My blogging twilight

I finally realised today that this is my first post here since April 2013. This is very far from my dream when starting to blog in earnest in January 2006 to maintain about 5 posts per week. Looking through the archives for this blog I charted my posting record over the last 7 to 8 years. It tells the story.

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Only once in all this time did I manage to attain my goal of 20 posts per month and that was a real outlier data point in December 2008. The next best month was 18 posts in February 2007. My steady decline in posting is obvious since the middle of 2007. This is despite my insistence on my students posting in blogs for (a few) marks in all my course up to my retirement in August 2011.

It is clear my blogging twilight is upon me despite the obvious value that my blogging has bestowed over the last 7 years or so. As I have written many times before my posts have formed a permanent record of my professional activities over time with occasional personal thoughts interspersed, definitely worth their being put into words.

Nevertheless I have to face the fact that my urge to blog has waned, especially given I appear to have three separate blogs ‘on the go’ with the other two being Cloud Scholar and Morsels. The latter began life as a Microsoft Live Spaces blog and migrated to WordPress when we were forced to switch in September 2010. Morsels was supposed to be for short, frequent, small gems of information using the WordPress P2 theme intended to ward off the Tumblr threat. I notice my last morsel was contributed in December 2012!

Thus it is time to retire this Scholarcast blog and Morsels and live out my blogging twilight in Cloud Scholar along. At least I posted there only two months ago.

For my blog posts in future see: Cloud Scholar

The average Australian of 2011

From the ABS page on the average Australian:

According to the 2011 Census, the average Australian is a 37 year old woman, born in Australia and with both of her parents also born in Australia. She has English, Australian, Irish, or Scottish ancestry. She speaks only English at home and belongs to a Christian religion, most likely Catholic.

She is married, and lives with her husband and two children (a boy and a girl aged nine and six) in a separate house with three bedrooms and two cars in a suburb of one of Australia’s capital cities. They have lived in that house for at least five years, and have a mortgage where they pay $1800 a month.

She has a Certificate in Business and Management, and drives to her job as a sales assistant, where she works 32 hours a week. She also does unpaid work around the house for five or more hours a week

Via @PetaHopkins 

Sieghart Review into Ebook Lending Attempts to Propagate Print Restrictions

I have just caught up with the Sieghart Report, a review of e-lending in public libraries in England. Its basic recommendations refer to Public Lending Rights (PLR):

  1. The provisions in the Digital Economy Act 2010 that extend PLR to audio books and loans of on-site e-books should be enacted.
  2. Further legislative changes should be made to allow PLR to take account of remote e-loans.
  3. The overall PLR pot should be increased to recognise the increase in rights holders.
  4. A number of pilots in 2013 using established literary events should be set up to test business models and user behaviours, and provide a transparent evidence base: all major publishers and aggregators should participate in these pilots.
  5. Public libraries should offer both on-site and remote E-Lending service to their users, free at point of use.
  6. The interests of publishers and booksellers must be protected by building in frictions that set 21st-century versions of the limits to supply which are inherent in the physical loans market (and where possible, opportunities for purchase should be encouraged). These frictions include the lending of each digital copy to one reader at a time, that digital books could be securely removed after lending and that digital books would deteriorate after a number of loans. The exact nature of these frictions should evolve over time to accommodate changes in technology and the market.

It is good to see recommendations 1 through 5, but the sixth is really peculiar. The report seeks to propagate the known limitations of a physical book, one copy in one person’s hands, and more hands means the book deteriorates over time. The whole point of an ebook is we escape this physical tyranny. The Luddites have won again.

Edublogging Survey Record

Reading Martin Weller’s blog post about Alice Bell’s blogging survey I offer up my own record below. I encourage all my readers to do the same. You can email your post link or your answers to edubloggingstudy@gmail.com.

Blog URL:
mrees.wordpress.com (but within last year created blogs at blog.cloudscholar.com and
michaelspaces.wordpress.com)

What do you blog about?
E-learning, cloud applications, electronic publications and open access, educational technology, social media tools, teaching programming and web technologies

Are you paid to blog?
No

What do you do professionally (other than blog)?
Associate Professor in Computer Science at Bond University, retired in December 2011

How long have you been blogging at this site?
6.5 years

Do you write in other platforms? (e.g. in a print magazine?)
Published academic conference and journal papers, some books and articles over 40 years as an academic

Can you remember why you started blogging?
Believed I should keep a searchable professional journal that could elicit occasional comments from peers. Since January 2006 I have insisted students in my classes keep blogs for this purpose. Their blogs count for up to 15% of their marks as well.

What keeps you blogging?
Blogs allow me to record my topics of interest, and my reactions and thoughts on technological developments as they apply to my personal and previously professional life.

Do you have any idea of the size or character if your audience? How?
My primary purpose in blogging has been for personal journaling but stats indicate my blog is accessed over 500 times per month over the 6 years or so. Some posts elicit useful comments.

What’s your attitude to/relationship with people who comment on your blog?
I note and respond to most comments. This has allowed me to build a wider community of interest in some of my topics.

Do you feel as if you fit into any particular community, network or genre of blogging? (e.g. schools, science, education, museums, technology)
Mainly for fellow academics who use technology in their teaching.

If so, what does that community give you?
Ideas on significant developments and trends in the topics that interest me.

What do you think are the advantages of blogging? What are its disadvantages/ limitations?

My blog has become my indispensible laboratory notebook with the power to search and recall my research and teaching interests. I feel there are virtually no disadvantages. Time limitations have restrained the number of posts which average 7.5/month whereas I had been hoping for 10-12 a month. Blogging has undoubtedly reduced my traditional academic publication record but I feel more enriched by the blogging experience.

Like many my blogging activity has been diminished by becoming a major user of Twitter. To try and compensate I started my Morsels blog (michaelspaces.wordpress.com) where I have tried to concentrate on mini blog posts of just a few tweets length. As well I am using Google+ as a mini blog, particularly for diagrams and my photos that represent the post topic.

Do you tell people you know offline that you’re a blogger? (e.g. your grandmother, your boss)
I proudly try and explain my blogging to all friends and neighbours who will listen. Those who run their own businesses I try and convert to blogging and social media in general.

Is there anything else you want to tell me about I haven’t asked?
Now retired I am trying to reinvent my blogging to support my new way of life.

Surviving Five Days on iPad and iPhone Alone

I’m into the last day of a 5-day inter-state break just before teaching begins again in week or so. It is the first time in more than a decade I decided not to bring a laptop or netbook and rely only on my iPhone and iPad. My digital camera too was left at home with the iPhone taking over that function. The only feature I miss is a stand that could hold the iPhone when taking time delay photos of all people in the group – anyone know of a solution?

While I was happy I could read email, tweets, blog posts and statuses on various social networks, I worried about generating the more lengthy, meaningful pieces in this spectrum of vital communication channels. As it happened going down with a heavy cold half a day before leaving, and headed for a cold part of Aus, Launceston, dampened my creative juices. Nevertheless I created this post to test the composition capability of iOS.

I defined a minimum set of tasks that my iOS devices had to perform.

Email with attachments. This is not a problem since I already read and answer much of my email on iOS with apps like Pages, Quickoffice, Godocs and Keynote to handle the inevitable MS Office attachments.

Twitter. Again no problem here since about 95% of my use of Twitter is on iOS already. Useful links in tweets are captured in Diigo simply by making them favorites. Later processing with the Diigo iPad app is trivial.

Blogs. This was where I had concerns. My blog is on WordPress.com but the WordPress iPad app forces editing in HTML – try typing an HTML tag on the iPad keyboard. Also I continually posted prematurely before the piece was complete. With this post I am using Bloggerplus to see if it is viable alternative. So far so good but inserting lists without typing HTML is missing. At least image insertion and editing is easy.

News. Again I am about 80% converted to iOS for general news reading with a plethora of apps like Google News, Flipboard, BBC News, Engadget, Mashable and so on. Recording links to useful news articles is still problematic usually requiring emailing links from these apps and needing later reprocessing from the Mail app – a better solution here is a major requirement.

Social networks. My key networks of Facebook, Linkedin, Foursquare and so on all have iOS apps so these have no problems. The only insurmountable problem occurred having to use Safari to enroll and set up in Empire Avenue. Creating a account is OK but uploading a profile image proved impossible, note the disabling of the choose file button:

Overall I had no real difficulty and the weight reduction in traveling is really significant, especially with cables and USB keys. Only a couple of chargers are needed. At our accommodation in the CBD Telstra 3G was never a problem and iPhone and iPad functioned well at all times. Only a couple of times on remote stretches of the Lake Leake road between the Northern Midlands and the east coast did the Telstra signal fade while using the Maps app.

So bye bye netbooks while traveling for me from now on.

Kite Flying for Academic Digital Identity

We have the black hand of ERA in Australia, AACSB in my own faculty and REF in the UK stifling all but prestigious academic journal publishing. It is more than refreshing then to see Steve Wheeler @timbuckteeth in his innocuously titled …before the ink is dry article hold out for the benign influences of academic blogging. This creates a digital identity capable of spreading a discourse of ideas well ahead of any journal article ever could achieve. I could not put it better than Steve:

For me, and for an increasing number of fellow academics, publishing in traditional journals is becoming increasingly anachronistic in the digital age of social media communication. We can be our own publishers now. We can build up audiences and loyal followings that are larger than most journals and publishing houses could ever boast. For me, blogging is now the first place I consider when I want to disseminate my ideas quickly, directly to my own community of practice, and in a form that is considered relevant and accessible to those who are engaged in that particular sphere of activity. Blogging is freely accessible, and it is usually concise enough to be assimilated in a few minutes.

I say hear, hear or as those around me probably prefer, good on ya mate.

New Blog Theme New Impetus

I definitely have been neglecting my blog mothership of late and the period of neglect might have something to do with passing my 4th Twitter anniversary yesterday not to mention that Facebook thing. So I thought it was time to change my blog theme in the hope of introducing am impetus to increase posting frequency.

Many times I have heard of members of my social circle spending several hours if not days re-theming their blogs, especially those WordPress users with self-hosted blogs. Thus I was determined to allocate no more than 30 minutes. Browsing through the now more extensive WordPress.com theme library I found several new, simple 2-column themes (only ever 2 columns for me) that I could consider using. This is a big improvement on a couple of years ago when I last looked.

I chose the more subtle Enterprise theme with smaller, less in-your-face font size to my previous Journalist theme originally selected because it could accommodate images of up to 650 pixels in width. So far so good although no off-the-shelf theme is perfect – if only I could eliminate the lower grey band. I like the non-underlined links and generally neater appearance.

At the same time, continuing the minimal layout, I eliminated a few of the widgets from the sidebar while still retaining basic functionality for essential links, a QR code, previous posts, categories, archive and Twitter integration.

Probably the biggest change but less obvious is the my switch to the minimal Creative Commons licence CC-BY. I watched a convincing video by an author I can’t recall that convinced me Non-commercial and ShareAlike requirements meant little if your intent is to share information with the world in a completely open manner. So CC-BY it is.

And, yes, all this took no more than 30 minutes even allowing for checking out 2-3 new themes. I now just hope this will lead to more blogging from now on.