Martin Weller is on a blogging about blogging tear, both with speculating about what if blogging was part of OER and before that, revisiting one’s blog past. Martin, like Jim Groom, is among what we like to call The Last of The Bloghicans.
The latter is what this post is setting out to do. Of course, that almost seems to be what every other post I do talks about, something in its blog past.
Martin suggested using a random date generator to pick some date between now and the day he started blogging, to revisit an old post, and respond to four questions:
1) What, if anything, is still relevant?
2) What has changed?
3) Does this reveal anything more generally about my discipline?
4) What is my personal reaction to it?
John noted one of my old tricks– that if you are on a wordpress powered site, you can create a random post link simply by tagging
?random on the end of the root URL like https://howsheilaseesit.wordpress.com/?random or http://blog.edtechie.net/?random.
Quick, do you know what you were doing in December 2004? What is your method of recall? I can jog my memory easily —
For even more old fun, this post is from before I moved my site to WordPress and I was blogging with Moveable Type. I have that version too:
My blogging then was mostly technical details of stuff I was doing, rants about spammers, and likely nothing prophetic. Judge not lest…
(1) What If Anything is Still Relevant?
Despite may utterances of its death, as a technology, in 2016, RSS is very much alive, useful, and part of my regular work and information consumption habits.
Just this week Anil Dash (who ironically was one of the creators of the Moveable Type platform I used in 2004) wrote about the lost infrastructure of social media. He compared our platforms of “then” ( the 2004 era is then) and now. I noted that RSS was the only item listed in both columns.
And… Feed2JS is still relevant. It as something I tinkered with in 2003 and it still is in service today at http://feed2js.org/. It went from something running on an Apple X-serve at the Maricopa Community Colleges through a few iterations of donated hosting. I don’t even look at it much, but it just keeps working.
It keeps working despite the fact that it relies on a very old, no longer supported RSS Parser, MagpieRSS last updated in 2004.
People still use it
— Tom Woodward (@twoodwar) July 25, 2016
RSS still is key to a lot of my work in developing connected courses using the Feed WordPress plugin, even as people are asking for and exploring newer alternatives.
My approach for Feed2JS and everything else I have done adheres to my own rule of when adding new features to never break a piece of software’s past functionality, or as a wrote with terrible grammar:
This changes will not break any current use, just adds some new options for some of the parameters
What has changed?
RSS is usually lumped into a dead technology pile, and usually (and rightfully so) a shame stick is flung at Google for nuking Google Reader for reasons that seem mostly conjecture. Many people have this idea that twitter and Facebook are some kind of substitute for an RSS reader. Social streams do have value in unveiling “stuff you might not see” but it is woefully short from regularly scanning sources you trust.
Stephen Downes, tireless publisher of OLDaily, something I have relied on since the beginning of ed-tech time, is tired of the way Facebook share and gives information.
For many others this has changed; not for me. I still regularly scan the blogs of sites I value, using RSS in a reader like Digg or Feedly. It still works.
I might say one thing that has changed is a lot of blogs I craved and valued in the past have gone silent. People who are advocates of openness. Even people who are advocates of student blogging. In a twitter exchange recently, a few colleagues were topping each other with “it’s been weeks/months” since they blogged.
My eyebrow goes up wondering why people would bother to announce what they are not doing. But no judgement. The reason is always “I do not have time.” But time is fixed. Be honest, we make choices about what is more important to be doing with our time. Time is not manufactured or destroyed.
I am not claiming I am any way superior because I still come back to this box in a regular basis. It is something that is important to me. And I have no illusions for a “blogosphere” to be like it was in 2004. It was a grand time, but things are different. It’s much like climate change, the loss of the rainforest. We may want to “save” the planet, but its an ecosystem that is going to be different always in the future.
So while I may want to save the blog rain forest, all I can do is take care of my little patch.
(3) Does this reveal anything more generally about my discipline?
There is an element in this old post that underlies my approach now – that it happens in an ecosystem of using/getting/sharing ideas with each other. I mention in that post an idea from David Carter-Tod– it was his earlier work with a server based RSS interpreter that inspired me to create my version. We’ve stayed in touch, I’ve visited him twice in Virginia. As it turns out he is related to the husband of a colleague, Laura Ritcihe, I met in another area of ed-tech.
The overlapping connections that happens in this public space is important. Then and now.
I mention that some people in the system I worked at (then the Maricopa Community Colleges) were starting to use it — the “Hi Shelley” is a nod to then colleague Shelley Rodrigo, now at the University of Arizona in Tucson, another colleague/friend I stayed in touch with, visited her she she lived in Virginia, and just last March in Tucson.
Maybe this does not reflect “my discipline” (if I have one), but — personal, human relationships matter, a lot.
And I also reflect that this time I had in my career at Maricopa, the early web, multimedia– I had this huge opportunity to experiment, tinker, explore, and try to explain. I wonder/worry now if in ed-tech, with people putting much of their effort into supporting enterprise systems, into data herding, is there room and support for that kind of open ended exploration I got to do in 2004?
(4) What is my personal reaction to it?
I’ve probably covered this in (1), (2), and (3), but that a 14 year old project is still running, and viable, says a lot about the open web as a platform. Tell me what software/technology you are using from 2003. And for stuff I started with by tinkering on a server I just plugged into the network (that was how long ago this was) and writing about it on my blog, to reach so many places… well, it’s what makes all of this still rewarding now.
The excitement of the web is no different now, despite the ways it has been commercialized, despite the ways it has been used to hurt people, to take advantage of them– it still reeks of optimism.
So like a Bloghican, this pile of rambles and brambles might be seen as just old stuff I spend too much looking back on, but, that is how I look forward.
Top / Featured Image: A mashup that likely has some copyright infringement. Nothing I used is open licensed, I sample, remixed, and am using for non-commercial parody purposes. I admit it in the name of questioning an analog era’s law in the digital age. The image is from the last scene of the Last of the Mohicans movie found on a new blog I am happy to find, My Favorite Westerns.
The profile of martin Weller is a single frame from a Standard YouTube licensed video The Battle for Open. My typical thing would be to maybe slip in his face for Daniel Day Lewis, but it seemed more fun to just add Martin to the crew. The font, not exactly the one used in posters, but close enough, is Optima.