Sunday, June 25, 2006

Free ranging and bill postering


A week or so ago I was having a late night txt chat Alex Hayes about online free ranging - the idea of not paying for server space or software, basically building an online presence only through the free and maybe even temporary publishing services like this here blog. In the end we found that to be truly free you have to let go of the importance of your work, let go of the need for it to persist.

Quite some time ago I took down the leighblackall.com and turned away from the idea of having my own wordpress and moodle install, instead settling for a leighblackall.wikispaces.com, OurMedia account, this blog, etc...

Of course most would ask, but how can you be sure of those services? What is their quality of service like? how long will they be around for? what might they do with your content?

At first I thought these to be legitimate concerns, and potentially a real problem. But now I see it differently. Now I'm not at all precious about the persistency of the URLs for my various online markings. And just like the feeling I had when I at last decided to stop maintaining my own .com I feel free and unfazed.

Posting this thought to this blog, loading that picture to flickr, spreading that movie across all the current video servers available at the moment is just like bill postering slogans and images at 2am down the main street of your local town. I make an image and now I go about sticking it up around town for it to get noticed. I paste a few copies down Flickr St, as well as a few on BubbleShare while I'm at it. I tag my posters so they appear in other streets around the block, I scribble a few words in chalk on the pavement knowing that they'll wash off in the next rain. I cut and spray stencils to provoke thoughts in an otherwise sterile urban landscape, and accept that tomorrow the council or local do-gooder will have painted over these marks and others like it.

So you see, I think it quite a different and liberating thing to think about in terms of web publishing - comparing web publishing to graffiti and pavement chalk poetics. Once we're prepared to accept that time will wash even things digital, then we'll realise that for our presence to persist, for our markings to remain, we must remain active in remixing, reformatting, recreating, and republishing our works so that they reappear and reappear again - copied and redistributed by others across the Net.

I think its quite liberating to let go of the obvious - that digital means recorded, and think of it as a more fluid and transitory medium. The fact that a record or archive can be dug up if you really tried is just an added benefit, but its the here and now and what we say about before that catches me.

Pass the glue, this one's going here.


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7 comments:

Graham Wegner said...

Free ranging is a concept that really appeals to me and is really the only way that teachers (in general terms, a conservative group careful with their money!) will really get on board with the idea of having an online presence. That is the crux of my research grant thinking - spend as little money as possible but the important point you make is that we need to be constantly on the move never just posting something up on the web to stand for all time, and always ready to transfer stuff to a new service that can do more flexible things with our content. Here's the ironic rub, edublogs has been down all weekend and I badly wanted to blog some ideas but I can't. So even when choosing free range services, it does pay not to put too many eggs in one basket. Aggregation is really important to track the "small pieces" and to "loosely join" - cliches do work because generally, there's a fair bit of constant truth in them.

Leigh Blackall said...

nice one G, and you add some important points. Especially the one about edublogs I think. I went for Blogger because I imagined it had a team of people paid up by Google to keep the service running. With Edublogs I imagine a fella down in Melbourne who tweaks the server after work over a glass of red. But either way, if we're operating in a truly free ranging and bill postering way, downtime on one service shouldn't stop us. But I must admit, I would feel the pinch if Blogger went down for more than a day. But its just a shift in thinking that would help me with that... Ok, so blogger is down... off to use Flickr for this post. Now, I'll tag and agregate this flickr post (both inside Flickr, and outside with Del.icio.us and SuprGlu) so that it has a greater chance of being picked up by those who are interested in what I do. Then, when Blogger is back online, its just a simple matter of reposting.

Tony Forster said...

And your utterances become part of the thoughts of the hive mind of Web2, they are absorbed and built apon by others, reposted in ephemeral places and further refined at the speed of light.

The truly profound will be remembered 2000 years hence
"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled." Plutarch (46 - 127)

Marg O'Connell said...

I'm with you Graham, aggregation is the key feature that 'mashes' it all together...I'm using del.icio.us more now and as I do I see I can do more with it. Suprglu too.

On the 'guy in Melbourne' thing - I like what James has done cos if we're to get institution management and bean counters to sit up and take notice of this stuff, badging these services for education may be one way to infiltrate their ivory towers (rather than sweating it out in the dungeons!). I reckon edublogs is a good example of moves towards this (plus the collaboration with wikispaces too). ELGG too does this fairly well - given it's the process/result of a PhD.

Cheers, Marg :oP

Artichoke said...

For one moment I imagined this post would be about the courtship behaviour at the The Royal Albatross Colony at Taiaroa Head. Years ago I spent one halcyon summer working at the Portobello Marine Station feeding the tuatara and crayfish and cleaning out the octopus tank. The albatross were formidable, majestic and remain unforgettable all these years later.

In response to your call to embrace the transitory and ephemeral in life I have rushed outside and chalk scrawled a picture of soaring albatross with life sized 3m wing span onto an Auckland pavement

alexanderhayes said...

The train trip between Williamstown and Frankston, Victoria offers many highlights none more so than the stream of colour adorning an otherwise drap grey train route.

Thousands of unique expressions mesh with each other in an angst driven need to be 'seen' and to 'get up'.

I liken our attempt to re-factor the popular corridors of the electronic world for education purpose to that of my train journey. We all seem to be sitting on the same carraige, viweing the same artworks yet thankfully our life experiences provide us with ways to speak of the story - some see it as vandalism and others as legitimate expression. We will never own this conversation, rather share in it and let it be.

The Picasso show at the NGV was drab in comparison.

I admire bloggers that jump the fence occasionally.

Adaptive Software said...

Hi Leigh,
I too have been considering this from some time, and it makes a lot of sense. Software and technology is moving at such a rapid pace that no software will fulfill all our requirments. Instead of constantly tweaking it and making it do things it was not originally meant to do, it is probably better to use discrete peices of software that are the best in what they do and then glue them together through a wiki or linking, or API's or any other suitable mechanism.