Etherpad

The Silent Writing Collective

TL;DR version: I want you to come and write for an hour with me every Sunday night. Go hereat 8pm UK time (currently 12pm PT / 3pm ET / 9pm CET) on Sunday:http://piratepad.net/silentwritingcollective


Introduction

Recently, I joined the Mentor Team at Mozilla. Each team has their own, slightly different way of working – even if we all tend to use the same tools. Something I really enjoyed during my inaugural Mentor Team call was the period of ‘silent etherpadding’ that it began with.

For the uninitiated:

Etherpad… is a web-based collaborative real-time editor, allowing authors to simultaneously edit a text document, and see all of the participants’ edits in real-time, with the ability to display each author’s text in their own color. There is also a chat box in the sidebar to allow meta communication. (Wikipedia)

At Mozilla we usually use an etherpad as an agenda for our calls. We use one for the Web Literacy Standard community calls, for example. I’ve found using etherpads usually makes for collaborative, democratic experiences.

The idea

I like writing. I like writing and commenting in real time even more. But I only ever do it for work-related things. So I had this idea last night:

How it works:

  • Every week there’s a new main etherpad where people sign in (being anonymous/pseudoanonymous is fine)
  • Each person creates a new etherpad and adds the link next to their name on the main weekly etherpad.
  • Everyone writes for an hour. Or more. Or less.
  • During that hour people can stop by other people’s pads and comment, chat, etc.(anonymously/pseudoanonymously if you want)
  • Only one rule: NO DELETING (of your own or other people’s stuff)

This is what it looks like:

While Stephen Lockyer kindly pointed me towards #SundayPost at attending.io (which looksamazing) it’s not quite what I had in mind for the Silent Writing Collective.

Conclusion

Perhaps you need to start blogging again. Maybe you want to be inspired by what other people are writing. It might be that you just need an excuse to write about something that’s on your mind.

Whatever it is, I hope you’ll join us this Sunday. If it works, then it’ll continue. If it doesn’t I’ll just have to go back to 750words!

Join us here: http://piratepad.net/silentwritingcollective at 8pm UK time on Sunday(currently 12pm PT / 3pm ET / 9pm CET)

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9 ideas in search of a blog post.

Lighthouse River

Last month Seth Godin posted 9 ideas in search of a blog post. Here’s my version:

  1. Formal education should probably be free up to whatever level you want (and perhaps only compulsory up to age 11).
  2. 99% Invisible is the podcast that most often makes me see the world in new ways.
  3. I still haven’t figured out how to balance my photophobia and SAD. Thank goodness for Spring (and f.lux)
  4. Tools are constraining. This is both good and bad.
  5. Learning to touch-type at a young age (I think I was about 12) is possibly one of the best things I’ve ever done.
  6. Things I Learned This Week is back, phoenix-like, as a free weekly newsletter.
  7. There are no absolutes, only contrasts.
  8. People tend to be skeptical about non-physically-obvious medical symptoms.
  9. E-Prime blows my mind (via Simon Bostock)

Feel free to hit me up in the comments if you’d like me to expand upon any of these.

Image CC BY smlp.co.uk

Things I’m Thinking About

In this month’s Wired magazine regular contributor and comic book writer Warren Ellis entitles his column ‘Five things I’m thinking about right now.’

Whilst I often share what I’ve been thinking about in my weeknotes, I thought I’d share what’s been on my mind more generally recently:

1. Standardisation

Innovation seems to be predicted upon standardisation. This can either be distributed (in the case of Open Source Software) or due to an individual or small group’s previous efforts that have led to a core of good practice.

2. The atomisation of society

Even when events are held and people are gathered together they are increasingly not interacting with others who are physically present. Whilst there is some mediated interaction via social networks most of the interactivity is, in fact, controlled by brands and organisers. These exert power and control even in seemingly-informal situations, such is the power of mediated communication.

That’s not to say that there is anything new to this, per se. It has ever been so through television, books and the power of institutions. People seem to like hierarchies.

3. The media

Whilst a lack of gatekeepers and the extremely low cost of entry allows blogs like this to reach a modest number of people it can, depending on the critical faculties and method of presentation, lead to a situation where all ‘news’ is seen as equal.

Perhaps the zenith of this is newsmap.jp, a service that constructs an uncritical visual representation of the top stories from Google News. Stories from the barrel-scraping TV show ‘X-Factor’ are juxtaposed and, depending on the time of day/week, sometimes overwhelm events of immense historical, political and economic importance.

Unfortunately, it would seem that the public broadly considered believe news to be apolitical and unbiased. One has only to witness the number of people in obviously well-paid jobs crucial to the country’s successful functioning who eschew quality news reporting for the fast-food ‘reporting’ of free newspapers.

4. Metaphors

There’s a paucity of historical metaphor, especially within the educational sphere. As I hope to point out in a forthcoming post, grasping for new metaphors and making seemingly-tenuous connections is vital for sustaining and enriching language.

I’m currently at the stage of laughing at authors whose imaginations (or perhaps basic knowledge) cannot stretch further than hunter-gatherer or industrial revolution metaphors. That laughter may well give way to frustration sooner rather than later.

Designing for Creative Ambiguity

Design (Wikipedia’s definition):

Design is the planning that lays the basis for the making of every object or system. It can be used both as a noun and as a verb and, in a broader way, it means applied arts and engineering.

Creative Ambiguity (my definition):

Creative Ambiguity is brought about when an intangible idea, process or way of thinking is defined in an imprecise way. It is a delicately-balanced conceptual space in which the very nature of the ambiguity leads to creative outputs.

So if Creative Ambiguity is a good thing, how do we go about planning and designing for it? I suggest 3 guidelines:

  1. Avoid using precise language if your understanding of a idea, process or way of thinking is imprecise.
  2. View other people’s opinions in an and/and/and way rather than either/or. Embrace the greyness!
  3. When coming across a new idea, process or way of thinking, find out if it has been previously defined. If not, come up with a new term and throw it out there for people to comment upon.

According to Pragmatism, things don’t have to ‘exist’ they just need to be ‘good in the way of belief’. Is Creative Ambiguity good in the way of belief for you?

The new blog order.

(image CC BY-NC Jeremy Brooks)

So here’s the plan. To make blogging every day sustainable, I need a system. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Monday Motivation – hints, ideas and tips about productivity, motivational quotes and the like.
  • Tuesday Tech. – an update on edtech stuff and related musings.
  • Wednesday Wisdom – a mashup of Creative Commons-licensed photos and quotations from Balthasar Gracián’s The Art of Worldly Wisdom.
  • Thursday Thesis – parts of, or ideas, related to my Ed.D. thesis.
  • Friday Fun – some end-of-the-working-week light heartedness, fun and random stuff.
  • Saturday Stats – an opportunity for me to post things related to visualization and infographics.
  • Sunday Scientia – the new name for Things I Learned This Week (‘Scientia’ is Latin for ‘knowledge’)

Thoughts? It may mean I need to change the categories around a bit… 🙂

Beyond Creative Commons: uncopyright.

CC badges

Background

Jonathan Lethem (via Harold Jarche):

Copyright is a “right” in no absolute sense; it is a government-granted monopoly on the use of creative results. So let’s try calling it that—not a right but a monopoly on use, a “usemonopoly”—and then consider how the rapacious expansion of monopoly rights has always been counter to the public interest…

Seth Godin:

So, how to protect your ideas in a world where ideas spread?

Don’t.

Instead, spread them. Build a reputation as someone who creates great ideas, sometimes on demand. Or as someone who can manipulate or build on your ideas better than a copycat can. Or use your ideas to earn a permission asset so you can build a relationship with people who are interested. Focus on being the best tailor with the sharpest scissors, not the litigant who sues any tailor who deigns to use a pair of scissors.

Leo Babauta:

This blog is Uncopyrighted. Its author, Leo Babauta, has released all claims on copyright and has put all the content of this blog into the public domain.

No permission is needed to copy, distribute, or modify the content of this site. Credit is appreciated but not required.

Terms and Conditions for Copying, Distribution and Modification

0. Do whatever you like.

Motivation

Be the change you want to see in the world (Gandhi)

Response

I’m here to change things. Do what you like with my stuff. It would be nice if you referenced where you get your ideas/resources from, but no longer necessary. From now on, my stuff is uncopyrighted.

CC BY laihiu