Do you really know where your next blog post will come from? Mine kind of pop up like… driving down the road with a destination in mind, and an curious road sign appears. How can you not take that turn? Is that critical you get to Palookaville by 4?
Mine started with (like many) a tweet
— Maha Bali, PhD ??? ???? ? (@Bali_Maha) December 20, 2014
I think it’s very cool that Hybrid Pedagogy added a Random Article button to their sidebar.
I flashed back a few months back, when Kevin Hodgsen (whom I think of first and foremost as @doxtrax) asked on twitter about an easy way to have a link point to a random post on a WordPress.com blog (he was interested in doing this for the https://dailyconnector.wordpress.com/ site he set up). I knew how to do it in self-hosted wordpress sites, I use it quite frequently on my own.
I dug in a bit, and I am forgetting now where I found the answer, but it’s as easy as slapping a ?random onto the end of a WordPress blog’s URL – like https://dailyconnector.wordpress.com/?random
As I do, I peeked at the page source for Hybrid Pedagogy and saw the telltale signs of a WordPress site. And voila, http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/?random works.
I started thinking back, and seem to have used random() functions in everything. I am pretty sure one of my first Hypercard stacks was some kind of Random Quote generator. I used it quite often in Macromedia Director:
In fact another Director/Shockwave thing I did was The Flip Site, where I simulated a math professor flipping a coin every 5 seconds for some activities around probability. Under the hood, was a text file containing a random generated sequence of 1s and 0s each representing a coin flip every second for a year. I think there was some perl code at the server side core of this.
I find randomness in many of my sites. A Random DS106 Assignment. A random DS106 Design Assignment. A random DS106 Daily Create. A random post by a DS106 open participant. A random post from Section 1 of My Spring 2014 lass from GMU. A random post from Jim Groom’s recent Wire106 section.
I just added to StackExchange an explanation on the custom WordPress way I do this.
Not just WordPress. A random generator for sounds from Freesounds. A randomly generated Funny MOOC Name. A random Five Card flickr story. Everything in pechaflickr. A random flickr photographer you might never run into at the top of the interesting pile. A random word with no english translation.
Perhaps I need a random generator of stuff I’ve done that use randomness.
ZOMG! I forgot one! My own blog!
Not any more, in one minute added to my menu a link to http://cogdogblog.com/?random.
Why random? First of all, it appeals to me, because it presents on the web something of a discovery play. It gets away from web content in being predictable. It is the underlying DNA of serendipity. I think it’s interesting.
But for any large body of content, it presents another way to explore it, in addition to typical blog (newest first) or neatly filed (category or archives by date) or seek (search by keyword). It just brings you something perhaps un-expected, and on my own blog, a lot of things I forgot about.
Featured / Top image: cc licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by Jeff Kubina: http://flickr.com/photos/kubina/185489325