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Open Connected Social  Presentation

Just in case you missed the Small Pieces Loosely Joined 2.0 jam, D’Arcy Norman and Brian Lamb have combined to make it freely available here (as a m4v or mov file) or on Blip.tv here (as a flv or m4v file). Enjoy!

A Bliki -what’s a Bliki?

Well, here’s a test…

(MAC) Learning Environments Presentation


Genetically recombining a Blog and Wiki


Collaboratory Context

The University of Mary Washington has taken the small pieces loosely joined philosophy to heart. Over the last several years UMW has concentrated the lion’s share of its instructional technology praxis upon crafting learning environments through open source blogging and wiki applications. This philosophy of remaining limber and flexible has afforded our division the opportunity to experiment at length with tools that we have identified as the most malleable and extensible to reflect a dynamic learning community.

In short, our group spends very little, if any, time on infrastructural or network issues, and concentrate all our efforts solely upon developing, experimenting, and iterating through small pieces loosely joined. Exploring the possibilities of combining and re-combining these tools inside and outside of the classroom for both students and instructors.


The Objective


To integrate a blogging application with wiki software (for our purposes WordPress and MediWiki) in order to harness the simple publishing platform of the blog as a quick and easy personalized content management system with the ongoing, collaborative editing and easily extensible publishing logic of the wiki.

In other words, the blog provides the framework for publishing dynamic content, providing out-of-the-box feeds, and managing content. While the wiki enables one, or a number, of users to constantly edit, update, track revisions, and extend content spontaneously. The logic here is that a blog post or page is no longer necessarily static after its been published. Along the same lines, a wiki article has some more sophisticated and consistent ways of being organized, searched, and re-presented.


Initial Inspirations & Experiments


The Bliki -It’s Dead Simple


John Maxwell’s Thinkubator, which I saw at NV2007 got me excited about the ways in which a wiki could be skinned and framed to look and, to some degree, act like a blog. His vision and architecture framed out quite clearly the interrelatedness and the potential power of blurring of these two tools.

   This Thinkubator thing is my [John Maxwell's]
   project. It is (currently) a wiki pretending to be a blogging/webforum
   platform. More broadly, it is a working laboratory for publication
   architecture concepts.


Visual Integration


Andy Rush, from the University of Mary Washington’s Division of Teaching and Learning Labs, has recently made some progress in effecting the visual illusion of such a recombination. By modifying the front-end of a WordPress theme (MistyLook) for MediaWiki -the two have become basically indistinguishable. See the experiments here and here.


Further Experiments: Grab MediaWiki


The next logical step after the visual integration is a more seamless structural integration between the two applications. The DTLT labs (actually all the love goes to our code wizard Patrick Gosetti Murray-John) are currently working on a plugin for WordPress that will grab MediaWiki articles from a specified url and publish them (including images, videos, etc) within the specified WordPress post or page. The idea has already be successfully accomplished in the open source content management system Typo3 using PHP’s fcurl. DTLT is currently still tweaking the code for WordPress but a working example is up and running here.

To do:

  • Tweak database and search functionality for wiki through an integrated search field on the blog.
  • Fix all the bugs, details, breaks, and general screw-ups in my code.


Conclusion: Why go to the trouble?


Blogs and Wikis remain the most popular publishing platforms for distributed resources and online publishing. David Wiley’s development of the bookmarklet Send2wiki, exemplifies how easy it can be to put web content into a MediaWiki article with the click of a button. Riffing off this, Grab MediaWiki asks the question- “How can we get the content out of MediaWiki and into a blog or content management system quickly and easily?” The Bliki idea can be understood as using the functionality of the wiki for the backend editor and collaborative revision possibilities, while harnessing the blog as the user-controlled management system for creating posts and pages that will pull in the relevant wiki article. And, as a bonus, you can also post content the old-fashioned way!

Such a system may very well change the way in which we publish content to a university website quite dramatically -allowing for intense flexibility, numerous plugins, and a more malleable and easy-to-use content management system. A genetically recombined, open source Contribute. Now we have to fill it up with Open Content!!!

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The website (blog/wiki and resources) are available online at:


Pulling teeth
D’Arcy Norman has already announced the (Mac) Learning Environments presentation that will take place this Wednesday, April 25, 1:00pm EST (10:00am Pacific, 11:00am Mountain, etc…). D’Arcy, Brian Lamb, and Alan Levine will be re-visiting some of the generative ideas from their 2004 presentation “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” (you can see the archived wiki here) that was premised on framing a learning environment using decentralized, web-based tools -even before K2 was widetized for WordPress! If you want some additional information about the presentation, or are already sold and just want to sign up for this completely free and open presentation, go here.

Continue Reading »

Your assignment for this week is to find an article hysterically hyping Web 2.0 (these articles are not hard to find) and debunk any misinformation found in the article. Web 2.0 is cool and all, but hype is useless if the facts aren’t straight…

I’ll be looking for things in the Directory that are tagged with “debunkweb2.0″

A course about the evolving nature of small tools loosely joined.

Syllabus, course description, and assignments forthcoming…