worst. website. evar.

I spent the last 2 months trying to get my password retrieved from rccl.com so I can pay for the remainder owing on our family vacation. They kept saying they couldn’t do it, because I was telling them a different email address than what they had on file. On my last email, I suggested that they might actually want me to log in, as I still need to pay a sizable chunk of cash in the near future. My password and username arrived via email within an hour of that. Interesting, how when you find the proper motivation, even the crappiest website on the planet suddenly starts working…

my social network pause button

Merlin Mann wrote a great post called “Social Networks: The Case for a Social Network Pause Button“, where he suggests we need a few more states of engagement with social network applications as a way to manage the deluge of data.

I’ve got a better solution. Walk away. Do something else. Here’s my social network pause button, and it’s extremely effective:

motion

It pauses everything. No inbox. No RSS. No IM. No friend requests. No followers. No super-pokes. No zombie bites. No updates. No is… Nothing but me, my bike, and the wind.

Jen has her own system.

Don’t we all have Pause Buttons already? We just need to use them. We’re all in control of our engagement with these tools, we just need to realize that, and exercise our own control to our own levels of comfort.

motion

my very own Social Network Pause Button. No inbox. No RSS. No IM. Nothing but me, my bike, and the wind.

Idea taken from Jen’s photo which was in turn a response to Merlin’s post.

At first I didn’t like the overly blurred photo, but this works for me on so many levels. The motion blur, and slight blur of the bike itself. That’s what it feels like when I’m riding. Reality blurs. It’s just me, in focus, and everything else just blurs by as I pass through. The only other way I could describe it would be like The Ring Effect, when Frodo slips that sucker on…

Syndicating and republishing decentralized content with WordPress

I was going to write up a post describing how to use the cool FeedWordPress plugin for WordPress to syndicate external content into a blog, and republish it in the context of a class or group. But, of course, Jim Groom has beaten me to the punch, and done a much more thorough job of documenting the process than I would/could have done. So, yet again, I’ll just refer to Jim’s work. What I can do is provide a demonstrating workflow to show how FeedWordPress could be used to pull content from one blog into others in the context of a group, project, or class.

Take, for instance, this post I wrote back in July about the Learning Community for Blogging and Student Publishing. It’s published to my blog, and stored in my own outboard brain. But it’s not presented in the context of the University of Calgary.

What about my campus blog at dlnorman.ucalgaryblogs.ca? Should I copy and paste the post there, because it relates to UCalgary? Nope. I’ve just enabled FeedWordPress on that blog, and anything I publish to my “main” blog using the tag “ucalgary” will automatically get republished on my campus blog.

What about the Learning Communities blog? That post would also be useful to the participants in the project, and I’m not about to expect or compel them all to subscribe to my blog. So I just configured FeedWordPress to pull the “learning communities” feed from my “main” blog and republish posts to the Learning Communities blog.

FeedWordPress in action

FeedWordPress in action

This gives some pretty easy flexibility – I don’t have to manually republish things into various community resources, and I don’t have to make anyone subscribe to anything they don’t want to. If a one-stop-shopping type of resource is useful for a community (class, group, department, etc…) then why break that? Just use syndication and republishing to get the best of both worlds – decentralized publishing and centralized contextualization.

This process also gets around the hassle and confusion of republishing content. I’ve never wanted to publish to any place other than my own blog. I’ve never accepted invitations to write for other blogs. If I want to write something, I’ll publish to my blog. But, with automated syndication and republishing via tag-based feeds, it becomes trivial to allow content to flow into various other blogs and websites where it might be beneficial.

There is one wrinkle in the love fest that is FeedWordPress. Although it can suck categories and tags from items in an RSS feed and put them into categories in the receiving WordPress blog – it doesn’t currently create tags. It just adds category after category after category. Which works, but is messy. Hopefully a future revision of the plugin properly groks the category/tags distinction…

Finally, this post is tagged with “ucalgary” but not “learning communities” so I know it will automagically appear on my campus blog, but not the Learning Communities project blog. And I won’t have to do anything else to make that happen. Very cool stuff.

the postman delivers

My copy of Postman and Weingartner’s Teaching as a Subversive Activity was delivered in the mail today, thanks to the speedy Amazon.com shipping system. It’s got a fresh, blank Page 61 and I’m looking forward to having it filled up. I also picked up a copy of Technopoly. I decided to not go ahead and buy the other dozen books in my shopping cart in an effort to avoid credit-card-related domestic difficulties…