Learning Paths Annotations and Highlights to One’s Website Using ThreadReaderApp

Some small pieces, loosely joined for owning one’s highlights online.

I ran across a Chrome extension for highlights, annotations, and tagging tonight. It’s called Learning Paths. It works roughly as advertised for creating and saving highlights and annotations online. With a social silo log in process (I didn’t see an email login option), you’ve quickly got an account on the service.

You can then use the extension to highlight, tag, and annotate web pages. One can export their data as a .csv file which is nice. They’ve also got an online dashboard which displays all your data and has the ability to see public data from other users as well.

Screencapture of the Learning Paths UI for their Chrome extension

One of the interesting pieces they support is allowing users to tweet a thread from all their highlights of a piece online. Upon seeing this I thought it might make a useful feature for getting data into one’s personal wiki, website, or digital garden, particularly now that  ThreadReaderApp supports posting unrolled Twitter threads to one’s Micropub enabled website

So the workflow goes something like this (with links to examples of my having tried it along the way):

Screencapture example of ThreadReaderApp’s Authored Threads tab interface

While this works relatively well, there are a few drawbacks:

  • The UI for the annotations is a bit flaky at times and in my experience often disappears before you’ve had a chance to save them.
  • The workflow misses out on any of the annotations and tags you might add to each of the highlights (unless you manually add them to the thread, and even then you may run out of space/characters).
  • The appearance of the thread on your site is simply what you get.

While the idea works roughly in practice, it isn’t as optimal as the workflow or data fidelity I’ve found in using more robust tooling like that found in Hypothes.is for which I’ve also built a better UI on my website.

Still others, might appreciate the idea, so have at it! I’d love to see others’ ideas about owning their highlights, annotations, and related data in a place they control.

 

Sarah, (@practicing_dsgn) there are a few Homebrew Website Clubs coming up on July 15, 22, and 29. Would you like to co-host one of them with me? We could also use another co-organizer to help get a Gardens & Streams II pop-up session up and running if you’re interested in helping out there.
Liked a tweet by Nikita Voloboev (Twitter)
There are now so many digital gardens discussions spread across the web, it may be time to make a feed to aggregate them all. Collections and curation can become a big problem quickly…
Liked a tweet by Maggie Appleton (Twitter)
Read 7 Things Roam Did Right by tre (Proses.ID)
Sections Seven things Roam did rightPotentialsIs Roam just a fad, a shiny new tool?All the small thingsAnecdotesThe trifecta: getting things into, out of, and across heads Roam Research is a phenomenon that took the tools for thought space by storm. Let’s appreciate the seven things it did right a...
Replied to Webmentions and Campfires by Kevin CunninghamKevin Cunningham (kevincunningham.co.uk)
Over in the garden, I’ve started a section on webmentions - including how Lauro (@laurosilvacom) and I got them up and running on our Gatsby blogs. We streamed that and I’ll link to the video when it’s available. Equally, I’ve linked to some excellent examples and posts over there.

I want these posts to be part of a conversation rather than a one-sided proclamation from the roof-tops. Using webmentions to poll for replies on Twitter and other blogs seems like a good start.

What other ways can we stop ourselves standing in dark rooms and shouting into the void? How can we light campfires and create spaces for conversation that are welcoming and mutually beneficial?
Kevin, I like your ideas here and there are many of us who have been discussing it in various nooks of the internet over the past couple of years. It’s a movement and a discussion that has been slowly brewing, but seems to be coming to a boil.

While some of these ideas sound romantic at present with minimal penetration and implementation, we’ll definitely need to be cognizant of how they grow and building tools to mitigate abuses in the future as they become more common. No one wants Webmention to become a vector for spam and harassment the way it’s poorly designed and implemented predecessors like Pingback or Trackbacks were.

While the IndieWeb seems to be the largest hub of this conversation so far, especially for the technical portions, it’s also been distributed across multiple platforms and personal websites and wikis. If you haven’t come across the IndieWeb you may appreciate their wiki and bridged chat channels.

Lately I’ve noticed a big spillover into the wiki space primarily by way of Tom Critchlow, Kicks Condor, some from TiddlyWiki and the Roam Research spaces, and many of your colleagues at egghead.io. I’m personally looking forward to the convergence of the website, blog, personal wiki, commonplace book, etc. in a single platform. 

As I notice that you’re in Brighton, if you haven’t been before, you might consider joining in one of the local Homebrew Website clubs either there, in other parts of the UK, or across the world. I see events for Nottingham and London coming up on the schedule, but I’m sure Jeremy Keith or other organizers will do another in Brighton soon.

In any case, you’re on the web, and we can “see” and “hear” you. Thanks for drawing up a campfire to create a discussion.

Read Thinking about thinking about thinking by Neil MatherNeil Mather (doubleloop)
I have been doing a lot of metacognition, AKA “thinking about thinking”, AKA banging on about personal wikis, lately. I have really enjoyed reflecting on my wiki setup and how I can use it to learn and to create things. I also love a good bit of tinkering, so it’s been a lot of fun playing wit...

Thoughts on Wikity for WordPress

I spun up a new instance of Wikity today at http://wikity.chrisaldrich.net/ to test it out for potential use as a personal online wiki. My goal was also to test out how it may or may not work with IndieWeb-based WordPress pieces too.

Below are my initial thoughts and problems.

The /home/ page has a lot of errors and warnings. (Never a good sign.)

It took me a few minutes to figure out where the Wik-it! bookmarklet button was hiding. Ideally it would have been in the start card that described how the bookmarklet would work (in addition to its original spot).

The Wikity theme seems to have some issues when using for http vs. https.

  • Less seems to work out of the box with https
  • The main card for entering “Name of Concept or Data” didn’t work at all under https. It only showed the title and wouldn’t save. Switching to http seemed to fix it and show the editor bar.

I’ve tried copying over from Aaron DavisWikity instance, but the cardbox seems to fail on my end.

  • Nothing seemed to work at all when I had my site as https. In fact, it redirected to a URL that seemed like it wanted to run update.php for some bizarre reason.
  • On http I at least get a card saying that the process failed.
    • Not sure what may be causing this.
    • Doesn’t seem to matter how many cards it is.
    • Perhaps it’s the fact that Aaron’s site is https? I notice that his checkbox export functionality duplicates his entire URL including the https:// within the export box which seems to automatically prepend http://
    • Copying to my own wiki seems to vaguely work using http, but failed on https.

Multiple * in the markdown editor functionality within WordPress doesn’t seem to format the way I’d expect.

Sadly, the original Wikity.cc site is down, but the theme still includes a link to it front and center on my website.

The home screen quick new card has some wonky CSS that off centers it.

Toggling full screen editing mode in new cards from the home screen makes them too big and obscures the UI making things unusable.

The primary multi-card home display doesn’t work well with markup the way the individual posts do.

The custom theme seems to be hiding some of the IndieWeb pieces. It may also be hampering the issuance of webmention as I tried sending one to myself and it only showed up as a pingback. It didn’t feel worth the effort to give the system a full IndieWeb test drive beyond this.

Doing this set up as a theme and leveraging posts seems like a very odd choice. From my reading, Mike Caulfield was relatively new to WordPress development when he made this. Even if he was an intermediate developer, he should be proud of his effort, including his attention to some minute bits of UI that others wouldn’t have considered. To make this a more ubiquitous solution, it may have been a better choice to create it as a plugin, do a custom post type for wiki cards and create a separate section of the database for them instead of trying to leverage posts. This way it could have been installed on any pre-existing WordPress install and the user could choose their own favorite theme and still have a wiki built into it. In this incarnation it’s really only meant to be installed on a fresh stand-alone site.

I only used the Classic Editor and didn’t even open up the Gutenberg box of worms in any of my tests.

Summary

The Wikity theme hasn’t been maintained in four years and it looks like it’s going to take quite a bit of work (or a complete refactoring) to make it operate the way I’d want it to. Given the general conceptualization it may make much more sense to try to find a better maintained solution for a wiki.

The overarching idea of what he was trying to accomplish, particularly within the education space and the OER space, was awesome. I would love nothing more than to have wiki-like functionality built into my personal WordPress website, particularly if I could have different presentations for the two sides but still maintain public/private versions of pieces and still have site-wide tagging and search. Having the ability to port data from site to site is a particularly awesome idea.

Is anyone actively still using it? I’d love to hear others’ thoughts about problems/issues they’ve seen. Is it still working for you as expected? Is it worth upgrading the broken bits? Is it worth refactoring into a standalone plugin?

Read Building a Day Log Habit by Ton Zijlstra (zylstra.org)
Last week I joined an IndieWeb conversation on blogs and wikis. I ended up with three take-aways. One of them was a tip by another participant to keep a day log as a means to add more to the wiki, do more wiki gardening. Writing a list of things you do during the day as you go along, you can then us...
Writing into a wiki can become a bit addictive as a thinking and logging tool. I’m finding that some are better than others. Ease-of-use and user interface are certainly important. There are a few I like more than others, but I’m also still experimenting with a few. The ease of copy/pasting data into them is an important feature for me.

I’m also trying to find the balance between public/private as well.

Read A garden with a water feature by Jeremy CherfasJeremy Cherfas (jeremycherfas.net)
People have written some interesting things following on from the pop-up IndieWebCamp that Chris Aldrich organised a couple of weeks ago. The Garden and the Stream set out to compare and contrast wikis and weblogs and how the two might be used. It was a terrific success, and I’m sorry I wasn’t a...

Nevertheless, the very fact that I am going through my notes reflects a new habit I am trying to build, of setting time aside every week, and sometimes more often, deliberately to tend the oldest notes I have and the notes I created or edited in the past week. Old notes take longer, because I have to check old links and decide what to do if they have rotted away. Those notes also need to be reshaped in line with zettelkasten principles. That means deciding on primary tags, considering internal links, splitting the atoms of long notes and so on. At times it frustrates me, but when it goes well I do see structure emerging and with it new thoughts and new directions to follow. 

This is reminiscent of the idea that indigenous peoples regularly met at annual feasts to not only celebrate, but to review over their memory palaces and perform their rituals as a means of reviewing and strengthening their memories and ideas.
Annotated on May 09, 2020 at 07:17AM

Displaying Webmentions on TiddlyWiki

I’ve previously written about setting up receiving Webmention for TiddlyWiki by logging into webmention.io and creating an account to delegate the receipt of the notifications.
 
Naturally, these notifications can be more fun for cross-site conversations if one has the ability to display the webmentions on the posts to which they relate. There are probably a number of ways of doing this, but following the TiddlyWiki advice of keeping Tiddlers as small as possible, it seemed like creating a tiddler for the response and then transcluding or embedding it into the original would be the best course of action.
 
At the recent Gardens and Streams: Wikis, Blogs, and UI—a pop up IndieWebCamp session there was some discussion on internal bi-directional linking in wikis, but I thought it would also be fun to show off bi-directional linking between my wiki and other websites. To do that will require displaying at least some Webmentions.
My wiki currently doesn’t have very many webmentions or incoming links, but after writing about a Bookmarklet for pasting content into TiddlyWiki, I got an email from Anne-Laure Le Cunff that she’d used some of the code to write a bookmarklet for Roam Research. Since her article didn’t send a webmention, I used Telegraph to manually force her article to send my wiki a Webmention so my account would have a record of it for the future for potential exporting or other use.
Now I’d like to display this webmention on that tiddler. Doing it automatically would be great, but I thought, since I don’t expect to receive many on my wiki that I ought to try out a manual set up to see how things might work and how I might display them if they were automated.
Since I had created that bookmarklet, I used it to copy and paste the text from Anne-Laure Le Cunff‘s website into a new tiddler. I then massaged it a bit to format it to look like a response and I’ve transcluded it into the original post under a heading of Responses.
The side benefit of doing this is that the stand alone tiddler that has the link and the context from her post also sits in my wiki as a bookmark of her post as well. As a result, I get a two-for-one deal: I get the bookmark of her post with some context I’m interested in, but my original post can now also display it as a response! Now I can also use that bookmark in other places in my website as well. If only one could do this so easily in other CMSes?!
I’ve yet to hear of another example of this in the wild, so unless I’m missing something, this may be the first displayed Webmention on a TiddlyWiki in the wild.

Next steps

Data formats

TiddlyWiki has lots of ways to display data in Tiddlers, so perhaps one might use various fields in a bookmark tiddler to create the necessary comment display. This could give a more standardized method of displaying them as well. It could be particularly useful if someone was using a microformats parser to import the data of such mentions. If this were the case, then the tiddler that is being commented on could do a filter/search for all tiddlers in the wiki that mention it and transclude the appropriate pieces in a list format with the appropriate mark up as well as links back to the individual tiddlers and/or the links to the sending site.
I’m curious if others have ideas about how to best/easiest implement the display portion of webmentions on a public TiddlyWiki? Since I’m also hosting my entire TiddlyWiki on GitHub pages, there might be other potential considerations if I were to be hosting it statically instead. This may require some experimentation.
I’ve got a few mental models about how one might implement showing Webmentions in TiddlyWiki, but it may take some more thinking to figure out which way may be the best or most efficient.

Automation

I don’t anticipate a lot of incoming webmentions to my wiki at present, but if they become more prevalent, I’ll want to automate the display of these notifications somehow. This will take some thought and coding as well as more knowledge of the internals of TiddlyWiki than I’ve currently got. If someone with the coding chops is interested, I could probably brainstorm a set up fairly quickly.

Microformats

It would also be nice to be able to have full microformats support in TiddlyWiki so that the stand alone “bookmark” mention works properly, but also so that the transcluded version might have the correct mark up. This may rely on the two things to be properly nested to make them work in both contexts.

Replied to a tweet by Greg McVerryGreg McVerry (Twitter)
Without checking, I have to think that I carefully couched my wording there. For that audience, I did use the more famous example of Stonehenge, for which there is some pretty solid evidence for my claim. There are other examples in the archaeological record that certainly are older and in other cultural contexts. I can easily think of standing stones that are as old as 12,000 years old for which the same case could be made in borderline agricultural societies. The tough part is that would have required the definition of standing stones and a lot of other pieces which I didn’t feel I had the time to create the context for in that setting.

I imagine that there are potentially examples of this sort of behavior going back as far as 30-40,000 years or more, but there is is no direct (known) archaeological evidence left to make such cases. There are oral histories of indigenous peoples in Australia that indicate memories of things that do exist in the geological record to provide some evidence of this.

I’ll also point out that astronomical use is NOT equal to memory use. To make that claim you’d need a lot of additional evidence. In fact, I might suggest something stronger, particularly about Stonehenge. Stonehenge’s primary use was not an astronomical one. Its primary use was as a mnemonic device. The astronomical one was important for the ritual practice (we would call it spaced repetition in modern psychology and pedagogic contexts), but wholly tangential.

If you’re interested in the underlying evidence, Dr. Lynne Kelly has an excellent Ph.D. thesis on the topic, but you might find her book The Memory Code, which expands on the thesis, more accessible. She’s also got a great bibliography of these topics on her website.