My special concern, all too tightly framed here, is the use of computers to help people write, think and show.

-Ted Nelson

To this point, you’ve met Vannevar Bush, J.C. Licklider, and Doug Engelbart. Now, you get an introduction to Ted Nelson. Oh, Ted Nelson… He’s our first living legend. In fact, Dr. Gardner Campbell got to spend 90 minutes video chatting with Ted Nelson last year. This video is worth 90 minutes of your time.

Tuesday, September 29 and Wednesday, September 30

Read Ted Nelson, Computer Lib / Dream Machines  and pick a nugget to work with. (Warning: this text is a little different, much like Nelson himself. It might take you a couple of readings to really “get it.” And yes, he’s, umm… direct.)

Write a blog post making a nugget from CL/DM  as meaningful as possible. After all, “Any nitwit can understand computers…” (TAG: nugget4)

Tuesday, September 29 through Friday, October 2

There are many computer-based tools now to help us write, think, share, and show. This week, we’re going to add to our digital toolbelts and/or sharpen our digital tools. We’ll do that in two parts, first by adding Diigo to our toolbelts and secondly by thinking about our blogs as learning spaces (or, more importantly, as Nelson wants us to think about, as part of a continuum of FANTICS).

1. Diigo

Diigo is one of my favorite tools, and I think you’ll enjoy the power of Diigo research. Many of you associated Vannevar Bush’s idea of the Memex with Google. But, what Bush imagined in the Memex has actually developed into a distributed set of tools/apps/services for storing and sharing information.

As the first part of your concept experience this week, that is to begin to see how computers can help us write, think, share, and show, you are to get started with Diigo. To me, Diigo is an indispensable tool for both storing and sharing information.

We will use Diigo to collectively store and share information. That is, we won’t just bookmark websites and web pages, we’ll share those bookmakrs with each other through a Diigo group. To get started, please create a Diigo account and request to join the class group by CLICKING HERE (NOTE: I will have to approve your membership in the group and will do so as soon as I can after your request).

Over the rest of the semester, the goal is for you to share relevant resources that come across your radar screen. In the course of your day, you might come across an article that’s relevant to our course. I want you to develop a habit of bookmarking those articles and sharing them with other classmates.

[TIP: Using Diigo is easiest when you add an extension to your browser and tag things as you explore each day.  I use Google Chrome as my browser (and HIGHLY recommend you do as well), and the Diigo extension for Chrome makes bookmarking super easy.]

By the end of the day on Friday, October 2, you should have completed the following:

  1. Established a Diigo account and joined the class Diigo group.
  2. Added 5 resources/articles that you think would be interesting to your classmates. They might be related to your proposed inquiry project topic or they could just be things you think are related to the course readings so far. Don’t worry *so* much about what kinds of resources they are just yet.

2. Blogs


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This concept experience asks you to make the look-and-feel of your blog site more interesting, more beautiful, and more expressive. The idea here is to do something creative with your site, not just with your posts (though that’s important too).

The experience is inspired by Dr. Ted Nelson’s idea of fantics. He begins writing about fantics on page 317 of the excerpt from Computer Lib / Dream Machines.

By “fantics” I mean the art and science of getting ideas across, both emotionally and cognitively…. Explicit declarative structures nevertheless have connotative fields: people receive not only cognitive structures, but impressions, feelings and senses of things… [F]antic design that builds from a well-organized internal dynamic should confer on a fantic system the same momentum and clarity that carefully-organized writing has… Fantic design is basically the planning and selection of effects [emphasis Nelson] … But this means you, dear reader, must develop the fantic imagination. You must learn to visualize possible uses of computer screens, so you can get on down to the deeper level of how we are going to tie these things together…. Our goal should be nothing less than REPRESENTING THE TRUE CONTENT AND STRUCTURE OF HUMAN THOUGHT.

What can you do to make your blog site more interesting, beautiful, and expressive?

[NOTE: if you are using RamPages, ANYTHING you want to learn how to do can be learned via a video tutorial. There are gobs of video tutorials available to you right in your WordPress dashboard. From the Dashboard, go to Dashboard>Video Tutorials and the world is your oyster!]


Some ideas for folks using WordPress (similar things can be done with Blogger and Tumblr):

1. Come up with a clever blog name and tagline (Dashboard>Settings>General). “Just another site” is not how you want your blog to be remembered.

2. Experiment with different themes (Dashboard>Appearance>Themes).

3. Use an interesting header image, and choose a background if the theme permits it.

4. Play with different layouts for your blog.

5. Experiment with widgets.

6. Experiment with plug-ins.

7. Create an “about” page, or any static page you like.

8. Experiment with menus.

I realize that the above suggestions may seem “technical” at first. They do require experimentation, it’s true. My advice is to a) enjoy tinkering, and b) look at a classmate’s blog you enjoy visiting, and contact them to ask how they’ve done it. Some of you have already begun experimenting–always a good thing, in this learning experience. And of course I’m also available to help.

When you’ve got your blog to a state where you want to show it off a bit, tell us about it! Your final blog post for the week, due Thursday by 11:59 p.m. EDT, will be an account of what you changed and why, with a reflection on the process and the product. Ideally, the entire concept experience will be valuable to you as you think more deeply about how to present your inquiry project on the web.