I see self-platforming as an expression of my own digital citizenship, and I also see it as my deliberate answer to the call for digital sanctuary. The frequency and extent to which educators urge students onto extractive applications is of great concern. Self-platforming offers opportunities to benefit from the collaborative, hyper-textual, asynchronous, and distributed qualities of the web, while diminishing the costs — often hidden to us — of working on proprietary and extractive platforms.
I love that Tim is looking closely at how the choices of tools he’s using can potentially impact his students/readers. I’ve also been in the boat he’s in–trying to wrangle some simple data in a way that makes it easy to collect, read, and disseminate content for myself, students, and other audiences.
Needing to rely on five or more outside services (Twitter, Instapaper, Pinboard, bit.ly, and finally even Canvas, where some of them are paid services) seems just painful and excessive. He mentions the amount and level of detail he’s potentially giving away to just bit.ly, but each of these are all taking a bite out of the process. Of course this doesn’t take into consideration the fact that Instapaper is actually a subsidiary of Betaworks, the company that owns and controls bit.ly, so there’s even more personal detail being consumed and aggregated there than he may be aware. All this is compounded by the fact that Instapaper is currently completely blocking its users within the EU because it hasn’t been able to comply with the privacy and personal data details/restrictions of the GDPR. Naturally, there’s currently no restrictions on it in the U.S. or other parts of the world.
I (and many others) have been hacking away for the past several years in trying to tame much of our personal data in a better way to own it and control it for ourselves. And isn’t this part of the point of having a domain of one’s own? Even his solution of using Shaarli to self-host his own bookmarks, while interesting, seems painful to me in some aspects. Though he owns and controls the data, because it sits on a separate domain it’s not as tightly integrated into his primary site or as easily searched. To be even more useful, it needs additional coding and integration into his primary site which appears to run on WordPress. With the givens, it looks more like he’s spending some additional time running his own separate free-standing social media silo just for bookmarks. Why not have it as part of his primary personal hub online?
I’ve been watching a growing trend of folks both within the IndieWeb/DoOO and edtech spaces begin using their websites like a commonplace book to host a growing majority of their own online and social related data. This makes it all easier to find, reference, consume, and even create new content in the future. On their own sites, they’re conglomerating all their data about what they’re reading, highlighting, annotating, bookmarking, liking, favoriting, and watching in addition to their notes and thoughts. When appropriate, they’re sharing that content publicly (more than half my website is hidden privately on my back end, but still searchable and useful only to me) or even syndicating it out to social sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instapaper, et al. to share it within other networks.
Some other examples of educators and researchers doing this other than myself include Aaron Davis, Greg McVerry, John Johnson, and more recently W. Ian O’Byrne and Cathie LeBlanc among many others. Some have chosen to do it on their primary site while others are experimenting using two or even more. I would hope that as Tim explores, he continues to document his process as well as the pros and cons of what he does and the resultant effects. But I also hopes he discovers this growing community of scholars, teachers, programmers and experimenters who have been playing in the same space so that he knows he’s not alone and perhaps to prevent himself from going down some rabbit holes some of us have explored all too well. Or to use what may be a familiar bit of lingo to him, I hope he joins our impromptu, but growing personal learning network (PLN).
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