More Than a Bunch of Stuff – Argumentative & Experiential History Sites

In working with students in the Digital History course, we’ve repeatedly bumped up against the idea that it’s harder to make a cohesive argument on the Internet (vs a traditional paper) or that constructing a web-based exhibition abdicates controls you have in physical space. There are frequent examples of archives referenced in the texts (Valley of the Shadow for instance) but for various reasons (age, limited time/space/knowledge) there aren’t many decent examples of constructing a multimedia argument or experiential/immersive examples. So here’s an attempt to show some sites that are far more than a-bunch-of-stuff-on-the-Internet and some elements that help them do that. Kennedy/Oswald It’s a bit heavy on the parallax for my taste but it’s a pretty direct parallel to a museum exhibit. It sets out to parallel the lives of Kennedy and Oswald reinforcing that parallel with visual metaphors (split screen transitions, similar images etc.) to reinforce that concept. There is a main text-based storyline, music to reinforce a certain mood,1 and the ability to see supporting elements by clicking on various items. The movement through the site is very guided. The links are kept within the site and remain contextualized rather than leading to other sites. The ancillary materials are a mixed bag of audio, images, video, and mixed media. Digital primary source materials are used throughout to […]

No Easy Anythings – OER at VCU

Emanuel Shinwell, 1918 flickr photo by LSE Library shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Someone sent me the following comment from Professor Golumbia (a professor here at VCU). He’s got me blocked on Twitter for some reason or I’d loop him in directly. I’m taking that as a message not to communicate directly but since this comment was public and I’m quoted in the article, I figured I could at least respond. Maybe it’ll moderate the level of perceived evil intent. cool, my employer is now paying its employees to screw themselves & other laborers out of significant future wages https://t.co/rf1zmelscS — David Golumbia (@dgolumbia) February 7, 2017 I don’t feel like it’s quite as binary as it’s being portrayed but that portrayal may be a result of Twitter’s limits.1 It’s also easy to see an institution as purely evil. It’s usually harder to do that with individuals. It’s also a rough time to care about education, students, faculty, academia as an institution, nature, freedom, humanity, etc. etc. All that to say, I understand an aggressive response to just about anything right now. With that, I’ll give you my two cents on why I opted to engage with VCU OER work. In the OER conversation, the easy victory is to focus on monetary savings for students. It’s a far […]

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Weekly Web Harvest for 2017-01-29

Why School Reform Is Impossible “…before the computer could change School, School changed the computer.” just getting the original quote Tilt.js – A tiny parallax tilt effect for jQuery The high-tech war on science fraud | Science | The Guardian The comparison is apt. The exposure of fraud directly threatens the special claim science has on truth, which relies on the belief that its methods are purely rational and objective. As the congressmen warned scientists during the hearings, “each and every case of fraud serves to undermine the public’s trust in the research enterprise of our nation”. OU Create Thus Far (2016) – Adam Croom This post, a sort of end-of-the-year wrap up, is a step towards trying to pull together a better aggregated story as to what has and is happening with OU Create–though it’s really only a start. Yes, it still leans on metrics, but please don’t get distracted by those too much. They are merely a tool that serves as an anchor. Below the numbers I’ve linked to relevant blog posts, which I’m personally more interested in. I’d rather build towards stories and relationships than numbers. But numbers do make it easy to build an infographic… So one of those is at the bottom too. List: Tips for Staying Calm and Relaxed in 2017 – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency Put a […]

You Can’t Do That on WordPress

I submitted something like this already to NMC but it failed . . . and I did not have a backup copy. They happened to extend the deadline so I’ve resubmitted and I’m sticking a copy here for future reference. It might also be useful just for a handy list of examples. 100 Word Summary 1 Open Source, highly flexible, and running 1 in every 4 sites on the Internet today, yet many still put WordPress in the “cat diary” box.2 In the initiative’s third year, we have 21,000+ sites. See examples of WordPress as a single-use tool and how it can be used to build truly customized courses.  All examples are open to the world (no passwords). We’ll explore design patterns (build fast at scale) and powerful plugins (use the community). Mind expansion is the goal. The code’s on GitHub. Warning: 1980s Canadian TV show references will occur. These are all public examples. They’re in real courses in a large, public university. This is work that is accessible and possible for anyone. Additionally, all the plugins and themes we create are on GitHub (here and here). I’ve also done my best to document how it all works on many posts on my site. I want people to be able to do this on their own or with their institution […]

Required Plugin Trick

Image from page 148 of “The Phynodderree, and other legends of the Isle of Man” (1882) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) 1 Mark Luetke wrote a really nice plugin2 for us when he was here that helped faculty setup mother blogs. It requires FeedWordPress (FWP) to be active to work. This morning I had a faculty member who set everything up correctly except for FWP. It’s happened a few other times so I figured I’d do something about it. I’d seen plugins that warn you if you don’t have a required plugin working so I went that route first. The code below was lifted straight from this stackoverflow response and set to look for FWP. It was decent and functional but I felt like I could make the notification better which led down a winding road. Modal Popup This code is straight from this codepen.3 And the little child_plugin_notice function got a bit larger. ID FWP Then I thought it’d be neat if I could scroll them down to FWP when they closed the modal popup. This could have been easy if the WP plugins table had ID elements that were rationale but it doesn’t. That led to a bit of an odyssey with various flavors of document.getElements. I still don’t […]

WP REST API Custom Fields to Google Maps

Manuel, the young shrimp-picker, five years old, and a mountain of child-labor oyster shells behind him. He worked last year. Understands not a word of English. Dunbar, Lopez, Dukate Company. Location: Biloxi, Mississippi. (LOC) flickr photo by The Library of Congress shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) 1 I had a site we used for the Great VCU Bike Race course that’s been sitting around. I knew it had lat/lng data for lots of urban bicycle related posts. My goal was to get it into Google Maps via the REST API. Get Custom Field in JSON By default you won’t see custom field data in your JSON endpoints. There are some plugins to make that happen but I wanted to take a stab at doing it myself. Given the documentation, it was pretty trivial.2 The code below in a plugin or the function.php file would make the lat_long custom field show up in the post JSON. Using this URL, I can get the 30 most recent posts.3 Some Map Stuff Google wants lat/lng separate but it’s coming in as one item split by a comma. These little functions split it up nicely. In javascript, split breaks up a string by the defined element (comma in this case) and returns the pieces as an array. Since I’ll get two pieces […]

Google Script, Twitter API & Google Maps

Image taken from page 12 of ‘Guide to Cambridge: the town, university and colleges … To which are added, notes upon the villages within ten miles, a map, etc’ flickr photo by The British Library shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) This is more playing with Martin‘s TAGs in Google Script and then moving it into Google Maps for visuals . . . the TAGS related functions will only work in that context but the purse Google stuff should work in any spreadsheet. Get Twitter Location by Account This function will get the user’s location as defined by their profile. So =getLoc(“twoodwar”) would return Richmond VA. This function will get the lat/long via Google Script. So =getLl(“Richmond, VA”) would return 37.5407246, -77.4360481. Keep in mind if it’s trying to get the lat/lng for someone who put “the Interwebz” as their location like OnlineCrsLady then your lat/lng may not work out that well. So that’ll let us take a chunk of TAGs data.1 and do something like this with Google Maps. I’m not going to break this chunk down quite yet. I did it at very odd hours and it works but it’s not very clean and I know there are ways to do it better.There is no shame in my game but there is some bashfulness. Pretend I’m an […]

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Weekly Web Harvest for 2017-01-22

Joaquin Baldwin on Twitter: “I lined up the Getty Images source file to the White House print. It’s a warp deformer, look at the helicopter behind it. https://t.co/kJB2T8U5yh” What a world. What a world. Why I’m Leaving New York to Live in a Large Pile of Garbage That’s On Fire – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency We have a saying down at the garbage fire, “AAAAAAHHHH! NO!! It burns!!!!” Watchdog: Attkisson wasn’t hacked, had ‘delete’ key stuck | TheHill An inspector general report concluded that Sharyl Attkisson’s merely had her “delete” key stuck when text disappeared from her computer, and said there’s no evidence that government officials erased stories. 2017 week 3 in review – D’Arcy Norman dot net I was surprised, again, that none of the students had edited a web page outside of Facebook. A handful had heard of wordpress, but nobody had every used it. So many things I have taken for granted, absorbed by the modern social web. This is going to take a long time to repair. We’ve lost a lot as a society when our brightest minds have no personal knowledge of publishing and sharing knowledge beyond Facebook posts.

Trump Dump Data & Playing with TAGS

Image from page 60 of “Children’s ballads from history and folklore” (1886) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Driven mad by curiousity after this Matthew Baldwin tweet, I built this little thing. It uses the amazing Martin Hawksey’s TAGS for gathering the Tweets in Google Sheets and then displays it with Vue.js (which I’m sort of learning). It led me to realize that I could extend TAGS without much effort. My first attempt was to write two custom functions to get favorites and retweets. Turns out that was pretty straight forward given all Martin’s work. The TAGS element (TAGS.get) links me into Martin’s library and that’s that. So very easy once you know and then you’re just navigating the Twitter API. Turns out I can do something similar to get the Twitter bio. Initially, I just stuck these in like you’d do normal functions … =getRT(A1) or whatever and it soon ate up all the processing time allowed for my Google Scripts. That caused other things to break. Lesson learned. I then opted to set the value in the script and write that value to the cell. This little script runs on the spreadsheet change trigger and checks to see if there are any blank cells in the Favorites column (column U) […]

Google Script Folder Copying Postmortem

Image from page 93 of “Elementary and dental radiography” (1813) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) This is the blow-by-blow documentation of a failure of sorts. Nothing makes me angrier than failing to deliver on something I said I could/would do. I ended up delivering what was needed but the way I had to do it was ugly and time-intensive. All of this happened because of two things- insufficient initial testing and not enough knowledge on my end at a couple of key steps. I’ve got lots of ideas I need to test out now that I’ve learned a few things the hard way but I thought it’d be beneficial to see how I tried to think through this thing when various paths failed . . . and with that welcome to my postmortem. I thought we had the Social Work Google Docs Digital Portfolio thing figured out. I even wrote a blog post. Events coalesced to remind me that I do not know enough stuff. However, I do intend to learn from painful mistakes like this and give you my tears and frustration for you free of charge.1 Initial tests felt a bit slow but nothing too bad. Google Scripts will timeout after 6 minutes but I thought we’d be ok […]