Saturday, May 9, 2015

IE UnTextbook Summer Diary: May 8-9 - blog reorganization

So, Friday was a big BLOG REORGANIZATION DAY, and I'm flagging this for #Rhizo15 also because I'm wondering if my great fondness for blogging and the de-centered content development process it fosters is something for which the rhizome metaphor might work well.

What I realized was that the big, sprawling Indian Epics blog I had been using for the past several years was getting so "overgrown" as it were that I had to let the roots extend outwards so that there would be some new nodes to grow up and out from, while still having everything be connected "underground" as it were. In this post, I will try to show how this blog growth spurt works; I went through a similar process with another cluster of course-related blogs like this some years ago, and I was excited that this moment had come at last for Indian Epics! 

Here are the three interconnected blogs I've ended up with:

Indian Epics: Images and PDE Epics

Indian Epics: Amar Chitra Katha

As far as Blogger is concerned these are three separate blogs, but as far as I am concerned they are three interrelated blogs. Here's what holds them together:
* same basic template (all built off the "simple" template)
* same widgets in sidebar (more about those widgets below)
* identical overview paragraph (with links to all three sites)

At the same time, the three blog sites are very distinctively different from each other, with a different color scheme and a different choice for the patterned background. That sense of "different spaces" (but connected!) is important for the students because it helps to reinforce the sense that they are doing different things with each of these three class websites. The different spaces are also important for me in terms of content development, helping me to spread my content development efforts out in these three general directions, while still staying connected.

Although I had been suspecting for a while that I would have to do this, getting the OER development grant (whoo-hoo!) made me realize that the time had come to make this big decision... and, having made the decision, it was surprisingly easy: everything fell into place, and I was so happy about the blog space when I was done at the end of the day on Friday. If only remodeling a house were so easy, eh?

I was especially happy with the content in the sidebars. I often dither about that, but for this set of blogs, I felt really clear about what I wanted to include:
Overview: This top paragraph is what holds the three sites together; easy to write.
Labels: The labels are working really well for the three separate blogs now, so either one or two label widgets provides all the navigation needed.
YouTube Playlist: I am really excited about learning more about YouTube channels, and I will be encouraging my students to make a playlist for their blog too!
Recent Posts: There are three widgets in each blog sidebar for the latest posts at all three of them.
Twitter: Cleaning up the content allowed me to better imagine how to have new items every day for this Twitter stream, even during the summer! It's a hashtag widget so it will pull from both my Twitter streams plus anything that might come from students also.
Google+: I use this instead of the default Blogger profile widget.
Blog Archive. This is more useful for me than for students/visitors, which is why it is down here near the bottom.
RSS Feeds. I need to think of what cool ways I can re-use the RSS feeds for these sites over at Inoreader! I haven't even started to think about that yet.
CC License. For the two sites where the content is being created by me, I have put a CC license. For the image library site, the contents are public domain (at least, I am endeavoring to make sure that is the case), and I have linked in every case to the website where people should go to find the same public domain source materials that I am using.

So, the blog reorganization day put me off schedule, but I am so glad I took the time on Friday to get this set up and to move Reading Guide content over to the new Reading Guide site. I still have a lot of work to do moving over all the book posts, but those were a mess anyway, so I can clean them up as I repost them, and far better to post them in a new home suited for them! Most important: this all feels very comfortable, very stable, so I can safely let this sit while I go to Texas next week, and then I can see how it suits me when I get back next weekend.

My Rhizo15 "subjective" was working on this UnTextbook, and I have been really grateful for the discussions over the past couple of weeks, the discussion about content in particular and also about the role of the instructor in developing and sharing content. All those ideas and provocations have been percolating as I work through this, and I am sure that the results are going to be so much better than they would have been otherwise. So, thanks to the Rhizo15 gang for getting the summer off to such a good start, and thanks also to Stacy Zemke and the OU Libraries for supplying me with comic books and other books so that Indian Epics next year is going to be such a great experience for the students!

Now I need to see just how much of the PDE Ramayana I can get done before I leave on Monday. I had hoped to finish before I go. That's probably not possible... but I might give it a big push this weekend and see what happens!



  1. Sometimes you have to dig up the bamboo, divide it a hatchet and replant it. Damned stuff is indestructable but not if it crowds itself with its own growth.

  2. Ohhhh, yes, BAMBOO THICKET: that is what my blog was starting to feel like. But what I want is a bamboo forest like in House of Flying Daggers so I can zoom through the forest, riding the bamboo! Bamboo needs room to MOVE:


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