ATTENTION Web Storytellers: Using Twitter?

If you’ve been working with a Twitter page to complete the DS106 web storytelling assignment, you’ve probably run into a problem. Basically, Twitter has an interface feature that hides tweets until you scroll down to the bottom of the page. For a variety of reasons, this feature doesn’t work properly when you save a local copy of the page. After a little hunting around, I’ve found a “fix.” You’re going to need to copy and paste the following small code snippet and paste it into your coded page in your text editor. You’ll need to place it somewhere between the opening and closing head tags: <head>. . .</head> Continue reading ATTENTION Web Storytellers: Using Twitter?

This American Textbook

When I was planning my Digital Storytelling class for this semester, I really struggled with the idea of not having a textbook. I definitely didn’t want a “Digital Storytelling for Dummies” kind of book. Nor did I really want a digital storytelling cookbook or primer. Actually, I didn’t want anything that had to do with digital storytelling — I just wanted some text that would be a good conversational entry point for the class into the notion of story, in general. Continue reading This American Textbook

More RSS for ds106

After this weekend’s mind blowing radio show extravaganza for ds106, I felt like I needed to find a way to make the various show audio files available for anyone who wanted to listen. (You can find most of them on students’ blogs, but it takes a bit of hunting to track them down.)

So, I created an RSS feed out of a Delicious tag and pulled it into FeedBurner (I didn’t have to do this last step, I just like to because then I can edit the title/description/feed image).

I give you DS106 Radio Miscellany. If you subscribe to it in iTunes (or whatever you use to listen to podcasts), you’ll be able to download the associated MP3 files.

But the big bonus is that since this is all originating from a Delicious tag, anyone can add new audio to the feed. The catch is that you have to bookmark the actual MP3 file, NOT the page on which the MP3 file is embedded in order or the podcasting to work. So, as stuff for DS106 radio is created and shared on blogs and elsewhere, feel free to tag the MP3s in Delicious with ds106mp3.


Give it away, give it away, give it away now

I’m not entirely sure where this idea came from, but it’s been floating around in my head for a few days. I’m wondering if anyone else would like to participate in it.

Basically, I’m thinking about on a fairly regular basis (once a month?) offering up (for free) my services for someone who needs help with something I know how to do. Here are the parameters I’m thinking of:

  • I’d make a list of the things that I feel comfortable doing: hacking WordPress themes, using Google spreadsheets, Yahoo! Pipes and/or Simile to do simple data visualizations, etc. (also training people how to do these things)
  • I’d ask if anyone had a project along these lines that they were trying to complete.
  • The project would have to be non-commercial.
  • The project would have be something that I feel I could get done in a reasonable, set amount of time (probably about half a day’s work)
  • There would be no guarantee of complete success, but I’d promise to work as hard as I can on it. 🙂

Then I’d basically give away services for that set amount of time working on that project.

The only “payment” I’d request would be that the person do the same for someone else (offering up a free number of hours of service doing something he/she was good at.)

I can imagine this growing into a bit of a community project. I can also imagine that something like this already exists?

What do people think?

In Search of a Landing Pad

The other day, I wrote a post about a day in the life of my division at UMW, DTLT. It documents what was a fairly cool, remarkable day because of the number of students who wandered into our offices wanting to do something innovative, creative, and interesting with technology.

Tom left this comment:

That really makes me cry it’s so pretty. You have no idea. You all better be enjoying yourselves.

His comment gave me pause because it actually came on a day when I was feeling pretty discouraged and frustrated. It’s hard to explain how I could feel that way when stuff like what I described in the post is happening pretty regularly at UMW and in DTLT.

I started to wonder if the problem was just me. Am I focusing on the wrong things? Am I wanting the wrong things? Should I be happier and more content with what’s already happening? And, ultimately, the hardest question of all: Do I just feel and care too much about what I do?

These aren’t new questions for me. I’ve spent years trying to unravel them. I’ve lost many, many hours of sleep. I’ve shed tears about them. Two years ago, I went from full-time to part-time, in part, because I needed to distance myself from the rawness of what these questions made me feel.

So, before I go on, let me say a few things: I absolutely love the place I work. And by “place” I mean both the division in which I spend my days and the University in which that division lives. I have a fantastic group of colleagues (both my colleagues in DTLT and the faculty, students, and staff whom I get to partner with). We have a pretty amazing body of students here, too. They are smart and resilient and creative.

I have a job thinking about learning, teaching, education, school, technology, culture, communication, community, and innovation. I get paid to consider the implications of all of this on the work that’s happening in the sector I care most about: public higher education.

I’m also a graduate of this school. It’s the place where I came into my own, intellectually and emotionally.

I love this place so much, I’ve come to work here twice.

The success and future of this institution is absolutely paramount to me.

All of this said, I regularly feel frustrated about my role in this institution.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to pin down the reason why. Here are a few I’ve come up with:

  • I am classified at the University as “administrative faculty.” Basically, this means I’m an administrator, but, to be clear, my job is really more a staff job. Being staff (or non-faculty, middle-management administrator) at a University is a weird place to be. It’s particularly hard when you have developed a deep interest in the future of the place where you work. There isn’t a whole lot of agency assigned to staff at the University. We’re not really consulted about the core, academic mission of the University. In fact, a lot of people would probably question why we would have an opinion (at least one that counted) about the future of the University. That’s really hard for me to swallow.
  • The sector in which I work is, I believe, increasingly becoming the place where the most important and interesting questions about the future of higher education are being asked. It’s in the academic fringes that people are grappling with the fundamental, often very difficult, questions about what our core mission is. Digital communications and technologies have transformed the ways in which we share and create information and knowledge. The sharing and creation of information and knowledge are sort of at the center of higher education’s mission, right? So, how can we not be grappling with these big issues. That said, because we are on the fringe, we’re in a safer place to question the traditional trajectories of our institutions. That could be perceived a pretty threatening space from those sitting within. Couple that with the fact that we’re not traditional academics, and it’s easy to see why we sometimes feel like our voices aren’t heard.
  • I may just care too much. Actually, I think every adult in my family has accused me of this at one point or another. I guess I have the heart of a missionary or advocate, and I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to figure out what my mission is. I’ve tried to teach myself to care less, and I have gotten better at compartmentalizing my feelings. But, honestly, I don’t WANT to numb myself to the caring. The caring is why I do what I do.

The bottom line is that I spend much of my time imagining amazing futures and possibilities for the place at which I work and which I love. And, then, it often feels like I have no place to put those hopes and dreams. They spin around my head; they spin around in conversations here or elsewhere on the Web; they spin around the offices of DTLT. But they just spin and flutter. They have no where to land.