Initial steps with the #FedWikiHappening happening

So I’m starting another MOOC. Though it’s not a MOOC at all. It’s apparently a SiCMOOC (small intimate Connectivist MOOC). Though that term is labouring a fad for more than it’s worth. Much prefer the term the organiser (Mike Caufield @holden) is using a happening

The happening metaphor is borrowed from theater, where tightly structured but ultimately meaningless events combine with the actions of audience-participants to produce unique, emergent meaning.

Specifically, I’ll be participating in the Federated Wiki Happening (#fedwiki seems to be the hash tag update: #fedwikihappening it is). The best current description seems to be this Google doc. I’ll attempt to use my blog as a journal of the experience. So here goes.

At first glance the happening shows some of the characteristics of a cMOOC. Each day we’re getting a “daily” to spark off ideas and tasks.

Daily #1 – Interesting people to be sure

Setting the scene. Letting us know what to expect. Linking the happening back to the early Wiki days and setting the happening up as the source of the first federated wiki community. More than learning a new tool, we’re helping co-develop its culture.

Federated wiki is easy to install – the coder in me wants to get to that straight way.

Daily #2 – An introduction to idea mining

The main activity for this happening is collaborative journaling using federated wiki. The nature of federated wiki – a focus on reuse and connection – makes it different than blogging or other media.

Apparently Idea Mining is a useful approach

the translation of things we read, see, and think into named ideas and examples that we can connect to form larger and more various thoughts.

As it happens the same connections that got me into this happening has provided me with a ready made example. After attending my ASCILITE’14 presentation and as part of a Twitter conversation @timklapdor tweeted

To which the happening’s illustrious organiser (@holden) replied with an illustration of Idea Mining around the idea of “digital renovator”. AN ideas that I briefly mentioned in the presentation. (Actually, I only added that slide the night before as part of my last edits).

Task: Must explore how to expand/extend/reuse that page once I have FedWiki installed. Must start using Trello for my FedWiki todo list.

Question: I assume page (as in Wiki page) is the correct term for a part of a FedWiki?

In recent cMOOC tradition we’re starting out the happening with a suggested process. This one summarised in this video.

The video critiques some of the current options (social bookmarking, twitter) we use around social media when we currently find something interesting. Instead replacing it with creating a page in Federated Wiki that captures the idea.

A lot of the “goodness” that might arise from this practice does appear to arise from Mike’s skilled use of it. Remembering connections with other ideas and taking the time to make the connections between them.

Question: How well will folk (like me) who are currently using social bookmarking and other limited means take to this type of active process? Will it only work for the motivated and capable folk?

It also illustrates that a lot of benefit arises when there are other folk using this same approach and tool. Hence perhaps the importance of this happening and its aim of creating the community.

Question: Watching the video as Mike connected ideas, the obvious though was whether anyone has harnessed something to visualise the “idea map”?

Question: Wondering also how the inevitable problem of “same idea, different label” gets handled?

Daily #3 – Skirting the orange halo of death

Apparently there’s an interface issue we should be aware of.

Mentions that Federated Wiki – “a federated data-ware JSON driven platform” – includes lot of difficult stuff. This type of change isn’t easy.

Question: When combined with the need for FedWiki users to be motivated and capable (see above), does this mean that the adoption cost of FedWiki will be too high? Too high for me? What about too high for some of the courses and the students I teach?

Apparently the problem focused on here has been a problem in a course. And a problem for some of the happening participants. This video summarises the problem and the solution. In essence, it appears to be a caching issue. In essence, the changes you make in a FedWiki page are made in a browser. Whilst you have a valid Internet connection (or permission to edit a page) the changes get updated on the server. But if your connection/permissions doesn’t exist, you get a orange halo and the updates are only in your browser. You have to hit a button to get it updated on the server (once your connection/permission is back).

Apparently we get our fedwiki homes in a couple of days. Can I wait? Should I try to go it alone and install it? Looks like a Ruby application.

Perhaps I should read a bit more about Federated Wiki. This Wired story seems like a good place to start and asks a question similar to the above – “But is it too nerdy to catch on?”. It also mentions the challenge of overcoming social media inertia.

And a TEDx talk from Ward Cunningham himself explaining the federated wiki.

6 thoughts on “Initial steps with the #FedWikiHappening happening

  1. I’m at the blissful stage of having watched two videos I understand, and still being present. My investment in this happening is precisely to explore what hope non-tech users have when opportunities come up like this. I’m really not even a coder, so my reaction is the precise opposite of “Should I try to go it alone and install this?” This to me is like getting to the airport, seeing the plane, and wondering if I should fly it.

    But as a humanities scholar and tech historian, I think a lot about how we all get to work together in the spaces between people like me and people who speak a language I only partially grasp.

    Thinking about this helps me figure out some of the reactions we get from students whose first reaction is “I can’t.” To which I typically say “Well, not yet. And maybe not by the end of the course. But let’s see what happens anyway.”

    I’m so appreciative of the chance to see how long I can hang on, and contribute usefully. Already this has got me thinking about how important it is to take the time to let students orient themselves and think about what they might bring to a diverse team.

    Such a helpful post, thanks.

    1. I often think the main reason I’ve gotten to where I am in academia mainly comes from having just the right amount of technical skills to do that which appears magical but really isn’t. That and having the opportunity to tinker.

      Increasingly I do worry about how that impacts what my students experience in my courses. What do I assume that is easy, which isn’t? Is the fact that it’s not easy a good thing or a bad thing.

      Personally, I think you might do a lot more than just hang on with fedwiki. There might be the barrier at the beginning, but when the thinking and writing starts I think you’ll power ahead. Though it will be interesting to explore how the nature of fedwiki matches/enables/constrains writing etc.

  2. Your posts (I’ve read a bunch) help me gain some understanding of this Fed Wiki concept, after reading Caulfield’s blogpost on Fed Ed. But I’m still not sure how you claim a wiki page on the Fed Wiki. Will adding my email to the Google Doc provide me with the resources to do so? Thanks for your help?

    1. G’day, Glad the posts have helped. In terms of getting your own Fed Wiki, my current understanding is that you have to install your own Fed Wiki server. This becomes your both your home in Fed Wiki space (where all your stuff is stored) and also the “browser” you use to navigate through the rest of Fed Wiki space.

      Typically you would have to do this yourself. Have the Fed Wiki software installed and configured on your own server. For the purposes of #fedwikihappening, @holden has set this up for most people. Who he’s set this up for was via the Google doc. I believe he’s been keeping the participant list in #fedwikihappening fairly short because of the need to provide this type of technical server and associated support. So I’m not sure whether adding your name to the Google doc would result in you getting a space on the #fedwikihappening server

      @holden did set one up for me on the #fedwikihappening site, but as I mentioned I wanted to “own” my own. Currently I’m using Reclaim Hosting for my domain/server. After initial exploration I discovered that I couldn’t install the FedWiki software on that service. As it happens, however, Reclaim Hosting have set up their own Fed Wiki server and my initial Fed Wiki was created in that space. Click on the user directory link there. I assume you would need to be a client of Reclaim Hosting to get access here.

      For me, Reclaim Hosting have done some magic behind the scenes so that my Fed Wiki is now located here

      In the following twee, @holden mentions that Digital Ocean is a hosting company on which it is quite simple to install your own version of Fed Wiki. If the Reclaim Hosting folk hadn’t come through, this was the option I was going to follow.

  3. Thank you for unpacking the process for me. Whew! There’s quite a bit of technical stuff going on. I don’t think I will participate this time. I will read your posts and those of the other participants to see how this “happening” unfolds, and learn vicariously for now. Thanks a bunch!

  4. Pingback: FedWiki 7, 8 and 9 – Moving, catching up and engaging | The Weblog of (a) David Jones

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