Poor neglected blog

Nearly coming up on an anniversary of my last post to this blog has made me reflect on why I seem to have drifted away from the process of getting ideas out through my own blog. Certainly part of it is sheer lack of time (and possibly ideas!) but it also reflects the choice of channel these days. For me the diversions include:

Of these it is cloudworks that has perhaps been the site that has captured most of what would otherwise have ended up in the blog. Cloudworks owes its existence mainly to Grainne Conole at the OU and is a site where you can create various notes (clouds) and link them together. Then others can comment on them. Flexibility to link to twitter and embed other bits of online stuff meant that for me it was a better place when blogging alongside others – especially conferences. And as that was when I posted quite a few of my posts it meant that my own blog has become very neglected.

On the whole I am happier with my notes being alongside those of others but also I feel a bit sad about losing the personal angle and collection. So what I need is a place that brings my contributions back together again! Not sure at the moment what will best provide this – options include adding links into a space I own (e.g. this blog), setting up a personal cloud, tools like netvibes (seems less fasionable than it was), or ??? Any ideas?

Conference blogging

I have spent a couple of days in the OU internal conference Making Connections blogging the sessions that I am in over on my OCHRE blog. My colleague Doug Clow also blogged the same conference and there were several of us also twittering away during the conference. Liam Green-Hughes created an OU aggregator twitter to see what we were all doing, This was all quite good fun and I felt that I got more out of the conference by making the notes, though I did feel a bit like one of the rebels sitting at the back seat – even though I didn’t get told off like Doug.

There are various advice sites about what makes a good conference blog, and I have been a fan since the OpenLearn2007 conference – but I am unsure what the reader gets out of it, and whether the best route it the raw, quick as possible set of notes. Or a shorter summary which has gaps in it. My own posts are probably somewhere imbetween. Tony Hirst (read through Liam’s PlanetOU blog aggreator) has also just pointed out the advantage of using consistent tags to help aggregate the articles – so I had better go off to fix that!

The CETIS conference

Asus eee on trainOriginally uploaded by openpadJust a brief note about going to the JISC CETIS conference. I decided to carry on the live blogging that I started at the OpenLearn2007 conference by blogging during the CETIS conference. I did that using my other account across at http://ochre.wordpress.com, but thought I would note here that the little Asus proved a great tool for the job. While other people balanced their Macs and laptops on their knees the Asus eee was a much neater solution and I also felt it helped my typing even though the keyboard is a bit small and with a slightly strange layout. A better battery life would be great but I managed to grab just enough access to a power socket. The picture shows the Asus eee sitting on the silly little pull down shelf on the Virgin train. If fits! The PC is a great design and I am getting more and more enthusiastic about them.

Study Leave – time for thought

I am on “study leave” for 4 weeks. This is what in the Open University we use as a replacement for the concept of a sabbatical but generally taken in smaller chunks. So maybe more like Google’s 20% time for us to bring out the ideas we really want to work on. Last time I took advantage of this for real by spending 4 months going round the world and being a visiting researcher at University of Sydney. This time I am staying put but trying to rebalance all the things I am doing to complete some of the research elements and play down the admin. Not sure that I have got it right yet as I spent all afternoon at work yesterday, but I might be helped today as external email access is down.
Anyway one resolution is more blogging – it has taken me a week to do this one though :-). Hmm – need to get in the right frame of mind, next thing is to put some shelves up!

End of email?

I am not a great blogger – and so one of the things I do is write posts (in a file called psuedoblog) and then I don’t post them! Well under my resolution to post more often I thought I should have a clearout of my psuedoblogs. So this is actually an entry that I wrote some time ago – if you care to work out when there are clues in what follows :-).

I was talking to John Naughton, Tony Hirst and Martin Weller just after they had given a talk about academic blogging. They are much better at it than I am so if they have reflections then read those – just looked and Martin has put his slides on Slideshare and blogged about the session. Anyway what I want to talk about is not their talk (which I missed!) but how we got onto talking about the complete dysfunctionality of email. I had been thinking about this beforehand with my own collection of unread messages, intended responses, copied in messages to me, copied in messages from me (sorry if yours is in that mix by the way!) and feeling that there has to be a better way. Two particular things are getting to me – not knowing who to send replies to and ending the day with messages that I have written and not sent (the peril of having two computers, three screens and far too many windows open at once).

Not sure what the solution is but a hybrid of blogs, email and wiki might be a candidate. My first idea was “publicreplies.com” where instead of replying to individuals I would reply publicly to any questions that might warrant it. I then looked and somebody has beaten me to it and registered publicreplies.com – and their concept and implementation probably overlaps with my idea. It is a wordpress.com blog with lots and lots of categories. My next idea was the wiki link – I had just pasted an email trail (about how we need to encourage experimentation in the OpenLearn project BTW) into a private wiki area and thought that in my old Unix days I would have been able to automate all that. Set up a pseudo-email, pipe the message through a couple of filters and automatically add to the wiki. Looking around it was not obvious that such a tool exists but that there are some others looking into it.

Mentored by an expert

Martin Weller has become a great blogger who I admire (and not just for the Edtechie blog). Anyway Martin has offered to Mentor me in becoming a proper blogger. First instruction is to blog that is now happening. in the meantime I had also decided to resurrect my personal blog here and so I have combined the two ideas to kick things off. Now to find out what Martin thinks…