School’s out Friday

In case you missed it, it was Michael Jackson’s birthday on the 29th of August, and the flash mobs were out to celebrate the occasion. This mob was in Seattle at Pioneer Square and the Pike Place Market. Same routine at different times of the day. If you haven’t noticed, I just love a good flash mob occasion. Must get involved in one myself one day!

Have a great weekend.  Happy Father’s Day to you all you Dads celebrating here in Australia this Sunday.

School’s out Friday

Flash mob tribute to Michael Jackson in Sergels Torg, Stockholm.

Same song, same flash mob, this time at Central station, Stockholm. 

Flash mob in London : tribute to Michael Jackson on June 26th, the day of his death.

Wikipedia explains a Flash mob as being;

A flash mob (or flashmob[1]) is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action for a brief time, then quickly disperse. The term flash mob is generally applied only to gatherings organized via social media or viral emails. The term is generally not applied to events organized by public relations firms or as publicity stunts.

Michael Jackson’s recent passing has seen a spate of Flash mobs coming together to pay tribute to a singer who had an enormous influence on people the world over. You can find evidence of this by searching on YouTube for ‘Flash mobs Michael Jackson’. It appears there are more to come. On August 9th in London a mass ‘Thriller’ dance is planned as a ‘Goodbye Party’. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for the YouTube footage of that one.

It’s interesting how technology has enabled people from various backgrounds to congregate for action, be it a tribute to Michael Jackson or protests in the streets of Iran. In the videos above, what is most noticeable are the mobile phones raised high in salute, capturing the evidence so that it can be passed on and shared.    

I hope your weekend holds something exciting that you can share with friends and family. Enjoy it.   

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School’s out Friday


How could today’s School’s out Friday be anything but Michael Jackson. His death today shocked the world. Despite the controversy that dogged him over the last 10 or so years, he was the consummate showman when he graced a stage.

I know, because I was lucky enough to go to his concert at Olympic Park here in Melbourne in 1987. It was the concert that coincided with the the Thriller Album. I’ll never forget the opening sequence, as the stage opened up and the zombie like figures made their way up stairs onto the stage.

Another unforgettable part of that concert was the figure dancing in the rooftop turret of Government House. I don’t suppose I’ll ever know if he or she was a random person who had access or if they were strategically placed there, but I’ll never forget their shadow dancing to the music. It was mesmerising.

This song, Man in the Mirror, is my favourite Michael Jackson song. Personally, I think it was when he was at his best.

Deepak Chopra has written a tribute to Michael Jackson on the Huffington Post. It is worth reading. It reveals a man not many of us saw in the media maelstrom that haunted him wherever he went.

Listen to some of Michael’s music this weekend.  I have no doubt we all hold memories of good times spent listening and maybe even dancing to the songs he penned and performed.

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Digital literacy lessons for all- me included! Glad you’re alive and well Jeff!

I woke today to the news that Michael Jackson was in hospital and it was suspected that he had died. I didn’t go to my computer, just followed the mainstream media on Channel Nine here in Melbourne for awhile. Eventually news broke that he had died.

I went to the computer and opened Twitter where the story was being discussed by all. Then Richard Wilkins on Channel Nine’s Today Show  announced he had just received a report saying that Jeff Goldblum had fallen from a cliff in New Zealand while filming and was dead. Now hearing it on mainstream media led to me sending out a tweet about it. That led to a series of retweets that spread like wildfire while I tried to verify if the story was true.

Some tweets came through pretty early on suggesting it was a hoax. The links wouldn’t open.  I went to Wikipedia and saw interesting developments take place within minutes. Jeff Goldblum’s page was open when I first visited. I refreshed not two minutes later and the page was locked to users who were new or unregistered.

Editing of this article by new or unregistered users is currently disabled.   

That led to me getting suspicious that something was up, be it truth or hoax. Right after this Richard Wilkins announced that New Zealand police were investigating the death of Jeff Goldblum from a fall while filming. Rightly or wrongly, I tweeted this, just as I had been tweeting about changes to the Wikipedia page. I searched the web for verification but the page that would have confirmed the hoax wouldn’t open. Later in the morning, Ann Van Meter sent the link that opened to Top Stories, a site that generates stories like this one.     

Refreshing the Wikipedia page was interesting over that period. At one stage they had information saying the reports of his death were likely a hoax. I tweeted this. At another stage this information was no longer on the page, but they had after his name his birthdate and death and referred to him in the past tense. Not soon after this the page was updated again with this information missing and he was once again discussed in the present tense.

Wikipedia page not long after mainstream media announcement.


Hoax detail.


Past tense reference to Jeff Goldblum.


(Using the history tab in Wikipedia enabled me to grab these screenshots of the relevant pages) 

At around this time, The Today Show’s, Karl Stefanovic, mentioned on Channel Nine that Twitter was reporting the story as a hoax. I tweeted this too.  I then started to read tweets about ethical behaviour and the like. I felt like some of this was directed at me. (Maybe that’s paranoia!) Here’s some of the flurry in a screen capture;


I’m prepared to admit that I feel pretty bad about putting out the Tweet in the first place. I trusted mainstream media. I honestly did not think Richard Wilkins would report something that had not been properly verified. The Today Show had been quite insistant earlier in the morning about saying that the reports of Michael Jackson’s death were coming from TMZ, a gossip website.   But I do think I was making a concerted effort to get verification from other Web sources.

It’s a lesson in Digital literacy for us all.

Should I have searched first and tweeted later? Probably.

Would this have been a good lesson to use with students as it happened? Absolutely.

Will I be using this post with the classes I teach? You betcha.

Have I learnt a lot this morning?  Too right I have. Snopes slipped my mind just when I needed it! 

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School’s out Friday

School will really be out for me next Friday. It’s a return to work for me next week; a dose of reality after the heady days of nothing on my agenda. Enjoy this ditty from Weird Al Yankevic as he ponders the wonder of Ebay to the tune of the Backstreet Boys ‘I want it that way’. Nearly 20 million people have viewed it already on YouTube.

Probably nice to revisit a Weird Al Yankovic effort from the past while we’re at it.   Here he is with ‘Eat it’, his parody of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat it’.

I have to confess that I went to a Michael Jackson concert at Olympic Park here in Melbourne in the mid ’80s. It was far and away the best concert I’ve ever been to. It was at the height of Michael Jackson’s career; Thriller had been released and he was in the white glove phase. His dancing was brilliant and the show was nothing short of spectacular. Pity that 20 years on his reputation is not what it used to be.

I hope your weekend holds something special for you. Enjoy.