Mary Rowlandson meets Commentpress

I have set up a WordPress Multi-User test of CommentPress, a theme brought to you by the fine folks at The Future of the Book (in particular Bob Stein, Jessie Wilbur, and Eddie Tejada). This theme is absolutely sick (a good thing, mind you) because it allows you to literally publish a book online using the blogging software WordPress. But more importantly, it builds in some revolutionary nested comment functionality that re-imagines the space wherein you can have threaded conversations alongside the text to brilliantly capture the actual unfolding of a stream of textual ideas in-line. Very impressive stuff, and I highly recommend you try it out yourself.


As a test on a WordPress Multi-User site, I published Mary Rowlandson’s Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, 1682 here (it woks like a champ). I was able to cut and paste this public domain text quite easily because the Early Americas Digital Archive has their texts encoded in the TEI (Text Encoded Initiative) XML vocabulary. Now Patrick will have a lot more to say about how this may open up some amazing possibilities for further slicing and dicing of a text formatted in such a way.

In short, I can think of a million and one ways this may prove revolutionary for how we read, discuss, and comment upon texts for a class. Think of the possibilities for recording and sharing marginalia; collaboratively annotating a text as a class; threaded discussion about book passages; tracking one’s genesis for paper; offering communal books for different classes and students to works through and comment on in a distributed fashion; and the list goes on and on. The way I would teach an Early American literature class would undoubtedly change forever given the xml formatted texts and this phenomenal theme which opens up so much teaching and learning goodness.

Thanks to the heads up very early on from Brian Lamb (who saw this baby coming months ago), as well as Martha and Matt (of Tattered Coat fame) for the links via and e-mail, you all rule the Web 2.0 school!

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7 Responses to Mary Rowlandson meets Commentpress

  1. Gardner says:

    Took at look at this just before you blogged–saw the “sick” in your delicious links and couldn’t resist–there are HUGE connections here with Engelbart, Ted Nelson, others–can’t wait to play with your Rowlandson upload. You rock.

    So many promising avenues of investigation appearing all around us. I always wanted to live in the Renaissance. Now, maybe I’m getting my wish.

  2. Jeff says:

    I couldn’t help myself when I saw this post come up in Twitter, despite my public intentions to ignore your blog until the mss is finished. 🙂

    This project is really, really important. It makes republishing and using so many historical sources possible in rich, rich, ways.

  3. Alan says:


    Very powerful stuff! I struck out a few months back looking for a theme suitable to publish something more akin to a journal or zine, and what you demo breaks it out of the blogs as date ordered diary stuff.

    It’s been tagged with my dormant “Not Cat Diaries” tag – sites published by blogs that dont look (or act) like blogs.

    Note- I was unable to get any comments to post from the floating div for the comment entry. Nothing happened on clicking the submit button, and Biff Cantrell submitted a boat load of comments

  4. Jim;

    I have been experimenting with this theme and the comments are not working for me in IE. Have you had the same experience?

  5. Jim says:

    @Gardner -Just waiting fore you to figure out how we can really use this puppy 😉

    @Jeff -It is nice to know you haven’t abandoned me entirely 🙂

    Was Biff Cantrell using IE again? Did you really have a problem, were you using Safari or Flock?

    @Mario –
    Comments on IE was a no go for me too, yet another reason not to use IE! Nonetheless, looks like it will be fixed in version 1.1 due out shortly -as I know you already know. This is a pretty cool development for our WPMu install -I’m very excited at how easy it will be for folks to use this theme.

  6. Pingback: Commentpress, Interactive Libraries, and WPMu at bavatuesdays

  7. Pingback: jimgroom » Commentpress, Interactive Libraries, and WPMu

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