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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.


Come Journey Through the IndieWeb Sites


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

@mzrascoff Will do, been thinking about it as an innovation system, problem is is fundementally built on so many levels to reinforce privilege. Think we may need faculty to as much as we need buy in from admin beholded to accreditation boards

Greg McVerry

@ArchaeologyFitz Here is an example of my theory development I tag and annotate my bookmarks: and these get folded into academic articles: we call it the common place book philosophy

Greg McVerry

Activity Theory and Its Implications for Writing Instruction

David Russell. Activity Theory and Its Implications for Writing Instruction." In Reconceiving Writing, Rethinking Writing Instruction. Ed. Joseph Petraglia. (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum,1995): 51-78.

The US is the only nation that requires of most students in higher education a course in what is known in the US as "composition."

Citation please.

David Kaufer and Richard Young have called "writing with no particular content," or what is often called in this anthology general writing skills instruction or GWSI

THis could be pusehed on to blogging without purpose. we introduce so many people to their own website bbut only few stick with it from formal education. That would be a good longtitudinal study. Match attrition in terms of involvement based on formal and informal learning spaces.

First, he says, there is a "lack of general agreement about course content, so that depending on the prejudices of the teacher, departmental policy (or lack of it), or current fads, the course may center on

Second, the course cannot "be said even by the most charitably disposed critic to be on the same level of intellectual rigor and maturity as textbooks and class work in other freshman courses such as chemistry or economics"

Cited author never took one of my writing intensive classes, this statement shows some bias

Kitzhaber calls the aims of the course "over-ambitious—to eradicate, in three hours a week for 30 or 35 weeks, habits of thought and expression that have been forming for at least 15 years and to which the student is as closely wedded as he is to his skin; and to fix indelibly a different set of habits from which the student will never afterwards deviate

Kitzhaber admits that those who have studied its effectiveness (and no one had studied this more than he) have "too seldom" been able to find "a comforting relationship between the degree of improvement and the quantity of labor expended."

Activity Theory analyzes human behavior and consciousness in terms of activity systems: goal-directed, historically-situated, cooperative human interactions, such as a child's attempt to reach an out-of-reach toy, a job interview, a "date," a social club, a classroom, a discipline, a profession, an institution, a political movement, and so on

In an activity system, the object(ive) remains the same while the mediational means, the tools, may vary.

activity systems have histories that are essential to their workings. For human beings, these histories are predominantly cultural (though phylogenic change may also play a role)

anges in human behavior and consciousness, individual or collective, are mediated by other human beings through the use of tools

Third, activity systems are dialectal. Change is not one-directional. It is accomplished through joint activity, whether cooperative or conflictual, face-to-face or widely separated in space or time.

the unit of analysis in Activity Theory is not the workings of an individual mind but the relations among the participants and their shared cultural tools. Thus, activity systems can be analyzed from multiple perspectives (of the various participants) and at many levels (from the individual to the broadest cultural levels)

I think I am trying to use innovation systems as a larger analytical tool as it is activity theory with a very organized goal. A shared focus

e Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD): the object(ive)-directed interactions among people, where one or more of the participants could not, by themselves, effectively work toward the objective (Newman, Griffin, and Cole, 1989, p. 61). In these "construction zones" writing and learning take place as people, using their tools, mutually change themselves and their tools. All learning is situated within some activity system(s).

If writing were an autonomous skill, generalizable to all activity systems that use writing, improving writing in general would be a clear object(ive) of an activity system. But writing does not exist apart from its uses, for it is a tool for accomplishing object(ive)s beyond itself.

Greg McVerry

Knowledge Building: Theory, Pedagogy, and Technology

Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2006). Knowledge building: Theory, pedagogy, and technology. In K. Sawyer (Ed.), Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (pp. 97-118). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Accordingly, it involves students not only developing knowledge-building competencies but also coming to see themselves and their work as part of the civilization-wide effort to advance knowledge frontiers.

  • Knowledge advancement as a community rather than individual achievement
  • Knowledge advancement as idea improvement rather than as progress toward true or warranted belief
  • Knowledge of in contrast to knowledge about
  • Discourse as collaborative problem solving rather than as argumentation
  • Constructive use of authoritative information
  • Understanding as an emergent

Knowledge building pedagogy is based on the premise that authentic creative knowledge work can take place in school classrooms

One component of knowledge building is the creation of “epistemic artifacts,” tools that serve in the further advancement of knowledge (Sterelny, 2005).

In knowledge building, idea improvement is an explicit principle, something that guides the efforts of students and teachers rather than something that remains implicit in inquiry and learning activities

From a pragmatic standpoint, a more useful distinction is between knowledge about and knowledge of something. Knowledge about sky-diving, for instance, would consist of all the declarative knowledge you can retrieve when prompted to state what you know about sky-diving. Such knowledge could be conveniently and adequately represented in a concept net. Knowledge of sky-diving, however, implies an ability to do or to participate in the activity of sky-diving

The strong version asserts that the state of public knowledge in a community only exists in the discourse of that community, and the progress of knowledge just is the progress of knowledge-building discourse.

New conceptual structures, like crystals and ant colonies, emerge through the interaction of simpler elements that do not singly or in combination represent the new concept (Sawyer, 2003). This became evident with the rise of connectionism in the late 1980s (Bereiter, 1991). Connectionist models of learning and development characteristically generate progress from a conceptually impoverished to a conceptually richer system, sometimes by a process analogous to learning from experience and sometimes only by internal self-organization. Connectionist models are examples of the larger class of dynamic systems models, all of which attempt to deal in some rigorous way with emergent phenomena

There is no way to create higher-level organizations of information, to comment simultaneously on a number of messages, or to make a connection between a message in one thread and a message in another. Thus the possibilities for knowledge building discourse are extremely limited. In fact, our experience is that threaded discussion militates against deepening inquiry; instead, it is much more suited to rapid question-answer and assertionresponse exchanges. Although communities based on shared interests do develop in some threaded discussion forums, this technology provides little means for a group to organize its efforts around a common goal.

“epistemic agency” (Scardamalia, 2000). Although among philosophers this term denotes responsibility for one’s beliefs (Reed, 2001), we use the term more broadly: epistemic agency refers to the amount of individual or collective control people have over the whole range of components of knowledge building—goals, strategies, resources, evaluation of results, and so on

Greg McVerry

I also try to avoid "Build for the masses" as a metric to success. Leads to vaporware in the industry and white papers in academia.

Not how innovation systems work.

You build out from the self and onto the world.

Greg McVerry

Though that original model included knowledge brokering....never liked the term.. I think and tags best to search through bookmarks and random rants on my website.

Greg McVerry

Greg McVerry

George been doing much the same thinking but been borrowing from innovation systems to explain how networks can change systems through slow sustainable growth. Systems only win if we let them. and.

Greg McVerry

@L_R_Schumacher I tho k he must have been the last reviewer on my IES grant who questioned both my research and project management skills since I am not at an R1 University.

Welcome to where innovation only occurs through death or retirement.


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