Jack Vinson on the “me collector”

Jack Vinson
Knowledge management guru Jack Vinson had a lot of advice for scattered content creators like me.

In response to my post yesterday, I want one place for all my content, knowledge management guru and very cool guy Jack Vinson (who I finally got to meet at BlogHer) posted an elaborate list of almost-options that address various aspects of this puzzle.

See: The elusive me collector. Excerpt:

“The basics of the problem are pretty familiar: content I generate is scattered across many websites of varying degrees of openness. Blogs, wikis, forums, social networks, paid publications, mailing lists, photos, videos, podcasts, … But there isn’t a place where all of that stuff comes together. At the high level the needs are: automatic; item-level controls; permanence; tags; re-mixability.

“I don’t think anything I’ve run across, beyond your standard feed aggregator, has the ability to do something with the resulting aggregated content. Amy suggested that she would like to be able to categorize / tag the content, selectively share it, re-mix it, analyze it, feed it out to something else…. Essentially, ‘it’s my stuff, let me play with it.'”

Yeah. What he said.

Oh, yes, of course I checked — and I now own the domain mecollector.net. I’ll give it away to anyone who can prove they can put together a tool that does what I asked for. Go for it, geeks!

Could blogs help boys catch up in school?

CleverClaire, via Flickr (CC license)
Could class blogs help motivate boys to catch up in school?

I just listened to the podcast of the July 27 edition of Colorado Matters, a show from Colorado Public Radio. The segment Some Districts Move Toward Gender Education. CPR’s Dan Meyers interviewed Kelley King, Director of Education at the Colorado Springs-based Gurian Institute, which offers gender education training to teachers.

The gist of their discussion was that boys tend to underperform in K-12 education, largely (according to King) because US K-12 teaching approaches have historically been more geared to the way girls tend to learn, get motivated and behave.

King said that one pervasive problem she saw as a teacher and principal in the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) was that “We were having problem getting boys to rewrite and revise something that they’d already written. Once they wrote something, they were pretty much done with it. We realized we had to have something more motivating — which would be bigger audiences, pleasing someone other than just the teacher. …We know that boys aren’t as inclined to just want to please the teacher.”

BVSD experimented with approaches such as having students prepare work that they would read at an assembly, or to older children, and found that this did improve boys’ motivation and performance. Apparently, girls’ performance did not suffer.

This got me wondering about blogs…

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Pithy video advice on citizen journalism

At BlogHer this past weekend, I stayed out way too late on Friday night with my friends and citizen journalism colleagues Lisa Williams, Tish Grier, and Beth Kanter.

Back in the hotel room after a fair amount of wine and Italian food, Beth shot this incriminating video and asked us for advice on citizen journalism. The result is simultaneously succinct and incoherent.

Modbook: Looks cool, but worth the price?

Other World Computing
The Axiotron Modbook Mac tablet: Coming 4Q 2007 (allegedly), with a hefty price tag.

One thing I love about blogging is that other people collectively know so much more than I do.

Yesterday I posted about how badly I want an Apple tablet PC. Promptly, Avram commented: “Have you heard of the Axiotron ModBook? It’s a MacBook hacked into a tablet Mac with a pressure-sensitive drawing surface. Not actually shipping yet (‘fourth quarter of 2007,’ supposedly).”

Well, no. I hadn’t head. I checked it out, and it looked quite cool — possibly offering most of what I want in a mobile content creation device.

Apparently this device caused quite a stir at Macworld this year, and it was supposed to be available by May 2007. That didn’t happen. On July 17, Ars Technica reported that the ship date has been pushed back to the end of this year due to parts shortages. I hope this doesn’t end up being vaporware.

But the price tag? OUCH!!!!Continue reading

I’m dreaming of an Apple tablet…

Apple, via USPTO
More than a year ago, Apple filed a patent application for something that looked like this.

(UPDATE July 31: Looks like one option, the Axiotron Modbook, is coming later this year, with a huge price tag…) 

Yeah, the iPhone is cool and all… I’ve seen a few friends playing with theirs, and I’ve even played with one a bit, but it’s not for me.

First of all, I’m not a phone person. Talking on the phone is not my favorite thing to do. I limit my phone use to catching up with family and friends, coordinating with people while traveling, and phone meetings with clients and colleagues.

Second of all, I really want a good mobile content creation and publishing system. I guess I never got over being inspired by Max Headroom. The iPhone just doesn’t do it for me in that regard — that tiny touchpad keyboard, too-small screen for easy web browsing, no inputs for video or audio devices, grrrrr.

What I need is a good tablet PC. Something small enough to carry easily, versatile enough to deal with many kinds of content and connections (wifi, cell, ethernet, USB, Bluetooth), and something I can type or sketch on easily.

Not just that, I want Apple to produce a great tablet PC…

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I want one place for all my content: Pipe dream?

I keep having this vision. I hope it will come about someday. There’s no way I’m the only person who’d want this. (UPDATE July 31: Nope, I’m not — Jack Vinson chimed in on this theme.)

The problem: Most of the content I’ve created does not live on my computer. It’s all over the web — my own blogs, comments to others’ blogs, my clients’ blogs, forums, e-mail lists, social media sites, media-sharing services, podcasts, wikis…. You get the picture. Consequently, I run the risk of “losing” much of the fruit of my hard work. In fact, that’s already happened. Sites or forums I contributed to years ago no longer exist. Blog comments don’t get indexed well by search engines and vanish into the ether.

Imagine this solution: A web-based service where I could archive all my content similar to Furl, only I could choose to make all or part of my archive public and shareable because it’s my content, not violating others’ copyright. Every piece of my content would get a unique, permanent URL, so I don’t have to worry if a site dies or changes. Any post I make to a forum or e-mail list would also get stored there (not the whole thread with others’ work, just my contribution).

And I could tag it all, share it selectively, generate feeds, and apply analysis tools to it. Plus incorporate whatever new cools tools come down the pike.

I want it. I want it bad. Do you, too? Does it already exist somewhere and I don’t know about it? Please comment below.

Coping with Blog Shame

Amy Gahran
The only available outlet I could find on B concourse of O’Hare airport, Chicago.

…OK, still on standby, waiting for the next plane to Denver . And it’s damn hard to find a power outlet in Chicago O’Hare airport! I’m squeezed in between a charging electric vehicle and the entrance to a busy Chili’s restaurant.


At today’s Blogher unconference, I suggested a table on the topic of neglected blogs. Yes, I haven’t posted to Contentious in a long time, and I’ve been feeling very ashamed about that. The nasty thing about shame, at least for me, is that it tends to put me right into avoidance mode.

So I’m trying to address that by just jumping back into it, getting moving again. For my longtime readers, I feed a need to explain what’s been going on, and to give you a heads-up about how this blog is going to be changing to accommodate changes in my career and life…

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BlogHer: I won a free registration to SXSW

Chris Carfi, via Flickr (CC license)
I was slightly excited when I won the SXSW pass.

So I’m here at O’Hare airport, trying to catch an earlier flight home to Denver on standby. I’m on my way home from BlogHer 2007, which was awesome, encouraging, and exhausting.

The cool stuff:

  • I won! At the luncheon yesterday I won a free registration to the South by Southwest (SXSW) interactive/music/film festival in Austin, TX next March. I’ve never been, and I’m excited about it. Yeah, I still have to get my own room and plane ticket, but this is a $650 event, so no small potatoes.
  • Rooming with Lisa Williams. Over the last couple of years I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the OPML goddess Lisa Williams, founder of Placeblogger and H2Otown
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