Tag: Open Access

#Domains 19 Day 2 Breakout Session 2: Weaponizing Your Website

Speakers: Jennifer Hill

Abstract: There is a war a raging in our cyberworld and it is time for you to join the resistance. Cambridge Analytica stealing Facebook user’s data, white supremacists getting verified on Twitter, and child pornography on Instagram. The list of atrocities continues. We as technologists know the inner workings of social media platforms more than anybody. We see the hypocrisy and the evil of social media platforms in a way that most people do not. It is time for us to awaken from our passivity and take a stance against our corporate social media overlords. Weaponizing Your Website will give you ideas, or ammunition, to fight against our broken social media world. This bootcamp will include learning how to utilize the strongest weapons in your stockpile; your voice and your website. With me, Jenn Hill, a University of Mary Washington student, at the helm I will prepare you for taking up arms and battling the corporate social media tyrants.

My Notes

tl;dr: Social media is killing the personal website.

Hill argues that we need to become less reliant on social media by using our own websites to host our voice. This ties into the POSE (publish once, syndicate everywhere) idea that Jim and the Domains community has been pushing.

Avowedly ironic twitter embed:

In Q&A: what kind of reception do you get for this message? Hill said that freshman in digital identity workshops take FaceBook and other social media at face value. It takes work to help students see the ways in which their data is being sucked up.

I didn’t get a chance to ask, but I’d like to hear more about the differential impact of having a student like Jennifer advocate for students to make their own web spaces as opposed to having staff or faculty make the same types of arguments. I really like the model UMW is using with their students, and I would love to see some discussion / analysis of their peer-to-peer work.

#Domains 19 Day 2 Breakout Session 1: HAX Chaotic Good

Speakers: Bryan Ollendyke

(Not really an) Abstract:


Unbalance, unrest, and chaos can be brought with one simple act: Giving away everything. It’s a notion I explored in my MS thesis via open source; because, edtech systems are build on power. Power and control technology is largely codified through institutional history. Collapsing control, we can restore a greater order. I want to take you into the philosophy and madness that drives me and inspires the team behind HAXTheWeb.

#HAXTheWeb at its core is a new way of creating and remixing content. Think of it as a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) built for the future. When I say WYSIWYG, you probably think text. But when I search YouTube, responsively embed it and save in ~10 seconds, all without leaving HAX or seeing HTML; it becomes clear this is not normal. This is just one massive time saver among many and why people in IndieWeb and OER communities are getting excited. Because HAX doesn’t live in just one platform. HAX is a platform that is portable and embeddable in many platforms, with all materials produced able to work in any other platform on the web.

Technology needs to focus more on why and less on how, especially now that Web components is THE way to build the web going forward! That focus on the why positions my team as villains in the edTech / LMS world. Like complex villains though, we have a competing vision of the world which is largely seen as chaos. Through this talk I’ll force you to challenge one critical idea: Why do you need platforms to publish?


“You said you were a man of your word”

“I’m only burning my half. All you care about is money.. This town deserves a better class of criminal, and I’m going to give it to them..”

The establishment understands money. They won’t pursue what is best for education unless it prints green. There’s a lot of great things that have come out of this pure capitalist approach to edtech but rampant complacency via oligopolies has ensued. We must shake up the industry by pulling ourselves up through decentralization; otherwise, we’ll never see the change needed. HAX is distributed, decentralizes power, is flexible, portable, slick, fast, the best of HTML without knowing it, future proof, and.. free. “I’m only burning my half” in order to establish a new market place that serves us, not the other way around.

I once had strings, but now I’m free

HAX can be used in HAXcms, Drupal (6, 7, 8), BackdropCMS, GravCMS, and WordPress; today. All capabilities in all places. Content produced in HAX, no longer requires HAX to render afterwards.

What happens to our towers when their functionality provides equal Authoring Experiences (AX)?

What happens to Gutenberg (a WordPress only editor that is terrible for OER / open web) when we improve the AX of ALL solutions?

We will set you free.

My Notes

Bryan launched with a ferocious attack on LMS & CMS’s editor UX, noting amongst other things the lack of accessibility or even care about accessibility in Gutenberg (see the Gutenberg accessibility audit from WPCampus).

Bryan’s (not really tongue-in-cheek) goals is to collapse the publishing industry and the broken parts of education. I tend to get confused looks when I say that the publishing industry is evil, so Bryan’s comfort with, and the audience’s lack of pushback against, these goals was great to see.

Bryan’s argument against the current web, is that we need to simplify back to standards and use js Web Components <script type=”module”>.

BYU is already using this to unify branding. They no longer need to rely on a particular CMS, but can just use the components on any site. Check out their sites.

These web components can work across projects – a micro-service architecture.

This presentation was really exciting. I still don’t know how much of that excitement was Bryan yelling at us, and how much of it cashes out, but this might be the first thing I work on when I get back to campus. I want to build some stuff using web components and see what happens. I also want to stand up HAXeditor (now available in a one-click install on Reclaim) and see how it uses the Web Components.

Sometimes I Do History

Last week, my second article was published. Like the first, it is in an open access journal, this time Circumscribere: International Journal for the History of Science. While I now spend most of my time writing code or thinking about pedagogy, I still occasionally crack open a book and think about eighteenth-century history.

Lately, I’ve been reading and writing about how the basic stuff of nature, dirt, water, and air became tradable commodities. How did we go from understanding earth, water, fire, and air as the four basic elements to commodities that could be classified, measured, and traded in markets around the world.

The eighteenth-century is an interesting time period in this story, because of the simultaneous and mutually supportive advances in science and economics. Chemists like Joseph Black were working through new theories about the importance of different kinds of soil for agriculture and how the various solutes in water affected their taste, industrial uses, and medical efficacy. At the same time, his good friend, Adam Smith, was working through the foundations of modern economics.

In a digression away from chemistry and commodification, my article focused on the philosophical and religious beliefs of the economist Thomas Malthus and his famous Essay on the Principle of Population. This is the text that said that humans develop resources at a geometric rate while they, like most animals, reproduce at an exponential rate. Malthus thought it was inevitable that population would increase faster than food, and thus people would always want for food and other resources.

A diagram of the Malthusian Curve depicting the inevitable of want

Malthus’s theory has been used since the publication of his theory in 1798 to not only explain deprivation but also to justify it. Charles Darwin used the theory in the formulation of his theory of evolution by the survival of the fittest. Herbert Spencer extended the point to say that because deprivation is inevitable, it is the duty of the strongest people and strongest societies to lead.

In the 20th century, the memory of Malthus became intertwined with this Spencerian concept of might makes right. Imperialists used these theories to justify colonialism in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Eugenicists pointed to Malthus and Spencer to justify their theories of racial and class supremacy in the 1930s. From Ayn Rand to Rand Paul, this concept of social evolution has continued into the modern day with the bootstrapping, individualist economic theory that casts poverty as inevitable and the poor as undeserving.

In my paper, I returned to Thomas Malthus’s personal religious and philosophical beliefs to see whether he shared this belief that the inevitability of need is justification for social inequality. I found a Malthus that did not match the common memory. I’ll close this rambling bit of self promotion with the abstract for the paper and a link to the article.

The first edition of Thomas Robert Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population is best understood as an exploration of human nature and the role of necessity in shaping the individual and society.  The author’s liberal education, both from his father and his tutors at Warrington and Cambridge, is evident in his heterodox views on hell, his Lockean conceptualization of the mind, and his Foxite Whig politics.  Malthus’ unpublished essay, “Crises,” his sermons, and the the last two chapters of the Essay (which were excised from subsequent editions) reveal a pragmatic, compassionate side of the young author that was under appreciated by both his contemporary critics and modern historians.  The Essay has been mischaracterized by David McNally (2000) as a “Whig response to Radicalism” and by Patricia James (1979) as a reaction by Malthus against his father’s liberalism.  This article argues that when he wrote the first edition of the Essay on the Principle of Population, Malthus was himself a liberal dissenter and Foxite Whig rather than an orthodox Anglican or a Burkean defender of traditional class relations.

John Stewart, “Reform and religious heterodoxy in Thomas Robert Malthus’s first edition of An Essay on the Principle of Population,” Circumscribere: International Journal for the History of Science 19 (2017), pp. 1-17.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén