Tweets as Presentation: Reflecting on #pressedconf18

I took the opportunity to participate in the #PressedConf yesterday. Described as “. . . a twitter conference (#pressedconf18) looking into how WordPress is used in teaching, pedagogy and research.” it was a pretty impressive number of people and topics covered on Twitter in roughly 20 minute “Tweet storms.”1 Presenting on Twitter was something new to me and I tried to think through some interesting ways to approach things. Given how limited Twitter was I tried to tackle complexity in a few different ways while taking advantage of the way Twitter treats different content integrations. The Post I ended up deciding to build out a WordPress post with various sections that were associated with a number of the Tweets I’d make. I used good ol’ anchor links in the Tweets to be able to link specifically to those sections without having to resort lots of little posts. For example – brings you to the Custom Composition section directly. Not very visual on the Twitter end and probably cheating in the scheme of things. The Videos I tried to tackle other complexity through videos. I made a number of new videos and took advantage of a few others I’d had to try to show more details. I kind of wonder if this worked well. They appeared in two different ways. Some […]

A drawing of a small terrier dog jumping through a hoop held by a monkey.

Code as Poetry, Time as a Variable – Options in the Ether

Backstory Driving into work I was listening to NPR and they were interviewing Nikki Giovani a poet from Virginia Tech. In high school I was one of those people who really suffered reading the The Red Wheelbarrow and other non-rhyming poems. They irritated me in the same way people seem to be annoyed by White Paintings or 4’33”. In any case, in college I took lots of English classes. One of those classes was on poetry with Donna Hickey. The class selection was driven more by fitting my schedule and a vague notion that I might minor in English rather than any real interest in poetry. The first day of class she had everyone list their favorite poets. I don’t recall what people chose but I remember feeling like my choices of Shel Silverstein and Dr. Suess was not of the same category. In any case, I had a great deal of fun with the course and using poems as games and puzzles to think around and through. I later took a graduate course with Dr. Hickey1 in poetry and made my first digital liberal arts website around 2001 or 2002. It focused on breaking down various Richard Hugo poems and creating attempts at multimedia experiences.2 That stuff is all long gone from the UR website. I might have backup […]


Considering Making Digital Sociology Tools

First off, I believe that websites that help you think are tools. Websites that help you author media are also tools. So when I say “tools” that’s what I mean. I will also likely call them sites. That’s also what I mean. I like to start off posts like these establishing the fact that I’m not going to try very hard to make sense to you but at least I’m explicit about it. I’ve had a couple of conversations recently that have me close to building these with or without a faculty/course attached. #metoo Movies This started when I was watching one of the original Star Wars movies with my kids. I’d never really watched them closely as an adult. It really seemed like Han Solo was a textbook example of a person acting out some pretty specific examples of sexual harassment. Repeatedly Leia tells him to stop touching her and he ignores her etc. I ended up talking to some friends at a school function about it and the conversation expanded into the idea of a database of clips like this that both act as a lens on that time/space/movie and as examples of particular patterns that might be of interest more broadly. For example here’s Han being creepy . . . In order to write this post, I’ve […]


RVArts.org Version II

Lots of remakes going on lately. That’s good in that it means people still want to work with me (now our group) after doing it once and secondly they’re seeing things to change and improve which is how things get better. The harder part to figure out is that in you never really finish anything so you have to keep that partial snowball effect in mind as you figure out how much work you can take on. Or I suggest you do. I at least pretend I do but really if it’s cool and interesting enough I just say yes.1 So anyway, the old RVArts site was decent but it was an early work in terms of my capacity as someone who makes websites.2 This remake is a mix of technical and visual changes. Technically . . . This remake is about harvesting the content students create in a Facebook group and then using it with different material students create in WordPress. Right now the data is pulled from the Facebook group events into WordPress through the Event Aggregator which ties into Event Calendar Pro. Later in the game we opted to jump events right back to Facebook so we could have skipped all that and just used the FB API but sometimes you find that stuff out too late. […]


ANTH101 v 3.ish

“You cannot think your way into a new way of living. You have to live your way into a new way of thinking.” – Mike Wesch You can’t beat that quote as a way to frame a course and it’s nice to consider how digital content supports that kind of perspective on learning/living. It’s also a key consideration in how I think about building courses like this. You have to do it. You shouldn’t expect to be perfect the first time, or the second, or ever really but if you’re doing it right improving it should be worth the investment. You should get some joy out of the process and it should alleviate things that cause you pain. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Mike Wesch and Ryan Klataske at Kansas State over the last few years1 on the ANTH101 site. It’s been an interesting progression over time as the course has continued to evolve. We’ve gone done a variety of paths and dealt with human and technical issues. It has been interesting to participate in the ongoing co-evolution of aesthetics, mechanics, and content. It’s also a scenario where I wish I’d have done a much better job with screenshots so I could more accurately show you how the site has evolved.2 After an initial meeting at Kansas State […]

Giant machine with small man

IdeaX Proposal – Tiny Targeted Tools

Image from page 98 of “Illustrated catalogue and general description of improved machine tools for working metal” (1899) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) I submitted to one of our regional instructional developer organization (Instructional Development ?Educational Alliance Exchange)1 this AM. We’ll see if it gets accepted but given my recent reflection on things that seem to have worked in Rampages, the chunk I left out that’s built in Google, Jim’s recent post from Australia, and Alan and Brian‘s continued SPLOT work . . . it seemed like a nice chance to spread this particular word to a VA audience. I also find that articulating concepts like this for other audiences helps me better articulate why I think this work is important. I can’t just say “SPLOT” and have my six friends understand what I’m going to talk about. There’s a place for that.2 The Proposal There is a tendency to make or buy tools that try do everything. As a result we end up with a massive tool that does most things poorly and few things well. Learning goals get obscured by the increasing complexity involved in navigating the compromises inherent in the omni-tool. It’s not focused on a particular discipline or kind of thinking. While generic tools have their place, […]

What is Rampages.us? Part One

I’m going to be attempting to explain what rampages.us is to a group on Tuesday. I’ve been struggling with a more digestible version of this for some time. While true, saying “Whatever you want it to be,” isn’t what people want to hear. Giving people something more concrete to think through what the site can do makes sense. These categories, however blurry and overlapping, provide some entries to additional thoughts and will likely help me organize my brain around this a bit better. Outside eyes are helpful so if you see stuff I’m missing or explaining poorly please throw me a comment here or on Twitter. While some of the details are specific to our version, I think the general arguments might be of use to others. If you end up doing that (or have already done it), throw me a link as I’d love to see how other people do this. Technically Speaking Rampages.us is a large WordPress multisite installation started roughly three years ago. Our community currently has over 24,000 sites and 22,000 members. WordPress is an open source platform which runs a huge portion (~30%) of today’s Internet and is the most popular CMS in the world. That matters for a variety of reasons. WordPress is free. This dramatically lowers barriers to access for our students while […]


Community- Technically Speaking

Playing “Mah-Jong” at the Clubhouse of the Century Village Retirement Community. flickr photo by The U.S. National Archives shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Marie has nice post summarizing the Georgetown Community presentation at Domains. And nowEvelyn’s post reminded me to write a post on a site instead of just in my head. The title of the presentation ‘Just a Community Organizer’ is a nod to the fact that community is hard to do. It can be hard technically but it’s often even more difficult on the human side. As Evelyn brought up . . . community is not created by the technical ability to bring content together. There are lots of ways this can succeed technically but fail socially–> The stuff is there but no one cares. At the same time, technology failures can prevent community from forming where you have all the other factors–> People want to see what’s going on but can’t find and interact with the stuff they want in reasonable ways. There’s also the idea that people might not know what they want to see (or how they want to see it) until it’s given as an option or scaffolded into as an action. Can we present content in ways that are novel and interesting that inspires curiosity and interaction? You can’t do that […]

A drawing of a small terrier dog jumping through a hoop held by a monkey.

WP API Feed Reader POC

Image from page 96 of “St. Nicholas [serial]” (1873) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) I’ve talked to a number of people a number of times about seeing faculty using Feed WordPress to syndicate content to a motherblog when they’d really be better served by using a feed reader like Feedly.1 Feed WordPress is great and very useful but if you don’t want to archive the content or take advantage of some of the more advanced options (auto-categorizing, auto-tagging, doing stuff with author pages etc.) then it usually is a bit more hassle than it’s worth. I thought it’d be pretty easy to build a little custom page to display a series feeds from sites in one place. It took me a bit to get it straight but it wasn’t too bad. This example loads 10 sites fairly quickly. I’m currently just showing the source site’s URL and the 5 most recent posts with titles and dates. It’d be easy enough to add other stuff – excerpt, full post content, featured image etc. It’d also be pretty easy to pass the URLs to the page from a Google Spreadsheet which I’ll probably do in the near future. See the Pen wp json api multi fetch by Tom (@twwoodward) on CodePen. 1 Obligatory […]

iPad Robot Redemption

I freely admit to having mocked iPad robots on more than one occasion. My experience with them has largely been awkward encounters at conferences where they felt more like curiosities1 than anything with real purpose or impact.2 But . . . we recently ended up in a scenario where a student in Molly’s Artfulness class was going to be unable to attend class for a lengthy period of time. She was considering dropping the class. The next class was a dance-focused class run by Jill Ware where movement and being in the space was particularly important. All this came out in an informal conversation with Molly. As a semi-joke, I said now was the time to use the iPad robot . . . and not only did we do it but it ended up working really well. You can see some of the interactions playing out below. I think it was a fundamentally different experience than merely watching. In this particular scenario I think that the iPad robot really made a remarkable difference in terms of interaction on the part of the student driving and the students interacting with the robot/student.3 It also looks like a fundamentally different experience for both the driver of the iPad robot and the students in the class. It’d be a fun thing on which […]