🔖 Read.as

Bookmarked Read.as by Matt BaerMatt Baer (Read.as)
Long-form reader built on open protocols.

This is a cool looking reader project that’s got some ActivityPub. Would be cool to see integrated microformats h-feeds or even some mixing with Microsub to help bridge the Fediverse and IndieWeb efforts. His write.as project is fantastic looking too.

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🔖 Open Design Kit: A toolkit for designing with distributed collaborators | Bocoup

Bookmarked Open Design Kit: A toolkit for designing with distributed collaborators by Jess KleinJess Klein (bocoup.com)

Today, we are pleased to announce Open Design Kit – a collection of remixable methods designed to support creativity and problem solving within the context of the agile and distributed 21st century workplace. We are creating this kit to share the techniques we use within our open design practice at Bocoup and teach to collaborators so they can identify and address design opportunities. As of the publication of this post, the kit can be accessed in a GitHub repository and it contains a dozen methods developed by fifteen contributors – designers, educators, developers from in and outside of Bocoup.

Design literacy needs to be constantly developed and improved throughout the software and product development industry. Designers must constantly level up their skillsets with lifelong learning. Engineers often need to learn how to collaborate and incorporate new practices into their workflow to successfully support the integration of design.

Clients and stakeholders are repeatedly challenged by the fact that design is a verb that needs constant attention and not a noun that is handed off.

To address this, Bocoup is openly compiling a suite of learning materials, methods, and systems to help our staff, clients, colleagues, and community better understand how we design and when to roll up their sleeves and get in on the action. It is our hope that this exploration will be useful for other companies and individuals to incorporate into their practice.

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📺 IndieWebCamp NYC 2018 Jess Klein Keynote | YouTube

Watched IndieWebCamp NYC 2018 Keynote: Designing for participation in open spaces by Jess Klein from YouTube

Catching up on the last of the keynotes that I missed a few weeks back from IWC-NYC. Now I’ll have to spend some time going through the materials Jess highlighted…

Read Tending towards 1.0 | With Known by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (groups.google.com)

Before we begin -

  1. Hi! I'm going to return to spending more time on Known. As you may know, I was Director of Investments at Matter Ventures for the last two years or so, which occupied a disproportionate amount of my time. This is no longer the case. While I'm working on another open source project - Unlock - during the day, I'll be able to devote more attention to Known.
  2. Known deserves a 1.0 release, and will get one. Marcus and I have spoken quite a bit about the route forward.
  3. Commercial enhancements to Known, like the hosted service and Convoy, will get their own update. Going forward, any commercial ambitions or support for Known will be secondary to the open source project, if they exist at all.

Okay. With all of that said, I'd like to put the following out for discussion. Replies, questions, and criticisms are welcome!

This may be some of the best news I’ve heard in months! Known is one of my favorite open source CMSes that’s easy to spin up and use. It also supports so many awesome IndieWeb specs like Webmention, Micropub, WebSub, etc. right out of the box.

The runner up awesome news is that Reclaim Hosting is very likely to revamp their installatron version of it.

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👓 Why I’m leaving Micro.blog | Belle B. Cooper

Read Why I'm leaving Micro.blog by Belle B. CooperBelle B. Cooper (blog.bellebcooper.com)
I've come and gone from Micro.blog several times before. I joined long before the Kickstarter, when barely anyone was there. I tried it again after the Kickstarter, when the community looked more like it does today. And I came back again a few weeks ago for the most fun, if not the longest, period of time I've spent there.
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👓 Linux 4.19-rc4 released, an apology, and a maintainership note | Linus Torvalds

Read Linux 4.19-rc4 released, an apology, and a maintainership note by Linus Torvalds (lore.kernel.org)
This is my reality. I am not an emotionally empathetic kind of person and that probably doesn't come as a big surprise to anybody. Least of all me. The fact that I then misread people and don't realize (for years) how badly I've judged a situation and contributed to an unprofessional environment is not good.
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👓 Forking is a Feature | Gary Pendergast

Read Forking is a Feature by Gary Pendergast (Gary Pendergast)
There’s a new WordPress fork called ClassicPress that’s been making some waves recently, with various members of the Twitterati swinging between decrying it as an attempt to fracture the WordPress community, to it being an unnecessary over-reaction, to it being a death knell for WordPress. Pers...

Again, here, I’m reminded of some of the benefits that the BackDrop fork of Drupal is providing not only to itself, but to the larger Drupal community. Naturally there’s a better way of doing these things, but it takes foresight and work–a lot of work.

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The Sixth “R” of Open Educational Resources

The 5 R’s

I’ve seen the five R’s used many times in reference to the OER space (Open Educational Resources). They include the ability to allow others to: Retain, Reuse, Revise, Remix and/or Redistribute content with the appropriate use of licenses. These are all some incredibly powerful building blocks, but I feel like one particularly important building block is missing–that of the ability to allow easy accretion of knowledge over time.

Version Control

Some in the educational community may not be aware of some of the more technical communities that use the idea of version control for their daily work. The concept of version control is relatively simple and there are a multitude of platforms and software to effectuate it including Git, GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket, SVN, etc. In the old days of file and document maintenance one might save different versions of the same general file with increasingly different and complex names to their computer hard drive: Syllabus.doc, Syllabus_revised.doc, Syllabus_revisedagain.doc, Syllabus_Final.doc, Syllabus_Final_Final.doc, etc. and by using either the names or date and timestamps on the file one might try to puzzle out which one was the correct version of the file that they were working on.

For the better part of a decade now there is what is known as version control software to allow people to more easily maintain a single version of their particular document but with a timestamped list of changes kept internally to allow users to create new updates or roll back to older versions of work they’ve done. While the programs themselves are internally complicated, the user interfaces are typically relatively easy to use and in less than a day one can master most of their functionality. Most importantly, these version control systems allow many people to work on the same file or resource at a time! This means that 10 or more people can be working on a textbook, for example, at the same. They create a fork  or clone of the particular project to their personal work space where they work on it and periodically save their changes. Then they can push their changes back to the original or master where they can be merged back in to make a better overall project. If there are conflicts between changes, these can be relatively easily settled without much loss of time. (For those looking for additional details, I’ve previously written Git and Version Control for Novelists, Screenwriters, Academics, and the General Public, which contains a variety of detail and resources.) Version control should be a basic tool of every educators’ digital literacy toolbox.

For the OER community, version control can add an additional level of power and capability to their particular resources. While some resources may be highly customized or single use resources, many of them, including documents like textbooks can benefit from the work of many hands in an accretive manner. If these resources are maintained in version controllable repositories then individuals can use the original 5 R’s to create their particular content.

But what if a teacher were to add several new and useful chapters to an open textbook? While it may be directly useful to their specific class, perhaps it’s also incredibly useful to the broader range of teachers and students who might use the original source in the future? If the teacher who forks the original source has a means of pushing their similarly licensed content back to the original in an easy manner, then not only will their specific class benefit from the change(s), but all future classes that might use the original source will have the benefit as well!

If you’re not sold on the value of version control, I’ll mention briefly that Microsoft spent $7.5 Billion over the summer to acquire GitHub, which is one of the most popular version control and collaboration tools on the market. Given Microsofts’ push into the open space over the past several years, this certainly bodes well for both open as well as version control for years to come.

Examples

A Math Text

As a simple example, lets say that one professor writes the bulk of a mathematics text, but twenty colleagues all contribute handfuls of particular examples or exercises over time. Instead of individually hosting those exercises on their own sites or within their individual LMSes where they’re unlikely to be easy to find for other adopters of the text, why not submit the changes back to the original to allow more options and flexibility to future teachers? Massive banks of problems will allow more flexibility for both teachers and students. Even if the additional problems aren’t maintained in the original text source, they’ll be easily accessible as adjunct materials for future adopters.

Wikipedia

One of the most powerful examples of the value of accretion in this manner is Wikipedia. While it’s somewhat different in form than some of the version control systems mentioned above, Wikipedia (and most wikis for that matter) have built in history views that allow users to see and track the trail of updates and changes over time. The Wikipedia in use today is vastly larger and more valuable today than it was on its first birthday because it allows ongoing edits to be not only improved over time, but those improvements are logged and view-able in a version controlled manner.

Google Documents

This is another example of an extensible OER platform that allows simple accretion. With the correct settings on a document, one can host an original and allow it to be available to others who can save it to their own Google Drive or other spaces. Leaving the ability for guests to suggest changes or to edit a document allows it to potentially become better over time without decreasing the value of the original 5 Rs.

Webmentions for Update Notifications

As many open educational resources are hosted online for easy retention, reuse, revision, remixing, and/or redistribution, keeping them updated with potential changes can potentially be a difficult proposition. It may not always be the case that resources are maintained on a single platform like GitHub or that users of these resources will necessarily know how to use these platforms or their functionality. As a potential “fix” I can easily see a means of leveraging the W3C recommended specification for Webmention as a means of keeping a tally of changes to resources online.

Let’s say Robin keeps a copy of her OER textbook on her WordPress website where students and other educators can easily download and utilize it. More often than not, those using it are quite likely to host changed versions of it online as well. If their CMS supports the Webmention spec like WordPress does via a simple plugin, then by providing a simple URL link as a means of crediting the original source, which they’re very likely to do as required by the Creative Commons license anyway, their site will send a notification of the copy’s existence to the original. The original can then display the webmentions as traditional comments and thus provide links to the chain of branches of copies which both the original creator as well as future users can follow to find individual changes. If nothing else, the use of Webmention will provide some direct feedback to the original author(s) to indicate their materials are being used. Commonly used education facing platforms like WordPress, Drupal, WithKnown, Grav, and many others either support the Webmention spec natively or do so with very simple plugins.

Editorial Oversight

One of the issues some may see with pushing updates back to an original surrounds potential resource bloat or lack of editorial oversight. This is a common question or issue on open source version control repositories already, so there is a long and broad history of for how these things are maintained or managed in cases where there is community disagreement, an original source’s maintainer dies, disappears, loses interest, or simply no longer maintains the original. In the end, as a community of educators we owe it to ourselves and future colleagues to make an attempt at better maintaining, archiving, and allowing our work to accrete value over time.

The 6th R: Request Update

In summation, I’d like to request that we all start talking about the 6 R’s which include the current 5 along with the addition of a Request update (or maybe pull Request, Recompile, or Report to keep it in the R family?) ability as well. OER is an incredibly powerful concept already, but could be even more so with the ability to push new updates or at least notifications of them back to the original. Having the ability to do this will make it far easier to spread and grow the value of the OER concept as well as to disrupt the education spaces OER was evolved to improve.

Featured photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash

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👓 Introducing Janeway – the new open source publishing software | Birkbeck, University of London

Read Introducing Janeway – the new open source publishing software from Birkbeck (bbk.ac.uk)
The Birkbeck Centre for Technology and Publishing has released a new scholarly communications platform, Janeway, as an open-source download.
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📺 Why Manifold? from Zach Davis | Vimeo

Watched Why Manifold? by Zach Davis from Vimeo

Welcome to Manifold. The intuitive, collaborative, open-source platform for scholarly publishing you’ve been waiting for.

Publishers already work with authors, license copyrights, and create printed books. Let Manifold handle the web-based editions. You can easily convert your existing files into online publications, and Manifold’s open-source platform provides a beautiful, deep reading experience that fosters community and encourages discussion.

Manifold wants to extend the reach and power of academic publishing. That's why we've made Manifold intuitive, open source, and free to use. But we can't do it without your help. Learn more, or get started today at manifoldapp.org

Why Manifold? from Zach Davis on Vimeo.

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👓 When should we release Drupal 9? | Dries Buytaert

Read When should we release Drupal 9? by Dries BuytaertDries Buytaert (dri.es)
Thoughts about Drupal 9 release timelines, including how this might impact Drupal 7, Drupal 8 and even Drupal 10.

Interesting to watch the hows and whys of the ways open source projects plan their releases. I wish that WordPress had more outward communication like this for big releases and projects like Gutenberg. Transparent and open communication can sure help a lot of potential problems.

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👓 After 5 years and $3M, here’s everything we’ve learned from building Ghost | Ghost

Read After 5 years and $3M, here's everything we've learned from building Ghost by John O'Nolan, Hannah Wolfe (Ghost)
It's always fun to use these milestones to take a step back and reflect on the journey so far. On previous birthdays I've talked about revenue milestones and product updates, but this year I'm going to focus more on all the things we've learned since we started.

In reading this, I took a look at downloading and self-hosting a copy of Ghost for myself, but the barrier and work involved was beyond my patience to bother with. For an open source project that prides itself on user experience, this seemed at odds. Perhaps this is playing itself out better for the paid monthly customers? But in this case, it doesn’t support many of the pieces of infrastructure I find de rigueur now: Webmention support and microformats which I understand they have no plans to support anytime soon.

Looking at their project pages and site though it does seem like they’ve got a reasonable layout and sales pitch for a CMS project, though it’s probably a bit too much overkill on selling when it could be simpler. Perhaps it might be a model for creating a stronger community facing page for the WithKnown open source project, presuming the education-focused corporate side continues as a status quo?

They did seem to be relatively straightforward in selling themselves against WordPress and what they were able to do and not do. I’m curious what specifically they’re doing to attract journalists? I couldn’t find anything specifically better than anything else on the market that would set it apart other than their promise on ease-of-use.

There were some interesting insights for those working within the IndieWeb community as well as businesses which might build themselves upon it.

Highlights:

Decentralised platforms fundamentally cannot compete on ease of setup. Nothing beats the UX of signing up for a centralised application.

We spent a very long time trying to compete on convenience and simplicity. This was our biggest mistake and the hardest lesson to learn.

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Fragmentions for Better Highlighting and Direct References on the Web

Fragmentions

Ages ago I added support on my website for fragmentions.

Wait… What is that?

Fragmention is a portmanteau word made up of fragment and mention (or even Webmention), but in more technical terms, it’s a simple way of creating a URL that not only targets a particular page on the internet, but allows you to target a specific sub-section of that page whether it’s a photo, paragraph, a few words, or even specific HTML elements like <div> or <span> on such a page. In short, it’s like a permalink to content within a web page instead of just the page itself.

A Fragmention Example

Picture of a hipster-esque looking Lego toy superimposed with the words: I'm not looking for a "hipster-web", but a new and demonstrably better web.
29/1.2014 – Larry the Barista by julochka is licensed under CC BY-NC
Feature image for the post “Co-claiming and Gathering Together – Developing Read Write Collect” by Aaron Davis. Photo also available on Flickr.

Back in December Aaron Davis had made a quote card for one of his posts that included a quote from one of my posts. While I don’t think he pinged (or webmentioned) it within his own post, I ran across it in his Twitter feed and he cross-posted it to his Flickr account where he credited where the underlying photo and quote came from along with their relevant URLs.

Fragmentions could have not only let him link to the source page of the quote, it would have let him directly target the section or the paragraph where the quote originated or–even more directly–the actual line of the quote.

Here’s the fragmention URL that would have allowed him to do that: http://boffosocko.com/2017/10/27/reply-to-laying-the-standards-for-a-blogging-renaissance-by-aaron-davis/#I%E2%80%99m%20not%20looking

Go ahead and click on it (or the photo) to see the fragmention in action.

What’s happening?

Let’s compare the two URLs:
1. http://boffosocko.com/2017/10/27/reply-to-laying-the-standards-for-a-blogging-renaissance-by-aaron-davis/
2. http://boffosocko.com/2017/10/27/reply-to-laying-the-standards-for-a-blogging-renaissance-by-aaron-davis/#I%E2%80%99m%20not%20looking

They both obviously point to the same specific page, and their beginnings are identical. The second one has a # followed by the words “I’m not looking” with some code for blank spaces and an apostrophe. Clicking on the fragmention URL will take you to the root page which then triggers a snippet of JavaScript on my site that causes the closest container with the text following the hash to be highlighted in a bright yellow color. The browser also automatically scrolls down to the location of the highlight.

Note: rather than the numbers and percent symbols, one could also frequently use the “+” to stand in for white spaces like so: http://boffosocko.com/2017/10/27/reply-to-laying-the-standards-for-a-blogging-renaissance-by-aaron-davis/#not+looking+for+just This makes the URL a bit more human readable. You’ll also notice I took out the code for the apostrophe by omitting the word “I’m” and adding another word or two, but I still get the same highlight result.

This can be a very useful thing, particularly on pages with huge amounts of text. I use it quite often in my own posts to direct people to particular sub-parts of my website to better highlight the pieces I think they’ll find useful.

It can be even more useful for academics and researchers who want to highlight or even bookmark specific passages of text online. Those with experience on the Medium.com platform will also notice how useful highlighting can be, but having a specific permalink structure for it goes a step further.

I will note however, that it’s been rare, if ever, that anyone besides myself has used this functionality on my site. Why? We’ll look at that in just a moment.

Extending fragmentions for easier usability.

Recently as a result of multiple conversations with Aaron Davis (on and between our websites via webmention with syndication to Twitter), I’ve been thinking more about notes, highlights, and annotations on the web. He wrote a post which discusses “Page Bookmarks” which are an interesting way of manually adding anchors on web pages to allow for targeting specific portions of web pages. This can make it easy for the user to click on links on a page to let them scroll up and down specific pages.  Sadly, these are very painful to create and use both for a site owner and even more so for the outside public which has absolutely no control over them whatsoever.

His post reminded me immediately of fragmentions. It also reminded me that there was a second bit of user interface related to fragmentions that I’d always meant to also add to my site, but somehow never got around to connecting: a “fragmentioner” to make it more obvious that you could use fragmentions on my site.

In short, how could a user know that my website even supports fragmentions? How could I make it easier for them to create a fragmention from my site to share out with others? Fortunately for me, our IndieWeb friend Kartik Prabhu had already wired up the details for his own personal website and released the code and some pointers for others who were interested in setting it up themselves. It’s freely available on Github and includes some reasonable details for installation.

So with a small bit of tweaking and one or two refinements, I got the code up and running and voilà! I now have a natural UI for highlighting things.

How?

When a user naturally selects a portion of my page with their mouse–the way they might if they were going to cut and paste the text, a simple interface pops up with instructions to click it for a link. Kartik’s JavaScript automatically converts the highlight into the proper format and changes the page’s URL to include the appropriate fragmention URL for that snippet of the page. A cut and paste allows the reader to put that highlighted piece’s URL anywhere she likes.

text highlighted in a browser with a small chain icon and text which says "Click for link to text"
Highlighting text pulls up some simple user interface for creating a fragmention to the highlighted text.

The future

What else would be nice?

I can’t help but think that it would be fantastic if the WordPress Fragmention plugin added the UI piece for highlight and sharing text via an automatically generated link.

Perhaps in the future one could allow a highlight and click interaction not only get the link, but to get a copy of both the highlighted text and the link to the URL. I’ve seen this behavior on some very socially savvy news websites. This would certainly make a common practice of cutting and pasting content much easier to do while also cleverly including a reference link.

The tough part of this functionality is that it’s only available on websites that specifically enable it. While not too difficult, it would be far nicer to have native browser support for both fragmention creation and use.  This would mean that I don’t need to include the JavaScript on my website to do the scrolling or highlighting and I wouldn’t need any JavaScript on my site to enable the highlighting to provide the specific code for the custom URL. How nice would it be if this were an open web standard and supported by major browsers without the need for work at the website level?

Medium-like highlighting and comments suddenly become a little easier for websites to support. With some additional code, it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump to dovetail this fragmention functionality with the W3C Webmentions spec to allow inline marginalia on posts. One can create a fragmention targeting text on a website and write a reply to it. With some UI built out,  by sending a webmention to the site, it could pick up the comment and display it as a marginal note at that particular spot instead of as a traditional comment below the post where it might otherwise loose the context of being associated at the related point in the main text. In fact our friend Kartik Prabhu has done just this on his website. Here’s an example of it in his post announcing the feature.

Example of inline marginalia on Kartik Prabhu’s website “Parallel Transport”.

You’ll notice that small quotation bubbles appear at various points in the text indicating marginalia. By clicking on them, the bubble turns green and the page expands to show the comment at that location. One could easily imagine CSS that allows the marginalia to actually display in the margin of the page for wider screens.

How could you imagine using fragmentions? What would you do with them? Feel free to add your thoughts below or own your site and send me a webmention.​​​​​​​​

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🔖 Homotopy Type Theory: Univalent Foundations of Mathematics

Bookmarked Homotopy Type Theory: Univalent Foundations of Mathematics
Homotopy type theory is a new branch of mathematics that combines aspects of several different fields in a surprising way. It is based on a recently discovered connection between homotopy theory and type theory. It touches on topics as seemingly distant as the homotopy groups of spheres, the algorithms for type checking, and the definition of weak ∞-groupoids. Homotopy type theory offers a new “univalent” foundation of mathematics, in which a central role is played by Voevodsky’s univalence axiom and higher inductive types. The present book is intended as a first systematic exposition of the basics of univalent foundations, and a collection of examples of this new style of reasoning — but without requiring the reader to know or learn any formal logic, or to use any computer proof assistant. We believe that univalent foundations will eventually become a viable alternative to set theory as the “implicit foundation” for the unformalized mathematics done by most mathematicians.

Homotopy Type Theory

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