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Anyone have a Web elf to spare? November 17, 2013

Posted by IaninSheffield in Musings.
Tags: , ,

I’m not sure precisely when I responded to Julia’s (Julia Skinner, @TheHeadsOffice) request for volunteers for Team 100WC; I guess it’ll soon be a year? Which means that I’ll have posted in excess of five hundred comments on blog posts made by pupils undertaking the 100 Word Challenge. But in turn, that got me thinking about the comments I’ve added to posts and articles from other educators; how many of them have I made … and where are they?


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Gioia De Antoniis: http://flickr.com/photos/jox1989/5327951306/

As a blogger, all my words are right here (or in one of my other blogs) which means that at any time I can refer back to them, either to use the information to illustrate a point I’m currently making, or to reflect on what I wrote a while ago. Is the opinion I held then still valid? Have things moved on since that previous reflection and if so how? But the comments I’ve made on other blogs have all gone … or to be more accurate, I have no idea where they are. Now that seems like an awful shame.

When I feel moved to reply to a blog post, it’s because I’ve been prompted to think; to consider a point someone’s made and respond, either to extend their assertion, or to disagree and offer an alternative view. The evidence of the personal learning and potential readjustment of my beliefs or standpoint, important though they may be, unfortunately become lost in the ether. Now I’m sure it wouldn’t take a great deal of effort for me to bookmark those contributions, but wouldn’t it be so much better if there was an automagic way of doing it? (If Tony and Darrel (The Edtech Crew) are reading, guys this is what I think we need1.) Not so much for trawling the Web for my meagre offerings, but for those of others … in particular our students. Many of the pupils who contribute to 100WC also provide feedback to each other by commenting on posts. Although they’re for the most part early in their development of this particular skill, as they get older and more sophisticated in what they post, how do we/they track and reveal their progression? How do we find their contributions so we can offer feedback and guidance on what they’re writing? How can they add the comments or observations of which they’re particularly proud into their eportfolio? Well they can I suppose, but like me, it would take more effort than we would perhaps prefer.

So what I think we need is an application capable of trawling the Web for posts made from a particular profile and aggregating those contributions into a readable form. Or maybe you know of one already?

1When the guys have a guest on their podcast, one of the regular questions they close with is to ask “what tool or application that’s not currently available would you like to have built and why?”



1. largerama - November 17, 2013

Yes, yes and very yes. Wouldn’t it be a lovely extension to something like Storify if it could trawl/crawl the web and do this. Surely this isn’t particularly difficult given that most blogs ask you to log in to comment. Maybe we have to move to a point where our profile sits on a layer above the tools we use and then that profile can pull from whatever space we are ‘commenting’ in; sort of a morph of About me to just: Me.

This feature is becoming even more relevant as a tool to aid assessment as higher education slowly shifts to such connectivist approaches to developing and showing knowledge in particular disciplines. Commenting on blogs, eportfolios and any other pieces of work of peers will only increase in education in my opinion, so who is first to make this tool/feature happen?

ianinsheffield - November 18, 2013

Wondering if there’s a hack using Yahoo Pipes or IFTTT? I guess there would have to be a way of adding the URL of any blog where you might post a comment to a simple list, then all comments to blogs in the list would initiate an action, pulling the comment into an aggregated channel. But then of course the comments would be completely out of context!
More thinking needed.

2. John Johnston - November 29, 2013

Problem is I am commenting here with my wordpress account, other places I use discus, or google, or just my name/email/password. In my opinion, the best solution would be to own my own id, connected to my own site, perhaps open id style. I’d use that to comment everywhere and my site would get something like a pingback/trackback from the blog I am commenting on.

ianinsheffield - November 29, 2013

You’re absolutely right of course; it’s a toughie! I wonder whether using an OpenID might go some way towards solving it. If I remember rightly OpenID can be generated from different source accounts, but if it acted as the hub with which other accounts were linked, then activity around the Web was undertaken using your OpenID, rather than individual accounts, maybe tracking and aggregating that activity might be possible. Hmmm …

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