In Your Face or Interface?Originally published April 10, 2001

Successful products have at least one commonality, good interface design.

As Don Norman says, “What’s wrong with interfaces?

The question, for one. The interface is the wrong place to begin. It implies you already have done all the rest and now you want to patch it up to make it pretty for the user.

That attitude is what is wrong with the interface (Laurel, 1991).

User Centered Design

Interface design should begin with the user and the reasons they are using the product. As Negroponte says, “Why can’t telephone designers understand that none of us want to dial a telephone? We want to reach people on the telephone!”

We are at a place in history where we are adapting computers to human needs by replicating human features into processes and systems and by researching the cognitive, linguistic, and psychological events of humans.

Interface design goes beyond static screens with no color or moving elements. Interface design is shifting metaphors and designing products from a holistic perspective (Saba, 1995).

Don Norman says, “Every interface designer is a system designer” (Laurel, 1991). This system can include utilizing constructivist learning theories to provide users with new ways of thinking about books, classrooms, and learning (Cunningham, 1993).

Future interfaces can provide learners with interfaces allowing them to collaborate with other students on a project; products that give a user the ability to develop their own links throughout a hypertext book to create meanings for themselves; interfaces that provide an expert at your fingertips to clarify or restate a theory.

Designs will incorporate new modalities such as spoken language as well as advanced graphical techniques such as animation and virtual reality. The future of interface design is a total system.

Every element in the design process plays a part in the development of the interface, from the kind of hardware, content, and the people developing the product.

However, no matter how technologies change over the next five years, the systematic ways of studying people is still going to be the key to success of interface designs (Laurel, 1993).

Interface Design in a Hypertext Environment

When designing an interface you must keep in mind ease of use and a users ability to navigate successfully through the information.

A user can get disoriented easily when using a hypertext document so you want an intuitive and logical organization of information.

You want people to be able to use your product without much prior training. Therefore, when designing an interface three of the most important issues are:

  • identifying users’ needs;
  • generating a metaphor;
  • creating a functional model.

Design Phases

The conceptualization phase includes a task analysis. A task analysis identifies your specific users’ needs, their tasks and or topics. It is critical to a successful design to understand the total system of how, when, what, and where the information is accessed and used.

Design decisions should be made considering this identified audience. Users can be brought into the design process early by conducting focus groups using storyboards to illustrate the interface design. This early evaluation prototyping process can introduce valuable information and save time (Laurel, 1993).

Generating a metaphor introduces and familiarizes the user with the structure and organization of the information. Metaphors help relate prior knowledge to new information (Gordon pg. 154) and anchor new information to old information.

This gives a learner an opportunity as Gagne (1985) would say to selectively encode the information for future retrieval.

The graphics related to this metaphor also play a key role in conveying information. Graphics capture the user’s attention and help them process relevant information (Gordon pg. 154-155) and the metaphor gives you the structure to “chunk” and logically group information for the learner (as cited in Fleming, 1993).

The user is then able to quickly scan the table of contents for the desired information and obtain it. Building an intuitive product is an important part of using a metaphor because the user is already familiar with the structure of the design.

Creating a functional model or rapid prototyping (as cited in Gordon, 1995) is a primary issue in interface design today. However, rapid prototyping can be as simple or complicated as you or your client desires.

There are several products available today giving designers the power to develop a prototype in just a few days. Since rapid prototyping has become so easy, usability testing has become even more important.

This formative evaluation or testing of a product design provides valuable information in the early stages of the design process. This feedback allows the designer opportunities to easily improve and change the interface saving time and money.

Prototyping can include either a basic storyboard or sketch of what a typical screen could look like or it could include a few branching buttons to other content areas in a computer based application or could be totally interactive piece of software (Gordon, 1995).

Prototypes are believable models of what you may want your real thing to look like, but more importantly prototyping is cost effective and is an efficient way of developing a usable interface. Important features of rapid prototyping are:

  • ability to get feedback from the user early in design phases;
  • ability to redesign user interface according to users needs and expectations;
  • saves time and money;
  • aids in developing a more user friendly product;
  • allows users to try out the interface.

Usability Testing

Usability testing is matched perfectly with rapid prototyping because it can be done simultaneously.

For example Sun began usability early in the design phase by asking users for feedback about their color paper based interface mockup. Another interesting formative test Sun conducted was a card sorting activity. They wrote concepts on index cards and had the users sort similar concepts into the same pile (Nielsen, 1995).

This activity provides the user an opportunity to chunk and organize information according to their perceptions (Fleming, 1993) and provides the designer with insight into their mental model (Nielsen, 1995).

Sun also filmed a person navigating through the prototype. Using two cameras they captured the computer screen and the second camera focused on the user recording their interactions.

Analysis of the video content is conducted to gain quantitative information, such as counting the number of test subjects who finish a particular task, or how long each task takes, or how many errors each makes, or how many questions asked while performing the task.

Testing can also be qualitative such as comments from the test subjects while performing tasks or observations of the test team. Data can be collected on the following:

  • task completion time,
  • task success rate,
  • user satisfaction,
  • user product preference.

There is also data logging software that can track the clicks of a person in a particular software program giving you the completion rates of tasks. Test goals should be specific, not general as in “testing if it works.” There are four types of usability testing:

Formative Evaluation is done early in a project helping to guide the design development.
Summative Evaluation is done when a project is complete.
Comparative Evaluation compares two ways of presenting the same information.
Protocol Analysis asks users to speak their thoughts either while performing a task (concurrent verbalization) or after (retrospective verbalization).

Instructional Strategies

Some other important instructional strategies when designing an interface is organizing information into consistent segments, presenting chunks or units of information and presenting concepts using multiple, complementary symbols, formats, and perspectives all which improves learning (Hannafin, 1993).

In hypertext it is important to use visual markers. Visual markers or symbols allows the user to determine where he/she is at within that document.

This helps alleviate what Kerr (as cited in Fleming, 1993) calls the “wayfinding problem.” Giving a user visual clues within a hypertext document or web site is critical to their ability to successfully navigate through that virtual space.

Upfront organizers and visual clues help the user orient themselves and make mental maps of the information. For example, by providing a visual marker such as a signature bar the user can determine where he/she is in the document at any given point. It is important to incorporate these points into the interface design.

Consistency is also critical as Tullis states (as cited in Gordon, 1994) “based on knowledge of the location of some items on the screen, one should be able to predict the locations of others” and that is achievable through using consistent page design.

A concern in web design is the user may not always come into a document from the top or home page. The user may do a search on the web and pull up a document in the middle of its hierarchical structure.

It is critical to give the user tools to navigate within that document without regard to the browser’s navigational tools. Providing consistent navigational buttons on each page, the user can always get to the top or home page of the document.

Interface, Hypertext and the Future

Hypertext through the World Wide Web (WWW) links us to the world. It links us to people we have never met before and to real experiences we could previously only read about.

The Internet’s WWW relies upon hypertext to disseminate information and interface design is a critical element to it’s success.

We are at a point in history where information can be disseminated at a pace before unknown to man. Over the past four years the Internet has changed our reality.

The rate of growth is exciting, Forrester Research states, ” By 2002, 43% of U. S. households will have access and over 320 million worldwide will be online by 2002.”

One final note, no matter how technologies change in the future, the systematic ways of studying people are still going to be the key to successful interface/hypertext designs (Laurel, 1993).

The future is here, let’s put on our best “interface”.


Cunningham, D. J., Duffy, T. M., & Knuth, R. A. (1993). Textbook of the future.

C. McKnight, A. Dillon, & J. Richardson (Eds.), Hypertext: A psychological perspective, (pp. 19-49). NY

Ellis Fleming, M., & Levie, W. H. (1993). Instructional message design. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Gagne, R. M., & Merrill, M. D. (1990). Integrative goals for instructional design. Educational Technology Research & Development, 38(1), 23-30.

Gordon, Sallie E. (1994). Systematic training program design: maximizing effectiveness and minimizing liability. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Park, I. & Hannafin, M. J. (1993). Empirically-based guidelines for the design of interactive multimedia. Educational Technology Research and Development, 41 (3), 63-85.

Laurel, B. (1991). Introduction. In The art of human-computer interface design (B. Laurel, Ed.). Menlo Park, CA: Addison Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.

Related Links Get the latest updates from the guru of usability and design: Jakob Neilsen.

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What I’m Reading

Found a great site anyone interested in the latest greatest technology gadgets, it’s called, (TNW). It was founded 10 years ago in 2006, the founders Boris and Patrick were looking for a tech event to showcase their new startup. When they couldn’t find one to meet their needs they decided to host their own. As they were organizing things, they soon realized they needed somewhere to promote the conference, and that’s how (TNW) was launched. Makes perfect sense to me, I’ve done this several times.

What I find most interesting about TNW is it is a future-proof tech media company focusing on a cross-generational group and helps them get the most out of technology by informing them through stories and insights, and by bringing them together through events and workspaces. It takes a glimpse to how technology is influencing our lives and social interactions. Gotta love people who are on the bleeding edge, I know I do.

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Weekly Site Review

This week I found a great FREE online mind mapping tool called MindMup (

Some of you might be asking, “What is mind mapping?” In the simplest of definitions, it is a way to take notes using visual elements. Mind mapping offers an overview of a topic and complex information and often gives someone the ability to create new ideas and build connections. Through the use of colors, images and words, mind mapping encourages you to begin with a core idea and expand to more in-depth sub-topics.

Mind Mapping Example
Mind Mapping Example

MindMup has an intuitive user interface and connects to your Google Drive account so you are able to share your work. There are also some great additional features you can use like realtime collaboration on a map so updates change concurrently and shown almost instantly to everyone in the group. Additionally, you can manage hierarchies of tasks by propagating statuses to parent nodes. For example, when all sub-taks are completed, the parent task is automatically marked as completed. Another nice feature when building large maps is the abilities to convert the funky curve connectors into straight lines — I really like this feature! Finally, two nice extensions include the ability to store your maps on both Github and Dropbox!

So if you are looking for a great online FREE mind mapping tool to use in your classroom, business, or online collaborative projects then consider looking at MindMup — you don’t have anything to loose!

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