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My quick thoughts, back stage, and rants as I try to Teach kids about the Web while learning how to help others build a better Web.


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Greg McVerry

Seven Steps to #ProSocialWeb

6 min read

1. Begin with You

Ghandi never said "Be the change..." still doesn't mean it ain't great advice. We need to be the web we want to see.1 

In fact in  my recent efforts into (my approach to getting at ) I have focused on the words of another Yogi (correctly attributed) 

Change yourself and you have done your part in the changing the the world. Every individual must change [their] own life if they want to live in a peaceful world. Paramahansa Yogananda

The web is no different. Be pro-social if you want the web to be pro-social.

I also think beginning with you in terms of learning goals strengthens the . When you have shared goals with others in your network people learn. Humanity always worked this way.

The web is no different. Constantly model learning and reflection. Ask for help when needed and offer when asked.

YOU! flickr photo by Marcy Leigh shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

2. Create Innovation Systems

Recently I have focused my efforts on the idea of innovation systems. I remixed this concept remixed from those who take an ecological viewpoint of sociotechnical systems

According to Freeman (1987) Innovation Systems are “networks of institutions, public or private, whose activities and interactions initiate, import, modify, and diffuse new technologies.” This is usually towards a shared goal.

Massive corporate powers have quickly created market-based systems. I am not one to think these goals are diametrically opposed to (but some do) yet they are different. The goal of a corporation is the stock price. In fact in the United States it is a legal obligation for corporations to focus on profits. Sometimes, often, people suffer.

The web is no different. We need to focus on change but this change occurs at the system level only after a swelling at the agent level.

Climate Change flickr photo by garlandcannon shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

3. Use What You Build

The will only thrive when you have your own space online that you control, preferably from your own domain. The silos built for the masses and the web suffered.

I'd rather have a tent in the fields I own than rent a room is a Castle with someone else's rules....where I toil all day for someone else to profit.

Also something happens when you write from your own place. Folks are not as willing to write graffiti on their own house or shout profanities from their door step. But is more than that. People find an immersive joy in owning and shaping their own truth.

The web is no different. These tools and ways of being exist. Step one in a web is to build out your personal cyberinfrastructure. 

You will never know all the tech and we should never expect people to do the same. Instead, we want folks to know what they do not know and then how to go out and ask the right people to learn it. What Castells and Cardoza called "self programmable learners"

The web is no different. You have a goal and want to learn something just get a website or blog and start documenting the journey.

If you need help just ask us.

workshop flickr photo by shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

4. Keep it Purpose Driven

Find your niche and you can find your community. For many of us we hang in academic spaces or creative writing spaces ike and . Our crew, our people, our tribe.

A shared purpose unites us and this aligns with our personal goals. 

The web is no different. Network around ideas and not people.

2010113-purpose flickr photo by Chris Piascik shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

5. Focus on Diversity and Inclusion

Many find controlling and owning your space online to beyond their means "in financial cost, ability, time, and confidence."

This has always been the case with literacy. I consider literacy to be one of the great equalizers in society (up there with birth control, suffrage, expanding markets, and open borders). We need to fight for basic web literacy as a human right. A means not building FOR the most vulnerable but building WITH everyone to ensure we do not recreate the past.

Silos provide both a haven and a hell for marginalized people. When the web was born people did their identity work building the web. Now, this identity work gets sold back to us.

When we claim we can not "do tech" in communities of color or expectations of owning your content do not recognize historical inequities we end up reinforcing these equities.  

We simply can not name the problem. We must actively work to solve the issue.

Yet even today the Open Source community is the whitest and most male of the tech sector. We can not fix this in the board room or through outreach. Efforts must begin in the classroom and the community. This is where always developed

The web is no different. Make the "Community the Curriculum." We must focus on web literacy across the globe. The time is now. 

This why I think the is more local than decentralized. I keep putting in grants to bring and to local schools and libraries....where we always taught literacy.

Rainbow flickr photo by Michael M Stokes shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

6 Go gLocal

Not sure where @wiobyrne got the idea or who he lifted the meaning from but the has strong local nodes (like Antogonish) and these Local networks connect to a much bigger global one. Either with direct relationships or as allies. Go gLocal Ian says.

Creative Commons is trying this approach right now. Mozilla tried with Clubs but looked for VC like growth overnight, their more successful Reps programs and Firefox contributors, in general, reflect a gLocal approach. IndieWeb has been running camps for nine years with minimal funding.

EdCamps, as an innovation system may represent the best model. 100s of camps occur each year and 1,000s of teachers get connected

The Web is no different. Build strong local groups connected to a global movement. 

It's our world too... flickr photo by tim ellis shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

7. Post Positive 

We all struggle with what to write. The tyranny of the blank screen can drive many into the welcoming arms of social silos. Yet the simplest way to support a is to Post Positive

Be a good person. Say nice things. Document the good you and others do. The lesson we learned in preschool can still teach us much.

The web is no different.

A Balance of Healthy Words flickr photo by Carol (vanhookc) shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

1. h/t to Tantek for pointing out the misattribution of Ghandi and sending me into a months long rabbit hole into famous misquotes.

2 To read more check out the hashtags , , and  .

Syndicated to Indie News

Greg McVerry

Why I chose Known over WordPress #IndieWeb

6 min read

Creative Growth 2013 Home show and fashion show (72) flickr photo by origamiguy1971 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Plurality stitches a beautiful quilt of complex choices, and each person adds their own unique spin on the  . As long as you wrap yourself in the warmth of building blocks you sew together new connections free of corporate control.

So the correct answer will always remain the one you choose. For me Known provided the solution to my path.

Personal Growth

I am beginning to look at spaces like as an innovation system. Change can only occur with a constant focus on personal growth and learning through agentive apprenticeships.

Recently I moved on from WordPress to Known on my path. This continued my growth as I began to spin up sites on  my school's CMS blogging as a teacher from 2002-2006. I then picked up the patterns of commercial blogging and went to Blogger in 2007.  Then in 2013 I began to weave meaning on WordPress, and then started on Known in 2015.

At first I kept a WordPress as my canonical "digital hub" and just spun up Known instances for different identities like CLMOOC and .

In fact, if you include all my kids' websites I am currently running thirteen instances of Known.

But really it came down to WordPress making it too hard for me to things I knew were quite simple to do in HTML. So I decided to throw up a few static pages on the canonical url and then use Known as my social stream of thought. 

I loved what WordPress enabled me to do but felt to constricted. I wanted to rip off the warmth of such a robust CMS and see how I could do on my own. 

Some Drawbacks

I still get annoyed sometimes at Known for making things complicated. It is a powerful CMS and over time I will probably fold some functionality into my main website but this provides a nice bridge for my knowledge growth.

Known works better on the IndieWeb than WordPress out of the box but it is a really hard box to open. Currently installing and updating Known takes specialized knowledge but plenty of us to help each other learn. Still, if the idea of GitHub, Terminal, Databases scare you then go with WordPress. 

The most friction-free WordPress approach is SemPress. You add that, Classic Editor, IndieWeb plugins and good to go. Everything will auto update.

I still add a page builder on top to get the visual control of pages I want (see main reason I left WordPress I want to control my design). 

How I Roll

It's not just the technical. Known fits my personal goals for growth as a writer and teacher. Out of all the tools out there it makes the best system for a Common Place Book. I set up to-do list, a , have private, public, and member-only posting. The syndication to Twitter works for now (eventually I assume Twitter pulls the plug on all the POSSE fun). 

If you want a private social network (multiuser breaks some functionality around logging in with your own Domain) it is still the best CMS out there. I have really only one question I use when judging my pre-service teachers, "Do I want my kid in your class?" I use Known with all three of my children (6, 7, 10). Known fits the way I teach. I have used Known in the classroom since 2014-2015.

Some Drawbacks

It doesn't always fit my mobile lifestyle. Mainly because of the way TinyMCE, the what you see what you get editor,  is styled, but this is fixable. I need access to source code. 

The status updates have some awesome features that auto converting hashtags and unfurling links but this also means HTML gets sanitized or ignored. Sometimes I just need a box to enter HTML. The current status update doesn't allow this and this messes up some micropub clients. 

Governance Model

Known also has a governance model more aligned to what I want in open source. I love what WordPress does for the web but in the end the ultimate direction of the project relies on a "benevolent dictator for life" model of leadership with Automattic sitting at the top.

This has created great sustainability but just not my style.

Some Drawbacks

Known is now just transferring to an open collective. Who knows what will happen. Still this excites I think we need new economic in the public space.

No structure exists, beyond IRC/Slack for quality control of community plugins. Many malfunction (especially the ones I build).

Predictable and Interesting Road Map

Known has a strong commitment to only using open APIs and protocols. They publish and share the roadmap. I can reliably predict when features get added and bugs squashed. 

I may not know that with WordPress. The WordPress community relies heavily on committed volunteers. The upcoming changes to WordPress as it restructures will require some major retooling. Seemed like a good time to jump ship.

Some Drawbacks

Like WordPress Known development relies primarily on two people: Marcus Povey and Ben Werdmüller but an Open Collective was created and support has started to trickle in. New community members have created plug-ins and PRs.

I am seeing a ton of folks start to spin up a site. Who knows maybe all those who have the PHP  experience and feel abandoned by WordPress may find Known an attractive home.

Choose Your Path

For me means to own your content and control your data, preferably on your own Domain. Everything else after that is extra and a deeply personal choice. 

You can not go wrong with WordPress or Known or so many of the other new blogging tools that include the building blocks to connect to the modern social web. 


Greg McVerry

Finding a Refuge for #ds106 and #clmooc

6 min read

Educators loved Google+ networks. Early on the network created a close simulation to what an open web of writers could look like.Heck before Google Apps for Education was a thing we created a Google+ group "Using Google as a Free LMS."

Then as teachers, all being on boarded to Google's domination in the k12 market, turned to Blogger and Google+, and fell in love.

Everything worked, with one identity. You had a blog and when you published a post it syndicated to Google+ and when people commented on Google+ the comment was backfed to as a reply to your blog post. Coolest thing I ever saw (until webmentions). Then when people tried out WordPress a comment plugin did the same.

Our blogs became part of network. Not just link syndication with link bait titles but integration into the community.

Then you had the one button push for documents, the photographers, the voice chat, the video chat, Hangouts on Air. Everything that teachers wanted for online learning finally existed.

Until it didn't.

The unrolling started in 2015 but yesterday Google+ died....

Except for some educators. The networks on Google+  for teachers were (are?) massive. Google decided anyone with a GAFE account could stay, except many of us joined distributed communities from our private emails.

Places like and . The Google+ groups are dead but They will live on. is for life and transverses physical spaces all the time.

But where to go?

Fantasy of the Frictionless Fiend

Owning your house takes work, but you know your landlord won't kick you out. Websites ain't much different. It does take work, and like hoiuse ownership is fraught with systemic racism and bias that we must overcome.

Yet you will hear people on social media wailing how the masses will never build for themselves.People who spend too much time talking and not building.

Show me a time when that is true in history.

Honestly I read comments like these and I feel sad for folks who have that little faith in humanity. Has to stink walking around the world and thinking majority of people you see aren't willing to do the work to make the world better.

I won't accept that.

Not on the street and not on the web. A thirst for knowledge makes us humans and just becuase corporations control the taps doesn't mean we can't dig our own wells.

So yes shoveling takes work, but it beats being knee deep in the shit of social media.

An alternative to Google+ one button push and everything works isn't quite possible and I am okay with this fact.

Define success not by creating the plumbing for the world but sitting down with a friend after a days work and dipping your cup into a cool stream you two redirected together.

Easiest Approaches

Use a Splot. Alan's WordPress themes could work for a wonderful community creation tools. Nobody would have to do much but visit this site.

Install a multiuser Known instance (or any open source network). This would require people to create a username and someone would be storing the data.

Create an RSS Planet. These are easy but they are read only.

Use a social reader like This allows us to create a shared reader where can add feeds and reply to post. It would work best with blogs (see below) but handles RSS fine.

Moderate Approaches

Get a shared Mastodon host. Some work to set up and I would rather have things drive from our blogs.

Encourage people to use tools. We don't need to "build" anything. It already exists. If people have websites with microformats, the metadata of the modern social web, everything would just work.

I mean just like Google+ work...well not video streaming for obvious reasons (though getting close with jitsi). Private posting isn't 100% solved yet but the stuff, the way it works is awesome

This would take a lot of work though for WordPress users. There are currently only a handful of themes that work with all the IndieWeb plugins and only one theme in the repository. You use a 2016 you could install iwc16 (avaiilable on GitHub).

Networked Approaches

We could go a step further and create a network of sites. Honestly the way works once you have a blog properly set up 95% of the stuff works but we can add more.

  • I am working with the on creating an network. We could do a simlar approach. They all get a blog (everyone in clmooc already has one...or we can help).
  • We create a wiki as a shared knowledge base, long term place to file away makes and lesson plans.
  • We add a chatroom using which is a matrix client and can connect to other chat rooms.

This realy is not that difficult to spin up. The hard part is making sure your website is optomized for the modern social web. is turnkey everything just works for $5.00 a month. We have created tutorials for Blogger and There are tutorials for installing WordPress and Known on Reclaim Hosting. Check out the getting started page to learn more.

Remember the Vision Jim Stole from Gardner

I follow the "Law of Groom." If Gardner Campbell had an idea good enough for Jim Groom to steal and bake into the DNA of and   reason stands that I should do the same.

While I also love it because it sounds so cheesily  dated the idea of a "personal cyberinfastructure" was always the point.

We never thought we had to build tools so our "lazy, stupid, uninterested, or too busy" level four students could use them with a press of the button. No.

The lesson was always the work is worth it.

So let's learn our lesson on the death of Google+ and not head to another silo.

Honestly even if we do nothing now if we keep blogging and just using RSS we will be fine but if we want to grab the shovels we could easily divert away from social media and carve out a cool stream.

Also on Indie News

Greg McVerry

Opening My Class Has Damaged my Workflow #ccourses #clmooc #edu106

2 min read

In my last edition of the newsletter, Albatross News, I detailed how I was going to open up our private class stream.

I flipped the switch

And I might have ruined my workflow.

In the class students have their own blogs. I use an RSS feed and the class stream to aggregate our work. I would leave comments on both their blog and the private stream.

On a students blog I would interact with content and try (withouth success) to start a wider conversation. On the private stream I would offer critical writing feedback.

Being a writer means being vunerable. I think some feedback is better behind closed doors. I am not comfortable explaining to someone they need to include topic sentences and the letter "I" is capitalized. Many of my students have not developed strong academic blogging or writing skills yet.

Calling them out may hurt my pedagogical goal and may not allow students to see the benefit of learning in the open.

I liked leaving the comments on the private stream, however, so they were semi-public. Many of the mistakes students made fell in predictable patterns. Calling out a few examples of misconception had a waterfall effect on improving the writing of others. 

So I have a few options:

  • I can make the class stream private again.
  • I could leave critical feedback through email.
  • I could just leave it in the open and encouarage a process of revision.

I also need to explore how private notifications work in Known.

Greg McVerry

22nd Women’s Studies Conference “#FeministIn(ter)ventions: Women, Community, Technology #edtechchat #literacies #clmooc

6 min read

Asking for a quick favor. We are working feverishly on the (ter)ventions conference. As a steering committee we just released the RFP.  Please spread the word.
The 22nd Women’s Studies Conference
Women, Community, Technology”
To be held on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University
Friday and Saturday, April 15th and 16th, 2016
Submission Deadline:                                            By December 4th, 2015
The 22nd SCSU Women’s Studies conference aims to provide a critical site of collective inquiry into the intersections of women (and girls), community, and technology.  In what ways have women and girls worked with technology, broadly defined, for the advancement of communities and/or shaping and building movements?  We invite proposals that investigate the past, present, and future of the intersections of women, community, and technology and showcase feminist in(ter)ventions with technology.  How have women and girls participated (or not) in the fields of technology?  In what ways does this inquiry intersect with the studies of gender, race, class, and sexuality?
We, too, invite you to submit proposals that consider some of the following inquireis on women, community, and technology.  In what ways have feminist practices and women’s movements impacted women’s place in the world of technology?  How might the interplay between women, community, and technology have shifted feminist discourses?  What are some of the global movements that underscore feminist interventions and inventions of technology?  What lessons may we glean from women in communities throughout the world utilizing media and technology in fighting against war and destruction? What are some of the best practices of feminist in(ter)ventions for sustainable communities?
PROPOSAL FORMAT: Faculty, students, staff, administrators, and community activists from all disciplines and fields are invited to submit proposals for individual papers, complete sessions, panels, or round tables.  Poster sessions, performance pieces, video recordings, and other creative works are also encouraged.  For individual papers, please submit a one-page abstract.  For complete panels, submit a one-page abstract for each presentation plus an overview on the relationship among individual components.  For the poster sessions and artwork, submit a one-page overview.  All proposals must include speaker’s/speakers’ name(s), affiliation(s), and contact information (address, E-mail, & telephone number).  Please also indicate preference for Friday afternoon, Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon; all attempts will be made to honor schedule requests.
PANELS: Each 75-minute session usually includes three presenters and a session moderator, but individual presenters may request an entire session for a more substantial paper or presentation. Presenters are encouraged, though not required, to form their own panels.  The conference committee will group individual proposals into panels and assign a moderator.   Please indicate in your contact information if you are willing to serve as a moderator.
POSTERS, ART DISPLAYS, AND SLIDE PRESENTATIONS: A poster presentation consists of an exhibit of materials that report research activities or informational resources in visual & summary form.  An art display consists of a depiction of feminist and Indigenous concerns in an artistic medium.  Both types of presentations provide a unique platform that facilitates personal discussion of work with interested colleagues & allows meeting attendees to browse through highlights of current research.  Please indicate in your proposal your anticipated needs in terms of space, etc.
In keeping with the conference theme, suggested topics include, but are not limited to:
Women & the Media
Girls Who Code
Black Girls Code
Feminist Apps
Feminist Ethics & Technology
Feminism, Environment, and Technology
Women, Sustainability, and Technology
Gender, Class, and Technology
Gender, Sexuality, and Technology
Gender and Healthcare Technology
Feminist Values and STEM
Gender and STEM Ethnics
Women in STEM
Women in the History of STEM
Women Making History & STEM
Reproductive Technologies and Feminist Concerns
Feminist Pedagogy and Technology
Teaching with Social Media/Technology
Women, Technology, and Academia
Feminist Knowledge and Media Technology
Digital Humanities
Gender and Social Media/Technology
Girlhood in the Age of Social Media
Community (Re-)Building and Technology
Women’s Leadership, Media, and Technology
Women’s Labor & Technology
Women, Movements, and Technology
Spirituality and Technology
Religion, Gender, and STEM
Representation of Women & Social Media
Gender, Sexual Violence, and Technology
Anti-Sexual Violence and Media Technology
Cyber Bullying
First Amendment Rights & Emerging Technologies
Women Bloggers
Women Making Social Media
Feminist Social Media
Feminist Blogging
Black Twitter Feminism
Gender, Race, and Social Media
Online “Mommy” Communities
Social Media and Movements
Women in the Global South & Technology
Indigenous Women & Technology
We also invite your ideas and suggestions.  Conference sessions will juxtapose global, comparative, intersectional, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational perspectives for the collective re-thinking of women, community, and technology. Expect serious fun through meals and performance, with women, girls and their allies speaking of their struggles and power.
Submission Deadline:                                                ​December 4th, 2015
Please submit proposals and supporting materials to:
Women’s Studies Conference Committee
Women’s Studies Program, EN B 229
Southern Connecticut State University
501 Crescent Street
New Haven, CT 06515
Or via E-mail to:, with attention to Conference Committee.  If you have any questions, please call the Women’s Studies office at (203) 392-6133.
Please include name, affiliation, E-mail, standard mailing address, and phone number. Proposals should be no longer than one page, with a second page for identification information. Panel Proposals are welcome.
The Women’s Studies Conference at SCSU is self-supporting; all presenters can pre-register at the discounted presenter’s fee.  The fee includes all costs for supporting materials, entrance to keynote events, and all meals and beverage breaks. 

Greg McVerry

Few Recent Pages I Have Been Building #clmooc #teachtheweb #literacies

3 min read

As part of a graduate class we have been discussing what it means to learn to read and write. We have discussed the correlations between core skills such as phonemic aawareness and phonics while reading Heath, Au, and Gee.

Much of the discussion has revolved around the boundaries of explicit instruction, the role of poverty, and if reading is taught as a cultural practice or a cognitive process.

I wanted to highlight some recent writing and learning I have been doing to add to the complexity.

This summer I took on a project to earn some extra scratch, re-doing the department website. I am not a web designer. I am not a programmer. Instead I am self taught who learns to build stuff by copying others.

HTML/CSS code is alot like phonics for reading and text structure for writing. It is a repeated pattern and I would bet also learned in a very similar and predictable pattern.

Your links are much like your CVC words and your headings a thesis. You then may expand and start looking at strange vowel combinations or hover effects. Your creativity when working with pixels just like paper is boundless.

These are four pages I am currently working on. They are in draft form and will probably change:

Direct Instruction

In each case direct instruction was central. Yet unlike the classroom it is usally distributed and on-demand. If I combed through my web history you could see every objective and outcome.

When I got desperate I would ask colleagues at work or ping on Twitter and Discourse.

Mentor Texts

In each case a mentor text was always involved. For example the design ideas and some of the CSS for the  scholarship page was modified from here and the other half  from here. The programs page came from here

The department directory well that one I am proud of. Most of that I wrote myself but I checked my learning against the previous sources and some old Thimble makes I had. I even checked out Doug's old About Me page.


Beyond the Benjamins I am working to better myself. Motivation and interest are essential to learning to read and write. I think the focus on standards outcome could have just as much to do with the decline in pleasure reading with the publication of "Nation at Risk" in 1984 as it does with the birth of Nintendo and a truly stellar year in movies.

You need motivation and interest to push past the frustration; to get the rush of solving some problem or to conquer some text. Trust me I looked like a Pavlovian dog when I hit publish to see if the code I wrote actually worked. Ring the bell for bits.

Greg McVerry

Engaging in Discourse About Your Work

6 min read

I have searched high and low for the magic sauce. I haven't found it yet. I want the ingredient that makes community flourish in the online classes I teach.

I blamed the LMS. Studnets just worked through assignments and if you said post and respond twice. That is exactly what they did.

I realized it is in't the LMS that suck it was me.

I tried every configuration of tools to try and crowbar "social" in. No matter the format my class ended up looking like a pinterest board of student assignments. I could have just taught via email.

I realized what my students were missing was a model of federated and distributed discourse. In the class I give no minimums of how many posts and how many replies. It seems contrite. So this iteration I have told my students I expect interaction. They simply will not do well if they just post their completed assignments. Engagement is required...but I did not provide support.

That is the purpose of this post. Look at how social media engagement occurs in the wild

In the tweets below you will find the conversation threads surrounding this post.

Here are my tips to engage with others:

  • Be proud of what you write and make
  • Share it out across networks. It is okay to share posts beyond class
  • Invite discussion (But don't end posts with "What do you think? Just leave a comment." That's cheesy)
  • Share more than a link. Tell my why your post is important. Why should I care.
  • Pictures included with social media increase engagement.

You want to not simply post your work but live it. Have an emotional attachment to your ideas and your words. Discuss what you write and watch it travel.

I then pinged people in my network I knew who would be either interested or willing to challenge my ideas. Hopefully both.

Some left comments on the blog.

Then some folks really wanted us to annotate the piece.

This brought in the interest of the Hypothesis Team

Some people then shared their own work to back up their claims or challenge my claims.

We discussed research and assessment methods

We debated the boundaries of action, thought, knowledge, and assessment.

We kicked people off the boat

Greg McVerry

#CLMOOC I have to be doing this wrong

1 min read

I am working on some iPad tutorials (I hope to get to game making) and wanted animated gifs. These are my fav way to do tutorials. My workflow is probably messed up. Here it is:

  • Use reflector to send iPad to Mac.
  • Record to Screencast-o-Matic.
  • Edit with overlays.
  • Upload to Youtube.
  • Make gifs using Imgur.

I originally added annotations using Google's new tool but that be html and not encoded in the video. It didn't go with the source to Imgur.

Is there a better way?



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