Category Archives: Blogging

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 the pad

I’m well satisfied with the iPad two weeks in. No, I can’t do everything I can with a laptop (but I can do everything I would do with a netbook), and getting files on and off the thing can be tricky (although I’m developing work habits to adjust for that), and I find having to switch apps slows me down and adds some cognitive burden (although I can lean back in my chair and relax as I work). Given all that, I still find the little machine motivating. I want to use it (even if getting pics onto it takes some planning), to find things to do with it (like this blog post – even given that blogging apps aren’t really up to speed yet).

Using it makes me acutely aware how much the desktop and then the laptop have shaped my work patterns and what I expect to be able to do (take and embed images and links into my texts) and where (anywhere, not just at a desk).

Which is to say I’m waiting (as are many) for the iPad to catch up to the netbook and then the laptop. Won’t be long. Meanwhile we can play.

[I lost the link to the image above. I’m looking for it and will add it when I find it.]

Location:County Road 22,Bemidji,United States

appearing on google reader

I’ve added all Weblogs and Wiki tumblogs and weblogs with RSS feeds to Google Reader so I can keep with with them in one place. Reader changes the formatting and display of the content, however, which is something the writers might want to take into account (hint).  That’s An Orange a Day and The Phil Peterson Experience in the screenshot.

Sometimes an image appears in the preview; at other times, the text appears but no image.  I haven’t figured out a pattern yet.

I’m also following the tumblogs, and they read differently than through google reader formatting.

But in skimming the google entries, it’s all in the title. The better the title, the more the post will be read.

live writer on lenovo netbook

At the Hockney Opening c 1982 by mcmorgan08A quick posting.  I installed Windows 7 on a Lenovo s10e netbook, to dual boot with JoliCloud.  One problem: the boot menu races past too quickly, but I’m looking in to how to pause it.

But I’ve also installed some of the Windows Live software to get a sense of how it works – and I am making this post with Writer. It seems unnecessary. It has all the right tool: inserting images, formatting, it will eve do tables. But it doesn’t have quite the posting management that would be useful in a standalone blogging app.

It seems to tie into WordPress pretty well.  That means I don’t have to use MS Live for posting, so I’ll give it a short try.

Now it’s a matter of solving that boot issue.

Update: Writer handles image linking to flickr with aplomb.  I dragged the image in this post from my main flickr page.  Writer inserted the thumbnail; and linked it to the image page on flickr automagically.

why hockey via twitter is boring

image1947819809.jpgBecause it’s all one way. Twittering game action seems like a good idea to keep the sport in the public eye, but twitter is being used by BSU Hockey as one-way broadcast when the medium’s strength and user expectation is in dialogue.

Getting a conversation going about the game as it plays out, bringing other voices into the stream, and talking with others who are following the stream might create the buzz they’re hoping for.

They might arrange for two or three fans to post to twitter as the game goes on, either from the arena or in response to the twitter stream. Exemplify the convo. Then encourage others to join in the exchange. A pic now and then wouldn’t hurt, either.

The steady stream of beaver logos and one way comments belies how exciting the game might be. Get the medium to enact the game.

Hockey fans: Follow them. Then during the next game you can engage the commentator in conversation. See what happens.

http://twitter.com/BSUHockey

back to blogo

Drinkbrainjuice released beta 1.2 of Blogo, so I’m having another look at it. I did like the earlier beta, but it had a couple of problems. I’m hoping they sorted out the typing lag at least. Having both blog and twitter access (read and write) in one app is nice. It makes for a comfortable workspace. Integration with images is pretty good, although access to Aperture and flickr via a media browser would be nice.

I’ll give it a week or so against ecto to see what features I miss and what features Blogo provides.

Blogo’s single panel interface might be particularly usable on the MacBook.


e-planning planning for spring

E-rhetoric textsIt might snow Sunday, and that means it’s time to start to select texts for spring classes.

Our campus bookstore wanted selections by mid-October, and while I’d like to accommodate the corporate giant, it will have to wait. Two courses I’m teaching in spring, E-Rhetoric and Weblogs and Wikis, benefit from using the most recent texts and addressing some of the most current ideas. And I’m still looking for the right texts, and will be right through the US Thanksgiving.

For E-Rhetoric, I’m considering a look at digital and new media poetics. Our Creative and Pro Writing BFA students don’t get much exposure to the work that’s going on in poetry and short prose in the electronic world. While an e-literature course might be best, E-Rhetoric can take a look at current electronic modes and productions. A new literature brings with it a new rhetoric: a new set of affordances, a new way of making and articulating meaning. The difficulty in this section of the course might be keeping a focus on the rhetorical dynamics of the object rather than the object as an expressive artifact. But digital products tend to be collaborative ventures, which moves us away from self-expression and towards semiotics.

In the same vein, I want to look at digital- print hybrids and social- digital mapping. There are projects possible. I’m thinking of having students annotate a journey or two through the campus or sections of downtown. Students from the visual arts department have done a little of the preliminary work for this, chalking some of the academic buildings, and annotating the doors.

While it would be nice to have everyone with an iPhone or a laptop post to geo-located walls using something like graffitio, we might be able to do this as a mapping hybrid along the line of the proboscis projects. The idea of leaving text annotations at the particular site is interesting. The next move is a rhetoric of geo-cacheing.

The rhetorical angle: Look at the places students choose to define as noteworthy, the contexts they place those places in, the language they use to give them importance. If rhetoric is calling attention to something, then inscribing it with a building name or sticking a 3X5 card on it is a starting point. Annotating makes the campus into a campuscape, a gallery, a narrative, an argument.

The rhetorical choices behind social scape annotation starts to stand out when we compare citizen annotation of the campuscape with the authorized labeling: building names (former faculty and presidents for academic buildings, tree species for student residences), the Deputy Arch, the names of scientists carved into stone on Sattgast, campus maps, advertising banners, even labels on some of the benches. There’s more going on than first seen.

Mobile Learning. A lot is just about to happen with mobile technologies and learning in the field. E-Rhetoric’s interest would involve how language is used and shaped to suit onthefly learning. Perhaps by annotating the urban landscape.

Persuasive Technologies. I get blank stares when I mention captology to students. How does your car persuade you to slow down? The E-Rhetoric students can benefit from a brief look at captology, less as a field of study and more as a way of thinking about technologies in the world.

For Weblogs and Wikis: Jill Walker Rettberg has a new text on blogging (Yes!) that addresses it as a social- and professional act. I’ve been making that up-hill argument for six years, and it’s good to have back up. Students tend to view blogging more as diversion than substance; faculty at large tend to see it more as daily diaries from amateurs. Faculty with a stake in print place it as a diversion from the Real Work of writing and publishing. No editors! Certainly second-rate writing.

I’m still waiting for / writing the similar text for wikis. But I reckon I’ll be able to slide laterally to apply Rettberg’s observations on weblogs to wikis. And I’d bet I can do the same with Wikipatterns: use it to apply to weblogs, especially collective weblogs.

What’s in my bookbag?

I wait until the snow flies to make the final choice, designing a syllabus around the texts I have in mind to see how it all might fit together.

Education doesn’t need to be driven by the self-serving deadlines of bookstores.