There have been quite a few articles recently about the importance of the personal site, and the blogging community. It’s a sentiment I’m super excited about. Rian Van Der Merwe has probably the simplest point. Blogs are the front page of the internet, and it’s their freedom that gives them ...
For the past 15 years, I’ve included blog assignments in my classes as a default, routine, and generally low-stakes assignment. It began with a simple journal where students kept track of their progress through a video game, and through the years, the assignment has ranged from similarly simple logs or progress reports to the more ornate and decorous “features articles” where students seek to emulate magazine writing and engage with a public audience. At times, like when having a platform online was still a novelty and the adrenaline rush of Web 2.0-fueled activism took flight in the optimism of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, blogging totally made sense. As a classroom experience, a blog assignment helped students find their digital identity through written expression. By finding their voice digitally, students found themselves.
But while this will still happen, and while I still see brilliant writing from my students, the era when the exigency of a blog assignment can be reliably vindicated by an authentic external audience has ended. It’s time for something else, which means it’s time to re-evaluate what blogs have been and what we have needed them for in order to find the best ways to meet those goals through other means. In this short presentation, I will offer several suggestions.
This is, however, an aspirational proposal. I’m writing this between semesters as I reflect on the Fall — where blog assignments didn’t always meet my goals or in some cases arguably undermined other goals for my class — and thinking ahead to the Spring — when I hope to implement some new assignments based on this recent conviction about the ineffectuality of blog assignments. Therefore, by June, my expectation is that I will have something new to report: either finding success with an entirely new set of assignments and corresponding tools, or returning to the familiar embrace of blog assignments with a renewed sense of their value.
Most likely, I’ll be somewhere in between, but my hunch is that different forms of discursive content creation will help students take control of their learning and find direction for their digital identities. Whatever I find in the coming semester, I’m confident that I’ll be ready to share some insight into the intents, purposes, and outcomes of inviting students to do intellectual work on the internet of 2019.
Notes as they occur to me while I’m watching this video:
To me blogging is a means of thinking out loud.
Of course having a site doesn’t mean one is blogging. In fact, in my case, I’m collecting bits and pieces on my site like a digital commonplace book, and out of those collections come some quick basic thoughts, and often some longer pieces, which could be called blog posts, but really are essays that help to shape my thinking. I really wish more people would eschew social media and use their own websites this way.
We need to remember that a website or domain is FAR, FAR more than just a simple blog.
It kills me how many in the edtech/Domains space seem to love memes. It’s always cute and fun, but they feel so vapid and ineffectual. It’s like copying someone else’s work and trying to pass it off as our own. English teachers used to say, “Don’t be cliché,” but now through the use of digital memes they’re almost encouraging it. Why not find interesting images and create something new and dramatically different. (I can’t help but think of the incredibly unique Terry Gilliam “cartoons” in Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the phrase “and now for something completely different…”.
Zach uses the phrase “personal learning journal” but doesn’t quite get to the idea of using domains as digital commonplace books. He also looks at other social sites like Tik-Tok, Instagram stories, YouTube channels, and Twitter hashtags, but doesn’t consider that what those things are could easily be contained within one’s own personal site/domain. The IndieWeb has been hacking away at just this for several years now. What he’s getting at here, but isn’t quite saying is “Why can’t we expand the Domain beyond the restrained idea of “just a blog.” And isn’t that just the whole point of the IndieWeb movement? Your website can literally be anything you want it to be! Just go do it. Invent. Iterate. Have fun!
Zack should definitely take a look at what one can do with Webmention. See: Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet. I suppose some of the restraint is that most people don’t know that it’s relatively easy now to get one domain to be able to talk to another domain the way social sites like Facebook and Twitter do @mentions. And once you’ve got that, there’s a whole lot more you can do!
Perhaps what we should do is go back to the early web and the idea of “small pieces, loosely joined“. What can we do with all the smaller, atomized pieces of the web? How can we use these building blocks in new and unexpected ways? To build new and exciting things? What happens when you combine Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Blogger, Soundcloud, Foursquare, Flickr, Goodreads, Periscope, Lobsters, TikTok, Quora, Zotero, Flipboard, GitHub, Medium, Huffduffer, Plurk, etc., etc. altogether and mix them up in infinite ways? You get Domains! You may get something as cutting edge–but still relatively straight-laced–as Aaron Parecki’s website, which you might have to dig into to realize just how much he’s got going on there, or you might end up with something as quirky and cool as Kicks Condor’s site or his discovery/syndication channel Indieweb.xyz.
Want to be able to use your website to highlight and mark up what you read? Go ahead and do that! I have. You could keep a record of everything you watch or listen to. Make a food diary. Track where you’ve been. Want to keep collections of chicken related things so your site can have a chicken feed? Go crazy!!
So this website finally had an 11 year overdue overhaul. Total redesign and optimisation. If you need yours sorting out, talk to Thatch, who did this one – he did such a great job. Have a rummage around to behold the goodness and read all of the words. There’s a bit of me that feels like announc...
I’ve written and rewritten this post several times. Breaking my phobia is not the only reason I write here, but the only way I can break that phobia is to write. It’ll be months before I can …
Simplenote is powered by Automattic, which also runs WordPress.com — so as you can imagine, we love blogging. I’ve written for a few different sites, some using WordPress and some not. No matter where I publish my posts, I have a great, consistent writing experience by drafting in Simplenote fir...
Lurking, although the word seems to imply a negative connotation, has usefull aspects nonetheless. It is a way of determining rules of behaviour for new comers to a group.
The most obvious characteristic of a lurker is that he’s at the fringe of a group, listening and observing. Being at the fringe may seem like a bad place from the core, but in fact is a good position to build bridges to other groups, and be aware of other groups in the vicinity. In a face to face setting like a pub or a meeting of some kind, a lurker is visible, often shortly introduced after which the focus of attention shifts to the established group members again.
In on-line settings things are different. In some fora lurkers are encouraged to introduce themselves and then adviced to lurk, i.e. observe and learn for a while. But at all times there is no way of knowing how many lurkers are there that you are unaware of.
As lurkers are possible bridges to other groups, I as a blogger, would like to know:
- How many lurkers I have, who read my blog but don’t comment or post.
- Who they are
Serverlogs can give some clues, and I keep a close watch on them. Dave Winer’s RSS-tool also brings new info to light.
The weirdos and zeroes of blogging
If Medium is elevator music, indie blogging is punk.
It’s fair to think, what if you never monetize your website? What if no one reads your blog? What is it all for? We spoke with Khoi Vinh, Principal Designer at Adobe, author of How They Got Here: Interviews With Digital Designers About Their Careers, and a writer who’s been publishing on his blo...
In my posts about defining what makes a microblog post and guidelines for RSS, I talked a little about links but didn’t explore linkblogging. While many blog authors post primarily long essays, shorter link blogs are a common approach for bloggers who want to post new content several times a day. ...
Some subtle, but valuable disntinctions here. When is a bookmark not a bookmark.
Custom CSS, alerts and more
One of my favourite ever pieces of tech was the original Flip camera. It came out at a time when the only way to shoot video was to dust off that full-size camera — the one you only took out for big occasions such as a wedding or a christening. Those cameras said "I am serious, only shoot serious things." The Flip changed all that. With it's 640 x 480 video and it's big red button it instead said "shoot any old crap — it doesn't matter if it's good, just shoot it." Of course it was doomed to failure once a phone could take video and share it to everyone, but for a moment it removed the pressure to only shoot so called important things. It very much reminded me of when I would run around with a Super-8 camera in the back garden of my Mum's shop, making rubbish sci-fi movies with my mate Ken and my brother John. I've recently seen some tweets expressing the pressure some people feel — understandably — of publishing their thoughts on a blog, fearing what others might say, wondering if it's good enough to be published on this wonderful thing called the web. I would say treat the web like that big red button of the original Flip camera. Just push it, write something and then publish it. It may not be perfect, but nothing ever is anyway. I write all sorts of crap on my blog — some of it really niche like snippets for Vim. Yet it's out there just in case someone finds it useful at some point — not least me when I forget how I've done something. Right now there's a real renaissance of people getting back to blogging on their own sites again. If you've been putting it off, think about the beauty and simplicity of that red button, press it, and try and help make the web the place it was always meant to be.
The web’s history is always being written, and not just by me. So each month I like to go through and share bits of research and great posts that continue to explore the heart and history of the web. It’s my sites own personal weblog. Bringing Back the Indie Web With the many, many failures …
Ha! Look who’s talking. 🙂
Will you look at this?! Twitter has recreated the WordPress Gutenberg editor interface into their web product. Currently it only has a few blocks for text, photos, gifs, video, embeds, and polls, but it’s not completely horrible and it’s relatively fast and convenient.
The Gutenberg editor in WordPress:
In fact it appears that they’ve pared the editor down substantially. A few more tweaks and it might be as clean as the Medium editor experience.
Want to add a video, just drop a youtube link:
Want to embed a blog post from somewhere else? Add the link in your tweet and get a spiffy Twitter Card (just like oEmbed!)
I can see people getting awfully tired of clicking that “plus” button interminably though. Maybe if the interface could algorithmically choose where to break text the same way it determines what tweets I’m going to see?
Now they just need an edit button and they’ve got a “real” blogging experience, but one that’s editable in tiny 280 character chunks. Who has the attention span for more content than this anyway?
I can already tell that newspapers and magazines are going to love this. Just imagine the ease of doing shareable pull quotes this way?!
I can see journalistic institutions rebuilding their entire platforms on Twitter already!
Old CMS -> Tumblr -> Medium -> Twitter!
What is your favorite editing experience?
- The Tweetstorm-o-matic
- WordPress’ Gutenberg
- WordPress Classic Editor
Uh oh! I’m noticing that they’ve neglected to put a block in for a title area. Maybe we could just do a really short tweet up at the top of the thread instead? If only we could drag and drop tweets to reorder them? At least you can add new tweets into the middle of the stream.
Besides, who’s going to read anything but the headline tweet anyway. No one is ever going to read this far into a tweetstorm. Maybe a blog post where they at least know what they’re getting into, but never a 20+ card tweetstorm.
And would you look at that? They almost jumped ahead of Medium on inline annotations by allowing people to reply to very specific pieces of the text. I’m kind of disappointed that they don’t have the pretty green highlighter colors though.
Now if only I could register a custom domain on their service and have control over the CSS, Twitter could be a first class open web CMS.
*Sigh* I suppose until then I’ll just stick with my humble little website that allows me to own and control my own data on my own domain name and communicate with others using simple web standards.