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I saw Jessica Masulli’s Flickr inspired minimalistic storytelling, and was reminded of another famous example of narrative distillation. I’m sure everyone will get the reference.

Image 1 (flickr user thinkpanama CC-BY-NC)

Image 2 (flickr user Saint Hsu CC-BY-NC-SA)

Image 3 (flickr user Saint Hsu CC-BY-NC-SA)


Today, Jon Udell published Seven Ways to Think Like the Web.  He offers principles for cyberpresence.  The list was nice enough, but one referred to post really caught my eye. Called “Hosted Lifebits“, the post, presents a hypothetical use case for personal cyberinfrastructure, and ties in with last week’s discussions.

  • Tim O’Reilly mentions the question of who owns the data on which Web 2.0 runs. This, written in 2005, now seems prescient.
  • That said,  there is the undercurrent of monetization.  O’Reilly makes money off of Web 2.0 by selling books and organizing conferences and has on his radar the question of how others will seek to monetize it.
  • I’m having some difficulty with Web 2.0 storytelling.  Particularly when we consider crowdsourced storytelling and the proliferation of possible paths through a narrative, we see a corresponding breakdown in the sense of authorship and, to some degree, the sense of narrative.  Storytelling has been about beginning – middle – end , A -B – C .  When you lose the strong sense of starting and ending points, does narrative itself change in a fundamental way?

I noticed a FERPA question circulating on my twitter feed this morning. For non US readers, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) is the US national law covering how higher education institutions must conduct themselves with regards to student records. There’s a dizzying list of rules and exceptions as to what the institution may and may not disclose without a student’s written permission.   It applies to records maintained by the institution.

This got me to thinking.  When a student deploys a personal cyberinfrastructure, they maintain the data repositories.  How does this affect FERPA compliance in that the institution is not maintaining the records of the students actual work (as opposed to documents stored in an institutional LMS, for example). Has anyone gathered resources on the legal implications of this model?

D’Arcy Norman puts on his Devil’s Advocate hat to remind us that it’s about the learning. I’m hoping D’Arcy will lend me the key to his lead Devil’s Advocate hat box, because here I go.  I’ll try to be good and leave it under the front mat when I’m done 🙂

D’Arcy writes, “Society doesn’t need universities. What we need is learning.”

Learning is important . Check.

He continues, “A professor could facilitate an educational experience as part of a course using the Blackboard discussion board that could be every bit as engaging and powerful as one crafted out of distributed and decentralized bits of personally managed ephemera.”  Centralization isn’t always bad. Check.

However….. (you knew it was coming 🙂

With the exception of intrinsically motivated learning for personal enrichment, learners want and often need some way to document and demonstrate the increase of knowledge and improvement of skills and abilities that has occurred because of the learning, whether that’s showing an HR director that you are qualified for the position they are interviewing for, or showing your neighbors your improved ukulele stylings. Without demonstration and/or documentation learning is the proverbial falling tree in the empty forest.

One of the key traditional roles of the university has been to vouch for, by means of degrees conferred, the learning of its students.  If D’Arcy is right that we don’t need universities, it’s easy to see what might replace them as facilitators of learning.  We already have Khan Academy, OpenStudy and a flourishing ecosystem of online learning resources.  Less clear is what might replace them as a means of documenting that learning.

One of the most frequent predictions is that learning would be evidenced via some sort of portfolio.  In a university-less learning future, responsibility for the creation, maintenance, and access control of that portfolio falls squarely on the learner.  Rather than being created at the behest of an institution, it is really and truly theirs.   In such an environment, creating your brand and managing a personal cyberinfrastructure (it’s a shame PCI is already taken on the geeky acronym list, isn’t it)  is a vital skill.  Only by claiming ownership of your digital identity and presence do you maximize your control over how you present yourself to potential employers, collaborators, etc.

This hearkens back to Gardner Campbell’s discussions of narration and sharing.  How do you tell your story and share it with the world? How do you communicate and collaborate?  Until you do those things , how does all the learning in the world help to solve a problem or otherwise make the world a better place?  The bag of gold, after all, is a means — not an end.

Jim told us to experiment with our cyberinfrastructure.  Since I’m still freeloading on (see my last post) I thought I might at least look at a new theme.  I figured the best place to start would be to look at my current theme.  When I did, I saw the attribution on the header image I’m using – flickr user botheredbybees, and said to myself, “That looks familiar. Where have I seen that username?”  So it was off to the DS106 user directory and , sure enough, Peter Shanks, whose close up of a circuit board has been my blog header image for several months, is participating in DS106.  Thanks for sharing, Peter.


When I first watched  Gardner Campbell‘s presentation,  I was inspired. I was ready to go forth and register a domain, and delve into Cpanel.  Then I read Brad Kozlek.

For me, it’s not about ease of use.  I’ve written a basic blogging app and some other PHP/MySQL from scratch. I also have options through my institution.  For example, I wanted to use a closed microblogging space with some of  my classes this semester, and was able to set up a locally hosted StatusNet instance in a couple of hours.

Rather than being about self expression, I think personal cyberinfrastructure is about control.  Noiseprofessor points out the value of paying for hosting, rather than being a data point.  While that’s a good thing, Amazon’s recent declaration of Wikileaks as persona non grata points up that paying for your own hosting gets you only so much.  If you really want freedom, do you in fact need your own plugin server (as Eben Moglen has suggested) and perhaps an alternative network not controlled by large corporations (Mark Pesce has written about the idea of distributed DNS over HTTP).  Short of that, what does paying for hosting from a large hosting corporation give you that you wouldn’t get from having a good backup?

There  is the issue of identity consistency.  Having your own domain strengthens your ability to “create a brand” (see Bon Stewart’s post).  Does that make setting up your own host worth it?  I haven’t decided yet.


Unfortunately, the interesting story of the moment doesn’t lend itself to nice visuals.  Sometime last night, my furnace decided it was getting dangerously hot and shut itself off. When it cools, a switch is supposed to close and turn the furnace back on, but said switch picked the wee hours of the morning to travel to the great parts bin in the sky.

So, I’m writing my introduction in my slowly cooling living room and wishing my computer power supply were less efficient and spitting out more heat.  I’ll spare everyone photos of my non-functional HVAC and give silent thanks that I don’t live in northern climes.

Here’s the first of what I imagine will be a series of posts about process.

1. Grab Tom Woodward’s remix, import into Audacity, and trim the three seconds from the end that I wanted.








2.  Slow down Gardner’s rapid fire delivery with the change tempo effect. Since I want it to be longer, the tempo change is -25%

3. I find autotune sounds better on higher frequencies.  Have you ever heard Barry White autotuned?  So, I used the Change pitch effect to raise the pitch by 4 semitones.

4. Finally I applied the GSnap plugin to do the autotuning. There is also autotalent, which is open source, and has a Windows version, but the controls are more detailed, it was already nearly midnight, and I was too tired to spend an hour or two experimenting.   I chose very extreme settings with lots of vibrato (72 cents and 7.2 Hz- that’s warbling more than a half step more than seven times a second) and lots of pitch bend.

Tom Woodward’s remix of Gardner Campbell was great and missed epicness by the slimmest of margins.   What was missing you ask?  Autotune.  Here’s how the chorus should have sounded.

Gardner Campbell Tag Line

Header image credit: Flickr user BotheredByBees CC-BY
January 2011
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