Tag Archives: iPad

update from blogsy

Finally, a good app for blogging from the iPad. Blogsy handles drag and drop images and linking, tags, categories, multiple blogs, saving drafts locally or on the server – all the good stuff. It has a slide out browser, direct access to Flickr photostream and supports searching Google images. Looks like you still have to tweak some code, but Blogsy writes the first draft of the code to work with.

The app uses two modes articulated as sides of a flip-over pane. One side allows writing and code editing. The other shows the formatted post and provides drag and drop inserting of images and links, and heading, list, and paragraph formatting. Write on one side; format on the other. Pretty smart, and easy to get used to.

The biggest pain in blogging on the iPad and phone has been needing to switch between browser and the blogging app. Blogsy mitigates that with a minimal, slide out browser. Open the browser by tapping an icon, locate the page, grab the URL, image, or code, and drag it to the appropriate pane. Images work in a similar way. Tap the Flickr icon and palette with your account opens. Find an image and drag it to the formatting pane. Tap the image to align and resize it. Very nice.

Three dollars. The developers are polling users for features. This is one to buy early and watch it develop.

update on blogging with an iPad: big cat in a small bed

I have tried and tried, and for many things, an iPad was enough – reading and annotating books and pdfs, reading and annotating rss feeds, taking notes, drafting and revising single- and multi-page print documents, some management and editing of photos, keeping up with email, twittering, even keeping a local wiki. But for blogging when drawing on multiple sources, it falls flat.

Or, better, I find the iPad limited and awkward when I try to compose a rich blog post, synthesized from a number of sources and using links.  Maybe it’s me. Maybe I have to develop an alternative workflow. A number of bloggers are hopeful about using the iPad fine for their work: The Blogging Herald, Om Malik, Ben Parr at Mashable (although Ben mentions some limitations). Nancy at WebWorkerDaily is particularly hopeful.
But there are others who try and wind up banging into the iPad’s limitations:
I have tried both the BlogPress and the WordPress apps (constantly switching in and out of the app to research and grab text), the WP dashboard (better because I can switch tabs, but coding is in the way, and drafting in a text editor, then pasting into a blog app and editing (doesn’t overcome the main constraint of fast switching between research stuff and writing stuff). Maybe I’m whingeing, but the apps get in the way of drafting (not their fault: iPad first iteration fault), and they force me to find workarounds, and that influences the choices I make … Ok, I’m whingeing.
Let’s just say that writing this post – with the multiple links and image – on the iPad would have taken me most of the morning. On the MacBook, it’s taken less than an hour. That’s not just a time saving; that’s a fluency issue. What gets written is influenced by the materiality of the writing technology. Try 500 words with a crayon. It’s not a matter of not being able to muster the resources on the iPad … Ok, it is a matter of that. They are different resources, and a couple that I want to employ when I blog to make the blogging worth it for me.  I can use the iPad to sketch something in or make a quick post with a link or two, and maybe an image, but for more extensive blogging, it becomes awkward.
What this all means is
  • I need to take a MacBook when traveling for work.
  • The current constraints shape the iPad / iPhone use as part of a PLE.
  • I have a reason buy Air Display

bookmarks for August 17th, 2010 through August 18th, 2010

traveling without a laptop

I’m considering traveling to the UK for a month without a laptop – just (ha!) an iPad and an iPhone with data roaming off. The rationale is weight and accumulation – and fear of fanaticism.

Both my wife and I traveling with MacBooks and iPhones makes a kind of embarrassing middle-class sense. Compatibility. Shared chargers. Facetime. It does come close to twinning – those matching floral shirts some old farts wear to signify “We’re on vacation.” We don’t do that.

And we can explain our over-devicing professionally. This isn’t a holiday, not really. We’re both working on projects that require technology, V on Lakes to Lakes, and me on sabbatical stuff. While traveling, I need to do some interviews, draft a chapter of a book, monitor a wiki, post to my blog and to Twitter (Yeah, I wrote tweeting into the sabbatical. I teach with social media – gotta practice my chops), keep up with some blogs, check mail – and in October, I’m skyping in to present at a conference in Fargo. Carrying computers is what we do now. No apologies there.

But a laptop, smartphone, and tablet seems like overkill. Bravura. Fanaticism. Indecision. Weight. So, if I leave my MacBook at home, we travel lighter in a lot of ways.

Question is, can I get the work done on an iPad, using my wife’s laptop only when absolutely necessary?

I’ve been trying it for a day now. I started Friday morning. I’ve been able to get everything done that I needed to – which was not a lot, I admit. I did have to move a set of PDFs from my desktop to Dropbox so I could read and annotate them. And I’ve been struggling with getting this post to show up on my blog: something’s up with BlogPress. But other than that, it’s been good.

Some added benefits:

  • All the files I’m working on are in one place. I don’t have to think about moving a PDF that I annotated on the iPad to the desktop, or muck around with emailing myself a draft of a proposal I started in Pages. Less is more.
  • I’m in a position to Twitter more – ok, that’s a mixed blessing.

Some matters to work through:

  • How to handle a synch with using V’s laptop during the month for system updates or crashes.
  • How to get past the lack of smooth multitasking. Stop – switch app – copy – switch app – paste is driving me nuts.
  • How to streamline blogging. BlogPress had a glitch in uploading to WP, the WP app is awkward to use, and blogging through Safari is back to hand coding. [update: BlogPress uploaded fine. I had set the incorrect date on the post and it was lost in June.

Most of the changes are changes in workflow rather than technical issues. Those are the issues I want to uncover.

What I’ve found so far:

  • I need to move all the files I might need to Dropbox, with copies just in case on a flash drive that I can get to via V’s laptop if necessary. That might require an update to Dropbox. But now that more apps (eg iAnnotate) support Dropbox, cloud access with the iPad is becoming feasible – with the exception that
  • Dropbox will save an annotated file only back to the account from which it was downloaded.
  • I need to bring a Bluetooth keyboard. I’m typing this longish post on the iPad’s keyboard, which suits me just fine, but it does get wearing after a while. No penalty for a keyboard.

And just in case this post and iPadding around looks like self-indulgence: The material grounds and the physical and social situations of reading and writing – which is what I do when I’m not teaching reading and writing – are significant matters. They afford and constrain the resources readers and writers use to construct meaning. That is, finding that it’s not possible (yet) to copy and paste a passage from an iBook into a draft limits what I can do – and it means that I have to figure out how to get around the constraint either technologically or rhetorically. So do students. As literacy is an interaction between writer and the technologies of consumption and production (pencil, paper, book, iPad, keyboard, ebook) (see Kress), this post is a consideration of a situation of literacy.

If I decide to take on a month of travel and work without a laptop – a device that I’ve become pretty adept at – then the whole affair will be an experiment in digital literacy.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Afterthought: Check 18th and 19th century novels for incidents of traveling and writing: tools (portable letter desks), where writing was done. Richardson, Sterne, Defoe, Fielding, Smollett, Thackeray, Austin.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Grange Rd NW,Bemidji,United States

from personal wiki to open text and how to get there

In the background, off line, on an iPad, I’ve been experimenting with a personal wiki (Trunk, excellent app, more later). What I wanted was a souped up wikified version of a Moleskine, a notebook – or legendary notebook – that I can’t use because my handwriting has become illegible, even to me. So, I ran an online personal wiki a few years ago, but abandoned it after a few months: having to be on line (which then meant ethernet and sometimes wifi) restricted its use. Next I ran one on a laptop. Better, but still not as convenient as paper (heavy laptop), and I had issues with figuring out where this project fit into my work, and figuring out how to move stuff from the wiki (webs) to other media (not webs).

Then the iPhone 3G came out, with apps, and Matthew Kennard released Trunk Notes: a tidy, elegant little wiki app that worked like a proper wiki: WikiWords, easy markup, categories, tags, links, embedded images … Perfect as a wiki, but only as large as the iPhone screen, and restricted by the iPhone’s lack of multitasking. Still, I kept sporadic non-legendary moleskine-y entries for a year and a half or so – maybe once or twice a week.

Then the iPad arrived, and a couple months later Kennard released Trunk Notes for the iPad. That release cracked it. While the iPad doesn’t have multitasking, the size of the device made a difference in how frequently I turned to the wiki (over other kinds of notes) and how I composed on the wiki. The iPad is not quite as portable as the phone, but that was the difference: A wiki, unlike microblogging or todoing, is for more mediated, considered composition: collocation, analysis, creating patterns, exposition, linking, threading … A first draft of a wiki page is as brisk as any, but revising and, more importantly, refactoring are times to consider content and options and strategies; to enrich, cross-link … You get the idea. The larger device of the iPad prompts this kind of approach. You have to sit down, open the case, maybe even dig out a keyboard – slow down and commit yourself for a while.

So  I exported the wiki file I had been keeping for a year from my iPhone, imported it to my iPad, and became a happy camper. Even bought a DODOCase, which disguises the iPad as a Moleskine. Now I could sit in a dim corner at the coffee shop and look legendary. But I romanticize ….

Which gets me to my topic: the personal wiki as commonplace book, sharing, and produsage (Bruns)

What I’m experimenting with now is a personal wiki notebook in the manner of a commonplace book: that personal collection of stuff, in the manner of Lila or commonplaces. WikiWords, I have argued elsewhere, are topics – and topics are titles for commonplaces under development. So, the idea is to put together a collection of topics that become, over time, linked. Not cards that are categorized (in this it differs from Lila) or pages that are dated (in this it differs from a journal), but something else. Developed differently than paper. Indexed differently than paper. Searches, tags, categories, images, internal and external links. Used differently, too. Rather than going back to the commonplace book to mine it for … uh … commonplaces, I would return to the wiki to develop matters further. As I did, it would become more of a personal knowledge space – project oriented on one hand, broader based on the other.

Private rather than posted – at least initially – and relatively portable.

See this for instance: Steven Johnson on open acces

Each rereading of the commonplace book becomes a new kind of revelation. You see the evolutionary paths of all your past hunches: the ones that turned out to be red herrings; the ones that turned out to be too obvious to write; even the ones that turned into entire books. But each encounter holds the promise that some long-forgotten hunch will connect in a new way with some emerging obsession.”

So far so good. Getting stuff into the traditional commonplace book means copying it by hand or literally copying and pasting from a source (Xerox, ok?). The labor of copying by hand is typically justified by suggesting that we read the passage closely when we copy, but options have multiplied. We don’t have to copy by hand, and we can include modes and media other than text in commonplace books – and we can still read closely. While Johnson above pays special attention to apps that prevent readers from copying text for their own use (Kindle and iBooks, as of this writing) that is more an annoyance than a deal breaker. (Take a screenshot and wait until the white hats hack that limitation.)

The real issue comes to the surface when we are restricted in circulating our re-combined texts by paywalls or other restrictions.

WHEN TEXT IS free to combine in new, surprising ways, new forms of value are created. Value for consumers searching for information, value for advertisers trying to share their messages with consumers searching for related topics, value for content creators who want an audience. And of course, value to the entity that serves as the middleman between all those different groups. This is in part what Jeff Jarvis has called the “link economy,” but as Jarvis has himself observed, it is not just a matter of links. What is crucial to this system is that text can be easily moved and re-contextualized and analyzed, sometimes by humans and sometimes by machines.

[As a corellary, apps and sites that encourage and enable commonplaces to circulate are valuable – sites such as delicious.com, apps that facilitate sending links via Twitter or even email.]

If I can get past the technical copying bottleneck (and I can), I can get the stuff into my personal private wiki to link and develop as I wish. But those who want to participate publicly as producers, share the links, be part of the link economy – students, scholars, writers, amateurs, kids – are restricted by legal means. I’m not talking about republishing entire chapters or texts; I’m talking selecting chunks of stuff, some in the public domain, some in copyright, and using those chunks under fair use as part of a larger web. Republishing the text in its entirety doesn’t add value: selecting and linking does. Generally, this hasn’t been too much of a problem. Content writers post to the net with the knowledge that stuff will be extracted and linked to. But it’s becoming more of a problem with the DMCA, greed, control, Disney, Murdoch, paywalls. See James Boyle, The Public Domain (Yale UP, but also free to download or read online) for that one.

But here’s a final twist. Turn to Christopher Leary on patchwriting (pdf) in his chapter of Writing Spaces, Vol 1:

Rebecca Moore Howard defines “patchwriting” as a method of com- posing in which writers take the words of other authors and patch them together with few or no changes (233).* Although associated with plagiarism, it is an extremely useful writing strategy with a very long and noble tradition, and I hope that, by the end of this essay, you will be convinced that the opportunities (great writing) far outweigh the risks (accusations of dishonesty).

Christopher’s process is that of the 19th century: hand copying from his own collection of texts.

During one notable phase of this period, I went one-by-one through each of my books, copying out short sentences until I had three or four pages worth of lines. Since the books were from different countries, times, genres, and personalities, I anticipated a sharp contrast in styles. “If I put tens of sentences from different times and eras and places all on the same page,” my thinking went, “I’ll be able to witness these eras bumping up against each other and rubbing elbows.” In much the same way I find it interesting to view, say, automobiles from different times and places all in the same room.

Here’s his initial gain for participating in the linked economy as a producer.

Much to my surprise, the lines that I had copied from the books in my bookshelf started to take a shape resembling the shape of a poem. And out of the original mess of lines, a scenario or situation—if not a story—started to emerge. (If you are getting visions of Ouija boards, I don’t blame you.)

The poem created like this – found poetry – is hardly brilliant, but that’s not the point. It’s a matter of what happens when you take your gains public, offer the patchwork to others for further consideration and possible development.  For Leary, the issue enters when he considers publishing the patches. It comes in the form of authorship rather than copyright – as the texts were in the public domain.

This odd project got stickier when I decided I wanted to submit a few of the “poems” to my school’s literary magazine, Downtown Brooklyn. I was held back by a concern and a strong feeling of guilt about authorship. I had to really wrestle with the question, “Am I the author of these texts?” When I got to the stage where I wanted to submit them as my own and put my name as the author, something felt very wrong and even dastardly. It didn’t strike me as at all appropriate to put my own name as the author because I could not have written them “from scratch,” by any means. The phrasings and language outstrip my capabilities.

It’s not too far of a leap to produsage, which is what’s going on here. Leary’s struggle is easy to get past if we set aside the romantic notion that the individual inspired author imbues the content with value. When copyrights, publishers, and app developers restrict the use of mere snippets of work, they restrict the  consumer’s capability to become a producer, to shift from reader to writer. And I’m beginning to see that the justification of that restriction comes from the same source as the romantic notion of the inspired author: a work is valuable because it comes by special, magic means, not mundane selecting and arranging. Restriction like this is inspiration commodified. We’re going to have to get past this if we’re going to shift to open texts and open education. It’s the move from a personal wiki space to a public one.

Leary articulates the restriction in his ethical concern for claimed authorship – and resolves it in his chapter for Writing Spaces. Charlie Lowe explains it at writingspaces.org. The Writing Spaces text – including Leary’s chapter – is available in print for dollars, and it’s also free to download, use, teach with, learn from, and further circulate online and off.

I like the book. I like the chapter. I’m convinced that “the opportunities … far outweigh the risks….”  And Trunk, I really like using Trunk Notes,

bookmarks for July 19th, 2010 through July 24th, 2010

  • Kairos PraxisWiki – Repository of brief articles on CMSs and teaching writing – (wiki twwt )
  • Views: The iPad for Academics – Inside Higher Ed – Solid brief article arguing for the pad as a reader, and looking forward to journals to grow up and start offering a la carte articles to academics, DRM-free. But I'm guessing this is off the mark: I'm putting my $$ on the pad as a good academic machine. "Overall, however, by splitting the difference between dedicated devices and genuine computers, the iPad doesn’t show a lot of promise as a mobile platform for research and teaching. Of course if everyone is always carrying around an iPad already then they might start replacing voice recorders. It's hard to tell. My bet is that tuning forks and compasses are not going away. – (ipad academic teaching library2.0 )