Historical Will Annotation Continued: A WP API Experiment

The Judah Will Project (now with new URL!) has continued to grow as Ryan has been putting in serious work on the research and writing side of things. I have no choice but to step up my game and it’s been an interesting learning experience as it’s the first time I’ve tried anything sophisticated with WP providing the writing/data side of things while presenting that information somewhere else entirely. Headless? So here’s a recap of changes since the last update. More Obvious I talked to Jim about the project a few days ago. It became clear to me that it wasn’t obvious that the names in the will transcription were clickable prior to actually clicking on one. I fixed that with a simple dashed underline. This was one of those times where I was trying to keep the visual elements minimal but ended up going too far. I also threw in a modal popup for initial directions to make things more obvious. I just used this simple modal jquery plugin. It immediately drove me crazy by popping up all the time. So I looked around and found a solution to set cookies which I’d never done before. I also used a modal for the ever-growing family tree. When you have 12 kids in a generation, things get pretty wide. Permanent […]

Annotating a Will: A Digital Process

One of the projects that Ryan Smith chose as part of our Digital History course was the collaborative transcription and annotation of a historic Richmond will . . . describing it thusly1 in the syllabus. Collaborative annotation: To further put our emphasis on collaboration into practice, we will annotate [explain, contextualize, add to] together one document, the last will and testament of Isaac Judah, an early Richmond resident. This assignment will require student research, online or in person, to help explain and contextualize this document for a public audience. What software platform should we use to markup the item? How should we handle the will’s transcription? Who are the parties mentioned in the will? Where are the locations? What historical lessons can it teach readers? The quality and quantity of each students’ research/commentary will count as 10% of the final course grade. The will can be found on our course website, in the Google Drive folder. The transcription file is: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ghG-oyFvyza-zRUE4ZJf0_HF4_D5dey4Bv4BmM5JYFQ/edit. Annotations can begin as soon as the course begins and should be finalized by February 23 March 30. If the annotation is fruitful, we may post this result for public consumption. We ended up with quite a bit of work . . . in fact so much work that displaying it via the Google Doc didn’t really work. It […]

Open Content Creation at VCU

I’m going to hit a few of the things I’ve done with people around open educational resource creation.1 In the discussion, I’m going to ignore some complexities around the term ‘open’ in order to avoiding dragging the whole post down. My personal definition of open is very liberal2 although I can see the value of Wiley’s R framework in a variety of conversations. Once again, I’ll try to move from simpler to more complex options. The Judah Will The Judah Will is a will that was transcribed and annotated in the digital history class this semester. Ryan Smith is the history professor behind the idea and has been more than awesome to work with. Right now the work is all in Google Docs but we’re looking at paths/tools/display options that will better show the research and conversations that occurred. The simple act of transcribing the will is one act of OER creation and active participation in the field of history. The additional research and investigation of the elements of the will constitutes another layer. The majority of students in the class really enjoyed the process and liked the idea that they were adding to the sum of information available to historians. This activity also enabled the professor to model historical research/thought while interacting with the students on a project with […]

Courses in WordPress

In the same vein as my last post,1 WordPress lets you set up courses just about any way you might want. There are some typical patterns people use but there are also a variety of other options that fit individual needs or just make people happy. I’ve done quite a few different scenarios over the last three years so I figured I’d highlight a few structures and some of the things that make them what they are. The sites in general may or may not also have face-to-face components but I’m choosing examples that are more involved than simple syndication sites (aka mother blogs) or sites that focus on particular projects/assignments. Hopefully these examples show the variation faculty have in terms of what they want and in terms of the flexibility that WordPress can provide. In this case, I do believe I’ll be able to move from simplest to more complex/customized. Simple End of the Spectrum These examples mainly organize and display content and aren’t focused on interaction or student publishing. Usually sites like these predominantly use pages and may not use posts at all. They may also turn off comments to simplify management. The page construction fits neatly within more traditional models of web design. Graphic Design History The goal here was to put up a bunch of sequential […]

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Gravity Forms – Regular URL for File Upload

I do a fair amount of Gravity Forms to posts. Many times those posts have files, mainly images, associated with them that I’d like to have embedded in the post. Gravity Forms did some changes a while back to prevent people from guessing where files are (which is good) but the secure URL change also made my embed patterns break. Throwing the little line above in a plugin makes things work again (although at the risk of people guessing where other files may reside).

A WordPress Authoring Continuum

Image from page 60 of “Birds of La Plata” (1920) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) I often feel much of my life has been spent arguing against binary judgements related to technology.1 I’d like to have neater boundaries and simpler discussions but they always seem to get in the way of what I perceive as reality. I’ve certainly tried to articulate options for content in creation in WordPress before. I tried really hard to have a nice list here that would move you from full-constrained incrementally towards the normal backend editor but the lines kept blurring on me so . . . you get what we have here today . . . which is a failure to delineate, crisply.2 The idea that WordPress authoring is super-easy or needlessly complex is one of those arguments I have repeatedly. I believe, with varying degrees of effort/skills, WordPress authoring is simply what you want it to be. It can be tightly constrained, without even the need for an account or even a visit to the backend of WordPress. It can also be fully open with all the options and complexities you could want. They’re both choices with a fair amount of room in the middle for variations. I’ve found a few plugins and/or design […]

WP JSON to Google Sheets – Reflective Data

Image from page 86 of “Refraction and motility of the eye, with chapters on color blindness and the field of vision” (1920) flickr photo by Internet Archive Book Images shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Way back in 2015, I wrote a little plugin1 to count URLs, get the word count and do other stuff so I could reflect on my blog posts. Given some (k)new knowledge2, I figured I could make a version that runs in Google Sheets and indeed I can. The reason I like this as an alternative to the plugin is that it works for anyone who has access to Google Sheets even if they can’t install plugins. Google Sheets also offers a lower barrier to messing with your own data once you get start capturing it. You can count the !s, or a variety of emoticons, or how often you use the word “spaces,” or whatever you want- all without the ability to program in php or javascript. I think it starts to open up different doors for students3 to gather their own kind of data for reflection and amusement. It starts to get at the DIY ethos inherent in the quantified self communities. The sheet is here. I’m going to build it out into something a bit more robust and plug/play in the […]

ANTH 101 Rebirth

I had the chance to work more on the ANTH 101 site with Ryan and Mike over winter break. It’s a pretty significant change. It’s almost entirely gutted in terms of the WordPress side of things with a different theme, some new plugins etc. but also some significant changes on how student see and interact with the work they make. Some of the initial conversations resulted in the Minimal WordPress work which . . . we ended up tossing.1 But what we ended up creating is pretty slick and does a number of pretty interesting things. The Bones ANTH101 is a large class- several hundred students large – so a chunk of being able to deal with that is making things simple for students. A large chunk of work went towards simplicity. Another large chunk of effort went towards making it feel and look app-like on a phone. That’s the equivalent of making it look cool/interesting and feel modern – pretty much the opposite of most course site software. It was expected students would be using their phones to submit work and browse. ANTH101 runs on a child-theme of Boss.Not like this boss (#nsfw). There are few different plugins that make it all work. The major ones are as follows – Visual Composer – both Mike and Ryan want to […]

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 […]