I’m pretty happy today. It doesn’t hurt that it is a glorious day here in Trento, Italy, and the Spring is slowly creeping back into this mountain detachment. But that’s not the only reason I am feeling good these days, I am also digging the energy brewing online amongst folks I call friends and colleagues. There are a lot of potential vectors to follow, but let me start with Kin Lane‘s project wherein he created a “simple, client side RSS aggregator that runs 100% on Github.” There has been no shortage of love for Kin after the IndieEd”-“Tech Summit at Davidson College (as it should be), and I came across this project thanks to this post featuring the “Allow Cross Origin Access to Feeds” plugin whipped up by Tom Woodward in order to enable Kin’s RSS aggregator to work on WordPress. Love that, people making small stuff that might be useful to others, and in turn others build on top of it.
In fact, that reminds me of another source of joy for me on the web over the last few days. Adam Croom shared out an awesome blog post about “A Vinyl API of One’s Own” in which he seamlessly tied together his engagement photos, his love affair with vinyl, and the idea of personalizing APIs to relate to something that means something to him, namely a record collection. He pointed to the site Discogs that is trying to build the most comprehensive database of music on the web that other can contribute to. And guess what, they have an API! So cool, and it reinforces the idea of truly making the API personal by linking it to something you care deeply about.
Cool right, well it doesn’t end there. That crazy bastard Woodward wasn’t done yet (what a roll he is on)! Tom read Adam’s post, and figured it would be an interesting experiment for him to see how Adam might get his data out of Discogs and into something like WordPress:
Adam had information in Discogs. He wanted that information in WordPress where he could control it. I had never heard of the site, let alone seen it’s API. But it well documented and it took me a few minutes to realize I could get all the data I needed without even needing to authenticate.
From there a small, focused plugin was born, and Tom is getting ever closer to code mastery. But it doesn’t end there, Adam reads Tom’s post, marvels at this brave new web with such people on it works. He then built his Vinyl Subdomain site thanks to some help and inspiration from a fellow traveler.
This all makes me happy because it’s good. People sharing stuff they care about. Focused energy for understanding and creating something, what could be better? I think Audrey Watter’s resistance to defining Indie Ed”-“Tech too specifically is right on, let it breath. Let others run with it, just make sure it is not a few things….
Ed-tech need not be exploitative. Ed-tech need not be extractive. Ed-tech need not be punitive. Ed-tech need not be surveillance. Ed-tech need not assume that the student is a cheat. Ed-tech need not assume that the student has a deficit. Ed-tech need not assume that learning can be measured or managed. Ed-tech need not scale.
And when I see this exchange between Tom and Adam I am buoyed to no end by would it is and can be. Of all things I enjoy online, there is nothing better than being part of a small, passionate community coming together for the simple fact that it makes my online life more fun. Totally selfish, but also totally awesome.