Watched A bold idea to replace politicians by César Hidalgo from ted.com
César Hidalgo has a radical suggestion for fixing our broken political system: automate it! In this provocative talk, he outlines a bold idea to bypass politicians by empowering citizens to create personalized AI representatives that participate directly in democratic decisions. Explore a new way to make collective decisions and expand your understanding of democracy.

“It’s not a communication problem, it’s a cognitive bandwidth problem.”—César Hidalgo

He’s definitely right about the second part, but it’s also a communication problem because most of political speech is nuanced toward the side of untruths and covering up facts and potential outcomes to represent the outcome the speaker wants. There’s also far too much of our leaders saying “Do as I say (and attempt to legislate) and not as I do.” Examples include things like legislators working to actively take away things like abortion or condemn those who are LGBTQ when they actively do those things for themselves or their families or live out those lifestyles in secret.

“One of the reasons why we use Democracy so little may be because Democracy has a very bad user interface and if we improve the user interface of democracy we might be able to use it more.”—César Hidalgo

This is an interesting idea, but definitely has many pitfalls with respect to how we know AI systems currently work. We’d definitely need to start small with simpler problems and build our way up to the more complex. However, even then, I’m not so sure that the complexity issues could ultimately be overcome. On it’s face it sounds like he’s relying too much on the old “clockwork” viewpoint of phyiscs, though I know that obviously isn’t (or couldn’t be) his personal viewpoint. There’s a lot more pathways for this to become a weapon of math destruction currently than the utopian tool he’s envisioning.

📺 Is that a toothpick or a flux capacitor? Oh wait, it’s Google Sheets. | Domains 2019 | Jeff Everhart, Tom Woodward, Matt Roberts

Watched Is that a toothpick or a flux capacitor? Oh wait, it's Google Sheets. by Jeff Everhart, Tom Woodward, Matt Roberts from Domains 2019 | YouTube

Are you looking for low stakes ways to store and display data? Welp, here’s Google Sheets. Do you want to automate all of the boring parts of your job and sip a drink on a beach somewhere? Looks like you owe Google Sheets a beer. Have you ever wanted to build a lightweight full stack application without spinning up an orchestrated Docker container cluster running on AWS using Typescript that has 90% unit test coverage. Well, hold on to your hats, cause Google Sheets is about to hit 88 MPH while keeping your molecular structure intact.

At VCU’s ALT Lab, we’ve used Google Sheets to build educational experiences that range from novel, to complex, to entirely absurd. Brace yourself for temporal displacement and a little but of JavaScript.

There’s some low-level stuff here that could be dovetailed with IFTTT.com to do some simple automation for maybe doing Snarfed’s backfeed problem.

📺 Embedded in the Fabric: Georgetown Domains and the Master’s of Learning, Design, and Technology | Lee Skallerup Bessette, Randal Ellsworth | Domains 2019

Watched Embedded in the Fabric: Georgetown Domains and the Master's of Learning, Design, and Technology by Lee Skallerup Bessette, Randal Ellsworth from YouTube

The mission of the new Master’s of Learning, Design, and Technology program at Georgetown University is “to give our students a deep foundation in the tools and theory of learning design, technology innovation, learning analytics, and higher education leadership, a foundation on which they can create engaging and innovative learning experiences for all students.” Working in and with Georgetown Domains is a key part of this engagement; the students learn about and create their domains during the opening week-long foundations course, and build on it throughout the duration of the degree, ending with a final portfolio on their domain of their work. In between, the students have the option of taking a one-credit course in Domains, as well as showcasing their coursework and projects on the site. For some, their personal Domains specifically and Georgetown Domains more generally have become the subject of their research and study. What this allows is for students to engage directly with the technology, as well as questions of accessibility, privacy, surveillance, and tools. They learn about and apply these lessons as they move through the program, perform and reflect on their research, and build their sites. But most importantly, this allows for students to own their own intellectual property, as well as provide the tools to apply what they have learned in a practical and holistic way. The e-portfolio requirement at the end of the degree highlights this commitment to students’ intellectual property as well as professionalization, while also providing an experimental and reflective space for students to connect their work. This short presentation will discuss curricular examples (Intro week, Domains course, Studio and Studio Capstone) of how Domains has been integrated into the program, sharing some student sites, projects, and portfolios.

Slides

“Domains is a Trojan horse for thinking about ed-tech.”—Lee Skallerup Bessette

Randal Ellsworth uses the phrase “thinking space” to describe Domains here.

📺 Old School Web Hosting at an Anything-But-Old-School University | Domains 2019 | Zach Coble, Ashley Maynor

Watched Old School Web Hosting at an Anything-But-Old-School University by Zach Coble, Ashley Maynor from YouTube

While many universities strive to offer the latest and greatest tech support and IT services to support innovation, at NYU, we’ve found that old school style web hosting fills an important need and service gap for digital pedagogy, digital humanities, and other forms of innovation and creativity on campus. Offered through the NYU Libraries, our simplified, down-to-earth service is easy to manage with a small team and integrates into a larger ecosystem of digital publishing services and support on campus. Come hear about our approach and the strengths and weaknesses we’ve encountered in our three years of offering the service.

A bit dry from my perspective, but this could be interesting to people new to managing a larger Domains project or considering doing so.

Listening to this I’m surprised they don’t have a more institutionalized version of a Homebrew Website Club set up to allow their user base to help each other.

📺 Weaponizing Your Website | Jennifer Hill

Watched Weaponizing Your Website by Jennifer HillJennifer Hill from Domains 2019 | YouTube

There is a war a raging in our cyberworld and it is time for you to join the resistance. Cambridge Analytica stealing Facebook user’s data, white supremacists getting verified on Twitter, and child pornography on Instagram. The list of atrocities continues. We as technologists know the inner workings of social media platforms more than anybody. We see the hypocrisy and the evil of social media platforms in a way that most people do not. It is time for us to awaken from our passivity and take a stance against our corporate social media overlords. Weaponizing Your Website will give you ideas, or ammunition, to fight against our broken social media world. This bootcamp will include learning how to utilize the strongest weapons in your stockpile; your voice and your website. With me, Jenn Hill, a University of Mary Washington student, at the helm I will prepare you for taking up arms and battling the corporate social media tyrants.

Slides

Jenn is only scratching the surface here. Mike Monteiro just wrote the entire book on this. He makes her sound almost overly sane!

Jenn, you should definitely join us at IndieWeb Summit at the end of June. If you can’t join in person, do consider joining us remotely via video and online chat.

📺 Against Blogging | Zach Whalen | Domains 2019

Watched Against Blogging by Zach WhalenZach Whalen from Domains 2019 | YouTube

For the past 15 years, I’ve included blog assignments in my classes as a default, routine, and generally low-stakes assignment. It began with a simple journal where students kept track of their progress through a video game, and through the years, the assignment has ranged from similarly simple logs or progress reports to the more ornate and decorous “features articles” where students seek to emulate magazine writing and engage with a public audience. At times, like when having a platform online was still a novelty and the adrenaline rush of Web 2.0-fueled activism took flight in the optimism of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, blogging totally made sense. As a classroom experience, a blog assignment helped students find their digital identity through written expression. By finding their voice digitally, students found themselves.

But while this will still happen, and while I still see brilliant writing from my students, the era when the exigency of a blog assignment can be reliably vindicated by an authentic external audience has ended. It’s time for something else, which means it’s time to re-evaluate what blogs have been and what we have needed them for in order to find the best ways to meet those goals through other means. In this short presentation, I will offer several suggestions.

This is, however, an aspirational proposal. I’m writing this between semesters as I reflect on the Fall — where blog assignments didn’t always meet my goals or in some cases arguably undermined other goals for my class — and thinking ahead to the Spring — when I hope to implement some new assignments based on this recent conviction about the ineffectuality of blog assignments. Therefore, by June, my expectation is that I will have something new to report: either finding success with an entirely new set of assignments and corresponding tools, or returning to the familiar embrace of blog assignments with a renewed sense of their value.

Most likely, I’ll be somewhere in between, but my hunch is that different forms of discursive content creation will help students take control of their learning and find direction for their digital identities. Whatever I find in the coming semester, I’m confident that I’ll be ready to share some insight into the intents, purposes, and outcomes of inviting students to do intellectual work on the internet of 2019.

Notes as they occur to me while I’m watching this video:

To me blogging is a means of thinking out loud.

Of course having a site doesn’t mean one is blogging. In fact, in my case, I’m collecting bits and pieces on my site like a digital commonplace book, and out of those collections come some quick basic thoughts, and often some longer pieces, which could be called blog posts, but really are essays that help to shape my thinking. I really wish more people would eschew social media and use their own websites this way.

We need to remember that a website or domain is FAR, FAR more than just a simple blog. 

It kills me how many in the edtech/Domains space seem to love memes. It’s always cute and fun, but they feel so vapid and ineffectual. It’s like copying someone else’s work and trying to pass it off as our own. English teachers used to say, “Don’t be cliché,” but now through the use of digital memes they’re almost encouraging it. Why not find interesting images and create something new and dramatically different.  (I can’t help but think of the incredibly unique Terry Gilliam “cartoons” in Monty Python’s Flying Circus and the phrase “and now for something completely different…”.

Zach uses the phrase “personal learning journal” but doesn’t quite get to the idea of using domains as digital commonplace books.  He also looks at other social sites like Tik-Tok, Instagram stories, YouTube channels, and Twitter hashtags, but doesn’t consider that what those things are could easily be contained within one’s own personal site/domain. The IndieWeb has been hacking away at just this for several years now. What he’s getting at here, but isn’t quite saying is “Why can’t we expand the Domain beyond the restrained idea of “just a blog.” And isn’t that just the whole point of the IndieWeb movement? Your website can literally be anything you want it to be! Just go do it. Invent. Iterate. Have fun!

Zack should definitely take a look at what one can do with Webmention. See: Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet. I suppose some of the restraint is that most people don’t know that it’s relatively easy now to get one domain to be able to talk to another domain the way social sites like Facebook and Twitter do @mentions. And once you’ve got that, there’s a whole lot more you can do!

Perhaps what we should do is go back to the early web and the idea of “small pieces, loosely joined“. What can we do with all the smaller, atomized pieces of the web? How can we use these building blocks in new and unexpected ways? To build new and exciting things? What happens when you combine Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Blogger, Soundcloud, Foursquare, Flickr, Goodreads, Periscope, Lobsters, TikTok, Quora, Zotero, Flipboard, GitHub, Medium, Huffduffer, Plurk, etc., etc. altogether and mix them up in infinite ways? You get Domains! You may get something as cutting edge–but still relatively straight-laced–as Aaron Parecki’s website, which you might have to dig into to realize just how much he’s got going on there, or you might end up with something as quirky and cool as Kicks Condor’s site or his discovery/syndication channel Indieweb.xyz.

Want to be able to use your website to highlight and mark up what you read? Go ahead and do that! I have. You could keep a record of everything you watch or listen to. Make a food diary. Track where you’ve been. Want to keep collections of chicken related things so your site can have a chicken feed? Go crazy!! 

 

📺 Generous thinking with Kathleen Fitzpatrick | The Future Trends Forum

Watched Generous thinking with Kathleen Fitzpatrick by Bryan AlexanderBryan Alexander from YouTube

How can we reimagine higher education? The Future Trends Forum met with Kathleen Fitzpatrick to explore her new book, Generous Thinking.

Kathleen Fitzgerald mentions Data Feminism by Lauren Klein and Catherine D’Ignazio (MIT Press) which they’re doing as open review similar to how she did her prior two books.

Kathleen indicates that she uses a Scrivener based environment for writing.

As I watch portions of this, I can’t help but think that Kathleen Fitzgerald and some of the discussion around her new book Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University might make an intriguing guest on Alan Alda’s Clear + Vivid podcast. Some of her thoughts on listening and empathy are incredibly valuable, particularly as they relate to higher education and even science communication.

📺 Virtually Connecting at #Domains19 with @hypervisible, @savasavasava, @timmaughan

Watched Virtually Connecting at #Domains19 with @hypervisible, @savasavasava, @timmaughan from YouTube

On Tuesday we have the makings of an intensely glorious chat with sava saheli singh (screeningsurveillance.com), Tim Maughan (Infinite Detail) and Chris Gilliard (hypervisible.com). Your onsite buddies will be Autumm Caines and Joe Murphy. Virtual buddy duties will be handled by the delightful Helen Dewaard. This will probably get very, very interesting.

Great recap of the morning including a discussion of surveillance.

📺 Virtually Connecting at #Domains19 Monday, June 10, 4:30 PM (Durham, NC time) | YouTube

Watched Virtually Connecting at #Domains19 Monday, June 10, 4:30 PM (Durham, NC time) by greeneterry from Virtually Connecting

On Monday afternoon we will be joined by Amy CollierLora Taub, Martin Hawksey, and members of the Domains 19 student panel, including Adelle Patten. Your onsite buddy will be Joe Murphy and virtual pal will be Terry Greene.

Watched Generous Thinking: Sustainability, Solidarity, and the Common Good by Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Digital Humanities Professor of English Michigan State UniversityKathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Digital Humanities Professor of English Michigan State University from Coalition for Networked Information | Vimeo

Generous Thinking: Sustainability, Solidarity, and the Common Good from CNI Vimeo Video Channel on Vimeo.

See cni.org/events/membership-meetings/past-meetings/spring-2019/plenary-sessions-s19#opening for more information.

Coalition for Networked Information (CNI)
Spring 2019 Membership Meeting
April 8-9, 2019
St. Louis, MO
cni.org/mm/spring-2019/

Joseph explores the extent to which discourses about community suggest an antidote to or escape from capitalism’s depredations, while distracting us from the supplementary role that community actually serves with respect to capital, filling its gaps and smoothing over its rifts in ways that permit it to function untrammeled. The alternative presented by community allows the specter of socialism, or genuine state support for the needs of the public, to be dismissed. This relationship becomes particularly clear in Joseph’s discussion of the role of non-profit organizations — entities highly likely to participate in and benefit from the idealized discourse of community — which often fill needs left behind by a retreating state, allowing that retreat to go unchallenged.

— Kathleen Fitzpatrick in Community, Privatization, Efficiency

Also cross reference: Strategy and Solidarity

From the video at timecode [22:05]:

…raises the key question of what it is we mean when we talk about community?
As Miranda Joseph argues in Against the Romance of Community, the concept is often invoked as a place holder for something that exists outside the dominant economic and institutional structures of contemporary life. A set of estensibly organic felt relationships that harken back to a mythical pre-modern moment in which people lived and worked in direct connection with one another  without the mediating forces of capitalism.
Now community is in this sense, in Benedict Anderson’s sense, an imagined relationship, and even an imaginary one. As its invocation is designed to yoke together bodies whose existence as a group is largely constructed. It’s a concept often used both idealistically and as a form of discipline. 
A claim of unity that smoothes over and thus suppresses  internal difference and disagreement. And as Joseph points out, the notion of community is often deployed  as if the relationships that it describes could provide an antidote to or an escape from the problems created by contemporary political and economic life. 
But this suggestion,  serves to distract us, she says, from the supplementary role that community, in fact, actually serves with respect to capitalism. Sort of filling its gaps and smoothing over its flaws in ways that permit it to function without real opposition. So we call upon the community to support projects  that the dominant institutions of the mainstream economy will not. And this is how we end up with social network-based fundraising campaigns to support people facing major health crises rather than demanding universal health care, and elementary school bake sales rather than full funding for education.
So community becomes, in this sense, an alibi for the creeping privatization of what should be social responsibilities.

Some interesting thought here with respect to economics, community, the commons, and education. While a large piece of the talk is about higher education, there are definitely some things that can be learned and used with respect to social media, and particularly the IndieWeb movement. I’d recommend everyone take a peek at it and think about how we can better deploy and give credit to some of our shared resources.

Watched Lecture 10: The Acts of the Apostles by Dale B. Martin from RLST 152: Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature

The speech that Stephen gives before his accusers in Acts shows how the author of Luke-Acts used and edited his sources. So, also, does the description of the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke, as compared to that in Mark. The major themes of Luke-Acts are 1) the Gospel going first to the Jews and then to gentiles and 2) that of the prophet-martyr, with Jesus as the prophet-martyr par excellence.

  • Stephens Speech in the Acts of the Apostles [00:00:00]
  • The Destruction [00:19:18]
  • Luke's Gospel to the Jews First [00:24:18]
  • The Prophet-Martyr in Luke and Acts [00:38:19]

Apparently Christians have been bending their stories to suit their point of view since the very beginning. Interesting to hear some of these story-telling traditions and viewpoints and compare them with current political and religious traditions. Not much has changed in 2000 years. I can’t help but think: “Do as I say and not as I do.”

📺 Stephen Downes: Conversation with Ben Werdmuller | YouTube

Watched Conversation with Ben Werdmüller by Stephen DownesStephen Downes from YouTube

E-Learning 3.0 week 3 event with Ben Werdmuller. founder of Elgg, founder of Known, currently with Matter, on linked data, Indieweb, and related topics.

A great little overview of IndieWeb for the education crowd.