How do we come up with ideas? How do we make decisions? And how can we do both better? Steven Johnson has explored this question and written a dozen books about it. In this playful, thoughtful episode, Steven has some fascinating stories, like how Darwin made the decision to get married — or how a defecating duck helped lead to the invention of the computer. Through their own stories, Steven and Alan Alda share their thoughts about the transformative nature of ideas and what sort of environments best give rise to creativity.
I love the idea of the slow hunch discussed here. It’s part of the reason I keep a commonplace book. Johnson also discusses his own personal commonplace book, though he doesn’t give it that particular name here.
The commercial about Alda Communication Training makes me wonder if they recommend scientists and communicators have their own websites? In particular, I’m even more curious because of Johnson’s mention of his commonplace book and how he uses it in this episode. I suspect that scientists having a variety of interconnecting commonplaces (via Webmention) using basic IndieWeb or A Domain of One’s Own principles could better create slow hunches, create more links, increase creativity and diversity, and foster greater innovation. I’ll have to follow up on this idea. While some may do something slightly like this within other parts of social media, I don’t get the impression that it’s as useful a tool in those places (isn’t as searchable or permanent feeling, and is likely rarely reviewed over). Being able to own your digital commonplace as a regular tool certainly has more value as Johnson describes. Functionality like On This Day dramatically increases its value.
But there’s another point that we should make more often, I think, which is that one of the most robust findings in the social sciences and psychology over the last 20 years is that diverse groups are just collectively smarter and more original in the way that they think in, in both their way of dreaming up new ideas, but also in making complicated decisions, that they avoid all the problems of group think and homogeneity that you get when you have a group of like minded people together who are just amplifying each other’s beliefs.—Steven Johnson [00:09:59]
Think about a big decision in your life. Think about the age span of the people you’re talking to about that choice. Are they all your peers within three or four years? Are you talking somebody who’s a generation older and a generation younger?—Steven Johnson [00:13:24]
I was talking to Ramzi Hajj yesterday about having mentors (with a clear emphasis on that mentor being specifically older) and this quote is the same sentiment, just with a slightly different emphasis.
One of the things that is most predictive of a species, including most famously, humans, of their capacity for innovation and problem solving as an adult is how much they play as a newborn or as a child.—Steven Johnson [00:28:10]
Play is important for problem solving.
I think you boil this all down into the idea that if you want to know what the next big thing is, look for where people are having fun.—Alan Alda [00:31:35]
This is interesting because I notice that one of the binding (and even physically stated) principles of the IndieWeb is to have fun. Unconsciously, it’s one of the reasons I’ve always thought that what the group is doing is so important.
Ha! Alda has also been watching Shtisel recently [00:50:04].
It takes a bit more work to learn all of the tools and what is available when you can install many kinds of web sites and web-based apps and manage access to them. But as owner of your own domain, you get to fully control your footprint on the web.
If this has a ring of interest to you, this summer we revive last year’s summer Domain Camp, a set of activities and support areas to help you learn what you can do inside the big cpanel of possibilities (that’s your domain dashboard).
Each week we will include an intro video, a set of activities to do inside your domain, open office hours, and community spaces to ask and answer questions.
Sick and tired of corporate social media silos owning your online identity and content? Domain Camp is back again this year to help people learn in small, easy chunks how to take back their online lives. There’s lots of online help and interaction to get you on your way.
If participants would like to use it, I’d welcome them to the wealth of additional resources on the IndieWeb wiki as well as an open and friendly online chat where one can find lots of help and advice as you work to make your domain your own.
What do you do with 11,000 blogs on a platform that is over a decade old? That is the question that the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies (DTLT) and the UMW Libraries are trying to answer. This essay outlines the challenges of maintaining a large WordPress multisite installation and offers potential solutions for preserving institutional digital history. Using a combination of data mining, personal outreach, and available web archiving tools, we show the importance of a systematic, collaborative approach to the challenges we didn’t expect to face in 2007 when UMW Blogs launched. Complicating matters is the increased awareness of digital privacy and the importance of maintaining ownership and control over one’s data online; the collaborative nature of a multisite and the life cycle of a student or even faculty member within an institution blurs the lines of who owns or controls the data found on one of these sites. The answers may seem obvious, but as each test case emerges, the situation becomes more and more complex. As an increasing number of institutions are dealing with legacy digital platforms that are housing intellectual property and scholarship, we believe that this essay will outline one potential path forward for the long-term sustainability and preservation.
Some interesting things to consider for a DoOO project in terms of longevity and archiving.
I increasingly find myself going to write replies to people on Twitter where I accidentally end up writing an essay, so I just decided to make a quick Wordpress so I can actually be vaguely effective in expressing myself? Anyway, here's a post:https://t.co/vKnEvXC89j
Should I post this in the CPLC moodle? I don't even know my dudes. Not gonna lie, I'm 10000% more comfortable writing this stuff on Twitter bc it feels less formal & therefore doesn't have to be "organized" or "actually good" & can just sometimes end up being surprisingly useful?
It’s threads/comments like these that make me think that using Micropub clients like Quill that allow quick and easy posting on one’s own website are so powerful. Sadly, even in a domains-centric world in which people do have their own “thought spaces“, the ease-of-use of tools like Twitter are still winning out. I suspect it’s the result of people not knowing about alternate means of quickly writing out these ideas and syndicating them to services like Twitter for additional distribution while still owning them on spaces they own and control.
I know that Greg McVerry, Aaron Davis, and I (among others) often use our websites/commonplace books for quick posts (and sometimes syndicate them to Twitter for others’ sake). We then later come back to them (and the resultant comments) and turn them into more fully fleshed out thoughts and create longer essays, articles, or blogposts like Jessica Chretien eventually did on her own website.
I wonder if it wasn’t for the nearness of time and the interaction she got from Twitter if Jessica would have otherwise eventually searched her Twitter feed and then later compiled the post she ultimately did? It’s examples like this and the prompts I have from my own website and notifications via Webmention from Twitter through Brid.gy that make me thing even more strongly that scholars really need to own even their “less formal” ideas. It’s oftentimes the small little ideas that later become linked into larger ideas that end up making bigger impacts. Sometimes the problem becomes having easy access to these little ideas.
All this is even more interesting within the frame of Jessica’s discussion of students being actively involved in their own learning. If one can collect/aggregate all their references, reading, bookmarks, comments, replies, less formal ideas, etc. on their own site where they’re easily accessed and searched, then the synthesis of them into something larger makes the learning more directly apparent.
Fellow educators, teachers, specialists, instructional designers, web designers, Domains proponents, programmers, developers, students, web tinkerers, etc.,
Want to expand the capabilities of what your own domain is capable of?
Interested in improving the #OER tools available on the open web?
Want to help make simpler, ethical digital pedagogy a reality in a way that students and teachers can implement themselves without relying on predatory third-party platforms?
Are you looking to use your online commonplace book as an active hub for your research, writing, and scholarship?
Bring your ideas and passions to help us all brainstorm, ruminate, and then with help actually design and build the version of the web we all want and need–one that reflects our values and desires for the future.
I’d like to invite you all to the 9th Annual IndieWeb Summit in Portland, Oregon, USA on June 29-30, 2019. It follows a traditional BarCamp style format, so the conference is only as good as the attendees and the ideas they bring with them, and since everyone is encouraged to actively participate, it also means that everyone is sure to get something interesting and valuable out of the experience.
We need more educators, thinkers, and tinkerers to begin designing and building the ethical #edtech, #OER, and interactive pedagogy systems we all want.
Come and propose a session on a topic you’re interested in exploring and building toward with a group of like-minded people.
While on-site attendance can be exciting and invigorating for those who can come in person, streaming video and online tools should be available to make useful and worthwhile virtual attendance of all the talks, sessions, and even collaborative build time a real possibility as well. I’ll also note that travel assistance is also available for the Summit if you’d like to apply for it, or you’re able to donate funds to help others.
I hope you can all attend, and I encourage you to invite along friends, students, and colleagues.
I heartily encourage those who don’t yet have a domain of their own to join in the fun. You’ll find lots of help and encouragement at camp and within the IndieWeb community so that even if you currently think you don’t have any skills, you can put together the resources to get something up and working before the Summit’s weekend is over. We’re also around nearly 24/7 in online chat to continue that support and encouragement both before and after the event so you can continue iterating on things you’d like to have working on your personal website.
Never been to an IndieWebCamp? Click through for some details about what to expect. Still not sure? feel free to touch base in any way that feels comfortable for you.
Everybody, every company, ought to have a website: a place they can call their own, a place where your best stuff lives, a place where, when people Google you, they find your site.
I tell every teenager: [...] create a website, get your domain name—preferably your own name—put stuff up there so when people search for you they find your best stuff. It's so important.
And if you're a business it goes double. A business that's not online practically doesn't exist.
Now you may say, "well i have a Facebook page, I have a Twitter account." You need your own spot! Sure you can have your Facebook page and Twitter feed and all that stuff, and it should link to your website, but you gotta have the website.
—Leo Laporte, The Tech Guy on the Premiere radio network, broadcaster, podcaster, tech pundit. Founder, TWiT Netcast Network. ❧
Here’s the description of the book from the publisher:
The world is working exactly as designed. The combustion engine which is destroying our planet’s atmosphere and rapidly making it inhospitable is working exactly as we designed it. Guns, which lead to so much death, work exactly as they’re designed to work. And every time we “improve” their design, they get better at killing. Facebook’s privacy settings, which have outed gay teens to their conservative parents, are working exactly as designed. Their “real names” initiative, which makes it easier for stalkers to re-find their victims, is working exactly as designed. Twitter’s toxicity and lack of civil discourse is working exactly as it’s designed to work.The world is working exactly as designed. And it’s not working very well. Which means we need to do a better job of designing it. Design is a craft with an amazing amount of power. The power to choose. The power to influence. As designers, we need to see ourselves as gatekeepers of what we are bringing into the world, and what we choose not to bring into the world. Design is a craft with responsibility. The responsibility to help create a better world for all. Design is also a craft with a lot of blood on its hands. Every cigarette ad is on us. Every gun is on us. Every ballot that a voter cannot understand is on us. Every time social network’s interface allows a stalker to find their victim, that’s on us. The monsters we unleash into the world will carry your name. This book will make you see that design is a political act. What we choose to design is a political act. Who we choose to work for is a political act. Who we choose to work with is a political act. And, most importantly, the people we’ve excluded from these decisions is the biggest (and stupidest) political act we’ve made as a society.If you’re a designer, this book might make you angry. It should make you angry. But it will also give you the tools you need to make better decisions. You will learn how to evaluate the potential benefits and harm of what you’re working on. You’ll learn how to present your concerns. You’ll learn the importance of building and working with diverse teams who can approach problems from multiple points-of-view. You’ll learn how to make a case using data and good storytelling. You’ll learn to say NO in a way that’ll make people listen. But mostly, this book will fill you with the confidence to do the job the way you always wanted to be able to do it. This book will help you understand your responsibilities.
I suspect that this book will be of particular interest to those in the IndieWeb, A Domain of One’s Own, the EdTech space (and OER), and really just about anyone.
How to participate
I’m open to other potential guidelines and thoughts since this is incredibly experimental at best, but I thought I’d lay out the following broad ideas for how we can generally run the book club and everyone can keep track of the pieces online. Feel free to add your thoughts as responses to this post or add them to the IndieWeb wiki’s page https://indieweb.org/IndieWeb_Book_Club.
Buy the book or get a copy from your local bookstore
Read it along with the group
Post your progress, thoughts, replies/comments, highlights, annotations, reactions, quotes, related bookmarks, podcast or microcast episodes, etc. about the book on your own website on your own domain. If your site doesn’t support any of these natively, just do your best and post simple notes that you can share. In the end, this is about the content and the discussion first and the technology second, but feel free to let it encourage you to improve your own site for doing these things along the way.
Folks can also post on other websites and platforms if they must, but that sort of defeats some of the purpose of the Indie idea, right?
I’ll also try to keep track of entries I’m aware about on my own site as read or bookmark posts which I’ll tag with #IWBCMM (ostensibly for IndieWeb Book Club Mike Monteiro), which we can also use on other social silos for keeping track of the conversation there.
Perhaps as we move along, I’ll look into creating a planet for the club as well as aggregating OPML files of those who create custom feeds for their posts. If I do this it will only be to supplement the aggregation of posts at the stub on indieweb.xyz which should serve as the primary hub for the club’s conversation.
If you don’t already have your own website or domain to participate, feel free to join in on other portions of social media, but perhaps consider jumping into the IndieWeb chat to ask about how to get started to better own your online identity and content.
If you need help putting together your own site, there are many of us out here who can help get you started. I might also recommend using micro.blog which is an inexpensive and simple way to have your own website. I know that Manton Reece has already purchased a copy of the book himself. I hope that he and the rest of the micro.blog community will participate along with us.
If you feel technically challenged, please ping me about your content and participation, and I’m happy to help aggregate your posts to the indieweb.xyz hub on your behalf. Ideally a panoply of people participating on a variety of technical levels and platforms will help us create a better book club (and a better web) for the future.
Of course, if you feel the itch to build pieces of infrastructure into your own website for improved participation, dive right in. Feel free to document what you’re doing both your own website and the IndieWeb wiki so others can take advantage of what you’ve come up with. Also feel free to join in on upcoming Homebrew Website Clubs (either local or virtual) or IndieWebCamps to continue brainstorming and iterating in those spaces as well.
Kickoff and Timeline
I’m syndicating this post to IndieNews for inclusion into next week’s IndieWeb newsletter which will serve as a kickoff notice. That will give folks time to acquire a copy of the book and start reading it. Of course this doesn’t mean that you couldn’t start today.
Share and repost this article with anyone you think might enjoy participating in the meanwhile.
I’ll start reading and take a stab at laying out a rough schedule. If you’re interested in participating, do let me know; we can try to mold the pace to those who actively want to participate.
I’ve already acquired a copy of the book and look forward to reading it along with you.
Reclaim Hosting is very excited to be running our second Domains event in 2019. We figured it was high time to get together again and we’re hoping this provides a fun and creative opportunity to explore a wide range of topics in educational technology. We are framing this event around the theme of going “Back to the Future,” a dreamvision of technoir and utopianism wherein the neon possibilities of EdTechs past merge with the shadowy data that reflects the uncertain futures of data ownership, privacy, access, targeted teaching tools, cloud infrastructures, as well as the home video market!
The conference will be held on June 10th and 11th at the 21c Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina, and we hope you can make it. You can see the call for presentations below, but we want to make a concerted effort to encourage folks to submit not only presentation and panels, but also dynamic talks that use art and technology to communicate their message. Our featured speakers, to be announced anon, will be using art and interactive explorations to interrogate their topics and we hope that those of you considering presenting will follow suit.
I’m planning on proposing an OER or other book related session at the upcoming IndieWebCamp New Haven next weekend. If you’re interested or want to propose other ideas for #DoOO or #EdTech, I hope you’ll join us either in-person or remotely.
Academics who need a personal website, check out my https://t.co/onrqJPt3Nq project, a ready-to-fork GitHub pages template supporting CV-style content. Difficulty is more than using Wordpress but lower than building your own site from scratch. Over 2,500 people have tried it out!
Here are my answers to Alan’s list of questions about my domain:
What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name?
I’ve spent 20+ years working in the entertainment industry in one way or another and was enamored of it long before that. Boffo and socko are slanguage from the trade magazine Variety essentially meaning “fantastically, stupendously outstanding; beyond awesome”, and used together are redundant. I was shocked that the domain name was available so I bought it on a whim expecting I’d do something useful with it in the future. Ultimately who wouldn’t want to be Boffo, Socko, or even both?
In my youth I think I watched Muppets Take Manhattan about 1,000 times and apparently always thought Kermit was cool when he said “Boffo Lenny! Socko Lenny!”
What was your understanding, experience with domains before you got one? Where were you publishing online before having one of your own?
Over the ages I’d had several websites of one stripe or another going back to the early/mid-90’s when I was in college and everyone was learning about and using the web together. Many of my domains had a ~ in them which was common at the time. I primarily used them to promote work I was doing in school or with various groups. Later I remember spending a lot of time setting up WordPress and Drupal sites, often for friends, but didn’t actually do much with my own. For me it was an entry point into working with coding and simply playing with new technology.
I didn’t actually begin putting a lot of material online until the social media revolution began in 2006/2007. In 2008, I purchased a handful of domain names, many of which I’m still maintaining now. Ultimately I began posting more of my own material, photos, and observations online in a now defunct Posterous account in early 2010. Before it got shut down I had moved back to WordPress which gave me a lot more freedom and flexibility.
What was a compelling feature, reason, motivation for you to get and use a domain? When you started what did you think you would put there?
When I bought my first handful of domains, it was primarily to begin to own and brand my own identity online. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was going to do with them, but I was posting so much content to Facebook and Twitter I thought I ought to be posting it all (especially the longer form, and in my mind, more valuable content) to a site I owned and controlled and then syndicating the content to those other sites instead. Initially microblogging, bookmarking, posting checkins, and sharing photos made it easier to being writing and producing other things.
What kinds of sites have you set up on your domain since then? How are you using them? Please share URLs!
Most of my domains are personal and personal education related, though I do have a few for separate business/work purposes.
collect bookmarks of interesting things I see online or want to read in the future;
post about what I’m reading, watching, or listening to;
post what I’m eating, drinking, or places I’ve checked into, photos of things around me;
post podcasts and microcasts from time to time;
draft and synthesize big pieces of the above to write reviews or longer pieces (from articles to books) and publish them for others to read.
Generally I do everything others would do on any one of hundreds of other social media websites (and I’ve got all those too, though I use them far less), but I’m doing it in a centralized place that I own and control and don’t have to worry about it or certain pieces of functionality disappearing in the future.
In large part, I use my website like a modern day commonplace book. It’s where I post most of what I’m thinking and writing on a regular basis and it’s easily searchable as an off-board memory. I’m thrilled to have been able to inspire others to do much the same, often to the extent that many have copied my Brief Philosophy word-for-word to their “About” pages.
Almost everything I do online starts on my own domain now, and, when appropriate, I syndicate content to other places to make it easier for friends, family, colleagues, and others to read that content in other channels and communicate with me.
https://chrisaldrich.withknown.com — This is a WithKnown-based website that I used when I initially got started in the IndieWeb movement. It was built with IndieWeb and POSSE functionality in mind and was dead simple to use with a nice interface.
http://stream.boffosocko.com — Eventually I realized it wasn’t difficult to set up and maintain my own WithKnown site, and it gave me additional control. I made it a subdomain of my primary website. I’ve slowly been using it less and less as I’ve been able to do more and more with my WordPress website. Now I primarily use it for experiments as well as for quick mobile replies to sites like Twitter.
What helped you or would have helped you more when you started using your domain? What do you still struggle with?
Having more examples of things that are possible with a domain and having potential mentors to support me in what I was attempting to do. I wish I had come across the IndieWeb movement and their supportive community far earlier. I wish some of the functionality and web standards that exist now had been around earlier.
I still struggle with writing the code I’d like to have to create particular pieces of functionality. I wish I was a better UX/UI/design person to create some of the look and feel pieces I wish I had. Since I don’t (yet), I’m trying to help others maintain and promote pieces of their projects, which I use regularly.
I still wish I had a better/more robust feed reader more tightly integrated into my website. I wish there was better/easier micropub support for various applications so that I could more easily capture and publish content on my website.
What kind of future plans to you have for your domain?
I’d like to continue evolving the ability to manage and triage my reading workflows on my own site.
I’d like to be able to use it to more easily and prettily collect things I’m highlighting and annotating on the web in a way that allows me to unconditionally own all the relevant data without relying on third parties.
Eventually I’d like to be able to use it to publish books or produce and distribute video directly.
I’m also continuing to document my experiments with my domain so that others can see what I’ve done, borrow it, modify it, or more easily change it to suit their needs. I also do this so that my future (forgetful) self will be able to remember what I did and why and either add to or change it more easily.
Tomorrow I’m positive I’ll see someone using their own website to do something cool or awesome that I wish I had thought to do. Then I hope I won’t have to work too hard to make it happen for myself. These itches never seem to stop because, on your own domain, nearly anything is possible.
What would you say to other educators about the value, reason why to have a domain of your own? What will it take them to get going with their own domain?
Collecting, learning, analyzing, and creating have been central to academic purposes since the beginning of time. Every day I’m able to do these things more quickly and easily in conjunction with using my own domain. With new tools and standards I’m also able to much more easily carry on two-way dialogues with a broader community on the internet.
I hope that one day we’re able to all self-publish and improve our own content to the point that we won’t need to rely on others as much for many of the moving parts. Until then things continue to gradually improve, so why not join in so that the improvement accelerates? Who knows? Perhaps that thing you would do with your domain becomes the tipping point for millions of others to do so as well?
To get going it only takes some desire. There are hundreds of free or nearly free services you can utilize to get things rolling. If you need help or a mentor, I’m happy to serve as that to get you going. If you’d like a community and even more help, come join the IndieWeb chat room. You can also look for a local (or virtual) Homebrew Website Club; a WordPress Meetup or Camp, or Drupal Meetup or Camp; or any one of dozens of other groups or communities that can help you get moving.