All posts by Helen

Researcher/Lecturer based in Manchester, UK.



Design Touchstone: The Web Is A Collaborative Meaning-Making Technology

Questions: What is this thing called the World Wide Web? What are the values and ambitions that gave rise to its design? If “the medium is the message,” what is the message of the web? What do we stand to lose or gain in pursuing the possibilities opened up by the web?


  • Develop a deeper understanding of the Web: look at history of ideas that gave birth to the web, and the various cultures that have emerged from it, in order to understand the values and aspirations that inform connected learning.
  • Explore the web’s “threshold concepts” by working with case studies: understand concepts and ways of thinking that support web fluency through the exploration of sites over time.
  • Gain fluency in multimodal composing on the web.


Answers for Young People (n.d.)

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web, speaks directly and with characteristic humility about the goals of the Web and the values they represent.

The Internet: Everything You Ever Need To Know (2010)

John Naughton, former Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University of the UK, helps us imagine the scale, ramifications, and potential of the Internet and especially the Web that is the Internet’s true “killer app.”

Small Pieces, Loosely Joined: Preface (2002)
David Weinberger explores what he calls a “unified theory of the Web.” His title has become a catchphrase for explaining the unprecedented ways in which the Web enacts a decentered and distributed communication platform.

The Machine Is Us/ing Us (2007)
This short video is by Mike Wesch, and it has been seen well over 10 million times since it debuted in 2007. It charts the difference between the early days of the Web, when the new platform was mostly a “read” medium, to the next stage of its development, when a set of technological advances and the cultures they enabled gave rise to the “read-write” Web, what became known as “Web 2.0.”

Additional Resources: 

How the Web Works (2011)

Chad Chelius narrates a two-minute overview of some of the Web’s basic technical architecture.

Seven Ways to Think like the Web (2011)
Jon Udell has long argued that because the Web has no ready physical analogues, if any, we have not developed deep or pervasive intuitions about its nature or effective use. This blog post offers a remedy.

As We May Think” (1945)
In addition to his career as a distinguished scientist at MIT, Vannevar Bush was FDR’s science advisor, a chief architect of the Manhattan Project, and the founder of the National Science Foundation. This poignant and prescient document, published near the end of WWII, envisions a device called the “Memex” that would allow researchers to capture and share the “associative trails” that formed the basis of their inquiries. The essay influenced all the major figures of the digital age, most notably Doug Engelbart. Its influence continues today. Tim Berners-Lee places this document at the beginning of his “Little History of the World Wide Web.”

Deep Cuts
Doug Engelbart’s 1968 Demo
The famous “mother of all demos” that vividly illustrated the potential of interactive, networked computing and inspired a generation of digital visionaries. Doug’s Augmentation Research Center at SRI was the second node on the ARPANET, later to become the Internet.

Heavy Metal Umlaut Band: The Screencast (2005)
Jon Udell’s gem is a fascinating 10-minute analysis of a Wikipedia article, and the process a database-backed Web enables.

THIS WEEK’S TASKNuggets.  From one of the suggested reading/viewing texts, find a passage that grabs you in some way, and explore it with an eye to making it richly meaningful. It could be a passage that puzzles you, or intrigues you, or resonates strongly with you. It could be a passage you agree with, or one you disagree with. The idea here is that the passage evokes some kind of response, one that makes you want to work with the passage to make it as meaningful as possible. A good length for the nugget you choose is probably about a paragraph or so. One challenging aspect of nugget-work is to explore the actual words, not a paraphrase.

How do you make something as meaningful as possible? Well, use your imagination. You’ll probably start by copying the nugget into a blog post. From there, consider hyperlinks, illustrations, video clips, animated GIFs, screenshots, whatever. Make the experience as rich and interesting for yourself, and your course colleagues, as you can. If you select the video, “The Machine is Us/ing Us,” offer a commentary on 15-30 seconds of the video (and be sure to indicate start and stop times!). This will be your “nugget,” and your commentary will be what you build into a rich and interesting experience.


Week Two: Curation

“When it comes to standing out online, your best bet is to offer your own original content. Blog posts or tweets that revolve around your unique ideas will make you a standout candidate.

But the truth is, not everyone has the time, writing ability or even confidence to grow a quality blog or social media account, and plenty of people who don’t have a blog still want to move up the career ladder, into more challenging and better-paying positions.

What if there was a way to show the world just how smart you are, without creating your own content?

Well, there is, and it’s a tactic you should seriously consider: sharing other people’s content.” READ MORE

Flipboard – Social News Magazine (example magazine here)
Diigo – Social Bookmarking

Think about the topic (or topics) that you could curate to demonstrate your interests and expertise.

SEE ALSO – Curated content: 6 examples of curated blogs and 11 examples of content curation in action