Like many education folk I follow Doug Belshaw for lots of good reasons. This week I bumped into Doug at Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Forum and launch (a lot to digest from that). Doug reminded attendees about the Survey: 5 proposals for Web Literacy Map 2.0 he is organising. After a quick review of the Web Literacy Map and other resources Doug listed I filled in the survey. This leads, backsides forward, to looking at the Map again. It is a great resource1 well organised and deep. It seems to add content every time I look at it. A couple of the questions were around the organisation and complexity of the map. I had a few thoughts. Given the complexity and depth of the resource I wonder if it would be interesting exposing it in different formats for folk to remix. Initially I though of JSON as I’ve made a couple of experiments with this in webmaker. I am now wondering if OPML might be an interesting approach too? This would export to most mind-mapping softwares. I’ve been playing with fargo occasionally and it might allow manipulation of the OPML too.

A Job for RSS

The other thing that I was reminded of was the series of chats Doug has been recording with interesting and interested parties. For the most part I’d seen these stream by on Tumblr and only listened to fragments. Doug has put the audio on the internet archive with a nice CC0 license, so I’ve done a little remixing of my own. I’ve uploaded an RSS feed to my google drive: so that I can pull the audio onto my phone. I can then subscribe to this feed in the podcast app on my phone and listen on the go. (I use overcast as my usually podcast app but thought it might be nice to have this as a temporary separate thing). doug-chats-podcast-app I’ve listened to the Stephen Downes episode on my commute this morning and if the rest are as interesting it will be a delight getting through them. Feel free to subscribe to the feed if you want to do the same thing, be aware I’ve made little effort to make the feed validate, the enclosures don’t have a length etc.


1. Caveat, I am not working with learners and have never taught Web literacy in any depth. I did teach some of ‘this stuff’ as part of teaching ict, blogging, podcasting and the like.

I woke up the other morning morning to a bit of serendipity in my RSS reader that cheered me up.
First I read Alan’s great post Don’t Be a Platform Pawn. Next up was Marco Arment Linking and quoting Waffle on Social Media which quoted in turn Community Services which pointed to What’s a Twitter Timeline?. On the back of these posts and more Doug Belshaw posted Twitter, algorithms, and digital dystopias (I got the last link via twitter, but it arrived in my rss reader too).

At the heart of all this the current worries about what you see and who curates your reading. It is also linked in my mind at least, to worries about who owns the space you publish in and the idea around being the product if you are not the customer. It cheers me to see so much pushback against the commercial monoliths.

I’ve read and even posted about this before, as have many others, but it bears rethink or more mulling, it is pertinent again with the redefinition of the twitter timeline and various facebook problems that are popping up.

Doug points out:

they need to provide shareholder value which, given the web’s current dominant revenue model, is predicated on raising advertising dollars. Raising the kind of money they need depends upon user growth, not necessarily upon serving existing users. After all, if they’ve provided the space where all your friends and contacts hang out, you’re kind of locked in.

And we are ‘kind of’, we can also use a mix of tools and spaces and give them up when the discomfort is to great or the utility is poor. Doug has given up RSS in favour of twitter, G+ and facebook. I’ve stuck with it along with scanning twitter (and harvesting links to my RSS reader) and a smidgen of G+. I lack Doug’s guilt at a pile of unread links in my feedreader and I am more than happy to mark all as read now and then.

I think both Alan and Doug would agree that it is ok to use and be used by the silos as long as you are aware and the positives outweigh the negatives?

What is great about Alan’s post is he gives you recipes for how he gains the benefit of flickr, twitter and the like by having control over them, there are a lot of different recipes and links to follow. This presumes that you will use the tools with care, though and a willingness to learn. I’d argue that it is also good fun. here are a few tips of my own.

Know RSS from your elbow

RSS is still useful, an old trailing edge technology I still find my RSS reader better that twitter for finding interesting things to read. Perhaps because things pile up rather than steam by, perhaps because I follow around 2000 folk but have only a couple of hundred feeds or so in my reader.

One of the things I look forward to each week is Doug’s newsletter, Things I We Learned This Week. It is an email list, but I subscribe in my RSS reader, I’ll leave any readers to work out how this is done:-) I’ve also got siftlinks hooked up to my twitter account, this give me a feed of tweets with links from my timeline, it also gives me a feed for my favourites with links. This is great, I use the favourite button in twitter to give feedback to folk (I liked this) and to ‘save’ interesting things. IFTT has several recipies that will convert stuff to RSS so you may find something useful there.

The nice thing about RSS is you can move from laptop to desktop to mobile and keep reading the content. The other major factor for me is how inoreader (web) and FeeddlerPro (iOS) allow me to post links to twitter, tumblr and more importantly to pinboard.

Email is still interesting

I go out of my way to get Doug’s mail in my feed reader because it is content I want to hold onto for a while, but there are an increasing number of email services that provide reading, link or a mix, katexic clippings being a favourite example at the moment. Email lists are also a great way to get information pushed to you from a group.

Play with new things

Along with the old trailing edge technology.

As twitter and facebook and flickr evolve watch out for the new things that are popping up all over the place, I am currently kicking the tyres of Fargo, known and keeping half a eye on Little Facebook Editor. Both known and Little Facebook Editor can post to silos and other spaces, WordPress for LFE and known published to itself and optionally twitter, flickr and Facebook. I am pretty sure that I’ll not adopt these tools for major stuff anytime soon, but it is good to keep up with some different ways of doing thing.

Update, I didn’t post this yesterday because I got distracted by MDwiki, and ended up building a quick test wiki in my dropbox.

I’ve been using Fargo for a bit of blogging recently. This is a test of using markdown to format posts.

Fargo is a simple idea outliner, notepad, todo list, project organizer.
It’s an HTML 5 application, written in JavaScript, runs in any compatible browser, including Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Microsoft IE 10.

A h3 Markdown header

I am hoping that using Fargo to write blogs posts might improve my blog posts by helping me to think about the structure a bit more. I am impressed with how easy it is to move blocks of content around in Fargo.

A html tag H3

I am not sure about Fargo’s business plan, here is what they say (html blockquote)

There is no charge to use Fargo.
We don’t want any limits on the growth because we think outlining is vitally important to the growth of the net as a thinking person’s platform.
We will eventually offer for-pay services to Fargo users.

I’ve put a screenshot of the editor in my dropbox to show what this looks like in Fargo.

I’ve been messing around and tinkering with a wee bit more today.

Fargo started as an outliner, I found it because I read Scripting News after messing with the OPML application on my mac.

Fargo is still an outliner but it has developed quite a few interesting features in a very short time. Early on one could post to a blog that supported the metaweblog api and I made a couple of posts to my blog.

This does not work perfectly with my blog as it is not WordPress and does not seem to return the correct id to Fargo, this means I cannot update the post from Fargo.

Now Fargo is developing into a publishing engine. For example this ‘post’ is published and is part of a blog. I’ve not really got my head around how the blog is setup I’ve just copied settings from some other users and messed about a wee bit.

The main aim of fargo at the moment seems to be:

  • But we want to emphasize that if you’re a writer and non-technical, you don’t need to understand what’s in the engine. It’s our job to make this simple for you, a job that we take very seriously! ;-)

So I am going to hit the wordpress icon on the left and see if this ends up on my blog.

Update: Well that worked fine, updating from Fargo didn’t, so this is copied and pasted from the Fargo Post:

The post got published on my blog, but the wrong id was returned. Even changing the id in the outlines attributes did not fix this. I can’t update the post.

The other thing I noticed is the type is changed to metaWeblogPost so that seem to change the formatting on the published post, losing the styles and menus. I got this back by adding another type attribute, this replace the original. I guess, if it worked with my blog, updating would not work? When I click the wordpress icon i get Save “ is getting interesting” as a blog post? So I guess if I clicked OK I’d get a new post on my blog ant the type would be set to metaWeblogPost.

In fact the type attribute seems to be changed even if I cancelled. I changed it back manually.

Update 2 22-06-2013 I’ve managed to get a slightly better blog with a sort of purpose going with fargo: Walk Notes. Mostly by copying stuff from kyle<.a> one of the fargo devs outline.

I’ve just joined in the Mozilla Teach the Web MOOC.

This post is just to make sure that the feed I’ve submitted works.

Just for fun I am posting this through a new webservice Fargo. Fargo is an online outliner that can post to blogs, and do more interesting things. It might be of interest to other folk doing Teach the Web (I will have to go to the blog and set the category, to make this post show up on the Teach the Web blog hub.

I am testing Fargo, an online outliner that can post to wordpress blogs. Although my blog is not a wordpress one, it still has MetaWebBlog support.

I have never really used an outliner much although I’ve use the OPML application to read RSS from time to time. Fargo may just change that. Fargo runs in a browser, stores in dropbox, supports markdown and gets new features very regularly.

I am wondering if Fargo supports images in blog posts so here is one from flickr.

Color Classic

Update: it looks like updating posts on this pivotx blog, does not work. The blog seems to return the wrong post id to fargo, I have the same problem posting from TextMate.

Fargo is well worth checking out.