Let's create a beautiful RSS feed UI for human before its dead in next year again.
For the past ten years, I have written a lengthy year-end series, documenting some of the dominant narratives and trends in education technology. I think it is worthwhile, as the decade draws to a close, to review those stories and to see how much (or how little) things have changed. You can read the series here: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.
I thought for a good long while about how best to summarize this decade, and inspired by the folks at The Verge, who published a list of “The 84 biggest flops, fails, and dead dreams of the decade in tech,” I decided to do something similar: chronicle for you a decade of ed-tech failures and fuck-ups and flawed ideas.
I started reading this over the holidays when Audrey released it. It took me four sittings to make it all the way through (in great part because it’s so depressing). I’ve finally picked it back up today to wallow through the last twenty on the list.
I’m hoping that at least a few people pick up the thread she’s always trying to show us and figure out a better way forward. The information theorist in me says that every student has only so much bandwidth and there’s an analogy to the Shannon Limit for how much information one can cram into a person. I’ve been a fan of Cesar Hidalgo’s idea of a personbyte (a word for the limit of information one can put into a person) and the fact that people need to collaborate to produce things bigger and greater than themselves. What is it going to take to get everyone else to understand?
If anything, the only way I suspect we’ll be able to better teach and have students retain information is to use some of the most ancient memory techniques from indigenous cultures rather than technologizing our way out of the perceived problem.
(only a small portion since HackedEducation doesn’t fit into my usual workflow)
In his review of Nick Srnicek’s book Platform Capitalism, John Hermann writes,
Platforms are, in a sense, capitalism distilled to its essence. They are proudly experimental and maximally consequential, prone to creating externalities and especially disinclined to address or even acknowledge what happens beyond their rising walls. And accordingly, platforms are the underlying trend that ties together popular narratives about technology and the economy in general. Platforms provide the substructure for the “gig economy” and the “sharing economy”; they’re the economic engine of social media; they’re the architecture of the “attention economy” and the inspiration for claims about the “end of ownership.”
Annotated on March 08, 2020 at 02:35PM
It isn’t just the use of student data to fuel Google’s business that’s a problem; it’s the use of teachers as marketers and testers. “It’s a private company very creatively using public resources — in this instance, teachers’ time and expertise — to build new markets at low cost,” UCLA professor Patricia Burch told The New York Times in 2017 as part of its lengthy investigation into “How Google Took Over the Classroom.”
Annotated on March 08, 2020 at 03:04PM
Structured markup geek. Programmer. Photographer. Author. XML. DocBook. XProc. XSLT. XQuery.
I am currently an employee of MarkLogic Corporation where I’m an engineer. I work out of my home in Austin, TX. Previously, I was employed by Sun Microsystems, Arbortext, and O’Reilly Media (then O’Reilly & Associates).
Noting Google's continued support for Microformats as a metadata format.
This week, I’ve been delighted to be able to catch up with Adam Procter, academic, games designer, open advocate, and long-time supporter of Thought Shrapnel.
We discussed everything from the IndieWeb to his PhD project, with relevant links below!
The session highlights one of the communities’ ongoing struggles is to help to define itself simply to a tremendously large group of people from different backgrounds and wealths of experiences. The community has build a massive Wiki of resources, tools, ideas, definitions, and brainstorming that can at times seem impenetrable to the newcomer. Simplifying and breaking things down into smaller constituent parts may be a helpful exercise.
Toward that end, as another potential entry-point to the community, I’ve created a page called IndieWeb Questions that aggregates and attempts to quickly answer the common Who, What, Why, How, When, Where questions about the IndieWeb and provide a range of low-level jumping off points to highlight further information, before attempting to provide more specific technical information.
I’d like to invite those who participated in the session yesterday, others in the community, and especially those who may be new to the community to contribute to the page or point out parts that they may find difficult to understand or confusing. If you can’t log into the wiki to do so (yet), feel free to join the chat and add your commentary there or post on your site of choice.
I’d also specifically challenge people to write essays (preferably on their own sites) about what the IndieWeb is to them, how they define it personally, and what they’d like to see in the future and post it in the Articles section of this new page. A diversity of perspectives here may be helpful in welcoming the broadest diversity of people into the community in the future.
As ever, I expect the idea of IndieWeb to mean something slightly different to everyone the same way that they’ll approach it with different technical abilities and personal preferences. Hopefully in the end, the playing field will level out for everyone and we’ll all just think of it as “using and being on the web”.
The Gopher story is a perfect case history for Adversarial Interoperability. The pre-Gopher information landscape was dominated by companies, departments, and individuals who were disinterested in giving users control over their own computing experience and who viewed computing as something that took place in a shared lab space, not in your home or dorm room.
Rather than pursuing an argument with these self-appointed Lords of Computing, the Gopher team simply went around them, interconnecting to their services without asking for permission. They didn't take data they weren't supposed to have—but they did make it much easier for the services' nominal users to actually access them.
The fascinating untold story of how the ancients imagined robots and other forms of artificial life—and even invented real automated machines
The first robot to walk the earth was a bronze giant called Talos. This wondrous machine was created not by MIT Robotics Lab, but by Hephaestus, the Greek god of invention. More than 2,500 years ago, long before medieval automata, and centuries before technology made self-moving devices possible, Greek mythology was exploring ideas about creating artificial life—and grappling with still-unresolved ethical concerns about biotechne, “life through craft.” In this compelling, richly illustrated book, Adrienne Mayor tells the fascinating story of how ancient Greek, Roman, Indian, and Chinese myths envisioned artificial life, automata, self-moving devices, and human enhancements—and how these visions relate to and reflect the ancient invention of real animated machines.
As early as Homer, Greeks were imagining robotic servants, animated statues, and even ancient versions of Artificial Intelligence, while in Indian legend, Buddha’s precious relics were defended by robot warriors copied from Greco-Roman designs for real automata. Mythic automata appear in tales about Jason and the Argonauts, Medea, Daedalus, Prometheus, and Pandora, and many of these machines are described as being built with the same materials and methods that human artisans used to make tools and statues. And, indeed, many sophisticated animated devices were actually built in antiquity, reaching a climax with the creation of a host of automata in the ancient city of learning, Alexandria, the original Silicon Valley.
A groundbreaking account of the earliest expressions of the timeless impulse to create artificial life, Gods and Robots reveals how some of today’s most advanced innovations in robotics and AI were foreshadowed in ancient myth—and how science has always been driven by imagination. This is mythology for the age of AI.
The modern world is full of technology, and also with anxiety about technology. We worry about robot uprisings and artificial intelligence taking over, and we contemplate what it would mean for a computer to be conscious or truly human. It should probably come as no surprise that these ideas aren’t new to modern society — they go way back, at least to the stories and mythologies of ancient Greece. Today’s guest, Adrienne Mayor, is a folklorist and historian of science, whose recent work has been on robots and artificial humans in ancient mythology. From the bronze warrior Talos to the evil fembot Pandora, mythology is rife with stories of artificial beings. It’s both fun and useful to think about our contemporary concerns in light of these ancient tales.
Adrienne Mayor is a Research Scholar Classics and History and Philosophy of Science at Stanford University. She is also a Berggruen Fellow at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Her work has encompasses fossil traditions in classical antiquity and Native America, the origins of biological weapons, and the historical precursors of the stories of Amazon warriors. In 2009 she was a finalist for the National Book Award.
We are beset by—and immersed in—apps and devices that are quietly reducing the amount of meaningful interaction we have with each other.
I came to it via an episode of the podcast The Happiness Lab.
The consumer technology I am talking about doesn’t claim or acknowledge that eliminating the need to deal with humans directly is its primary goal, but it is the outcome in a surprising number of cases. I’m sort of thinking maybe it is the primary goal, even if it was not aimed at consciously. ❧
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:35AM
Most of the tech news we get barraged with is about algorithms, AI, robots, and self-driving cars, all of which fit this pattern. I am not saying that such developments are not efficient and convenient; this is not a judgment. I am simply noticing a pattern and wondering if, in recognizing that pattern, we might realize that it is only one trajectory of many. There are other possible roads we could be going down, and the one we’re on is not inevitable or the only one; it has been (possibly unconsciously) chosen. ❧
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:36AM
What I’m seeing here is the consistent “eliminating the human” pattern. ❧
This seems as apt a name as any.
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:39AM
“Social” media: This is social interaction that isn’t really social. While Facebook and others frequently claim to offer connection, and do offer the appearance of it, the fact is a lot of social media is a simulation of real connection. ❧
Perhaps this is one of the things I like most about the older blogosphere and it’s more recent renaissance with the IndieWeb idea of Webmentions, a W3C recommendation spec for online interactions? While many of the interactions I get are small nods in the vein of likes, favorites, or reposts, some of them are longer, more visceral interactions.
My favorite just this past week was a piece that I’d worked on for a few days that elicited a short burst of excitement from someone who just a few minutes later wrote a reply that was almost as long as my piece itself.
To me this was completely worth the effort and the work, not because of the many other smaller interactions, but because of the human interaction that resulted. Not to mention that I’m still thinking out a reply still several days later.
This sort of human social interaction also seems to be at the heart of what Manton Reece is doing with micro.blog. By leaving out things like reposts and traditional “likes”, he’s really creating a human connection network to fix what traditional corporate social media silos have done to us. This past week’s episode of Micro Monday underlines this for us. (#)
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:52AM
Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist at USC wrote about a patient he called Elliot, who had damage to his frontal lobe that made him unemotional. In all other respects he was fine—intelligent, healthy—but emotionally he was Spock. Elliot couldn’t make decisions. He’d waffle endlessly over details. Damasio concluded that although we think decision-making is rational and machinelike, it’s our emotions that enable us to actually decide. ❧
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:56AM
And in the meantime, if less human interaction enables us to forget how to cooperate, then we lose our advantage. ❧
It may seem odd, but I think a lot of the success of the IndieWeb movement and community is exactly this: a group of people has come together to work and interact and increase our abilities to cooperate to make something much bigger, more diverse, and more interesting than any of us could have done separately.
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:58AM
Remove humans from the equation, and we are less complete as people and as a society. ❧
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:59AM
A version of this piece originally appeared on his website, davidbyrne.com. ❧
This piece seems so philosophical, it seems oddly trivial that I see this note here and can’t help but think about POSSE and syndication.
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 11:01AM
/feed/to the end of those URLs), I’ve made a few custom feeds for aggregated content.
However, knowing that some feeds are broadly available from my site isn’t always either obvious or the same as being able to use them easily–one might think of it as a(n) (technical) accessibility problem. I thought I’d make a few tweaks to smooth out that user interface and hopefully provide a better user experience–especially since I’m publishing everything from my website first rather than in 30 different places online (which is a whole other UI problem for those wishing to follow me and my content). Since most pages on my site have a “Follow Me” button (courtesy of SubToMe), I just needed to have a list of generally useful feeds to provide it. While SubToMe has some instructions for suggesting lists of feeds, I’ve never gotten it to work the way I expected (or feed readers didn’t respect it, I’m not sure which?) But since most feed readers have feed discovery built in as a feature, I thought I’d leverage that aspect. Thus I threw into the
<head> of my website a dozen or so links from some of the most typical feeds people may be most interested in from my site. Now you can click on the follow button, choose your favorite feed reader, and then your reader should provide you with a large list of feeds which you might want to subscribe. These now broadly include the full feed, a comments feed, feeds for all the individual kinds (bookmarks, likes, favorites, replies, listens, etc.) but potentially more useful: a “microblog feed” of all my status-related updates and a “linkblog feed” for all my link-related updates (generally favorites, likes, reads, and bookmarks).
Some of these sub-feeds may be useful in some feed readers which don’t yet have the ability for you to choose within the reader what you’d like to see. I suspect that in the future social readers will allow you to subscribe to my primary firehose or comments feeds, which are putting out about 85 and 125 posts a week right now, and you’ll be able to subscribe to those, but then within their interface be able to choose individual types by means of filters to more quickly see what I’ve been bookmarking, reading, listening to or watching. Then if you want to curl up with some longer reads, filter by articles; or if you just want some quick hits, filter by notes. And of course naturally you’ll be able to do this sort of filtering across your network too. I also suspect some of them will build in velocity filters and friend-proximity filters so that you’ll be able to see material from people who don’t post as often highlighted or to see people’s content based on your personal rankings or categories (math friends, knitting circle, family, reading group, IndieWeb community, book club, etc.). I’ve recently been enjoying Kicks Condor’s FraidyCat reader which touches on some of this work though it’s not what most people would consider a full-featured feed reader but might think of as a filter/reader dashboard sort of product.
Perhaps sometime in the future I’ll write a bit of code so that each individual page on my site that you visit will provide feeds in the header for all the particular categories, tags, and post kinds that appear on that page?That might make a clever, and simple little plugin, though honestly that’s the sort of code I would expect CMSes like WordPress to provide out of the box. Of course, perhaps broader adoption of microformats and clever readers will obviate the need for all these bits?
In this episode Terry Greene chats with @JohnStewartPhD, Assistant Director for the Office of Digital Learning at the University of Oklahoma. The main topic of discussion is the wonderfully successful Domain of One’s Own project, OU Create, which has produced thousands of openly shared web sites and blogs from students and faculty across the University.
Terry definitely has mentioned show notes with links, but I’m beginning to wonder if I should be following a different feed because I’m not seeing any of the great links I was hoping for recently from these episodes?
One of the questions that came up during the SPLOT workshop is if there’s a SPLOT for podcasting, which reminded me of this post Adam Croom wrote a while back about his podcasting workflow: “My Podcasting Workflow with Amazon S3.” . We’re always on the look-out for new SPLOTs to bring to the Reclaim masses, and it would be cool to have an example that moves beyond WordPress just to make the point a SPLOT is not limited to WordPress (as much as we love it) —so maybe Adam and I can get the band back together.❧
I just outlined a tiny and relatively minimal/free way to host and create a podcast feed last night: https://boffosocko.com/2019/12/17/55761877/
I wonder if this could be used to create a SPLOT that isn’t WordPress based potentially using APIs from the Internet Archive and Huffduffer? WordPress-based infrastructure could be used to create it certainly and aggregation could be done around tags. It looks like the Huffduffer username SPLOT is available.
–annotated December 17, 2019 at 10:46AM
Today folks are gathered at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mother of All Demos (“MOAD”), a notorious event held in 1968 in San Francisco’s Civic Auditorium, where SRI’s Douglas Engelbart and others demonstrated computer systems they were developing and which many folks point to as one of the most important events to presage and shape our digital technology environment today.