How To Get Connected

{Please note that much of the information here has been updated. Please review it thoroughly.}

One notable consequence of moving away from Blackboard—in the awful lingo of “edutech,” it is an LMS, or “learning management system” (all LMSes are terrible; Blackboard is merely the worst)—is that it becomes much more difficult to capture attention. I don’t have an automatic, involuntary email blast to you students. That means we have to work just a little bit to get you all wired up so that we’re all connected. (Taking action following this information is required of all students.)

• • •

What are feeds?

So we use feeds. The way much of the Internet connects is by way of feeds. There are a few different protocols for feeds (RSS & Atom are the two that you’ll likely be concerned with; most people say RSS as the generic term for a feed; RSS stands for “really simple syndication”). Effectively, a feed is simply a URL that contains machine-readable content and metadata in such a way that it can be rebroadcast in different formats. For more, you can read about the basics on Wikipedia.

In WordPress, just about everything that has a URL can also be a feed, not only posts (where the comment thread is a feed), but also categories of posts. Dig in under the hood: if you go to http://feelings.kredati.org/blog/category/announce, you will see all announcements in the main course blog. It looks like the blog, but with only some of the posts visible. If, however, you go to http://feelings.kredati.org/blog/category/announce/feed/, a very different thing happens. If you have an RSS plugin in your browser, it will probably ask you if you’d like to subscribe. If you’re on Safari on a Mac, it will ask you if you’d like to see it in “Shared Sites,” and if you say no, it’ll tell you you need to download an RSS reader. If you do it in Google Chrome, however, if you don’t have the RSS plugin, you’ll get a whole mess of text. That’s an XML file.

Feeds are about broadcasting content across platforms. As part of the course, you’ll do some customization of your blog; it’s expect. But many of your classmates and I may end up interacting with your posts in other formats. In particular, students are encouraged to use our install of Tiny Tiny RSS. (Instructions here and here.)

That said, and because of all this, you will also have noticed that I have signed you up for emails using MailChimp; the MailChimp emails are basically fancy dressing around an RSS feed.

• • •

Hooking yourself into the course feeds.

• If you do nothing: you will be subscribed to the MailChimp course mailing lists; to the once-daily announcements feed digest emails via MailChimp; and you can access the (rather slow) Feelings and Networks Network on the blog, without using a feed reader.

• The course mailing lists are optional. I have signed up all students who are registered as of September 2nd for our course mailing list. I will occasionally write direct emails, but I have also included students on a list that will receive a feed-based list which will go out at 3pm every day as a digest, 90 minutes before our class meeting. (If there are no announcements, there will be no email.) You have options here: you can unsubscribe altogether (there’s a link at the bottom of every email; I don’t recommend this); you can unsubscribe yourself from all announcements; or you can stay subscribed to all announcements; or you may subscribe only to the most urgent ones. This is up to you—but you are still responsible for all the content on the course blog. If you were not registered as of September 2nd, the form to sign up or change preferences is here.

• You can sign up for (more) immediate email options if you wish. You can sign up to subscribe to each blog by email using the link at the bottom of each post, including the main course blog (I don’t recommend this). Instead, you might try blogtrottr (I have not tested this thoroughly). For all the announcements, subscribe to http://feelings.kredati.org/blog/category/announce/feed/. For only the urgent ones, subscribe to http://feelings.kredati.org/blog/category/urgent/feed/. (I don’t expect you’ll want all the posts by email.)

There is a meta-feed for the whole network. This is a slow and slightly janky thing. You should use Tiny Tiny RSS. You are responsible for reading everybody’s blog. We will work together to discover what the best way to do this is, for us, in this class, this semester. The meta-feed may or may not work for those purposes (it does not collect comments, for example). The Feelings & Networks Network page is simply a representation of this feed. The feed URL for the whole network is http://feelings.kredati.org/network (note there is no trailing slash).

• The feed reader we will be using is our class install of Tiny Tiny RSS. You can try using other, perhaps more user-friendly, solutions. I don’t recommend them; they’re all slow, for reasons beyond my troubleshooting ken.

• Other possibilities abound. I’m unconvinced of the value of this, but I am happy to hook things up in Twitter, if folks want it. (Even Facebook, although: really?) There are myriad other ways of bouncing feeds around the network. If anybody desires something different than what I’ve come up with here, I’ll do my best to oblige.