Reply to This Indispensable Digital Research Tool, We can Say, Without Lying, Saves Time

Replied to This Indispensable Digital Research Tool, We can Say, Without Lying, Saves Time by Alan Levine (@cogdog) (Extend Activity Bank)

People will claim they can replace RSS Readers with social media streams like twitter. While we do get many key resources and news stories via social media, let’s dispute that claim:

  • Clutter, noise, distraction. What you get is interspersed with many things that are outside your interests, rants, yelling, silly gifs. That’s a lot of filtering.
  • You Miss It, You Lose it. Social media is focused at the head of the stream. While you sleep or actually do something productive away from social media, it all flows away. Yes, maybe your network can signal with repeating important things, but its spotty.
  • Duplication You have no means to quickly know what you have already looked at, and you see may the same story multiple times.
  • You Are Subject to Algorithms Especially on facebook, what you see is determined by the mysteries of an algorithm. Sure you choose sources by followers, but the means by which information is presented is determined by some outside automated entity.

This activity brings you an exception to the technology as time-saving lie; it’s old tool that many people have abandoned. I will wade carefully through the acronym jargon jungle, but we are talking about using an RSS Feed Reader to monitor the most recent news, blog posts, data from sources you choose to follow, not ones dished out by some company’s algorithm.

RSS is incredibly valuable as is OPML.

I had used Feedly for several years, but made the switch to Inoreader last year, in part because it has one additional useful feature that Feedly doesn’t: OPML subscription. While it’s nice to be able to import and export OPML files, needing to remember to update them can be an unnecessary step, particularly if 20+ people need to do the update to capture all the new RSS feeds added. (As an example, say one or two students join a class late and everyone has already got the original OPML export and now needs to update to add a few more feeds to keep track of classroom activity.)  OPML subscription improves this by allowing the subscription to an OPML link with multiple feeds in it. If the original OPML file updates with new feeds, then the reader automatically updates them and pushes them out to everyone subscribed to that OPML file!

Think of an OPML subscription as an updating subscription to a bundle of RSS feeds which all also provide their own individual updates. Instead of subscribing to a bunch of individual feeds, you can subscribe to whole bundles of feeds.

For those looking for some sample OPML links to subscribe to, try some of mine which are listed at the bottom of the linked page. For some ideas about building your own data stores with OPML links for WordPress, try my Following Page solution. WordPress’s old Link Manager described on that page will provide the ability to store the data and provide the OPML links, the rest of the page discusses publishing it on one’s site so that it’s publicly available if you wish. URL schemes for sub-categories are discussed separately.

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How does it feel Jim Groom to have as many video stores in America as Blockbuster? #ReclaimVideo
Soon There Will Be Only One Blockbuster Left in the United States | New York Times

Wonder what those Alaska stores are doing with their old stock? Maybe John Oliver would move his movie memorabilia to Virginia?!

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Reply to Photo Kind not Displaying Information from Response Properties Box

Replied to Photo Kind not Displaying Information from Response Properties Box · Issue #184 · dshanske/indieweb-post-kinds (GitHub)
I am adding in information associated with author and source, however this is not being displayed when published.

@mrkrndvs This is because the photo template doesn’t call these particular details even though they may be provided. I could see an occasional use for including them, particularly to give credit to a photo that was taken by someone else, while in practice most may not use this because they’re posting their own photos.

In the meanwhile, it may not be too tough to cut/paste bits of appropriate code from other templates to get these to display the way you want them when they exist. You can create a custom photo template named kind-photo.php and put it in a folder entitled kind_views in either your theme or (preferably) in your child theme so it isn’t overwritten on plugin update.

I do still wish there were a master template in the set (heavily commented and unused) that used every variation of data that could be displayed (or perhaps even calculated for display) so that non-programmers could attempt to more easily cut/paste templates to get them to do what they wanted.

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Editing comments causes author avatar to disappear

Filed an Issue pfefferle/wordpress-semantic-linkbacks (GitHub)
wordpress-semantic-linkbacks - More meaningfull linkbacks

On the /wp-admin/comment.php admin page when manually editing a comment to change any of the common fields (author, email, the comment itself) and saving, everything saves as expected except for the avatar within the Semantic Linkbacks portion. If the avatar was changed (or one was added) things are saved properly, but when updating other fields and not changing the avatar itself, the avatar field data seems to be deleted on saving, thus making the author images disappear.

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👓 The Billionaire’s Typewriter | Butterick’s Practical Typography

Read The billionaire’s typewriter by Matthew But­t­er­ick (Butterick’s Practical Typography)
A friend pointed me to a story on Medium called “Death to Type­writ­ers,” by Medium de­signer Marcin Wichary. The story is about the in­flu­ence of the type­writer on dig­i­tal type­set­ting. It ref­er­ences my “ex­cel­lent list” of type­writer habits.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Min­i­mal­ism doesn’t fore­close ei­ther ex­pres­sive breadth or con­cep­tual depth. On the con­trary, the min­i­mal­ist pro­gram—as it ini­tially emerged in fine art of the 20th cen­tury—has been about di­vert­ing the viewer’s at­ten­tion from overt signs of au­thor­ship to the deeper pu­rity of the ingredients.  

This also sounds like a great way to cook!

Like all non­sense, it’s in­tended to be easy to swal­low.  

You’re giv­ing up far more than de­sign choice. Mr. Williams de­scribes Medium’s key ben­e­fit as res­cu­ing writ­ers from the “ter­ri­ble dis­trac­tion” of for­mat­ting chores. But con­sider the cost. Though he’s bait­ing the hook with de­sign, he’s also ask­ing you, the writer, to let him con­trol how you of­fer your work to read­ers. Mean­ing, to get the full ben­e­fit of Medium’s de­sign, you have to let your story live on Medium, send all your read­ers to Medium, have your work per­ma­nently en­tan­gled with other sto­ries on Medium, and so on—a sig­nif­i­cant concession.  

You’re definitely not owning your own data.

Boiled down, Medium is sim­ply mar­ket­ing in the ser­vice of more mar­ket­ing. It is not a “place for ideas.” It is a place for ad­ver­tis­ers. It is, there­fore, ut­terly superfluous.  

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A reply to Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Why Not Blog?

Replied to Why Not Blog? by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)

My friend Alan Jacobs, a key inspiration in my return (such as it is, so far) to blogging and RSS and a generally pre-Twitter/Facebook outlook on the scholarly internet, is pondering the relationship between blogging and other forms of academic writing in thinking about his next project. Perhaps needless to say, this is something I’m considering as well, and I’m right there with him in most regards.

But there are a few spots where I’m not, entirely, and I’m not sure whether it’s a different perspective or a different set of experiences, or perhaps the latter having led to the former.

I really like where you’re coming from on so many fronts here (and on your site in general). Thanks for such a great post on a Friday afternoon. A lot of what you’re saying echos the ideas of many old school bloggers who use their blogs as “thought spaces“. They write, take comments, iterate, hone, and eventually come up with stronger thoughts and theses. Because of the place in which they’re writing, the ideas slowly percolate and grow over a continuum of time rather than spring full-formed seemingly from the head of Zeus the way many books would typically appear to the untrained eye. I’ve not quite seen a finely coalesced version of this idea though I’ve seen many dance around it obliquely. The most common name I’ve seen is that of a “thought space” or sometimes the phrase “thinking out loud”, which I notice you’ve done at least once. In some sense, due to its public nature, it seems like an ever-evolving conversation in a public commons. Your broader idea and blogging experience really make a natural progression for using a website to slowly brew a book.

My favorite incarnation of the idea is that blogs or personal websites are a digital and public shared commonplace book. Commonplaces go back to the 15th century and even certainly earlier, but I like to think of websites as very tech-forward versions of the commonplaces kept by our forebears.

I’ve seen a few educators like Aaron Davis and Ian O’Byrne take to the concept of a commonplace, though both have primary websites for writing and broader synthesis and secondary sites for collecting and annotating the web. I tend to aggregate everything (though not always published publicly) on my primary site after having spent some time trying not to inundate email subscribers as you’ve done.

There’s also a growing movement, primarily in higher education, known as A Domain of One’s Own or in shortened versions as either “Domains” or even #DoOO which is a digital take on the Virgina Woolf quote “Give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days.”

There are a growing number of educators, researchers, and technologists reshaping how the web is used which makes keeping an online commonplace much easier. In particular, we’re all chasing a lot of what you’re after as well:

Part of what I’m after is consolidating my presence online as much as possible, especially onto platforms that I can control.

To me, this sounds like one of the major pillars of the IndieWeb movement which is taking control of the web back from corporate social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et. al. Through odd serendipity, I came across your micro.blog account this morning which led me to your website. A lot of the underpinnings of micro.blog are informed by the IndieWeb movement. In many subtle ways, I might suspect the two had a lot of influence on your particular choice of WordPress theme.

Tonight I’ve also seen your reply to Dan Cohen’s question:

I had previously replied to Dan’s original question, but somehow missed your side thread at the time. I suspect you didn’t see our branch of the conversation either.

Interestingly, your presumption that the replies/notifications stay within their own domains isn’t necessarily fait accompli, at least not any more. There’s a new web specification in the past few years called Webmention that allows notifications and replies to cross website boundaries unlike Twitter @mentions which are permanently stuck within Twitter. Interestingly, because of the way you’ve set up your WordPress website to dovetail with micro.blog you’re almost 90 percent of the way to supporting it easily. If you add and slightly configure the Webmention and Semantic Linkbacks plugins, the asides and other content you’re syndicating into micro.blog will automatically collect the related conversation around them back to your own posts thus allowing you to have a copy of your content on your own website as well as the surrounding conversation, which is no longer as diffuse as you imagined it needed to be. Here’s an example from earlier this evening where I posted to my site and your response (and another) on micro.blog came back to me. (Sadly there’s a Gravatar glitch preventing the avatars from displaying properly, but hopefully I’ll solve that shortly.)

This same sort of thing can be done with Twitter including native threading and @mentions, if done properly, by leveraging the free Brid.gy service to force Twitter to send your site webmentions on your behalf. (Of course this means you might need to syndicate your content to Twitter in a slightly different manner than having micro.blog do on your behalf, but there are multiple ways of doing this.)

I also notice that you’ve taken to posting copies of your tweeted versions at the top of your comments sections. There’s a related IndieWeb plugin called Syndication Links that is made specifically to keep a running list of the places to which you’ve syndicated your content. This plugin may solve a specific need for you in addition to the fact that it dovetails well with Brid.gy to make sure your posts get the appropriate comments back via webmention.

I’m happy to help walk you through setting up some of the additional IndieWeb tech for your WordPress website if you’re interested. I suspect that having the ability to use your website as a true online hub in addition to doing cross website conversations is what you’ve been dreaming about, possibly without knowing it. Pretty soon you’ll be aggregating and owning all of your digital breadcrumbs to compile at a later date into posts and eventually articles, monographs, and books.

Perhaps more importantly, there’s a growing group of us in the education/research fields that are continually experimenting and building new functionalities for online (and specifically academic) communication. I and a plethora of others would welcome you to join us on the wiki, in chat, or even at upcoming online or in-person events.

In any case, thanks for sharing your work and your thoughts with the world. I wish more academics were doing what you are doing online–we’d all be so much richer for it. I know this has been long and is a potential rabbithole you may disappear into, so thank you for the generosity of your attention.

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👓 I relished Om Malik’s post “Blogs are thought spaces” | Colin Walker

Read a post by Colin WalkerColin Walker (colinwalker.blog)
I relished Om Malik's post "Blogs are thought spaces" in which he said that he started blogging for two reasons: to share what he had learnt as a reporter, and to have a place to think out loud. This reminded me of something I wrote in 2014 where, I too, said I like to think out loud. Blogging has a...
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👓 Blogs as Thinking Spaces | Read Write Collect

Read Blogs as Thinking Spaces by Aaron DavisAaron Davis (collect.readwriterespond.com)
Nice reflection Colin. I find it interesting the way that focuses and intents associated with blogging develop and evolve over time. Although I do sometimes go back to my Twitter feed to find past conversations, I agree with you that it is a bit of dumping spot. For a long time my habit has been to ...
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👓 Blogging in 2017 | Colin Walker

Read Blogging in 2017 by Colin WalkerColin Walker (colinwalker.blog)
Having read a number of posts recently about people's experiences rediscovering blogging, and others questioning whether blogging was still a valid exercise in 2017, I thought it would be a good idea to re-examine why I do this. My own rediscovery period was last year. I was still writing but not tr...
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👓 Wrapping Up | Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Read Wrapping Up by Kathleen Fitzpatrick (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)
Yesterday, I wrapped up the revisions on Generous Thinking, and I’m finding myself of very mixed minds about where I am today. On the one hand, I am super excited about getting the manuscript into …

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

And probably letting myself do a bit more thinking-out-loud here.  

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👓 La plus rare et la plus pure | Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Read La plus rare et la plus pure by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)
After yesterday’s search for the source of Simone Weil’s oft-quoted “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity” went a bit Lot-49ish on me, I wondered whether I should just have been satisfied with that “attributed to.” But I’m glad I didn’t let it go, for a couple of reasons.
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👓 Generosity and Attention | Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Read Generosity and Attention by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)
Among the reading I’ve picked up thanks to suggestions from the most generous readers of the draft of Generous Thinking is a bit of Simone Weil. Alan Jacobs, who pointed me toward her work in a couple of spots, noted in particular that she “seems to have thought that [attention] is the primary form of generosity.” So I’ve been reading around in the places where her thoughts turn to attention, including Gravity and Grace and Waiting for God. A quick search online for Weil and attention, however, surfaces a vast number of references to her most quotable quote:
Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.
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👓 a note | Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Liked a post by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)
Thanks to @ayjay, I’m testing out micro.blog, linking the “aside” post type here and — if all goes well — eventually to twitter dot com as well. I’ve been working on consolidating my digital presence, and I’m hopeful that this might help.
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👓 On Generosity and Obligation | Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Read On Generosity and Obligation by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)
I am returning, at last, to the thoughts I was exploring in my recent posts on Miranda Joseph’s Against the Romance of Community (post 1 | post 2), and I’m starting to wrestle this morning with the big one: obligation. Thinking about community as a strategic rather than an idealized concept, community in its pragmatic coalition-building sense, leads me to consider the work required to create and sustain communities. If the kinds of communities that I am seeking in trying to imagine a more generous relationship not only between the university and the publics that it engages but also, crucially, within the university itself are first and foremost voluntary communities—self-organizing, self-governing collectives based in affiliation and solidarity—what exactly can we be said to owe those communities? Do those communities and our relationships to them impose obligations on us?

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

I am generous with what I have—I choose to be generous with what I have—precisely because we are no longer committed to one another as members of a shared social structure. Instead, the shift of responsibility for the public welfare toward private entities displaces our obligations to one another in favor of individual liberties and, I think, leaves us queasy about the notion of obligation altogether.  

The game theory of things tends to pull the society apart, particularly when it is easier to see who is paying what. If the richer end feels they’re paying more than their fair share, this can tend to break things down.

I suspect that Francis Fukuyama has a bit to say about this in how democratic societies built themselves up over time. Similarly one of his adherents Jonah Goldberg provides some related arguments about tribalism tending to tear democracies down when we revert back to a more primitive viewpoint instead of being able to trust the larger governmental structures of a democracy.

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👓 Writing Is Hard | Kathleen Fitzpatrick

Read Writing Is Hard by Kathleen FitzpatrickKathleen Fitzpatrick (Kathleen Fitzpatrick)
And then there are the mornings when I can spend two hours trying to untangle the logic in a single paragraph. I’ll grant that the thing I’m trying to say isn’t, and shouldn’t be, simple. And the paragraph is one of the keys to explaining why this chapter is in the book at all, so it’s important to get it right. But I didn’t expect it to be quite that hard to say. And the difficulty makes me wonder whether I’ve really gotten it straightened out at all.
Leaving this here, in any case, to remind me to be a bit humble in this process. I have found few things quite as difficult as writing with clarity.
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