What I’m reading 4 Dec 2015 through 11 Dec 2015

What I’m reading 23 Nov 2015 through 1 Dec 2015

What I’m reading 30 Oct 2015 through 9 Nov 2015

What I’m reading 19 Oct 2015 through 24 Oct 2015

What I’m reading 26 Sep 2015 through 17 Oct 2015

What I’m reading 28 Aug 2015 through 14 Sep 2015

What I’m reading 8 Aug 2015 through 26 Aug 2015

  • The Fraught Interaction Design of Personalized Learning Products – The underfunded universities are going to paying a lot for suggestions about time management from the machine. And are students going take those suggestions or are teachers setting up to enforce them? Ah, you make learning fun!

    "the perceived value of the product is directly related to the confidence that students and teachers have that the product is rendering an accurate diagnosis. That’s why I think products that provide black box diagnoses are doomed to market failure in the long term. As the market matures, students and teachers are going to want to know not only what the diagnosis is but what the basis of the diagnosis is, so that they can judge for themselves whether they think the machine is correct." – (de d2l prescriptivism predictive )

  • ELO 2015: The End(s) of Electronic Literature August 5. – Just in case you missed it: streams from the ELO, Bergen, Aug 2015 – (DH ELO )
  • elearnspace › White House: Innovation in Higher Education – Seimens's blog report on a secret White House thinktank with the for-profit education sector. Watch your back. The private sector wants your tax dollars. – (education disruption )

fedwiki as notebook and a style guide for the coterie

When I first started using a traditional wiki (c. 2002, I think), I mistakingly saw it as a form of wide-ranging publication – a hypertextual companion to the blog. I was looking for a universal notebook-cum-database; a one-stop shop for drafting, revising, and publishing; a elegant – because it was the smallest database that would work – hypertexual support system; the realization of Vannevar Bush’s memex and Ted Nelson’s literary machine. I thought of the wiki as a magic workshop: a place where I could collect and store and organize hypertexually my notes, commonplaces, links, and drafts; with a workbench space to assemble these things into more formal hypertexts; and the capability of publising those hypertexts in progress. A universal reading and writing and learning and broadcasting space.

Wikipedia not withstanding, the wiki isn’t a publishing medium so much as a medium for coterie circulation, something closer to manuscript circulation than world wide circulation of a National Literary Review. The wiki is a medium for neighborhood circulation of notebook-like works in progress, notebooks being closer to manuscripts than blog posts or PDFs or Word docs watermarked DRAFT.

I’m borrowing the idea of coterie culture from Laura Mandell’s recent monograph Breaking the Book. She sets coterie culture next to more contemporary print culture in order to highlight the meeting of scribal and print cultures in 17th and early 18th century England. Coterie publishing of small print runs circulated among a small group of readers “with the same expectation as manuscripts: educated, elite readers would write in them, correct them, modify them” (121). Sound a little like fedwiki? Breaking the Book is worth a read. (I could not find any good reviews of the book yet, so here’s a link to the publisher, Wiley Blackwell.)

I made the early mistake of identifying wikis wiith blogs. Blogs are a publication medium. They are written for and seek wide and anonymous distribution. A blog post is published and may be commented on, but it is more or less finished. But wikis are notebooks, continuously revised and adapted, and in fedwiki revised and re-distributed. As notebooks, they become sources for further work and distribution by other means, such as blogs.

Reconsider the memex. As Bush conceived it, the memex was designed for personal scholarly use and coterie distibution. The trails through memex libraries, as they were conceived, were not meant to be distributed as a set of bound texts distributed to anonymous readers. The idea was that the scholar would reproduce the microfich and hand around to other like scholars – mostly who knew each other. The small group would not need a detailed textual context because it would be a small group, a neigborhood. The NLS seems to have been concepualized in a similar scholarly group context rather than as a worldwide, anonymous mass.

So: a fedwiki as notebook.

Thoughts along this line are circulating in the fedwiki neighborhood as Fedwiki as Memex-Journal. The memex was designed to address the problems of wide dispersal of information and the index. As it’s being discussed on Fedwiki, the problem of integrating sources is being addressed with links to collections and notes on Pinboard, and the problem of indexing is address with RSS feeds and tags.

Along with Ward I imagine a Pinboard-ish community around the product. Sites would have a setting to say where they publish to — RSS feeds, Pinboard, etc. But there also might be a fedwiki specific community that provided better integration.

Wikis would also have certain tags associated with them, and by default would publish new material to feeds and community sites under those tags. Tags would help alert you to new wiki content from anywhere, consistently good wiki content would prompt you to subscribe to all updates of that wiki.

The distribution is not wide but takes place within a specific community surrounding a topic, discipline, problem, interest. Distribution of link trails is more rapid than snail mail but still takes place within a small group, a coterie. I think of these coteries not as pre-conceived audiences that are being passively addressed but as active publics that organize themselves around the content and interests of the group.

I like the name “Steno”. It conveys the notebook idea, but technically stenography is “narrow writing” (steno=narrow) which fits the idea of a collection of small thoughts connected. It doesn’t capture the networked wiki element, but I think that’s OK — it’s easy to say “Steno is your networked notebook”.

Once I have the notebook and coterie distribution in mind, the advice behind a style guide, like this one Mike Caulfield designed for Fedwiki, becomes clear. The guide lists the usually unstated practices of the coterie: the Fedwiki neighborhood.

First, abide by the general conventions of federated wiki:

  • Avoid overlinking
  • Minimize in-paragraph formatting
  • Where possible, write short paragraphs, with one idea per paragraph (to facilitate reuse and rearrangement).

Second, write primarily in a descriptive style. Wikity is less an editorial page, and more a sort of Hitchiker’s guide to the galaxy. Short articles based around a single idea, formula, concept, fact, or dataset are best.

As a notebook, fedwiki is not a reading but a writing platform. Material in a notebook is mined for use in other contexts, and smart practice (both for the notebook and the note taker) is to develop note-making habits that reduce the friction for collecting and mining. Links inside the notebook and outside the notebook take on a functional rather than an aethetic or rhetorical value. Prose chunked into short paragraphs make it easier to move around and circulate within the notebook – easier to assemble into constellations, easier mine, easier to add to. Bullet lists are less valuable than they might be in static publication; the idea of a notebook is to expand ideas, not reduce them to a set of bullets.

What I’m reading 26 Jul 2015 through 5 Aug 2015

  • A User’s Guide to Forking Education – Hybrid Pedagogy – critique of the domesticated technologies of Ed. Los, discussion forums.

    Most of these systems recreate the bureaucracies of education without capturing the joy and rigor. At their worst, learning management systems turn students into columns in a spreadsheet, taking all that’s ineffable about learning and making it grossly manifest. Learning management systems aren’t all bad (some even revolutionize in important ways), but the idea is bad, the impulse is bad, at its core. They make homogenous what is fundamentally heterogeneous, standardizing what shouldn’t be standardized. Fetishizing the learning management system is to confuse educational administration with learning. Perhaps, the administration of education does need managing, but learning needs to be given a frame and then set loose. Very few online learning tools encourage the sorts of risk-taking that make for the best pedagogies. Quality should not be assured; it should be discovered. – (de lms discussions )

  • The Quiet Page & Linking the Web | Heart | Soul | Machine – Tim Klapdor introduces the Quiet Page: linked, annotatable, contextualized, and shared.

    To annotate it myself. To highlight underline and note. To visualise and add my experience with the text. (Personal)
    To view others experiences of the text. To see their notes and discussions. To see their highlights and to experience the text in a social and shared way. (Social)
    To create trails. To connect the text to other content, ideas and resources myself. To place the text in my context, my experience and my knowledge. (Synthesis)
    And then to share those trails. To let others see how I’ve contextualised the text. To see my experience but to then be able to add to it and expand it. (Connected) – (fedwiki annotation sharing )

  • Webs Of Thinkers And Thoughts – WebSeitz/wiki – Jul'2015: triggered by Mike Caulfield recent posts (emphasis on curating, connecting, annotations) plus others' responding/riffing, want to start over without even assuming wiki. Context/goals… – (annotation fedwiki )