Category Archives: Less Noise


I haven’t been able to use facebook’s new timeline feature yet, so I could be way off, but….

It seems to me that timeline is moving facebook out of the realm of immediate, ephemeral communications, and more into a tool to create and house the digital archive of your life. It looks like a tool for long term storage and curation which can enable more meaningful reflection on one’s life journey. Not a bad move. Facebook already had a focus on personal connections and interaction, now it is delivering an experience that affords some of the best practices around personal blogging: archiving and customization. Of course I am ignoring the issues around privacy, ownership and agency that crop up when you start going deeper into Facebook. Facebook is synonymous with the internet for many millions of people. Now Facebook is invested in showing people the power of maintaining an internet-based personal content archive, something that was previously the domain of the internet hippies.


Guerrilla, student powered open courseware project, LectureLeaks:

Begin recording by pressing Record during all of your lectures, then upload them to us so we can share them with the rest of the world.

Can’t most of the content from lectures be found and more effectively transmitted via books?

Can/Will ad-hoc learning communities spring up around these lectures? Are there examples of that happening to open University content out there? It has definitely happened to all kinds of content that is not explicitly institutionally based. I am thinking communities around wikipedia, and the curation, reflection and discussion happening on countless blogs.

Open Education Is A University Of People Online

When you bend, the focus with which you see the world changes. After spending a few days getting my mind bent by Jim Groom during his whirlwind visit to Penn State, a lot of things have come in to focus for me.

One of these newly focused things is a vision for open education resources. As Jim says, once you call it “open educational resources”, you tend to crush all the life out of it. open educational resources is term that is very clinical and impersonal. The problem is the web is about people. The web connects people to each other. If that is not how you are framing what you are doing on the web, then you probably doing it wrong.

Here is an excerpt from Jim’s talk yesterday:

True open educational resources are not carefully crafted static documents, but rather opportunities for people to connect and dialogue using all sorts of media and forms of expression.

Two years ago I wrote about some ways this was happening at Penn State. Years later, I can say that this is one of the biggest revelations of my career, a starting point for thinking about educational experiences that are native to the web, not copies of some other medium superimposed with the web.

The term of art “open educational resources” is perhaps somewhat redundant and mismatched for the web. We could remove the “educational” from the phrase and be left simply with “open resources”. Is there such a thing as a non-educational open resource? And what about “resource”? This conjures up in my mind collections of static text and data. I really think we need to stop thinking about “open educational resources”, and just think about “open”.

I started this post by saying that a lot of things have come into focus. This post is just a parking space for just this one point.

I can’t thank Jim enough for coming out to PSU and shaking me and the campus up. Without a doubt, Jim is living several years in the future of the web.

Right now, you can find Jim’s presentation on the Penn State Libraries web site. We’ll be getting a captioned version up on youtube soon.

If You Blogged It, It Did Happen

your thoughts, ideas and conversations need a place to live permanently over time if they’re going to inspire a useful discourse. And while today’s social networks don’t really enable that potential, we have some fantastic examples of how these conversations can bubble up across blogs even in a world of short attention spans.

via If You Blogged It, It Did Happen – Anil Dash.

I saw this on Anil Dash’s blog today, and I thought it was relevant to my previous post about journalism in networked society.  The value of information and analysis provided by journalists cannot be maximized unless it has a home on the web that allows discoverability and linking.

Responsive Design

John Gruber links to the new Boston Globe website:

Fascinating new website for The Boston Globe — resize your browser window and you’ll see what I mean. There is no need for an “iPhone” or “mobile” version — the layout simply reflows naturally on small screens. The design is uncluttered and reader-friendly. How many newspaper website designs can you say that about?

I really like the idea of not designing multiple pages for specific devices, but having pages that respond to various characteristics of the software/device rendering the page. This is called responsive design. I only recent became aware of this concept when Audrey Romano and Jim Vomero used these methods to make the new WebAccess single-sign-on page at PSU more mobile friendly and accessible. I’m a big fan of the new WebAccess page.

My Personal Archive

If you look at the archive page on this site, you will see archives that now go all the way back to January of 2003. I decided it was time to wrangle all my past blogging efforts into a single location. I have been thinking about this for some time, especially after listening to Ellysa Cahoy at the Learning Design Summer Camp talk about the disappearing record and being your own curator of your electronic archive.

I went back and was able to actually find all my old blogs and import them all here. Here is the chronology of my blogs:

  • this blog – originally started on posterous before moving here (WordPress) (moved in July 2011): Sept 2009 – Present
  • edushizzle – hosted at blogs@psu – Feb 2007 – Sept 2010
  • stopbits – personal blogging powered by WordPress – April 2006 – August 2007
  • bk video – my embarrassing experiments with video blogging, powered by Moveable Type – March 2005 – April 2006
  • – Personal blog powered by Moveable Type – November 03 – May 2005
  • visual stopbits – First attempt at blogging, powered by my homegrown script – Jan 03 – Oct 03

It was actually pretty easy to import the MT stuff here. Just a little firing up of ancient blogging softwares to run their export scripts, a little find and replace, some transferring of media files. It did take some major regular expression magic to get my homegrown stuff into a format I could import here.

Was any of this worth it? I don’t know. I am slowly going through the old posts, fixing some formatting, and reviewing my past blogging. I have worked up to March of 2005 so far. It is very strange to read many old posts about my romantic infatuation with Desktop Linux.

I came across a post in 2003 that was very similar to one I wrote in 2011

Almost all the links I created in 2003/2004 are now dead.

I just feel like linking to this old post right now.

It seems so alien now but back in the days before youtube, the fashion of the time was upload personal media to the Internet Archive, since that was the best (only?) place to find free video hosting. All the links to my video hosted there seem to be broken. Going to have to fix that.

If I am interested in making a durable archive of my stuff, I need to work out a way to create a static archive. Static = a non php and mysql dependent solution.

It is daunting task, but going through all the posts and categorizing them might help me make sense of all the stuff I threw into this stew.

incidental educational resources

The topic at my house last night turned to early computers, so of course Babbage’s difference engine came into the conversation. I was searching for a picture, but I came up with something even better: the video below showing the machine in action and an explanation of the machine and its creator by one of docents of the Computer History Museum. I watched all 25 minutes. Watch and allow your mind to be blow or re-blown by the fact that a computer was designed in the 1830s. I love that a spectator was able to capture and share this educational storytelling. Its irrelevant that the spectator in this case was social media hipster titan Robert Scoble. A great example of an incidental educational resource.

cognitive biking

Gruber linked today to the famous quote from Steve Jobs about computers being like bicycles for the mind. The idea is that when looking at how much energy a species expends to travel a kilometer, the condor tops the list, using the least energy to travel. Man was about a third of the way down the list. If you measure a man on a bicycle, he tops the list by a huge margin.

If a computer is a bicycle for the mind, is a curriculum that does not recognize the role of electronic devices in cognition like training a student to run the Tour de France on foot?

I still like Gilbert’s take on computers from Revenge of The Nerds: “Some people can create with their hands, but when you’re working with a computer you have to build something with your mind. If you’re good, you can do something no one’s ever seen before.”

see also: extended mind