Cue it up, [midi cover of] Beck.

There's a thesis seminar just up the road
From the academic ones that we may know
A place we see the networks glow
The hashtag jazz and the fresh blog flow

Pulling out noun project and syndication plugins
Gotta Wordpress site and a new logo
Hawksey sheet just tag your tweets
Just tag your tweets

Where it's at!
Gotta Wordpress site and a new logo
Where it's at!
Gotta Wordpress site and a new logo
Where it's at!
Gotta Wordpress site and a new logo
Where it's at!

Yes, the bits are falling into place for the launch first week of September of a MA thesis seminar at Kean University I am teaching from Arizona in conjunction with a colleague and more students in Norway… and the rest of the internet.

I get to work for two semesters with five Kean students I got to know during the Spring 2017 Networked Narratives class I co-taught with Mia Zamora. They are all working this year to complete their MA in Writing Studies.

For a number of reasons, many which are that I am treading in an area of wafer thin expertise, I developed this idea of making this an open seminar, and tapping into the expertise I know is out there. That is something I can facilitate as well as helping them in the Spring consider digital ways to publish their thesis.

And it made sense to concoct this with overlap with a seminar in networked digital culture Mia is teaching this semester at the University of Bergen (where she is for a year on a Fulbright). Her students will be doing semester long projects; while our timing is not 100% in sync, the process for both seminars covers a research path.

For various reasons of setting up some tools, before I did much of anything, I played around with creating a logo. Actually, Mia and I first came up with a hashtag – maybe not exactly in cadence with the idea of a Networked Research Seminar (and it really should have “open” in there somewhere).

I designed this based on a Noun Project icon, that was more “global” in design that network (which are usually pokes and hubs or radiating arcs). I added a little geometric “bolt” off the top right side

Logo based on @NounProject global network icon designed by Karthik Srinivas licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY Attribution license

The next part this week was setting up a web site, which sometimes feels like 80% pulling and pushing at it like loose dough. I chose to hang it off of the multisite because… well it was there. I have enough domains.

New web site for the seminar at

Because there will be blog syndication, I opted for a theme with a nice front featured grid, and from one of my favorite theme authors, Anders Noren. I am spawning a child theme from Baskerville– theme I have used and recommended to others.

I’ll be making announcements stay on top by making them “sticky” (I’ve actually never used) and may explore using some of the different post format layouts. I’ve got posts syndicating in from here (posts tagged resnetsem).

Mia is doing the same on her site. I thought of doing some syndicated syndication to mix the two, but as much as I love doing this for connected courses, I wonder about the use of a big pile of blog posts. I proposed to Mia that once we get student blogs syndicated into each of our sites, that we generate the OPML subscription file that WordPress can generate from the way Feed WordPress stores feeds as links.

Then we will show students how to import them as bundles of feeds into something like Feedly. I feel this is a rather important network research skill, and as I tell people, using an RSS Reader is still the only technology I can say that it saves time w/o feeling like I am lying (that’s another blog post in the works).

But this way, our students can use a reader to more efficiently browse and read each others blogs in one interface, but also to build their own subscriptions that are relevant to their research topic.

And also, just to show that running an open seminar does not mean everything is exposed, I have also set up a Slack for our student groups for more internal discussion. It also feels important for my students, with me being on the other side of the country, that we have a good messaging place just to be in touch in ways beyond email.

Most people consider Slack as totally closed/private. It’s actually “mostly”- as there is a feature I almost never see used — Posts.

I see potential in using Posts to address one problem of Slack where content rolls back off the edge of time. Actually I do not see this as a problem; the pitfall I see most make is thinking of Slack as a knowledge management / archiving tool. No, it’s all about messaging. Using it effectively IMHO means developing patterns and habits of summary/curation from the flow.

The other cool thing about Slack POsts is that they can be shared as a public URL, viewable outside of Slack, so there are small permeable bits of the Slack walls to share information outside. Check out this post, it comes from inside a closed/locked/private Slack. Hah.

The time differences between New Jersey and Norway preclude a lot of synchronous sessions, so we are thinking/planning of a few open networked activities that are asynchronous, like running two rounds of a twitter chat, some shred annotation, maybe some collaborative document activities.

We are looking to have students participater, if timing allows in some potential Virtually Connecting sessions at the October 4-6 DML Conference (I am there, Mia is not). This conference is teeming with expertise that will help out students.

A first phase of my seminar is working with the students, who all have some, but a perhaps vague, topic idea for their thesis, and to shape it into a claim or research question. This is a process typically informed by literature review (as they will do too) but I hope to augment through networked connections.

This is now draft, but I’d really like to ask professors who have advised thesis projects (especially in writing or the humanities) to share ideas / examples of what makes ones their students have done as memorable, or amazing. This form is now open for anyone willing to contribute some ideas Amazing Thesis Stories.

Yep, for me, this semester, this new course and challenge is definitely toe tapping… Where It’s At.

Featured Image: Modification of Pixabay photo by theglassdesk shared into the public domain using Creative Commons CC0. ResNetSem logo placed over turntable and screen grab of project web site inserted to laptop screen.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as

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