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This is an experimental, informal blog for learning about blogging, blog development, and blog-related professional development activities.

pab's potpourri

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Publishing directly from Mind42 (beta)

JavaScript export from Freemind

(WinK071210bb.png)
Notes
  1. When I first tried to publish the outline from FreeMind in this post, Blogger identified two HTML elements in the XHTML (JavaScript version) export that I could could not use here: 1) title, & 2) stylesheet.
  2. After I'd removed each bit of the code automatically highlighted by blogger in HTML view, the outline appeared in all its colorful hot-linked glory!
  3. Now for a graphic.... Done (PNG export/upload).
  4. Only one other little problem, the Expand/Collapse links that I included at the beginning of outline didn't change the outline in this post when published; they opened new post composing windows, instead. So I removed them.
  5. I haven't figured out how to get a hotlinked mindmap (graphic) from the complete Freemind XHTML export into a blog page. If you have any suggestions, please leave comments.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Contrastive habitats

These pictures almost speak for themselves. Please scroll down through and back up through them, and reflect upon what constitutes human habitat.

Line_of_Trees.png

P1010092

Island in the Sky


I'll try something flashier, with captions, later.

Slide show added, 2007.12.15

Blogged with Flock

Monday, October 01, 2007

Backlinks Settings

In a previous post: The Critical Comments & Backlinks Settings, I forgot to mention the Blogger Help page explaining back links. That explanation should be available in both English and Japanese.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gmail spam filters add warning: a follow-up

This is a follow-up on Gmail spam filters add warning (January 4, 2007). It suggests shortcomings both in legitimate mail senders' message subject heading practices, and in Gmail's analysis of innocuously entitled messages.

During an occasional foray into the spam folder this weekend, to grapple with the 1800+ messages that had accumulated since my previous foray a few weeks ago, I discovered only three false positives (approximately 0.17%):

  1. Shots, Shows, And Shirts, from Snap Shots
  2. Edublogs and EduBling!, from Edublogs
  3. Sept sessions and Nov online event, from Cathy Baxter
The first two messages may have gotten snagged because of their snazzy subject headings, even though the senders could be well-known, and their mail servers verifiable.

However, the third one, which was the first that I had detected in rapid glances at twenty-five senders per page, was a noodle twister. I had recognized the sender on first glance, and the subject was innocuous.

Nevertheless, a gmail-generated warning superimposed on body of the message suggests that the links in the message itself were the problem:

Warning: This message may not be from whom it claims to be. Beware of following any links in it or of providing the sender with any personal information. Learn more
([within] personal correspondance, September 24, 2007)

Indeed, inside were truncated, somewhat destination-opaque links through tinyuurl.com to Eluminate Live! sessions (closed Sep 26, 2007):
Although those links were in a message from a recognized sender, and in context of a legitimate, far less destination-opaque link:
Gmail spam filters apparently caught those tiny URLs!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Writing 'air up my ...

Because I've just taken part in preparing a presentation focusing on, among other writing quirks, sentences that begin with because, I've started here as I have with, "Because ...." However, the main reason I'm posting here is to raise awareness of another post, on another blog, and see if referencing and trackback functions rise to the occasion when I link from here to there, where I wrote about gaps between tech-savvy learners and educators. Hopefully this link will pick up and trackback from an edublog. If it doesn't, here is the link:

http://ltdproject.edublogs.org/2007/09/14/gaps-between-tech-savvy-learners-and-educators/

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My del.icio.us tags

Blogged with Flock

Friday, August 10, 2007

Frappr Maps: Compact & Standard


Compact



Standard

[removed because it bled into the sidebar]

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Trial YouTube Video Players

This video player should display my YouTube favorites, if they're still available. Click the menu button, or move your cursor over the viewing screen to see. If they're not, please post a comment to let me know, and I'll pick more videos sooner or later.




Postscript: Though I had embedded another custom player here, within twenty-four hours the color of the frame changed and the selections in the sidebar were perverted from my favorites to a rack of amateur pyrotechnic rock video clips. I tried once to replace it without success, so I removed it (2007.08.09).

Monday, July 30, 2007

Food for Thought, e-Cobblers

Dan Balzar makes a provocative statement that inspires me to listen to a Green Room podcast again. He says, "You can't cobble together a bunch of little pieces, and that makes a good course" (Seven Revelations about e-Learning, The Green Room, Episode 28 [that's episode 28, regardless of the "38" in the URL], July 16, 2007)....

I've done, gone and listened again to find that Dan, talking about point number five, namely: how instructional elements can "get lost in translation" from one educational context to another; gives the example of "learning objects," which he concludes "have not been as popular as we thought they'd be." Well, I've alway considered the term "learning objects" an oxymoron, and never thought they'd be popular for adult learners, though perhaps they would be as work-saving devices for educators too busy to learn to craft, compose and contextualize their own educational materials.

After all, what can an object learn, anyway - or, more accurately perhaps, what educational roles might fungible digital parts suit?

Postscript: I've imported this post:Food for Thought, e-Cobblers; along with the all the rest of the posts, comments and labels in pab's potpourri to date, to the LTD Project Blog (2007.08.07). I invite you to continue browsing and commenting on posts and updates there.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Rogue Background Color: Twitches and Twiddles

A day or so ago, the color of the banner on one of my Blogger blogs, displayed using the same template as this one (as of date of publication), suddenly changed color for no apparent reason.

I was too busy to start mucking about with templates at the time. I still am, but the color is one that masks the title and possibly the subtitle of the blog, making them virtually unreadable - unless you squint your eyes (more) to detect minute differences in hue and tone between the rogue background and default text colors.

I've already saved the entire template of that blog to disk, Now I'm writing up this trouble-shooting report in this blog, which I've chosen for convenience as well as similarity of templates. The only thing I can find in the template that approximates the rogue color is:

name="titlecolor" description="Post Title Color"
type="color" default="#c60" value="#cc6600"
However, a preview after twiddling that color to FFFFFF showed no change in the banner background. So it's back to the drawing board. I'll try Blogger help....

Nope, there's too much info. to digest there, among help, help groups and cross-linked sites. So I got out the DigitalColor Meter (Mac OS X: App's: Utilities) and measured the banner background (RGB As Hex Value, 8-bit). It turns out to be 996600. However, that's nowhere in the template. Well, back to Blogger Help Center or, better yet, Help Group, I guess.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Education: "next big killer app."

The next big killer application for the Internet is going to be education.
John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems
(gleaned from a BCcampus expo. post
by Sandy Hirtz: May 9, 2007)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Geo-tagging

As an experiment in geo-tagging, and in hope of detecting this and other blogs using Feedmap (beta), I've registered this blog and added the following meta tags to the head of the blog template:

meta name="geo.position" content="32.7885; 130.715"
meta name="geo.region" content="JP-43"
meta name="geo.placename" content="Kumamoto, Japan"
Before you try stuff like this, however, let me remind you to backup your blog template first, and if you have more than one blog, make sure you are using the correct blog template. You shouldn't have to learn those lessons the hard way, like I do!

As Andrew Turner suggests in Geotagging Web Pages and RSS Feeds (2005.01.11) you can retrieve local latitude & longitude coordinates from Multimap, by city names, and get an International Standards Organization country code from the ISO.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_3166-1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_3166-2:JP
Internet searching for "ISO 3166-2, [+ country name]" should turn up codes for other locales.

I note that in Andrew's coding examples, tag closures for geo.region and geo.placename are missing (2007.04.09). Each of those tag lines must begin with a left angle bracket ("<") and end with matching right closure (" />"). I put those three lines immediately below the "head" line in the template, with the understanding that place name is optional. I'll soon see if it works.

Nope, I still couldn't update my location with Feedmap. So I've turned to Kuan Cheen's guide (2005.08.13) to find another tag of the ICBM variety:
meta name="ICBM" content="32.7885, 130.715"
I'll add that and try again....

Note that once uploaded, the template automatically redefined the tags with their elements in a different order:
meta content='32.7885, 130.715' name='ICBM'
meta content='32.7885; 130.715' name='geo.position'
meta content='JP-43' name='geo.region'
meta content='Kumamoto, Japan' name='geo.placename'
Yet each line is still enclosed with angle brackets. Let's try again with Feedmap.

Though Feedmap suggests, "If you want to update your location, simply add geo.position tags to your home page and submit it to the Ping page - it will automatically update your location"; I've done that, and I keep getting an error stating, "Unable to store blog. Please try again later. [ERROR: Value cannot be null. Parameter name: value]" - with and without the ICBM type tag.

Back to the drawing board....

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Lessons for bloggers (Porter, 2007)

In addition to a first batch of nine lessons learned through seven years of blogging (Porter, 2007a), Joshua has summed up nine more lessons for bloggers (2007b). I've collected and recast them here because they resonate with what I've been feeling, reading and wondering recently about blogging.

Getting over initial fears of publishing your thoughts is part of the blogging process. This is a challenge for many if not most would-be bloggers. You can get over, around or through it simply by blogging.

Saying your say is important, whether you say it right the first time or not. Thinking aloud in beta is part of the process; just keep typing. Posting what you've written is essential. As Joshua suggests: "When in doubt, post." You're a blog owner, so you can always change your posts, continue to refine them, or remove them later. Fine-tuning posts with comments is a possibility (Porter, 2007a). However, I prefer revising the posts themselves.

Sticking to your passion(-s) will enable you to inspire not only your readers, but yourself. It will help you decide what to write about, and feel strong enough about to see it through. You should be writing from the gut or heart. So rather than worrying about grammatical correctness, you should concentrate on making your ideas easy to understand.

Creating a "greatest hits" collection, or showcase module, and featuring it on every page will remind readers of where you've been and what you've done (Porter, 2007a). It will also help you remember that people are reading what you've written, and that you have written something you're proud of. This is an idea I plan to adopt and share with students as well.

Nevertheless, is important to take your time writing because each post can pay forward as well as pay back. Give each post and each concept that you embrace a meaningful, memorable name. Build on posts of interest to you and others. Continue to revise good stuff to make it better; you never know who may find it several years down the road.

Joshua suggests summarizing comments and writing your own reflections in follow-ups, linking to, but not quoting yourself. If you've got a hot idea that deserves reiteration, refer to it by name and paraphrase it; you most certainly can find a better, more economical way to say it again than quoting.

It is productive to own up to your mistakes. If someone points out a mistake that you've made, in thinking or expression, agree that you made it and carry on with what you actually meant. Take other disputes off-line promptly. If criticism becomes offensive, personal or tangential to the focus of your writing, don't haggle about it on your blog or in counter comments. You may wish to try writing a polite email response instead.

Finally, it is important remember that blogs are conversational. Your posts should sound as if you're speaking, and you can use your voice to help make others' perhaps softer, less familiar voices heard by cross-linking, creating broader audiences and promoting higher expectations of readership (Porter 2007b).


References

Porter, Joshua (2007a). Nine lessons for would-be bloggers. Retrieved April 3, 2007, from http://bokardo.com/archives/9-lessons-for-would-be-bloggers/

Porter, Joshua (2007b). Nine more lessons for would-be bloggers. Retrieved April 3, 2007, from http://bokardo.com/archives/9-more-lessons-for-would-be-bloggers/

Monday, March 26, 2007

Breaking email habits (via Tomorrow's Professor)

In Tomorrow's Professor, TP Msg. #783 Seven Tips for Dealing with Email Addiction (March 14, 2007 00:31:36 JST), is a whack of advice for coping with "the most insidious, seductive time-waster we face" - email handling. Below is what I've done or decided to do in response to each of the seven suggestions from Mary McKinney, Ph.D:

  1. Quit launching the mail program at computer startup to make deciding whether to attend to mail first a conscious decision;
  2. Turned off the new mail sound to avoid auditory distraction while working on other things;
  3. Decided to turn mail off between sessions, though I'm not sure restarting will save time; if it doesn't I'll hide the mail application between mail checks;
  4. Decided to monitor how often (and when) I check mail during the day for five working days.
  5. Decided to check mail routinely every two hours, at: 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00 & 18:00, for now;
  6. Planned to cut back to 2-3 mail checks a day once I get a handle on opportune times (4., above); &
  7. Planned to consider "more relaxing or rewarding" alternatives before checking mail.
Subscriptions to TP are free, and after two weeks you can retrieve TP messages from the Stanford University Center for Teaching and Learning archives. Mary offers further tips for academics on her coaching site.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Pre-Course Experience

Though I'm torn with regard to whether this blog, or another that I maintain, is an appropriate venue to spill gut feelings, I've decided to do so here. This will be a reflective piece regarding preliminaries to one of the first online courses to which I enrolled.

As soon as I had logged in to the course, a day or so before it was scheduled to begin, I discovered literally hundreds of unread messages. Regardless of ... [unswerving] family support, ... [and all the rest that enabled me to get where I was at the time]

I never wish[-ed] to create such an imposing presence [, or rather overwhelming burden of interpersonal data to digest from ill-threaded discussions, waiting to greet new-comers to a course that hadn't started]. Though I was striving to adjust to a new physical environment, in an unfamiliar country, the [massive novelty of online (only)] peer-to-peer ... [self-identification and relationship building was] phenomenal[-ly challenging].

[Original draft: 2007.03.24; retrieved and roughed out in retrospect: 2010.07.09]

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Backup your template regularly!

The more involved that you get with your blog, the greater the chance is that you or the blogging service that you're using will mess it up radically. So here is a bit of advice to myself as much as anyone:

Backup / Restore Template

Before editing your template, you may want to save a copy of it. Download Full Template....
(Blogger: Settings: Template: Edit HTML)

You do want to backup your template before you radically change it, don't you?

Friday, March 16, 2007

A word about smile-e


Smile-e (2007)
Originally uploaded by pabeaufait.
This post introduces a new logo for pab's potpourri, smile-e (2007), created with Omni Graffle Pro.

The concept is actually about three years old, but has come a long way since 2004. It has survived two trans-oceanic relocations: one on paper, another on disk.

The yin-yang design represents blending of face-to-face and online communication. The smiley on top of the "e" indicates preference for face-to-face communication.


Smile-e (2004)
Originally uploaded by pabeaufait.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

BROG Shirt


BROG Shirt
Originally uploaded by p373.
Interesting list of brog papers to check out here. Thanks to Rick for pointing this out!

That's: http://www.blogninja.com/

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Selection and sorting of B4B blogs

The table below contains a roughly sorted list of blogs that I'd selected during the Blogging for the Beginners (B4B) Electronic Village Online workshop - by no means all of the blogs announced or featured in that six-week workshop. I've extracted the blog links from the B4B Blogroll on this blog, and will soon delete the blogroll.

The B4B blogroll grew too long, especially in addition to a long list of experimental blog post labels that I was trying out. I tired of scrolling, and lost track of why I had picked particular blogs.

Having had another look through all of the blogs selected, I'm re-posting the blog titles and links here to show a variety of ways that workshop participants, educators from around the world, approach blogging and develop blogs for learners and themselves. Since I've started a couple more blogs since the B4B workshop ended, I've added them to the lists.

As you review the blogs listed, if you feel one belongs in a different or new category, please suggest changes in a comment.

Courses, international exchanges & learner development

Educational technology & teacher development

Uncategorized

An International Exchange

Blogging for Beginners

GlobalCitizen

Bloggers Int'l (U of T)

Edublog Insights

jacampie

Connected to the World

ELT Notes

mightymouse

Dear Students

ESL and Technology

On the Waters of Key West

Facilitating Learning

Jenny's Blog on Blogging

pab's potpourri

FCE Blog, The

learnandsmile

pab's vox blog

Get Hip to Learning English

LTD Project Blog, The


Greater Expectations

Movie Reviews


In, out and away

One Teacher's Journey


Juvenile 3 podcast[s]

Puppets in Action


Learning English @ MEI

Ways Lead On


pcsi news

Writing with computers


Reviewers, The



Samba EFL Podcast



Writing Studio Blog, The













Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Tip of an information iceberg - telling questions

In an interesting elgg weblog, Christopher D. Sessums points out a "provocative" animated presentation about the Facebook:

(http://albumoftheday.com/facebook/)

Sessums follows up with telling questions, then reveals another layer of the story, a blog post archived on a Common Ground - Common Sense forum, dated August 3, 2005, with a whack of other references to follow up.

In comments on Sessums' weblog entry, Frances Bell cites Facebook terms of use and asks another telling question: "If user content had already been reused or republished, what meaning would expiry of license have?"

Though this may be just the tip of an information iceberg, is it not too late to steer clear?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Singeing the Monkey's Tail

As you might suspect from the title of this post, what you may read here will heat up before it cools down. I've been chilling the content since February 23, 2007, already. If your can't stand the residual heat or the pungent odor, please skip this message.

The purpose of this response to an EVO survey is to cool down by metaphorically singeing the monkey's tail. Nine times out of ten (or more) that I bother to engage a Survey Monkey instrument, I get hot under the collar - for a number of reasons.

First and foremost is the off-the-wall time estimates that preface many surveys. If surveyors really want no more than five to ten minutes of our time, they don't want substantive feedback. They are just going through the motions. Or, they are lying up front just to get responses, and hoping that respondents will follow up on their time investments, once they get started. (Echo Neil Young's song, Piece of ..., about here.)

Second, even when the surveys and time estimates come from prestigious institutions (research universities and professional organizations), they fail to demonstrate rigo(u)r in item preparation (or I suppose, piloting). For example, items 8-10 of a recent Electronic Village Online (EVO) survey conflate any number of serious research questions. If you just tick a box, fine; but what does that mean; or, for that matter, what do three or four ticked boxes on a single item mean?

Almost every time that I engage a Survey Monkey questionnaire, I start humming and rehearsing the lyrics of Neil Young's song: "Take it back to the store; they give you four more...." Doing so used to get me through - sometimes an hour or more beyond surveyors' time estimates, but hardly does anymore.

Then there is the issue of feedback on feedback. In recent experience (say, the last three to five years), most Survey Monkey surveyors have neither prefaced their instruments with promises to provide feedback, nor (to my knowledge [with possibly one exception]) provided any feedback whatsoever to survey participants other than: "Thank you; you're done."

Why don't feedback loops involve contributors? Perhaps they aren't really loops, but vacuums.

Blog post label experiment

This post, I'm labeling "b4b" because when I announced this blog in the Blogging for Beginners (B4B): Links: Participant's Blogs list, I characterized it as an experiment in labeling. While this experiment has surpassed the duration of the B4B workshop by a week or so, I am anxious to flag and share the results.

Just as the blogroll that I assembled had grown too long, so too had the list of labels (I'll work on the blogroll later). In the past few days, I have combined labels and re-affixed the combined labels to blog posts which bore original, spontaneously derived labels. What follow are a few memorable examples of the past few days' work (ABC...). The left-most items are current labels derived from items to the right:

  • AudioPodcastsVideo: Audio/Video
    • This concatenation derives from recent wiki reorganization which reflects the intersection of audio files, blogs, podcasts and videos.
  • BloggingCommentary: Blog/Comment
  • CognitionReflection: Meta-cognition and Reflection
I've decided to use CamelCase, instead of slash marks, and to spell items out rather than acronym-ize them (ExtensiveReading rather than ER, on another blog). I've also decided to use plural forms of countable nouns: tools and wikis, rather than tool and wiki (same pluralization for del.icio.us bookmarks, when I get around to it).

In Camino, the Mac browser that I prefer, revisiting and editing posts and labels was easy because I could click on a label. Then the pencil icon on each post with labels that I wished to edit offered one-click access to the posts and their labels. For example, I could select a label like "GlobalIssue" and immediately revise each post so labelled to "GlobalIssues."

However, in Firefox for Windows, I have been unable to display the editing icon (pencil) on any post, in spite of toggling off and on the settings for easy editing (Blogger: Dashboard: Settings: Basic: Show Quick Editing on your Blog? Yes). Clicking on a label concatenated target posts. Yet I've had to use the Dashboard: Edit Posts view, and repeatedly scroll down through the list of posts to visually search for labels to redefine.

Once I got to the end of the first 25 posts or so displayed, I had to scroll down and then select Older Posts, before continuing to scan for labels to redefine. Scrolling down and then reselecting Older Posts was necessary after every label update.

How did Neil Young put it in his song, "Piece of...?"

I'd better stop now, before this report and reflection turns into a rant.

Friday, March 02, 2007

How a Japanese mouse works

Here is a bit of comic relief from chronic mousing syndrome:

1-click Award by Recuit Media Communications
(Web Creative Awards, Recruit Co., Ltd., 2006)

Thanks to Graham Stanley on Learning with Computers for pointing it out (February 28, 2007).

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Inspiration from Karim (a Google Video)

A blogroll buddy from the Blogging for Beginners workshop put the following video on his blog for for a bit of comic relief "after three weeks of hard work" (B4Bers, We deserve a Break!). The six-week workshop is over now, and I'm finally getting around to enjoying it. I hope you do, too.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Inspiration from Claudia

In comments on my draft blog plan, Claudia Ceraso inquires about students' cross-blog reading and commentary, homework, RSS feeds, and the relationship between course blog and wiki. I'd like to respond between the lines of her inquiry (excerpts in italics, below):

  • I understand from your post that drafting may be done at home, blogging will be done at the school. How about the reading of each other's posts and comments? Will that be homework? Will you be encouraging students to use RSS feeds?
That is correct, students will probably do a large part of their blogging in class - especially those without access from home. A number of additional computer laboratories will go online by next fall, so opportunities to do homework in the lab's will multiply. Another option, perhaps better suited to students' lifestyles than mine, is that of blogging from ubiquitous mobile phones. Those who wish to do that can send pictures and blog stubs from almost anywhere.

I consider reading and commenting on one another's blogs part of blogging, hence my rather optimistic projections of three to five student posts per week. Were they to devote their time to generating RSS feeds, I'm afraid that they would do much less communicative writing than they need to. English majors with the computer skills to generate feeds already may be few and far between.
  • Does the wiki already exist? How do the course wiki and blog relate to each other?
Yes, the wiki exists - just barely (it's not open to the public). I'm setting up a PmWiki and find it much slower going than Wikispaces, especially while B4B continues. To describe the relationship between planned course blog and counterpart wiki in few words is a challenge.

Suffice it to say for the moment (almost 12 hours into a constant keyboarding day) that I expect the two parts to be closely interconnected (for example: blog feeds on the wiki): the wiki to contain more mutable, less time-sensitive material than the blog (for example: grammar references); and the blog to serve not only as a model for learning bloggers, but also as a gateway to a local blogging community (as will the wiki).
  • I am particularly interested in these questions because I am thinking about my own blog plans adjustments for 2007.
  • I am adding a wiki to my FCE blog for students as from next April, so I hope you keep posting about how your project develops and the students' response to it.
(Fri Feb 23, 03:25:00 PM JST)

I had visited and bookmarked Claudia's FCE wiki not long before I found her comments on my draft blog plan. I'm looking forward both to returning for a closer look at the wikispaces she has started, and continuing to peruse her ELT Notes blog, which has been in my blogroll almost as long as any other but B4B!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Draft Blog Plan for B4B Review

The points this plans addresses derive from a Blogging for Beginners (B4B) workshop task on the B4B pbwiki (Task 1 - Looking ahead - The Challenges of blog integration into our teaching). I'm posting the plan here so I can continue to develop it at my leisure (hah!) over the next week or so; I welcome your suggestions via comments.

  • BLOG NAME: The name should match the course wiki name, so there's hardly any doubt that it will be ... Writing Studio Blog.
  • BLOG HOST: The host should be free, and match the blog type that students will be using - again, there's little doubt that it'll be Blogger blogging for them.
    • Note: This is a teachers' group decision, though I almost prefer Edublogging. Radical changes in Blogger during the next week or so could influence this decision.
  • BLOG SAFETY: I will require word verification, but only retroactively moderate comments from students. By retroactively, I mean I will assert administrative privilege to delete unwanted or no longer pertinent comments. I will strongly urge students to use word verification on their blogs as well. Regarding privacy, I note that an example student blog that I've just retrieved (see: Evaluation, below) is publicly accessible without going through university or community sites. The public nature of such blogs may influence what students post as well as who reads them.
  • OWNER[S]: I'll launch a blog for the two classes that I teach across town starting in April, and list it for other teachers' and their students' reference. Other teachers and I will help students launch their own blogs. So students, too, will be blog owners.
  • ADMINISTRATOR(S): This particular plan is for but one small part of a collegial and community-based blogging endeavor. As I suggest regarding the blog name (above), another small part will be a corresponding wiki. The planned blog and budding PmWiki will inform not only classes taught concurrently but in all likelihood successive cohorts, just as preceding cohorts, blogs, wikis and web pages have already done. The wiki that I administrate is provided as a courtesy of the host institution. I will join two teachers already collaborating on blogger community building, as I have joined them in writing about online educational endeavors. One of the other teachers currently exerts administrative privileges over the community website.
  • WHEN WILL THE BLOG BE KEPT ACTIVE? I expect to start the planned blog within a week or so after posting this plan for peer review and announcing it in the B4B workshop blog. I will keep it active for the duration of the coming academic year (April - March).
  • TOPIC[S]: The topics for the planned blog will most likely be varied. However, I expect the majority of posts to focus on:
    • writing coursework and assignment details,
    • language learning activities and strategies,
    • extensive reading and learner blogging, &
    • to the extent feasible, learned-centered blog assessment (see: Evaluation, below).
  • WHO WILL POST? - On the planned teacher's blog, though students, peers and conceivably other interested parties may comment; only the teacher is likely to originate blog posts. Students will maintain their own blogs and comment on those of their peers.
  • WHERE WILL AUTHORS POST FROM? Most student posts and comments will probably originate from on-campus computer laboratories. I expect to post to the planned teacher's blog mostly from my office before and after laboratory classes.
    • Wow, this planification thing is working!
    • I've just realized that where and when students actually do what proportions of their writing ought to become research questions for collaborating teachers.
  • HOW OFTEN WILL AUTHORS POST? - Offhand, I'll say three to five times a week, both for me on the planned teacher's blog, and for students on their individual blogs. Students should be able to create two posts, drafts at least, during class time in a computer lab. (90 minutes per week) - especially if they come prepared with outlines, notes and pre-located references to use for in-class writing.
  • WHY WILL AUTHORS POST? The course syllabus requires individual student blogging for a variety of purposes including: reflection upon extensive reading and viewing activities, sharing of learning and other informative resources, posting major assignments for peer review, and commenting on others' blogs. As have predecessors, I will encourage and model unfettered expression in optional types of blog posts, of both filtering and journaling varieties.
  • EVALUATION:
    • Evaluation of students blogging endeavors will continue to build upon a framework of weblog assessment indices (WAIs). A quick Google search (keywords: Kumamoto, WAI, weblog, assessment, index) top-lines an example from mid-term, second semester, last year (I LOVE SOCCER: WAI: the weblog assessment index;
      November 28, 2006).
    • Student blog authors will be EFL learners, so I hesitate to categorize anything that they write while learning English as "mistakes." Instead, I prefer to think of what they say and write as approximations of communication in the target language. As time allows, in class and out - without savaging learners' writing spaces, I expect that we'll negotiate both meanings and forms of their approximations, in order to achieve or repair communication with target audiences.
    • I intend to collect specimens to illustrate need for common repairs, and to model and suggest repair strategies.
      • I may rant in class and online about repetitive oversights or omissions that I find common in drafts, essays, blog posts or comments.
      • Students who continue to make such oversights or omissions may feel like they have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire!
    • I will encourage learners to review and revise their blog entries as often as they feel a need to do so, in order to make their intents and purposes clear.
  • TARGET AUDIENCE[S]: The students will be writing to an audience including:
    • themselves - to mediate and observe their own linguistic development;
    • their peers: class mates, cohorts, successors - as near-peer role models and cross-commentators within an intermural community of bloggers including other universities; and,
    • should students decide to make their blogs readily accessible outside the community - also to other interested parties around our blogosphere.
      • Note: I'll share this B4B advice with students: "Thinking of what kind of connection your readers may have should be important when determining what kind of content you'll include (remember the more you embed, the harder it is for people on a slow connection to get access to your blog)."
  • ADVERTISING: Rather than "advertising," which has strong commercial connotations, I'd rather use the word, promotion. Community organizers will promote students blogs with RSS feeds in instructors' blogs or wikis and on community web pages. I will confer with the organizers soon, and suggest an announcement of the community on Dekita.
  • WIDGETS: As a minimum, on the planned teacher's blog, I plan to include:
    • a Creative Commons license;
    • labels keying into types of posts and specific assignments;
    • links to a course wiki and community website;
    • reference tools: a calendar and a dictionary; &
    • some sort of a logo.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

"Sustainable Discussion" - "Moveable Feast"

Over in the Learning Times Green Room (TM), a discussion about "'Lurking' in online classes" continues. Whether I like the connotations of "'lurking'" or not, that Green Room Comments space reflects neither class- or course-based organizational principles. So I have no qualms about coming and going there as time and interest permit.

Of particular interest, I find, in a return visit and review of recent comments, is an analogy of participation in online discussions as a form of respiration, inhaling and exhaling. I had glossed over that anatomical analogy in hasty previous readings. After another long, deep inhalation there, I exhale here as previously (
Learner-centered approaches challenge standardization).

Among those Green Room Comments also is speculation that "sustainable discussion" might be a new turn of phrase. However, I find that it has been around since at least 1996 (Google search) for discussion of sustainable environmental practices.

Yet it seems that there is room for reappropriation and redefinition of the phrase "sustainable discussion" with respect to online learning environments. So, why not give it another go, here or there - making it some sort of "moveable feast"?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Comment on Best Blogging Practices from the B4B Blog

The following is a comment that I'm cross-posting from the B4B Blog entry on Week 4 - Best Blogging Practices (task 2). It reflects in part upon another less recent entry in Edublog Insights than I wrote about in a previous entry in pab's potpourri [link redefined, 2008.02.14].

Were I to be so bold as to assert knowledge of best bloggin' practices, I'd be stretching beyond my ken. Nevertheless, there are a couple things that sound good a mere 7-8 months into personal blogging.

First, I would like to reflect and perhaps re-spin Linda's suggestion... regarding how to treat learners' blogs. That seems to imply our treating their blogs with the utmost respect, as connected, interested and motivated learners, ourselves, who are focusing on emerging ideas rather than unrefined forms.

Second, since a number of preceding comments have focused on the second of the readings found on the B4B wiki
[Kathy Sierra, January 3, 2006; Creating Passionate Users: Crash course in learning theory], I'd like to bounce back to a point that immediately and memorably caught my attention in the first, by Ann Davis, a week or so ago when I had a moment to read it (and before I moved on to blog another of Ann's interesting posts):

Giving students a choice in making their own connections about their learning on blogs paves the way for blogs to be constructivist tools for learning. These attributes are compelling and powerful motivators that help us shape the pedagogy.

What Ann says about pedagogy still seems to resonate with my spin on Linda's suggestion (above), and sounds even more suited to educational blogging with adult learners - andragogy....

Friday, February 09, 2007

Rip, Mix & Burn "in Ideas" (Anne Davis on Ellin Keene)

Caught some good vibes reading into Edublog Insights, where Anne Davis reprises "Ellin Oliver Keene’s keynote at the TRLD conference." That's: Technology, Reading and Learning Diversity; I gather.

Continuing to sum up Ellin's presentation, Anne notes several strategies for enabling learners to "dwell in ideas... in the classroom", namely:

  • Clearing time for learners "to listen to themselves think and consider subtleties";
  • Modeling "how proficient readers frequently re-read and re-think portions of text... to explore [ideas] more deeply"; &
  • Teaching "about meta-cognition - thinking about one’s own thinking - and the seven most common meta-cognitive strategies."
I wonder whether a minimum of 10-15 minutes individual, reading-related blogging per day might help fill the bill. That is, to implement some of the seven strategies that Anne recap's:
  1. Connecting the known to the new;
  2. Determining importance, learning the essence of text;
  3. Questioning, delving deeper into meaning;
  4. Using sensory images to enhance comprehension;
  5. Inferring, finding the intersection of meaning;
  6. Synthesizing, discovering the contour and substance of meaning;
  7. Solving reading problems Independently [capitalization in original], empowering children to move from problem to resolution.
(Anne Davis, February 8, 2007; We Dwell in Ideas...)

Those metacognitive strategies go, I suppose, for adults as well as children.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Technical and Time-Saving Issues Re: Blogging Podcasts

Whilst announcing a wonderful interview on her blog, MaryH suggests that she'll try podcasting interviews "in the future" (B4B Message 1503). In response, Gladys points out a recording tool - blog sharing link-up (Podomatic: Blogger) that used to work for her, yet expresses a preference for "text in blogs" (B4B Message 1534, PS).

Elsewhere on the B4B list (forgive me, please, for relying here upon our memories rather than citations), contributors note challenges related to bandwidth limitations, making it difficult if not impossible to download media- (audio or video) rich blogs. They also may face restrictions on downloading media players or browser plug-ins to play back A/V blog elements.

Though I've begun listening to, and earmarking podcasts of interest, I prefer text in blogs, too, for reasons beyond downloading and playback difficulties. Granted, A/V podcasts are of great interest to educators who are intent upon presenting material that will help learners to develop listening and viewing skills.

However, for time-challenged educators and learners, sitting through podcasts is hardly a viable option. Attention spared while driving or cycling, I argue, is insufficient for uptake of ideas, intents, structures and vocabulary. Under such circumstances, note-making and cross-referencing are virtually impossible - unless you have a clip-board or keyboard mounted on your steering wheel or handlebars (or are concurrently recording your own commentary). Moreover, for city-dwelling pedestrians, traffic noise may well defeat listening at anything less than hearing threatening playback volumes on mp4 or mp3 players.

Rather than rant on about the drawbacks of podcasting, and before I develop a fuller argument for properly framing podcasts to develop learners' listening skills and vocabulary, I'd better point out the LearningTimes Green Room and suggest that you check it out before the folks there quit providing nearly complete transcripts in show notes on their website as a prelude to their podcasts.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Further, More Recent IP Related Resources

An announcement of a live Educause event February 15 reminds me to follow up on some older intellectual property (IP) related resources. Here are a few more gleaned through the announcement - two out of three with a U.S. bent:

Educause. (2007). Federal copyright law [online resource collection]. Retrieved February 7, 2007, from http://www.educause.edu/Browse/645?PARENT_ID=252

Educause. (2007). Scholarly communication [online resource collection]. Retrieved February 7, 2007, from http://www.educause.edu/Browse/645?PARENT_ID=428

Public Knowledge. (2007). Policy blog: intellectual property. Retrieved February 7, 2007, from http://www.publicknowledge.org/articles/49

  • "Public Knowledge is a Washington DC based advocacy group working to defend your rights in the emerging digital culture" (Public Knowledge, 2007).
  • Gigi Sohn, President & Founder of Public Knowledge, is to be a special guest at that live Educause event: "The Information Commons and the Future of Innovation, Scholarship, and Creativity."

Monday, February 05, 2007

Class-Based RSS for Reading & Writing

This post begins by recapping Parry (2006) and continues as a virtual dialog digesting and reflecting upon larger chunks of Parry's article (a Blogging for Beginners workshop task-related reading).

Recap

Laying the groundwork of an argument for class-based RSS feeding, Parry (2006) points out need for learners to make effective use of two distinct sets of analytical reading skills, especially in online venues: "one, the quick analysis to find what is worth reading, and the second, a switch to slow analysis to carefully consider what has been found" (Parry, 2006, Helping Students to Become Better Readers to Become Better Writers, paragraph 3). He argues that RSS supports the first, and saves time for the second. Rather than provide an RSS tutorial, Parry points out a number of other guides, and concludes by claiming "RSS alters the transmission (reading and writing) of digital knowledge, and thus is critically important to any classroom instruction which requires digital composition, but especially projects which involve blogging" (Parry, 2006, Conclusion).

Three Large Tender Morsels for Digestion

To require students to write papers and then post them to a blog or website misses the point. In fact, this often results in frustrated students, because understandably they fail to see the relevance of such writing. Instead, productive classroom blog projects focus on teaching students how writing for the internet requires a different type of authorship—again, an important lesson in how context shapes meaning.

(Parry, 2006, Why it Matters for Student Writing, paragraph 1)

The point Parry makes about relevance to learners is a point well taken. Simply transferring learners' papers to blogs won't necessarily foster awareness of or engagement with blog audiences. However, if they're first time bloggers, and one of their initial tasks is to introduce themselves, blogging a previously written piece of introductory writing may serve to bootstrap inter-personal communication by almost immediately supporting commentary from group, class or community members. Blogging a prepared piece of writing at course onset also may provide a baseline, or sample, and serve as a proto-portfolio component, indicating learners' initial interests and writing abilities.

... In order to be successful authors in this space, students need to construct content that takes advantage of the iterability and citationality that the web offers.... This type of citation and appending comments to citation is crucial to becoming critically engaged readers and writers.
(Parry, 2006, Why it Matters for Student Writing, paragraph 2)

Granted, there is a lot more opportunity to experiment in writing spaces such as blogs than there is almost anywhere but in wikis - "Weblogs on steroids" (Tomei & Lavin, 2007, cited in Wikis and websites and blogs, oh my! B4B message 319). Nevertheless, starting with a prepared text at first (say something already composed in a notebook or with a word-processor) could provide learners with a ready-made platform for experiments with the kinds of web-based functions that Parry finds advantageous.

... By using RSS, you can syndicate all of the students blogs; every student in the class will get the class “newspaper” with headlines and synopsis of each student's writing, allowing them to scan all of the posts at once, and then decide which ones are most relevant, and select them for close reading. Furthermore, RSS can facilitate commenting, as most blogs will allow you to syndicate the comments to a specific post, so that students can post to a blog and continue to follow up on the comment thread. Again, this will help students to realize how writing for the web is a matter of continuous conversation rather than static paper design.
(Parry, 2006, Why it Matters for Student Writing, paragraph 3)

The third and final bit of Parry that I cite above (Why it matters..., para. 3) seems based on an assumption that learners within a group, class or community have individual blogs - as opposed to simple posting or commenting privileges on a group or class blog, and at least commenting if not also posting privileges on one anothers' blogs. To extend the newspaper analogy, it seems educators then need to assume two inter-related roles: first, as editors and publishers of the learners' stories through RSS newspapers; and second, particularly in case they are teaching learners of English as an additional language, teachers of newspaper reading skills.


References
Parry, David. (2006). The Technology of Reading and Writing in the Digital Space: Why RSS is crucial for a Blogging Classroom. Retrieved January 26, 2007, from http://blogsforlearning.msu.edu/articles/view.php?id=6

Tomei, J., & Lavin, R. (2006). Autonomy Arising from Community: Experiences with Weblogs and Wikis [Keynote (trademark) presentation]. Kumamoto University: January 14, 2006.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Filtering and Journalling (LwC definitions)

Whilst scouting neighboring tribes in the blogosphere, I found a blog among MaryH's listings called Learning with Computers [LwC]: A community blog for the Learning with Computers Yahoo! Group.
What first caught my eye on that blog were a couple definitions posted there by one of MaryH's blog mates, which distinguish two different purposes of blogs:

The Filter Style Blog vs The Journal Style Blog (July 28, 2006).

In retrospective, those definitions makes this blog sound like a combination of both styles, a combination which I hope the blog title "potpourri" accurately reflects.

Although the LwC blog apparently has gone into hybernation (since October 2006), a comment linked to the filter vs. journal definitions (above) points out a typical filter blog that is still up and running, namely: The Generator Blog

Looks like some of the generators filtering through there are worth checking out. Two more generators have shown up since I started this blog entry!
LwC logo used with permission

Learner-centered approaches challenge standardization

In Thoughts on "Lurking" in Online Courses, an on-going Learning Times community discussion where I've been playing the role of a legitimate peripheral participant, Alan Sellig points out how, for virtually every educational stake holder other than learners themselves, learner-centered approaches challenge instructional standardization - especially for credentialing purposes (January 22, 2007).

I understand how technological approaches to educational endeavors manifest, perhaps by default, all kinds of IT standardization techniques. However, I don't understand why, in our enthusiasm or haste to adopt and adapt instructional technology, we don't recognize and remove as much of the IT industrial overburden as possible.

To do so could not only clear pathways, but also open broad avenues - perhaps even expose frontiers - conducive to learner-centered learning. In the weeks to come, I am looking forward to discovering ways that educational blogging might do just that.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Lighten up, dude!

When a colleague emailed this morning and asked for reminders of what we'd discussed yesterday, face-to-face, in a global locale that may have been a tertiary or quaternary target the day that Nagasaki got a-bombed, I sort of went ballistic. Here's an annotated snippet of what I wrote back:

Tabula rasa, man, tabula rasa;1 let me twang your synapses!

You dutifully promised and faithfully engaged to:

a. Always bring a pulp and fiber-based notebook and indelible ink pen with you when you visit my office, and have them handy whenever you call;

b. Begin immediately listing to-do's in your notebook the moment that they spring to mind, because if you don't write your thoughts down, they may as well never have happened;2

c. Carefully annotate those to-do's as to whom you'll need to involve, what resources to obtain and distribute, and when you expect to do so;

d. Deliberately and diligently transfer all [pen & paper] notes to a byte-based format at your earliest convenience, supplementing them with electronic ticklers (reminders) as necessary;

e. Endeavor to duck and cover your pulp and fiber notebook at the earliest hint of an EMP,3 and soak the notebook with urine in case of subsequent firestorms;

...

r. Remember that all data stored electronically can be wiped out faster than ink dries.

...

Personal correspondence
February 1, 2007, 09:59:45 JST
Re: Success (L2 writing...)

Of course the colleague never promised to do any of that, but it should serve as a reminder!


Notes
  1. Tabula rasa (Wikipedia): blank slate;
  2. The bit about writing it down or it never happened is a long lost reference to a Tom Clancy novel;
  3. EMP: Electromagnetic pulse (Wikipedia).

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Broader, Older Swath of IP Resources

If you're interested in exploring intellectual property rights in some breadth, if not depth, below are a few more pointers to round out those in a previous post about Aussie copyright concerns. These are from three collections:

1. A working bibliography on disk (entries lacking annotations, for resources currently accessible):

Downes, Stephen. (2003). Copyright, ethics and theft. Journal of the United States Distance Learning Association 17(2), 51-62. Retrieved January 31, 2007, from http://www.usdla.org/html/journal/ED_APR03.pdf

Downes, Stephen. (2006). A Patent Dilemma. Innovate 3(2). Retrieved January 31, 2007, from http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=399

Lessig, Lawrence. (2002). Free culture [Flash media recording]. Retrieved January 31, 2007, from http://randomfoo.net/oscon/2002/lessig/free.html

2. Bookmarks on del.icio.us (not necessarily annotated, either):

http://del.icio.us/pab/copyright


3. Another place I'd look, Educause.


If you discover any articles at Educause (or elsewhere) that you find particularly easy to understand and applicable to our work (educational blogging), please don't hesitate to say which and why in a comment related to each.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Australian (& others') Copyright Concerns

The message extracts below pose some hard questions about copyright laws that I wrote in reaction to the 08 Nov. Internet Industry Association (IIA) news release cited in the message. I got a pointer to the news release from the Teach and Learn Online Google Group.

New Copyright Laws Risk Criminalising Everyday Australians [news release]...

That article quotes Peter Coroneos, Chief Executive of the Internet Industry Association (IIA) saying, "The US Free Trade Agreement does not require Australia to go down this [onerous] path, and neither US nor European law contain such far reaching measures" [as the Australian parliament enacted].

Is that [the IIA's] assessment of current U.S. law accurate?

The risk scenarios here [on the IIA website] are quite illuminating....

Do you think the U.S. Congress will follow suit? [What about other countries?]

Cheers, Paul

PS: Here is a related podcast, if you're interested, ... [in which Brian Fitzgerald interviews the IIA's chief executive].

Personal correspondence
November 30, 2006 17:28:04 JST
Re: Australian intellectual property law

Friday, January 26, 2007

B4B: One Stop Shopping

Food for thought:

All that I am really doing is putting together on single spot for my students to be able to access it quickly and efficiently so that they can expand their knowledge about certain topics we cover in class.

Blogging for Beginners
Re: ... K...'s Blog - Message #856 of 909
Wed Jan 24, 2007, 10:50 am (JST)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Identifying Desirable Blog Features (B4B: Wk. 2, Task 2.a.)

This post covers a review of eight blogging applications in which Campbell (2005) offers guidelines for choosing amongst them and other tools like them to use for language learning purposes.

Campbell suggests that blogs provide opportunities for "authentic use of language" that will challenge and stimulate learners "in ways that classroom experiences cannot" (Campbell, 2005, Choosing the right weblog application, paragraph 1).

Below are principle blog features to seek (Merits) and avoid (Demerits) that I've gleaned from Campbell's review of existing applications (2005), combined with a few others, and arranged roughly in descending order of importance:

Merits

  • user-friendliness from the get-go (signup) including language choices;
  • WYSIWYG, drag-&-drop editing and automated link assistance;
  • author-ownership with edit-ability at any time, including time stamp updates;
  • search and tagging or labeling functions;
  • ease of setting levels of access, moderation, publicity & security;
  • integrated, nearly unlimited file, A/V media and photo storage, and independent page options;
  • variety of simple, easily accessible themes with intuitive (drag & drop) module arrangements;
  • readily accessible, easy to use, built-in aggregators;
  • networking options extending beyond immediate blogging services/venues, including whole and partial RSS feeds; &
  • spell-checking functions.
Demerits
  • external email necessary for confirmation, and forced local language displays;
  • HTML coding skills necessary
  • text-only comments;
  • low contrast (text to background) themes with restricted font sizes;
  • fixed or heavily constrained column, frame and window sizes for both input and display;
  • same-service membership required to comment; &
  • advertising.
Reference

Campbell, Aaron. (2005). Weblog applications for EFL/ESL classroom blogging: a comparative review. TESL-EJ, 9(3). Retrieved January 24, 2007, from http://www-writing.berkeley.edu/TESL-EJ/ej35/m1.pdf

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

EVO: B4B Database and Identity - A Cautious Approach

The following are snippets from email that I'm representing here as a cautious approach to construction of online identity:

When I first browsed the b4b database about a week ago, there were entries in it whose "names" were a jumble of letters and numbers, followed by no more information whatsoever.

So I decided to approach the database ever so cautiously. It wasn't until yesterday that I discovered all of the entries included at least a nickname and some other information.

... I recommend the same course of action to students and teachers with whom I work, basically: "Provide no more information than is necessary until you know what's really going on in any online environment."

... Though I may be failing miserably, I do want to be able to keep the extents and locations of online identities to an affair that I can manage on the whole, rather than one needing updating in all of the particular instances.

(personal correspondence, January 23, 2007)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

B4B EVO: Database, Personal Info. & Trust

It has taken a couple days for me to get around to reopening the b4b evo Session Participants' database to take another look at what's there in response to a moderator's question asking which information I consider personal (personal correspondence, Jan 17, 2007, at 04:55, JST).

As part of this point by point reflection on b4b evo backchannel messages, I'd like to suggest that, among other items of info. collected in the database, full names, gender, Yahoo ID and Skype names are personal (no Hotmail MSN for me, thanks, but that would be, too).

If there is order to these reflective pieces, it probably entails ease of collecting thoughts, exploring group moderator proposed work-arounds, and responding to requests for explanation or assistance.

The original post in this reflective series raised an issue of "ambivalent trust" (Jan. 18, 2007, 14:54 JST). Here I'd like to explore a couple of recent interactions that rekindled thought-fires regarding trust.

The first of those interactions was run of the mill. That is, when applying for group membership, I supplied the Yahoo! (R) Groups' interface with a concise rationale for asking to join the b4b group.

In return, I got an automated, "Please give us more information, or wait," sort of message. Though the application form had allowed only a few more characters (200-250 character limit?), I didn't want to wait and succumb to a foreseeable avalanche of introductory messages. As I noted later:

...I had hoped that gaining admittance to the group prior to the weekend launch would enable me to avoid a huge backlog of posts, come Monday morning....

I'd never wish that kind of reading load on EFL learners unless I wanted to extinguish their enthusiasm, or to train them to ignore the majority of posts from their peers.

(personal correspondence: January 15, 2007, 21:12:10 JST).

So I wrote back right away to demonstrate humanity, to show that I wasn't some sort of spamming robot, and to find out whether more info. really was necessary to do so. In short, it wasn't.

However, the possibility of surrepititious humans gaining access to the group retraced synapses when I opened the group database. I figured that anyone who could pass the human screens would have access to all the information earlier arrivals had posted there. That was well before I'd even browsed the hundreds of introductory posts that had already arrived to see who's whom.

When I had last checked the group participants' database (Tue., Jan 16, 2007, 9:58 am JST), there was still an ID in the database for whom automated searches of all messages retrieved no messages. With 160+ participants now on list, I can say neither that I know everyone, nor that I've even scrolled, paged, and scrolled through all of the database records to double-check who's there.

In reviewing that database today, however, I have discovered "Actions" (Edit/Delete) controls which I consider a plus because they enable participants to update their records without dependence upon group moderators. If any personal info. that participants' list changes (or gets abused), they apparently will be able to manage it to some extent, as long as group owners permit access.

The short story ends here; I did go back and add a limited amount of info. to the database. Participants photos will probably be the next point I take up.

Back-Channel Messages about the B4B EVO

This is the beginning of reflection on back-channel messages about the Blogging for Beginners Electronic Village Online workshop (b4b evo). As energy and time permit, it will continue in subsequent posts.

On Tuesday, January 16, 2007 6:44 AM (JST), I wrote to the b4b evo moderators to let them know:

... I've decided to pass on a few of the activities that you suggested before the launch, namely the following:

On Jan 12, 2007, at 21:16, bloggingforbeginners Moderator wrote:

I thought you might like to know why I've passed on those particular activities. This has to do with privacy and ownership issues that I'll endeavor to explain below, and probably rehash along with these lead-in remarks in some blog post(-s) later.


I appreciate the value that knowing about one another can have in fostering and developing a sense of community, and I realize how the survey and database may ease and consolidate your access to information about community members.


Yet I generally avoid posting personal information in public or unsecured private online environments. I also read privacy policies closely and explore sites' verification mechanisms as well. Below are my current perspectives on the four tools underscored (hotlinked) in the list of activities above.



The b4b introductory survey, for example, opens to fields for collection of personal information. Yet the opening page includes no whisper of implicit or explicit purposes for collecting such information, processes for storing it, or limitations on access to it and its use.



Photos uploaded to Yahoo! Groups albums that some else has created would leave my ownership and control. I discovered that I would not be able to remove or replace them at a later date, if I so desired (and yesterday the same was true about comments on the b4b blog).



The Frappr map was just another tedious sign-up process waiting to happen, for a functionality that has mis-functioned for me in the past. I decided that posting two words ("southern Japan" or "Kumamoto, Japan") on the mailing list is a quicker and easier way to provide a global fix - one unencumbered by physical appearances. (I haven't taken time to find out whether I could change or remove Frappr pictures or comments at a later date because I believe it probably isn't worth the time it would take to ascertain control over a thumbnail identity.)



Finally, although the Yahoo! organization is bound by its privacy policy not to abuse information in group databases, group members with access to database information may well ignore both that privacy policy and its underlying principles. Here perhaps I could sum my concerns up as a matter of ambivalent trust....
(pab)

In response (Jan 17, 2007, at 04:55, PST), I received an understanding reply. The gist of that reply was:
  • Participants are welcome to try anything they like, and to skip what they don't.
  • Your feedback and explanations are helpful; they will inform future endeavors.
  • If it is not too much to ask, please give us further feedback and assistance.
(a moderator)

Details of the moderator's reply addressed concerns that I'd had about the activities listed above. The moderator also suggested specific ways in which to further assist and inform the b4b evo team, and proposed work-arounds for aspects of the activities that I had found problematic. I plan to reflect further, and respond to each of the requests and proposals in subsequent posts.

Local time is:

(JST)