Category Archives: Blogging

I’m baaaaack! And I’m reviving this blog for the PLENK2010 MOOC

I’m back, and I’ve been inspired to emerge from my (latest!) blogging hiatus by Personal Learning Environments, Networks, and Knowledge 2010 (#PLENK2010), a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) facilitated by George Siemens, Stephen Downes, Dave Cormier & Rita Kopp.

Well, that’s a surprise!

I am surprised to find myself engaged in a course on Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) and Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). These were topics that were of a great interest to me back in the days when I was actively involved in the elearning, online learning and ed-tech sector, but I swore off this field in the mid 2008 (see Where in the World Wide Web is Sean?)

No more ed-tech for me, no siree!

I’d had enough. It wasn’t for me. I wasn’t making the impact I had hoped for. I seemed to be hitting my head against a brick wall all the time. (However, on reflection I’ve realised that the brick wall was internal, caused by my own fears, which led me to hold back from saying the things I wanted to say. No wonder I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere, I didn’t feel heard and I end up feeling unsatisfied.)

Since then I’ve been off exploring (the not too inconsequential problems of) the state of the world, how we got to be in the situation we are in, and what we can do about it.

Finishing unfinished business

Now the emergence of the PLENK2010 MOOC has had me reviewing and thinking about that earlier period of my life and made me realise that there are many things I didn’t say back then – mainly because of a block I had about expressing opinions publicly – that I’d like to say now. I believe the MOOC will give me that opportunity.

New applications of old knowledge

I also feel that the principles underpinning PLEs, PLNs, MOOCs, and the pedagogical models and philosophies that accompany them – such as free and open learning, Networked Learning and Connectivism – offer great hope for creating the type of large-scale and rapid social transformations I believe are needed in this time of change, challenge and crisis.

I’d like to use this course to explore ideas about how we can use these tools, strategies and methodologies to create what one of my favourite thinkers, Charles Eisenstein, calls “the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible.”

Coming out of hibernation

So, after many years of self-imposed sequestration, I’ve decided to “go public” again, so to speak, and reconnect with the world.

The timing is a bit earlier than I had planned – I haven’t quite finished working through my ideas and gathering my resources for my new projects yet – but maybe waiting for things to be “perfect” rather than sharing my unfolding process has been part of my problem with expressing myself all along.

Although it feels weird and a bit scary, getting involved in the MOOC does feel like the right thing to do.

But how long will it last?

I’m not sure how involved I’ll be. And I might lose interest, especially if I’m not learning anything new, or if it gets too overwhelming (staying abreast of the things I’m interested in is hard enough without taking on a crazy, full-on MOOC about topics I thought I’d left behind!) We shall see.

Staying in this part of the blogosphere for now

I had intended to walk away from this blog and leave it behind when I left the ed-tech sector, but it seems like the logical place to continue to share my thoughts, ideas and explorations regarding the topics related to the PLENK2010 course.

So I’ve brushed the dust of this ol’ thang, picked a new blog template and revamped the design a little to reflect the it’s new purpose. All up I haven’t expended much energy on the changes, so if my interest does wane then nothing will be wasted.

I plan to publish my thoughts on other things I’ve been exploring elsewhere in due course.

For now, let the MOOCly adventure begin!

Yongfook – The Blog is Dead! (sorta)

The Blog is Dead! – SlideShare

To watch a video of Yongfook’s presentation you will have to go to: Ustream.TV: Yongfook talks about the move from blogging to lifestreaming and his Sweetcron, as I can’t embed ustream.tv videos here on WordPress.com (sigh).

You can read more on his blog post: The Blog is Dead! › Yongfook – Web Producer

I agree with what Yongfook is saying in this presentation – that people are using blogs less and other online services more.

I’ve come to realise that this situation suits me fine. I’m not much of a blogger, but I like capturing, sharing and somtimes commenting on what I find on the Web. I prefer to keep my blog for longer reflections.

You may have noticed that I have been a lot more active on the web of late. I’ve been Twittering more, I’ve been saving my bookmarks to delicious.com again and I’ve started a tumblelog at tumblr.com (which posts to Twitter via twitterfeed, via my identi.ca account). I’m currently streamlining my workflow so I can easily capture and share everything I come across on the Web that I find interesting or potentialy useful.

Eventually I’m going to move away from hosted Web 2.0 services (more about why I’m doing that later). I’m currently setting-up my own self-hosted online tools, using free and open software wherever possible. As part of this process I will be experimenting with Yongfook’s lifestreaming software, Sweetcron.

As an aside, I agree with Yongfook when he says WordPress is bloated. It’s become overly complicated and slow to use (on WordPress.com, at least). It’s suffering from featuritis (they’ve even added an RSS reader called “Readomattic” – only for WordPress.com blogs!) It makes a great Content Management System, but is not so good for quick and easy posting. It seems to be trying to be everything to everybody.

This is why I like microblogging with Twitter and, more recently, tumblelogging with tumblr – they are so much easier to use.

Laconica and identi.ca – the open source alternatives to Twitter

(Image by camera obscuraCC-by-nc)

I’m a big believer in open source philosophies, free software and decentralised systems, so I want to do my bit to give a plug for Laconica – a microblogging system that offers an open source, distributed alternative to Twitter.

So, what is Laconica?

According to the article, Twitter for the enterprise:

Laconica is an open source microblogging platform—a network service software that allows participants to post short messages on a Web page, which then can be read by peers and other interested parties. The messages can also be sent out to instant messaging clients, to cell-phones as a short message service (SMS)-based dispatch, and to other conduits.

Laconica is different from Twitter for several reasons. One is that it is available as a stand-alone software platform available without cost under an open source license.

So anyone can setup a Laconica server. There is a growing list of Laconica servers here – http://laconi.ca/Main/ListOfServers. Currently the most popular service is identi.ca. My account there is http://identi.ca/seanfitz.

Twitter is often down due to scaling problems, and they have reduced the number of features to reduce the load. For example, they removed the useful “With Others” tab that allowed you to view someone else’s conversation with their friends. With anyone being able set up their own Laconica server many of these load-related problems should be avoided.

Laconica also can offer federated messaging: Two different installations of Laconica can be linked so that a message on one service can be relayed to users of the other service.

It’s this federated messaging that really excites me. It means I can follow someone on any Laconica service, not just the one I’m registered with. This is pretty cool. Laconica is a truly distributed microblogging service.

Laconica also supports OpenID, the single log-on identity service, which is another plus.

See a full list of current and upcoming features here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laconica

Content on Laconica is Creative Commons licensed

This is the only thing about Laconica I don’t feel 100% comfortable about – when you sign up for identi.ca you agree to license your contributions under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license.

Don’t get me wrong, I support the idea of producing work under Creative Commons licenses, it’s just that I would rather have choice over which license I apply to my content, like I do at flickr.

Besides, even though my microblogging may not produce any great works of art, I prefer to put a by-nc-sa license on my content because I don’t want to see it being restricted for commercial use and potentially sold back to me.

Private microblogging networks

Being able to host your own Laconica server means that you can create your own private microblogging network. As the Twitter for the enterprise article points out, this could have some important uses in business:

Deploying Laconica within an enterprise can help employees from different parts of the organization share information, Prodromou said. The software can partition off different user groups for collaboration, or have users communicate with the world—or organization—at large. Organizations can also set up conduits to personnel at other organizations running their own microblogging services.

Laconica in an educational setting

Being able to set up your own server also means it may have some uses in an educational setting. As a general rule I support web services being on the open web, but there are some instances in educational settings where private services are appropriate, such as with younger students, or vulnerable students, or other areas where Duty of Care is an issue. I’m a realist, so I also accept that sometimes private networks can provide a stepping stone for institutions that are just too nervous to let their students use tools on the open web.

A Laconica network could be a great way to provide a peer learning support network. As SMS support is improved (it only works with some networks at the moment) a Laconica network could also potentially be used to broadcast information to students.

Supporting the distributed microbloggerverse

I hope more people jump on board with Laconica and identi.ca and help create a distributed microbloggerverse. As an open source project the more people who get involved the faster it will improve.

If nothing else, even if Laconica doesn’t replace Twitter, or become anywhere as big as Twitter, it should at least keep them their toes knowing that they have an open source competitor.

So I think it’s worth checking out at least. And besides, if this really is Lawrence Lessig on identi.ca (thanks gnuchris), then all the really cool people will be there. 🙂

By the way – if you use FriendFeed it’s now possible to follow identi.ca updates over there.

Where in the World Wide Web is Sean?


Crikees! It’s almost halfway through 2008 and I haven’t posted a thing since January!

Have you noticed I’ve been quiet? Have you been wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to? (Maybe not! 🙂 )

Taking time off

Well, I’ve taken some time off to explore my interests, and sort out what I want to do next with my life.

In other words, I’m still trying to work out what I want to be when I grow up. 🙂

I’ve also needed to take some time out to deal with some personal issues that I haven’t been giving enough attention to in recent years.

Bye-bye ed-tech sector

I’ve decided to leave the educational technology and online learning sector. There are many reasons for this decision, but the main one is that it really wasn’t what I wanted to do.

I’ve actually been trying to pull away from the sector for about two years now, but it took until this year to fully let it go. My explorations into the educational uses of Second Life and virtual worlds last year was a last hurrah to that field.

I will explain more about the reasons behind my decision to leave the ed-tech sector in a later post.

New/old interests

In the meantime I’ve been doing a lot of reading, exploring new websites and blogs, culling blogs from my RSS reader and replacing them with new ones that reflect my current interests, changing my RSS reading habits, and watching lots of videos (great for me as I’m an auditory/verbal learner/communicator/thinker, but didn’t have the time to watch videos in the past).

What I’ve discovered is that I’m returning to many of the interests that I had before being in the educational technology sector started to consume my life.

Will I have my say?

There is one thing about my time in the educational technology sector that remains unresolved.

Over that time I read a lot, followed a lot of the conversations in the edublogosphere, but didn’t participate in those conversations as much as I would have liked to. There were many things I wanted to say about education and technology but never did. For the main part I sat on the sidelines of the conversation, getting frustrated with things I disagreed with, but never really adding my bit.

There were many reasons for me not speaking up, for not participating. Most of them are related to fear of one type or another. I’m thinking of talking more about these fears – and the related issue of why I have so much trouble blogging – in later posts.

I’m considering if I should leave what wasn’t said in the past and move on or whether I owe it to myself to go back and address some of the issues I felt strongly about but was too scared to express my thoughts on at the time. We shall see.

So… don’t keep us in suspenders!

So anyway… what have I been exploring this year? Well, you’ll just have to stay tuned.. I will reveal all in a later post!

Watch this space. 🙂

(Image by mobilestreetlifecc-by)

Bligter – will it make my blogging easier?

bligter.jpgAs I’ve mentioned many times in the past I struggle with blogging. The irregularity of my posting attests to that.

Perhaps this new service can help solve my problem – Bligter.

I received the following invitation via email:

Dear Sean,

I am writing to you because we would like to have you among the bloggers that post in bligter, a new web 2.0 for bloggers. We think that our users would love your articles.

Bligter is, basically, a place where bloggers can get posts, written for other bloggers, to publish in their blogs. Otherwise, If you write a post it may get published in other users’ blogs. You will, obviously, get the credit for it as at the bottom of each post will appear your name linking to your blog.

Best Regards.
Rafael R.
http://www.bligter.com

Ooh! I’m flattered (perhaps a deliberate strategy?)

But “a new web 2.0”? I thought we still hadn’t come to terms with the old Web 2.0! Perhaps they meant to say “a new web 2.0 service”. Nothing says unprofessional to me like spelling and grammatical errors (and they are all over the website).

So will I be signing up for this service? No. This would no longer be my blog – it would become more of a group blog, with me having editorial control.

Maybe there is a need for this. Maybe it fills an as-yet unmet niche of “citizen publishing” where anyone can now take on the role of publisher and editor. Maybe this service will mature and something will come of it. Who knows. It just feels icky and weird to me at the moment. What do others think?

p.s. This feels somehow related to Leigh’s post about customised essay writing services. Although there’s no deceptiveness involved here, and there’s no plagiarism as full attribution is given, it’s similar in that it is about taking the easy path to getting a result.

Rethinking the purpose of this blog


Readers (both of you 🙂 ) may have noticed that my blogging has stalled… again.

My linkblog is still chugging along (although I’m a bit behind), but my actual blog-writing has come to a bit of a standstill.

My ongoing battle with blogging

I struggle with blogging. There are many reasons for this.

For one I struggle with writing… it’s just not my medium. Despite being a confident and articulate speaker it takes me forever to write things down to my satisfaction. It always has.

Writing a decent-length blog post takes me so long I get overwhelmed at the thought of it and often give up before I even begin.

Secondly, I’ve painted myself into a corner as a result of some earlier decisions I made about the purpose and focus of this blog.

Thirdly, I’m in the process of having a rethink about what I want to do with my life and myself professionally, and this obviously has an impact on what I want to blog about.

Let me elaborate on the latter two points…

Professional or personal blog?

In a previous post I wondered whether this blog should be a one-stop-shop, combining both personal and professional interests, or whether I should focus on professional interests only.

I decided to go with making this my professional blog, and focus on producing content that would support my role as a consultant in emerging technologies (with a current focus on virtual worlds).

The reasoning was that by being focussed those interested in the area of virtual worlds would be more willing to subscribe to my RSS feed.

In turn I had hoped this would raise my profile as someone with knowledge and expertise in this area, hopefully leading to more work and ultimately providing me with more income.

There are a few problems with this:

  1. Because I struggle with blogging I don’t have the energy to sustain two blogs.
  2. I have a range of other interests I’d like to blog about.
  3. My professional interests are evolving anyway. While virtual worlds still remains an area of strong interest for me, I feel like I have mastered that area to my satisfaction and now seek to explore new horizons.

What are my interests? What do I really want to do?

Realising I want to blog about more than just emerging technologies has led me to realise that I don’t want to restrict myself to just being a consultant in this field.

My interests range far wider than emerging technology – they include personal growth, spirituality, cyberculture, cultural studies, media and communications, education, music and the arts.

And I realise I’ve been hiding behind a “professional front” for some time now, reluctant to express my more personal thoughts and opinions on a whole range of topics that interest me. This has to change.

The solution – reflected in the nature this blog

As I redefine what I want to do those changes will be reflected in this blog, so from now on this will just be “my blog”… making no distinction between the personal and the professional.

(And my recent blogHUD post entitled “Jokay and I knocking back a few tequilas” would have put pay to any pretensions that this is a serious, professional blog anyway! 🙂 )

From now on you will see me post on a wider range of topics – not just virtual worlds and Second Life – and I will share more of my personal opinion, particularly on topics they may be a bit controversial and that I may have been reluctant to talk about in the past.

And I will bookmark websites covering other areas of interest and this will be reflected in my daily links/linkblog.

Oh… and I’ll be changing the description of who I am and what I do… that little bio under my sidebar pic – as soon as I sort of work it out and find a better way of expressing what that is!

The journey continues…

I don’t know where all this will lead me, but I’m discovering that blogging is a real process… one that’s both scary and exciting.

And this blog is turning out to be a bit of a personal journal, isn’t it? It’s becoming a tool to assist in my journey to discover who I really am and what I want to do.

But then again… this blog is called “Sean’s Emerging…” after all! 😉

(Image by edouard escougnou)

Should my blog be a one-stop shop?

Busted!

Well, it didn’t take long for Alex Hayes (and others) to cotton-on to the fact that I’d started a new blog.

I’d hoped to have a bit of time to find my blogging feet before I entered into the fray of the blogosphere, but it was obviously not to be!

I was keen to keep up my blogging momentum, hoping to blog at least every couple of days and I was getting anxious wondering what I would blog about next. It now appears the blogosphere has already handed the topic to me!

My blogging endeavours have been mentioned on not one, but two posts by Alex.

These posts raise some issues about how I’ve set up my blog. These are issues I’ve been thinking about myself. So it looks like, for a while at least, I’ll be blogging about blogging, which is not unusual for someone new to blogging, although a bit ironic for someone who has taught others about blogging in the past!

Hopefully I’ll get to blogging about the work I’m doing with virtual worlds and Second Life soon too.

Linkblog and Google Reader issues

In Alex’s first post – Blogging Paradigms or e-Ciphering in LagtimeGraham Wegner asks: “So is Sean’s linkblog a collection of everything he contributes to on the web?”

Just to clarify… I set up the linkblog at a time when I was still looking for a blogging solution. I come across a lot of links that are relevant to the research I am doing into virtual worlds that I’d like to share with others, and instead of trying to blog about each of them I would just add some brief commentary in the item’s notes field, tag them with ‘mylinkblog’ and make the RSS feed for that tag available.

Also, I added the RSS feed from mylinkblog to a folder in my Google Reader called ‘seansthoughts’ along with RSS feeds for posts on other people’s blogs I had left significant comments on, links to things I had written and posted to my wiki and my blogHUD (blogging from within Second Life).

I then used the Google Reader’s sharing feature to create a reblog of all my publishing output at that time called ‘SeansThoughts‘.

But it turns out that entries in Google Reader aren’t shared until I’ve marked them as read, which means I have to regularly go in and do this manually before they will publish – obviously not a sustainable position!

Now that I have this new blog, I’ve been using del.icio.us’ daily blog posting tool to post daily links anyway, so the value of maintaining a separate linkblog is in doubt.

The other issue is that there are things that I post to my del.icio.us purely for my own interest, and aren’t relevant for other people or suitable for sharing, but the problem is that the del.icio.us tools publish everything, which means I have to either add notes for everything or even not post those links which I think may not be of interest to others.

I believe with a self-hosted WordPress blog it’s possible to have plugins that post daily del.icio.us blog posts that can be restricted to individual tags, in which case I just post items tagged with ‘mylinkblog’ to my blog. But that’s not an option at the moment, so I’m not sure what I will do.

[Update – 27/02/07: I’ve sort of ‘re-discovered’ that the standard del.icio.us linkroll tool lets you include notes and select individual categories, which means it it possible to add a linkroll to the sidebar which only displays posts with the ‘mylinkblog’ tag . That would be a good alternative to the daily link posting, however I can’t use that here as WordPress.com doesn’t allow javascript (boo! hiss!), so I will have to wait until I set up a blog on my own host if I want to choose that option.]

Will I continue to blend my Bloghudding?

In Alex’s post he also mentions that he likes the way I’m drawing all of my output into this one blog: “I’m liking his new blog mainly for it’s ‘core’ value – one-stop.” To be honest though, I’m already wondering if this is such a great idea.

I’ve been blogging from within Second Life with blogHUD for some time now. I get my avatar to wear the blogHUD (a ‘HUD’ is a heads up display) and this allows me to post text and pictures out to the web.

I can also cross-post from blogHUD to my flickr account, and to one external blog. In this case… here.

I’ve had a lot of fun bloghudding. In fact my blogHUD was the first time I’ve been motivated to blog consistently. It’s also the first time I’ve really used my flickr account. I’m not much of a photographer and prior to bloghudding I only used my flickr account for demo purposes and for the occasional moblogged snap (cue sound of chirping crickets!)

Some of my blogHUD posts like – Checking out Ohio Uni’s Learning Kiosk – are ‘serious’ and relevant to the work I’m doing, whereas others like – Waiting for a burger at Big A’s – are just a bit of fun.

There is a strange disjoint between my more confident, established bloghudding and my confident del.icio.us posts with comments on one hand, and the occasional nervous new blogger posts like this one on the other.

An even greater concern is that between my daily del.icio.us links posting, my bloghudding, and my regular blogging I could be pumping out several posts a day and I’m wondering if people will choose not to subscribe to such a busy blog, or whether they will subscribe but not be able to tell which are the longer, more ‘considered’ blog posts – the ones that I’ve put a lot of time and effort into – as they browse headings in their RSS readers.

So there is another argument for not cross-posting my bloghudding here and instead let people choose to subscribe to only that feed if they want, leaving only my daily links and ‘serious’ posts. After all, I do include the RSS feed to my blogHUD in the sidebar of the blog, and the images are also coming in through the flickr widget.

What do you think?

One blog or two? What should I do?

This brings me to Alex’s other post – Blogging : For The Greater Good – in which the issue is raised whether it’s a good idea to combine professional and personal blogging into one space, or whether we should have separate professional and personal blogs.

I am still divided on this one. There is much to be said for a blog that is focused on professional material only. Do people interested in my work in emerging technologies want to hear about my more personal musings (or indeed my lengthy ruminations about blogging)? Are people more likely to subscribe if the blog is focused?

Or should I chuck it all in the one blog and rely on people to filter, either by skimming my RSS feed (if they are subscribed), or by subscribing to only those categories they are interested in?

This is a vexed question, and raises all sorts of issues about the breakdown of the walls between the professional and the personal as a result of online personal publishing (but that’s for another blog post).

I just want to be sure my ‘one-stop shop’ doesn’t become a ‘one-stop flop’! 🙂

Thoughts?

(Image by Exquisitely Bored in Nacogdoches)