Replied to a tweet by Jessica ChretienJessica Chretien (Twitter)

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 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.

📑 Dumb Twitter | Adam Croom

Annotated Dumb Twitter by Adam CroomAdam Croom (Adam Croom)
In fact, I’d argue this blog has been largely a collection of writings concentrated on me working through the thoughts of my own digital identity and the tools that help shape it. The whole bit is highly meta.  
Replied to Bookmark: Using Inoreader as an IndieWeb feed reader by Frank MeeuwsenFrank Meeuwsen (Digging the Digital)
Ik onderzoek weer hoe ik deze pagina’s beter kan gebruiken als een commonplace book, een plaats waar ik allerlei gedachten, ideeën en losse flodders kan plaatsen met minimale barrieres. Het is een rode draad in mijn blog-ontwikkeling en ik denk dat het een belangrijk element wordt op de IndieWebC...
[Rough English translation for convenience]
I am researching how I can better use these pages as a commonplace book , a place where I can place all kinds of thoughts, ideas and loose pieces with minimal barriers. It is a common thread in my blog development and I think it will be an important element at the IndieWebCamp barcamp for me.

Frank, in case you haven’t come across it yet, there is a stub page on the IndieWeb wiki about using our websites as digital commonplace books. Hopefully it will have some useful information, articles, and examples for you to use as you continue hacking. Feel free to add your own thoughts to it as you experiment.

While I do like the way that WordPress makes it easy for one to create link previews by simply putting a URL into the editor (as in your example), I’ve generally shied away from it as it relies on oEmbed and doesn’t necessarily put the actual text into your site. (Not all websites will provide this oEmbed functionality either.) I mention this because a lot of the benefit of having a commonplace is the ability to easily search it. If your post only has a title and a URL, without careful tagging it may be much harder to come back and discover what you were searching for later.

I’ve started an article on how I’m using my website as one, but still have a way to go before I finish it. A big portion of my workflow relies on the Post Kinds Plugin and its available bookmarklet functionality. There are also a lot of nice Micropub clients like Omnibear that making bookmarking things quick and easy too.

In the erstwhile, I ‘ll note that on my own site, I tag things relating to my own commonplace (thinking about and building it) as “commonplace book” and for examples of other peoples’ commonplaces, I usually use the plural tag “commonplace books“. These may also give you some ideas.

With respect to the Medium article which you linked, I’ve seen a recurring theme among bloggers (and writers in general) who indicate that they use their websites as “thought spaces”. Others may use similar or related phraseology (like “thinking out loud”) but this seems to be the most common in my experience. Toward that end, I’ve been bookmarking those articles that I’ve read with the tag “thought spaces“. Some of those notes and websites may also give you some ideas related to having and maintaining an online commonplace book.

👓 The Commonplace Book as a Thinker’s Journal | Critical Margins | Medium

Read The Commonplace Book as a Thinker’s Journal by Kevin EaganKevin Eagan ( Critical Margins | Medium)

For centuries, authors and thinkers have kept commonplace books: focused journals that serve to collect thoughts, quotes, moments of introspection, transcribed passages from reading — anything of purpose worth reviewing later.

Why keep a commonplace book today? When we are inundated by information through social media and our digital devices, it’s easy to overlook what drives and intrigues us. Keeping a journal helps, but keeping a focused journal is better, even if that focus is on self-fulfillment.

📑 Building a digital garden | Tom Critchlow

Annotated Building a digital garden by Tom CritchlowTom Critchlow (

A blog without a publish button

I’m stealing this quote from my modern friend Ryan Dawidjan who has been pioneering this concept of open-access writing and blogging without a publish button. For a long time he has maintained a quip file called high cadence thoughts that is open access and serves as a long-running note of his thinking and ideas.

It’s a less-performative version of blogging - more of a captain’s log than a broadcast blog.

The distinction will come down to how you blog - some people blog in much the same way. For me however blogging is mostly performative thinking and less captain’s log. So I am looking for a space to nurture, edit in real time and evolve my thinking.  

I like the idea of a blog without a publish button. I do roughly the same thing with lots of drafts unpublished that I let aggregate content over time. The difference is that mine aren’t immediately out in public for other’s benefit. Though I do wonder how many might read them, comment on them, or potentially come back to read them later in a more finished form.

👓 Of Digital Streams, Campfires and Gardens | Tom Critchlow

Read Of Digital Streams, Campfires and Gardens by Tom CritchlowTom Critchlow (
Building personal learning environments across the different time horizons of information consumption

📑 Of Digital Streams, Campfires and Gardens | Tom Critchlow

Annotated Of Digital Streams, Campfires and Gardens by Tom CritchlowTom Critchlow (

Campfires - mostly blogging for me, though I know some folks gather around private slack groups too. My blog functions as a digital campfire (or a series of campfires) that are slower burn but fade relatively quickly over the timeframe of years. Connection forming, thinking out loud, self referencing and connection forming. This builds muscle, helps me articulate my thinking and is the connective tissue between ideas, people and more. While I’m not a daily blogger I’ve been blogging on and off for 10+ years.  

📑 High Cadence Thoughts | Ryan Dawidjan

Annotated High Cadence Thoughts by Ryan Dawidjan (High Cadence Thoughts)
I blog to share and learn. rarely teach. I think the imposed pressure on the latter keeps a lot of blog posts from great people hidden - lost tweet from spring 2015  

In reference to:

👓 Building a digital garden | Tom Critchlow

Read Building a digital garden by Tom CrichtlowTom Crichtlow (
How I built myself a simple wiki using folders and files and published via Jekyll

Hat tip: Greg McVerry

📑 The Vulnerability of Learning | Cathie LeBlanc

Replied to The Vulnerability of Learning by Cathie LeBlancCathie LeBlanc (Desert of My Real Life)

When I received Chris’s comment, my first response was that I should delete my post or at least the incorrect part of it. It’s embarrassing to have your incorrect understandings available for public view. But I decided to leave the post as is but put in a disclaimer so that others would not be misled by my misunderstandings.
This experience reminded me that learning makes us vulnerable. Admitting that you don’t know something is hard and being corrected is even harder. Chris was incredibly gentle in his correction. It makes me think about how I respond to my students’ work. Am I as gentle with their work as Chris was to mine? Could I be more gentle? How often have I graded my students’ work and only focused on what they did wrong? Or forgotten that feeling of vulnerability when you don’t know something, when you put your work out for others to judge? This experience has also reminded me that it’s important that we as teachers regularly put ourselves into situations in which we authentically grapple with not knowing something. We should regularly share our less than fully formed understandings with others for feedback. It helps us remember that even confident learners can struggle with being vulnerable. And we need to keep in mind that many of our students are not confident learners.  

I’m reminded here of the broad idea that many bloggers write about sooner or later of their website being a “thought space” or place to contemplate out in the open. More often than not, even if they don’t have an audience to interact with, their writings become a way of thinking out loud, clarifying things for themselves, self-evolving, or putting themselves out there for potential public reactions (good, bad, or indifferent).

While writing things out loud to no audience can be helpful and useful on an individual level, it’s often even more helpful to have some sort of productive and constructive feedback. While a handful of likes or positive seeming responses can be useful, I always prefer the ones that make me think more broadly, deeply, or force me to consider other pieces I hadn’t envisioned before. To me this is the real value of these open and often very public thought spaces.

For those interested in the general idea, I’ve been [bookmarking/tagging things around the idea of thought spaces I’ve read on my own website]( Hopefully this collection helps others better understand the spectrum of these ideas for themselves.

With respect to the vulnerability piece, I’m reminded of an episode of The Human Current I listened to a few weeks back. There was an excellent section that touched on building up trust with students or even a class when it comes to providing feedback and criticism. Having a bank of trust makes it easier to give feedback as well as to receive it. Here’s a link to the audio portion and a copy of the relevant text.

👓 The Vulnerability of Learning | Desert of My Real Life

Read The Vulnerability of Learning by Cathie LeBlancCathie LeBlanc (Desert of My Real Life)
Listening to the students talk about feeling unsure and vulnerable when they first encountered open educational practices made me think about my own learning. As a mid-career academic who has changed jobs and even disciplines, I am a confident learner. I have received lots of praise and other kinds of positive reinforcement for my ability to learn new things. If you have read previous posts on my blog, you might know that I am really interested in developments in the IndieWeb movement and am trying to write about some of my experiences with using IndieWeb tools to build my own web site. I’ve been building my own sites for years and so I have a lot of confidence in my ability there as well. Working on the IndieWeb stuff has been challenging because there’s a lot of new language and new concepts as well as some aspects of web development that I have not engaged with before. I often feel vulnerable when I write my posts about the IndieWeb because my understanding of how everything works is emerging. In other words, I don’t get it all yet but I’m still writing publicly about my work.

📑 The Vulnerability of Learning | Cathie LeBlanc

Replied to The Vulnerability of Learning by Cathie LeBlancCathie LeBlanc (Desert of My Real Life)

Chris was incredibly gentle in his correction. It makes me think about how I respond to my students’ work. Am I as gentle with their work as Chris was to mine?  

What a relief to hear this! The hardest part about writing my response was in possibly coming off too hard or painfully pedantic and not wanting to turn you off in your explorations.

📑 Contact | Devon Zuegel

Annotated Contact by Devon Zuegel (Devon's Site)

This site is where I can riff on ideas, be wrong, and learn from those mistakes. Of course I try to be correct, and I always write what I believe to be true, but the greatest value most often comes from someone messaging me to point out a body of research I missed or angle I misinterpreted.

In this vein, please don't hesitate to let me know what you think! The whole point is to share what I know and to learn the rest.  

In addition to collecting the quote above, I’ll also note that Devon’s site now has an RSS feed (which I’m positive it didn’t before), so one can now follow her writing there directly.

👓 “Create the kind of communities and ideas you want people to talk about” | Paul Jacobson

Read “Create the kind of communities and ideas you want people to talk about” by Paul Jacobson (Paul Jacobson)
I’ve had an idea in my task list for a week or so now, and I just haven’t made the time to write about it, at least not as I originally intended when I read the post that inspired it. J…

Some ideas worth chewing on here. Paul almost uses the phrase “thought spaces” here and though he doesn’t, he’s certainly dancing around it.

📖 Read pages i-8 of Category Theory for the Sciences by David I. Spivak

📖 Read pages i-8, front matter and Chapter 1: Introduction of Category Theory for the Sciences by David I. Spivak.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

But it is easy to think we are in agreement, when we really are not. Modeling our thoughts on heuristics and graphics may be convenient for quick travel down the road, but we are liable to miss our turnoff at the first mile. The danger is in mistaking convenient conceptualizations for what is actually there.

A functor is like a conductor of mathematical truth.

The answer is that when we formalize our ideas, our understanding is clarified.

Creativity demands clarity of thinking, and to think clearly about a subject requires an organized understanding of how its pieces fit together. Organization and clarity also lead to better communication with others. Academics often say they are paid to think and understand, but that is not the whole truth. They are paid to think, understand, and communicate their findings.