March 21, 2008

Disaggregating the Notion of PLEs #1 - PCVs: Personal (Portable?) Content Views

There's been a flurry of posts lately about PLEs - Brian today, Martin a few days ago, AJ over the last couple of weeks (also check out his What the heck is a PLE? tutorial). So I've taken a step back from that in the context of the Digital Worlds uncourse, and started thinking about how certain publishing platforms - like blog engines - can afford (;-) particular sorts of personal content reuse.

So I've started thinking about as PLE as a bleurghhhh sort of concept (meh?! ;-), and 'disaggregated' the PLE notion into personal content views, personal 'editing' tool suites [UPDATE: and personal publishing tools] (when viewed from the user side) and portable content views and user application provision [UPDATE: and user publishing tools] (when viewed from an institutional perspective).

So how might portable/personal content views work on the Digital Worlds uncourse blog?

I've already mentioned how by making use of blog categories I can generate separate views over the content either on a page level (click on the category tag on the blog and see a reverse chronological river of posts view of posts in that category) or feed level. The feeds can then be piped into a webdesktop such as Netvibes of Pageflakes as separate entities and used to re-present the content in a form that suits the user.

Here's a global desktop view I've been working on in Pageflakes (Digital Worlds (global desktop):


The left hand column has a 'traditional' reverse chronological view of the most recent posts to the blog. The central column is topped by a Splashcast video player (more about that in a moment) and then two views of particular categories I have posted under in the blog. (These might correspond to a topic that lasts a week, say, or a set of tutorials on using a particular application). As these views are supposed to recreate a particular topical narrative, they are presented in chronological order (which means reversing the order of items in the original feed).. The third column has another category feed ("Friday Fun" and a view of the most recent comments to the blog as a whole.

Another Pageflakes view focuses just on the Game Maker tutorials (Digital Worlds (Game Maker) pagecast), the idea being that this component of the uncourse might be of interest on its own. (Bearing this in mind, I also defined a GMFree category that contains all the non-Game maker posts.)


(Using a similarly selective approach as to which feeds are displayed, someone who wasn't practically minded might create a page that only had game studies type feeds displayed, and did not re-present any of the hands-on tutorials.)

My original intention was to populate the tabs for each game by filtering the GameMaker category feed from the blog by tag (using a tags for each different game tutorial). (Here's a pipe to do that: Digital Worlds: Cat and Tag Reverse view).

Unfortunately, the category feed only displays the most recent 10 (?) items, and there are more than that number of items in the category feed....AARRGGGG - aha moment - there are tag feeds too... e.g.

Okay - so my original workaround was to build a Grazr OPML reading list for each tag containing links to all the pages in a particular game tutorial and then display this (after RSSification!) in a Pageflakes panel... but I don't have to do that, do I, as long as there are no more than 10 (?) items in a tag feed... (I also want to reverse the feed so it is in chronological order, using the Feed Reverser pipe).

As well as displaying the tag feeds on the Pageflakes page, I also use them to generate separate OPML feeds that point to a list of comment feeds for each post in the tag feed, like this view of Comments and Trackbacks for the maze Game Posts. These OPML comment feeds are then displayed on the Pageflakes page using a Grazr widget. So now, for each tag feed, I can view the posts tagged that way, and the comments to those posts.

(I'm not sure if I can get a comments by category feed out of Wordpress? But I can make one, right? Just get the category feed, and then for each post derive the URL for the comments feed for each post, and then merge all these?)

The Splashcast Video Channel

Several of the posts in the uncourse are built around 3 or 4 video clips from Youtube. An alternative way to view these movies is to recast the linear blogpost as a 'video show' (I've used this approach before with We Ignore Digital Media at OU Peril - the Movie).

So, I've started to pull together some 'shows' based around posts that have already gone up, and will continue to add shows to the Digital Worlds channel as time goes on...

Add Digital Worlds to your page

I need to think about how best to add 'continuity text' to explain why particular movies are being show - and indeed what the focus of the particular 'show' is, but I canlt do everyhting all at once, right? ;-)

Moving Forward

Once again, I've run up against some constraints within the hosted Wordpress solution. The following would be handy:
- a complete feed containing all the items in particular tag or category (i.e. no cap on the number of items per feed);
- a 'reverse feed' url to present the feed items in chronological order (again, unlimited in the number of items that can be displayed);
- an OPML feed publication mechanism (global, category and tag levels) that lists the full content of each post in a feed as an OPML items (so an RSS feed item becomes an OPML content item) followed by a link to the RSS feed for the comments for that item;
- alternatively, it might be more appropriate if the comments feed for each post could be headed by an item containing the original post (that is to say, generate an RSS feed for each post containing the original post as well as it comments).

This is of course, a work in progress. Any and all comments appreciated....

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Posted by ajh59 at March 21, 2008 01:11 PM

Comment 1:
Would it be an oversimplification to boil your disaggregated PLE down into read/write?

Comment 2:
Some of the RSS limitations can be overcome with Yahoo Pipres (or even Dapper)?

Posted by: AJ Cann at March 21, 2008 03:00 PM

"Comment 1:
Would it be an oversimplification to boil your disaggregated PLE down into read/write?"

That's probably not so far off; though there's another point to, and that is a difference in stance between the educator/conductor and the students/orchestra. As educator, I need to produce and present resources to students in such a way that they can consume them.

I would actually have drawn a picture in gliffy with 3 overlapping circles for tools-where-you-type-or-create-stuff, publishing/comms engines (blogs, wikis, IM, email even etc) and cintent consumptions tools/surfaces (blog, pageflakes, iPT ;-) - i.e. the presentation layer the student uses to consume the content, cf. the publishing layer/medium/channel, and the editing layer) but gliffy wants to charge me, and it's not really pay-for-it good enough... (do you know any good online alternatives btw? Hmm, actually, I guess I could have used google charts (set diagram) API for the above, couldn't I?)

Okay, so we keep saying we're getting away for chalk'n'talk educator at the front giving stuff the kids who sit watching in respectful awe ?!;-) But I don't know if the aysmmetry between educator and student can, or should, be completely dissed?

"Comment 2:
Some of the RSS limitations can be overcome with Yahoo Pipres (or even Dapper)?"

Okay - so i have a reverse-the-order-of-items pipe, and I built a pipe to filter out items from a category feed based on tag (till I guessed that - and found - there *were* user/tag based pipes out of wordpress...

...and yes, I could use dapper to scrape some things (as i could use yahoo pipes load html module) (though it starts to get messy when a category runs to several pages. Not insurmountable, though - my Yale pipes rely on multiple nested page loads and screen scrapes with a bit of php glue - - but I've done that, and found a pattern, and doing it for wordpress is chore, when it'd probably be easier to hack a wordpress module, widget or installation to get what I want).

PS That said, what pipes did you have in mind exactly? Tell you waht, why not build what you were (not;-) hinting at and *show* me? ;-) Heh heh... have a good Easter :-)

Posted by: Tony Hirst at March 21, 2008 05:49 PM