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Preview: Jon Udell

Jon Udell

Strategies for Internet citizens

Last Build Date: Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:42:12 +0000


What I Learned While Building an App for the Canvas Learning Management Systemjonudell

Sun, 18 Sep 2016 21:51:02 +0000

Life takes strange turns. I’m connected to the ed-tech world by way of Gardner Campbell, Jim Groom, and Mike Caulfield. They are fierce critics of the academy’s embrace of the Learning Management System (LMS) and are among the leaders of an indie-web movement that arose in opposition to it. So it was odd to find […](image)

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Copyright can’t stop annotation of government documentsjonudell

Wed, 15 Jun 2016 03:45:54 +0000

I’ll admit that the Medium Legal team’s post AB 2880?—?Kill (this) Bill had me at hello: Fellow Californians, please join us in opposing AB 2880, which would allow and encourage California to extend copyright protection to works made by the state government. We think it’s a bad idea that would wind up limiting Californians’ ability […](image)

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Watching animalsjonudell

Sat, 04 Jun 2016 20:58:08 +0000

On a visit to the Berlin Zoo last month, I watched primates interact with a cleverly-designed game called a poke box. It’s a plexiglas enclosure with shelves. Rows of holes in the enclosure give access to the shelves. Each shelf has a single hole, offset from the holes above and below. The machine drips pellets […](image)

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Thoughts in motion, annotatedjonudell

Fri, 27 May 2016 04:25:11 +0000

In Knowledge Work as Craft Work (2002), Jim McGee wrote: The journey from apprentice to master craftsman depends on the visibility of all aspects of craft work. That was the inspiration for a talk I gave at the 2010 Traction User Group meeting, which focused on the theme of observable work. In the GitHub era […](image)

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Annotation is not (only) web commentsjonudell

Sun, 24 Apr 2016 22:27:22 +0000

Annotation looks like a new way to comment on web pages. “It’s like Medium,” I sometimes explain, “you highlight the passage you’re talking about, you write a comment about it, the comment anchors to the passage and displays to its right.” I need to stop saying that, though, because it’s wrong in two ways. First, […](image)

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Owning and sharing your wordsjonudell

Sun, 03 Apr 2016 01:37:52 +0000

In 2001 I was among a community of early bloggers who came together around Dave Winer’s Radio UserLand, a tool for both publishing and aggregating blogs. To the world at large, blogging was rightly understood to be a new and exciting way for people to publish their writing online. Those of us exploring the new medium found […](image)

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Liminal thinking at scalejonudell

Sun, 17 Jan 2016 22:02:38 +0000

My short 2009 review1 of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Discipline includes this Kevin Kelly quote that continues to resonate for me: Kevin Kelly calls the book “a short course on how to change your mind intelligently” — in this case, about cities, nuclear power, and genetic and planetary engineering. These are all things that Steward […](image)

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When it’s cold in New England, thoughts turn to alternative home heatingjonudelleko-post-dec-viewsguiness-post-dec-views

Tue, 12 Jan 2016 04:15:51 +0000

I started this WordPress incarnation of my blog in late 2007. On this day in 2009 I published  one of the most-read posts here: Central heating with a wood gasification boiler. WordPress stats have shown me that interest has been seasonal. When it’s winter in the northeastern US, people still heating with oil imagine alternatives. As […](image)

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Abomination and progress: A schizophrenic Saudi timelinejonudell

Sat, 09 Jan 2016 23:20:06 +0000

When I read Katherine Zoepf’s article about emerging legal awareness among Saudi women, I found myself imagining a timeline of events. Then I realized I could create one pretty easily with Hypothesis: A timeline of events noted in Sisters in Law: Saudi women are beginning to know their rights 2004 In 2004, Saudi Arabia introduced […](image)

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Organic hydro-engineeringjonudell

Tue, 05 Jan 2016 04:43:09 +0000

We arrived in California in the fourth year of the drought. It didn’t rain often last winter but when it did it poured, and the Santa Rosa Creek — which had been trickling through our neighborhood — became a torrent. As I watched all that precious rainwater rushing away to the Russian River, and thence […](image)

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Humane local transportationjonudell

Sun, 03 Jan 2016 22:24:44 +0000

The recent documentary film Slingshot, about Dean Kamen’s quest to deliver water purification systems to the billion of us who need them, touches only briefly on the invention for which Kamen is most widely recognized: Segway. Almost everyone’s heard of the self-balancing electric scooter, though far fewer can name its inventor. Despite Segway’s fame, conventional […](image)

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Faithful reanimation of born-digital artifactsjonudell

Thu, 10 Dec 2015 04:37:25 +0000

Here’s a glimpse of a capability I’ve long imagined: It’s a picture of me browsing my December 1995 BYTE column, using the same browser — Netscape Navigator 4.0 — that I used when I wrote the column 20 years ago. You can try this yourself, for any archived website, using, a new project by […](image)

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The downtown space stationjonudell

Mon, 02 Nov 2015 03:21:38 +0000

An article I read years ago, and wish I could find again, claimed that America’s first enclosed shopping malls were designed to evoke the space stations of the mid-twentieth-century sci-fi imagination. I don’t know if that’s true but they do share a common design: the long central axis, with attached pods bathed in artificial light […](image)

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Parking in San Franciscojonudell

Thu, 29 Oct 2015 06:02:37 +0000

Although we are country mice we do venture down to the city now and again, as we did Monday evening to meet friends for dinner. It is super uncool to arrive at a downtown San Francisco destination in a private automobile. Ambulation, Uber, skateboard, bike, even Segway would be better. But for us there isn’t […](image)

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Passenger rail in the North Bayjonudell

Sun, 25 Oct 2015 18:39:16 +0000

In May 1906, Collier’s published Jack London’s The Story of an Eyewitness, his report on the devastation wrought by the San Francisco earthquake. Earle Labor’s recent biography of London explains how the writer was able to commute from his home in Glen Ellen, on the slope of Sonoma Mountain, to the burning city. “EARTHQUAKE” is […](image)

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