Personal API: Progress in Pursuit of Nirvana

I’m going to give periodic updates on the personal API journey as way to make myself accountable and document progress. As Kin Lane reminded me this is a journey and so I’ve decided there are strange parallels between my API/Reclaiming-my-content work and the path to enlightenment.1 Like a Buddhist with very low expectations, I seek an end to (platform-related) suffering and rebirths. I am attempting to extinguish the fires of- ignorance – I don’t know exactly where all my stuff is or the rules governing it/me or what I’m “paying” for the service. short-sightendness – I’ve put work/energy/content in places without enough/any thought about the future. acceptance – I’ve accepted sub-par experiences, oppressive EULAs There may be a fourth flame to extinguish around isolationism (not taking advantage of the connectedness of all things API) but I’ve probably butchered Buddhism enough for one post. Since our last installment I’ve migrated from Bluehost to Reclaim. People might claim that’s a move from a vendor to another vendor. I disagree. Reclaim is both people I know and love and a company focused on the things I care about. Their goal is not entirely profit driven. I have no problem with people making money but I do have a problem with profit being the only driving force. It was a seamless move I put […]

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First Steps in the Personal API

  The first step in starting to consider your personal API is figuring out where your stuff is now. This has been an interesting experiment for me as I’ve flung stuff all around the Internet with very little concern for long-term considerations. Where is my stuff? I’m trying to think about all the places I’ve put work and/or media I care about. I’m also trying to group all of it in some sort of organized fashion. I thought it’d make sense to think big picture and work my way down. Domains/Servers bionicteaching.com on bluehost until I can do the reclaim migration mainly the blog but lots of random files as well- no real idea what’s on here tomwoodward.us on bluehost until I can do the reclaim migration rampages.us (work) – on reclaim, code stuff is mostly on github but content is in the wind augmenting.me (work) – on media temple, code stuff is mostly on github, maybe greatvcubikerace.net (work) – limited, no idea if I’ve got this on github teachers.henrico.k12.va.us – (old work) not sure it’s salvageable in time  (lost to the monsters?) Google Docs bionicteaching – 5GB vcu- work – 11GB montessori – work henrico – work (lost to the monsters – I document this as reminder of how much stuff can be lost when you change jobs- remember changing ownership across google […]

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The More Things Change

From my original blog in a post from May 20, 2005 (thanks to the Internet Archive) In my extensive experience blogging (nearly two weeks now) I have managed to learn a few things. 1. Blogging has changed the way I read and think. Some of the people I read have been kind enough to come by here. I have a real audience, however small, of people I respect. That has changed how I read their blogs. I now look for ways I can join the conversation, ways I can contribute rather than just being a detached observer. I am now a productive part of a community and have a personal stake in what is happening. 2. Comments mean a lot. A comment often mean more than you’d expect. To me it means people are reading and are interested, which is important to me. Comments mean you have been heard. What you said mattered enough to someone to take the time to write something back. Comments and trackbacks are what changes this medium from an online diary to a conversation in a community. I try to leave more comments now. I hope they encourage others the same way they encourage me. This is also something to keep in mind when I am grading papers. 3. I now see why the open […]

My Chunk of the VCU ALT Lab Educause Presentation

I got a chance to present at Educause with Gardner, Jon, and Molly. The session was about 45 minutes so we each had about 7 minutes. The session description is below. I figured I’d throw my slides/comments up here- mainly because I will forget everything if I don’t write it down. In the past, centers supporting excellence in teaching and learning tended to follow models of faculty development focusing on incremental change in widely accepted practices. VCU’s Academic Learning Transformation Laboratory seeks to change that paradigm. This session will begin with our story thus far. Come help us write our next chapters! from the program This is a list of my greatest fears (although I left out hypocrisy which I find myself repeating almost as much as workflow). It’s easy to scare people out of doing things. It’s easy to end up aiming for mediocrity. That feels like a high bar at times. Don’t call warming up dog food a victory. It’s really almost worse than leaving it cold. At least cold dog food isn’t pretending. I’ve had to do it at times but don’t let it ever become a goal. Excuses are easy. Figuring out real limits on capacity and aspiration is hard and a constantly moving target. It’s a tightrope to walk but walk it. Many places support […]

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Rampages Growth Plotted

As part of the gen ed seminar I pulled the rampages.us user signup data for Kristina Anthony. It was just a straight export from the wp_users table and stripped of everything but the date. She pulled it into Excel and used a pivot table to make it manageable. Which is awesome. So I pulled it down and pushed it back up into Google Docs so that I could embed the chart in this post. It makes me feel better to look at the growth over what amounts to around a year of actual use. I tend to focus on places for improvement (and there are many) but it’s worth looking at what ALT Lab has managed to achieve in a fairly short period of time.1 The July to February jump of about 6000 users is pretty insane. I have every expectation that we’ll add another 6000 or so users next year. Things will certainly only get more interesting. This has been done without huge student training initiatives. For the most part faculty members are able to support their own students. We have some of that filter up and we deal with some troubleshooting online but there’s no dedicated person(s) to support WordPress issues or train students. That’s a testament to WordPress. 1 In the higher ed dimension a year is […]

Hashtags of Inclusion

flickr photo shared by AndrewDallos under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license I’ve been thinking a bit about how hashtags function on Twitter when used in course in particular. These thoughts are shaped mainly by seeing how #vizpoem, #curiouscolab, and #thoughtvectors have played out vs some of the other hashtags we’ve used like #vcualtlab or #vcuglobalhealth. There’s not a right way or wrong way to do this but there are certain things that seem to happen when the structure of the hashtag is less tied to an institution. The VCU prefix pretty much means that only people within the VCU structure will use that hashtag. It is less likely it’ll become part of a larger structure for other people to use when thinking about/organizing the topic. #thoughtvectors is an example of a hashtag that has spread beyond the course in both time and people. While I believe Gardner coined?/hashed? the hashtag based on Doug Engelbart’s quote, its first use on Twitter was by Jon Becker (at least according to this site and this site). Since that time it was used extensively during the course (nearly 4000 times) but it’s still being used today long after the course officially ended. More and more it’s used by people who have no obvious relationship to the course and probably no knowledge of […]

My Twitter Evolution – Episode 1

I joined Twitter in November of 2007 which is roughly seven and half years ago. That’s a fairly long time and both my use and my thoughts about Twitter changed quite a bit over that time. Consider that Twitter only produced about 5,000 tweets a day back 1 then compared to 50 million a day now. I thought it’d be interesting to look back at my blog and see what I thought about Twitter in those early days.2 The first post I can find is from a few months after I joined and the post was titled My Secret Shame (best of twitter 1-30-08). The title alone lets you know I really was kind of embarrassed to be on Twitter. Clearly not too embarrassed to write about it in public but it still felt like it could be a waste of time. Back in those days you couldn’t embed the tweets like you can now so I hand-copied in the text and attributed them but I linked to the author’s blog instead of the tweet itself. That shows pretty clearly that I saw the Twitter element as much less important. Surely you’d want to go to the blog itself. Other than liking three specific tweets I had this to say- *I’m not advocating for twitter, I’m still debating it. Today […]

#UVaTeach Reflection

I had an interesting day at UVA a few days ago as part of their Innovation in Pedagogy Summit. I got the chance to talk to UVA’s Teaching Resource Center group and listen to some interesting educators talk about their practice. I was the closing keynote and I talked, as I have before, about what educational technology might be versus what it is. Essentially this was an extension and deepening of the It Could be Beautiful concept I did at VSTE a few years ago. It helps to see the depth of the perversion and misuse of educational technology before looking at ways it is working. Otherwise people tend to pretend it all sucks or it’s all going great (depending on their own stance). We seem to have created a populace, in the USA at least, that has a great deal of difficulty with things that are not stark examples of black and white. I don’t know if I should blame the media, capitalism, or standardized testing.1 What made this particular iteration a bit stronger was starting off by asking the audience to do something right away that set the scale of what we’re endeavoring to do in education. I asked them to go and read their college/university/departmental mission and vision statements and talk about them at their tables. What […]

Catfish Literacy?

To play off a bit of David’s post on social justice MOOCs, there seems to be a base need for tools for helping identify evil people on the web. That’s not in a dox type of way but more like a way to guide people in determining if accounts have ill intentions.1 That’s probably a messy description but it was brought about by a post I saw on Facebook last night. Essentially,2 it was a conversation between two people I know- one black male (in Richmond) and one white male (in Baltimore). It was a passionate conversation. The white guy added a screenshot from a Twitter account (included below) into the mix that seemed to confirm all his greatest fears about what was happening in Baltimore.3 It’s a high emotion situation in lots of ways which never helps people critically evaluate items that confirm their fears but I felt like this account had to be fake. Then I wondered if I could prove that? I did a couple of things4 when I looked at this account which are second nature to me now but which could be built into a tool or made into some sort of guide. Step one– I looked to see when the account was created. This account, @brothertooturnt, was started on 3/27/15. Recent creation and total […]

From “On the Internet” towards “Of the Internet”

creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Sean MacEntee We’ve talking a lot in our group about how people move towards more complex uses of the Internet. We started with a discussion around Internet1 search skills and dispositions. It’s simple stuff2 in a lot of ways but putting it in writing might help someone else and it tends to help me get it straight in my head. It’s not sexy but I think there’s value in thinking it through. Reactive/Algorithmic > Proactive/Human > Participatory/Reciprocal The initial orientation for search tends to be reactive. You have a need for something. You go look for it. It’s a one time act. The finding of the item often has no real longterm benefit. Google3 is your sole opaque lens on the web. The search is driven entirely by your interaction with algorithms. Limited curation/bookmarking occurs in browser providing no benefit beyond the individual. I want to call this inefficient but that’s not quite the right word. Maybe it’s an Internet mind monoculture. I think that getting people from this point to something else starts with getting better at searching. If you help people improve their search strategies they can find better things faster. The Internet becomes more interesting. That’s an initial pragmatic step that helps people justify spending further time/energy […]