Need to Catch Up With Digital Natives? Check These Seven Projects to Spread Your Digital Wings

If you’re under 25 or so, you probably don’t need much training on how to share digital photos, make a digital sketch, create an animated cartoon, make a personalized online map, or the like. I wrote the last three installments of my World Wide Wade column for everyone else: The majority of everyday computer users who are vaguely aware of all the amazing tools popping up in the digital media world, and who might even enjoy putting some of them to creative use, but who could use a few handy pointers.

But my “Seven Projects to Stretch Your Digital Wings” series appeared in three episodes over the course of two weeks, which isn’t too handy. So I thought it might be useful to list all seven projects in one place. Here we go:

1. Make a Digital Painting with Brushes. Relive your finger-painting days using the same iPhone app used by artist Jorge Colombo to create the June 1 cover of The New Yorker.

2. Start Lifestreaming with Friendfeed or Posterous. Set up a “lifestream”—2009’s replacement for the old-fashioned blog—as a locus for all your social media activities.

3. Document a Space with Photosynth. Use Microsoft’s amazing experimental software for collating hundreds of digital pictures of a single space or object into an immersive, three-dimensional environment.

4. Become an Amateur Podcaster with AudioBoo. Learn how to use this UK-born iPhone app to make mini-podcasts that all your friends can listen to.

5. Create a Short Animated Film with Xtranormal.
Be the first on your block to script your own computer-animated short feature, using a nifty new “text-to-movie” technology.

6. Put Yourself on the Map with Platial. Learn the basics of photo-enhanced storytelling using digital maps.

7. Become a Virtual Architect in Second Life. Try your hand at building 3-D virtual objects inside the world’s most flexible and welcoming social virtual world.

Have fun and let us know what you created!

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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5 responses to “Need to Catch Up With Digital Natives? Check These Seven Projects to Spread Your Digital Wings”

  1. An eighth option “to spread your digital wings” is available from a Boston start up This Web 2.0 site provides free drawing and animation tools to do something as simple as a quick sketch or a sophisticated vector animation. Even if you can’t draw, you can animate by using art shared by the DoInk community. Your DoInk clips can be embedded in a blog, site, FaceBook, MySpace or pushed to YouTube.

  2. Miramon says:

    Xtranormal looks cute — kind of like an animated version of lolcats — and doink looks nice too, but I’d be surprised if 1 in 1000 under-25-year-olds have ever constructed an animation using those or any other tools or services.

    As a former game designer, I also have to object to Second Life. I think there are many better tools available — inexpensive ones, too. I don’t think Second Life would have survived this long if not for its popular “adult” areas.

  3. Miramon says:

    By the way, though I haven’t even tried it, I’d be infinitely more inclined to prefer Google SketchUp to Second Life for virtual architecture.

    Apparently version 7.1 has lots of cool new features to work together with Google Maps.