Oct 05

Personal cyberinfrastructure

I probably don’t have to convince anyone attending THATCamp that it’s important to cultivate – and to teach our students to cultivate – an online presence. But what does it mean, in practice, to build and maintain a personal cyberinfrastructure?

I can imagine taking a session like this in a couple different, and not necessarily mutually exclusive directions:

  1. The technical · How do you get started with a website of your own? How do you use personal web space as a hub, an aggregator, and an archiver of the content you produce in places scattered around the web?
  2. The theoretical and the political · Most of us live our digital lives in many places. The content I create lives on my blog, on group blogs, on Twitter, on Github, on Gmail, etc. Some of these places are under my direct control, others are not. What are the personal-data-related arguments for moving away from third-party content-storage services like Twitter and Google? On the other hand, is there a tension between the idea that we should create content only in our own spaces and the underlying distributed spirit of the Internet itself? In short, is a truly personal cyberinfrastructure something we should even be aspiring for?
  3. The pedagogical · Ed tech gurus like Gardner Campbell (from whom I believe I’m stealing the phrase ‘personal cyberinfrastructure’) and Jim Groom have experimented with and theorized about cyberinfrastructure in the classroom, teaching their students how to set up their own servers and also how to think about their identities as full citizens of the web. What is to be gained by such an exercise? Is it worth your class time to teach students about things like cPanel and WordPress? Should we fight the apparent tendency for our students to live their online lives in third-party silos like Facebook?

What do you think? Is there the makings of a session here?


1 ping

Skip to comment form

  1. Lincoln Mullen

    I definitely think there is the making of a session here, Boone. If universities and colleges have a responsibility to prepare citizens, then they have a responsibility to teach online citizenship as well. I’d like to see this session develop a kind of syllabus for personal cyberinfrastructure. The syllabus might list the basic technical skills needed, as well as the pedagogical objectives teachers might have for students.

  2. Trip Kirkpatrick

    One aspect that I’d like to see covered in such a session is sustainability. Not the environmental kind, though that is an interesting aspect as well. I’m thinking rather, of the need to prepare students and to learn ourselves of how to think in the long term about this infrastructure. What happens when a Ning goes to a pay model. We can’t all have a Boone B. Gorges to figure out a migration plan for us. We always need to be thinking about maintaining and persisting our own data and work, not relying on the hive mind to do it for us. By extension we need to be able to convey this need to others and to explain how it works.

  3. I’m definitely coming to this session. This both overlaps and goes beyond the “digital age literacies” topic I proposed to discuss, and in a very thoughtful and authentic way. I think too often students get “schooled” about their online presence as a negative, warning kind of thing. That’s important but it is really just part of the issue, and I think Boone has described a really great way to help young people think more systematically about the opportunities!

  4. matienzo.org

    I’m happy to contribute to this discussion, but from a slightly different angle. As an archivist, my duty is to preserve and make available records. An important part of being able to do this is understanding the creator, as well as the context of record creation. Without an adequate understanding of context, I am relatively limited into what I can say or do with these records. Archivists have begun to reach out to people to get a better sense of the processes by which they create records, and the form in which these records exist. In order to ensure access to these records, creators need to get a better sense of their own processes as well.

  1. THATCamp New England » Blog Archive

    […] Saturday. So let’s hear your ideas! If you need a model, see these early proposals by Konrad, Boone, Brian, and […]

Comments have been disabled.

Skip to toolbar