Monday, December 26, 2005

A Poetry Reading

An uncle reads to his nephew; Maine, Christmas, 2005.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Podzinger: Search Inside the Podcast

Podzinger makes podcasts searchable. For example, this search for the phrase "English Major" returns approximate transcripts for some of my own podcasts. In addition, on can click on a word of the transcript to begin listening to the podcast from that word on.

For more detailed information about Podzinger, see this FAQ.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Frightening Words

Said the child: "Come, Daddy. Come see what I did in the bathroom!"

Thursday, December 08, 2005


It was a frosty morning in Madison, South Dakota.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Remixed History

An experiment in composite podcasting (compodcasting?).

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Narrative Improvisation

The child gets new books every week. This week he received The Bear Under the Stairs.

I read the book to him several times. Then something very interesting happened. The child, who can't read, set out to read the book to me. He took it in his hands, parted the covers, and turned the pages. As he did, he narrated the book. Bits and pieces were words and phrases he remembered from my readings. Other bits and pieces he filled in from his own imagination.

When he reached the book's midpoint, he stopped. "It's too scary when I read it," he said. "You read it to me again."

It seemed his imagination turned the bear into a personal demon infinitely more fierce than the (imaginary) bear in the (actual) book.

I wonder. What if my Composition students wrote papers, illustrated them, arranged the illustrations in storyboards, then gave them to others to narrate? This might be a good way to encourage developmental editing that is, at the same time, imaginative and collaborative both.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Get Your Tiddly On!

TiddlyWiki is an extremely portable, html/css/javascript wiki-style hypertextual writing and notekeeping environment.

A community has grown around TiddlyWiki. There are many variations. (Personally, however, I like to stick close to home in case a new version comes out; up-to-dateness (often) suffers with each degree of separation from the source.)

TiddlyWiki has grown so popular, it even has its own Wikipedia article. You know you've made it when you're the subject of a Wikipedia article.

My favorite TiddlyWiki example is academic.

I'm not so interested in TiddlyWiki as a composing space, or note taking space, but I am very interested in it as a web-based presentation space. No doubt, next semester, my students will find their course materials TiddlyWiki-ed inside WebCT!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Interview With An English Major III

Yesterday I enjoyed the chance to catch up with one of our recently graduated English majors. Her name is Joanna, and not only has she continued to practice the critical skills and habits of mind she learned in her major, she's even entered a Ph.D. program in Communication and plans to become a professor! Joanna speak about her experiences as an English major and her plans to recreate some of those experiences for others.

Bonus Link: Interview With An English Major Playlist

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Writely Spillsheet

I find that a local HTML document linked to Firefox's bookmarks toolbar folder, and framing a Writely document within an IFRAME, makes an excellent spill sheet for notes and rough drafts.

Writing As Blogthread

No question about it: the theme of writing threads through this blog like a silver lining.

One can subscribe to this search.

DanToday Frapper Map

Bored? Glum? Add yourself to the DanToday Frappr map. Let's see who's out there.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Theme Candidate 5

Theme candidate 5 is an a capella number!

Tiny Background Images

Today I referred my Web Design students to a site replete with tiny background images.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sugar Glider

I got the chance to do a little illustrating in my morning Web Publishing class today. A student building a web site devoted to sugar gliders needed a drawing for her banner.

I was happy to oblige!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Writing Prescription from Dr. Murphy

My colleague, Dr. Maureen Murphy, also stopped by my office today. We got to talking and, being who we are and doing what we do, our talk turned to writing. Here's her advice to college writing students.

Windy Day

It was a windy day (.mov file, 12mb)

Jim Pays Us a Visit

My dear friend Jim stopped by my office today. Jim, now emeritus, taught writing and speech at my school for more years than I've been alive. (He says he was "trapped" into teaching here in 1967.) During his visit we spoke about the teaching of writing ("Even after 35 or 40 years, teaching people to write remains a challenge," said Jim) and about the rewards of teaching ("The best reward is an appreciative letter from a former student," said Jim).

I always love it, though, when Jim agrees to tell one of his stories or jokes. He's famous for them. Today he told me a doosie . (Warning: risque content.)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"The Importance of the Irrelevant"

I would personally like to thank Rick Schwier for making the point, in EdTech Posse podcast #8 (32:16), that learning things that may seem irrelevant or impractical is nonetheless worthwhile for the new ideas it gives you.

At least I think it's Rick and not Rob Wall who says this. My apologies if my attribution is wrong.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Monday, November 07, 2005


Dave Winer brings us another idea for organizing a conference. He calls it "hypercamp."

Here's how Dave describes it:

It's not a BloggerCon, not an unconference, but it's not your normal panel-speaker-audience thing either.

It's over quickly, in twelve hours starting at 10AM and ending with a 10PM cocktail party, and maybe dancing.

It's organized, not free-form, there is a schedule, a grid, but instead of people going into the hallway to converse it's all in one big room with the conversation at the center, and lots (I mean lots) of Internet connections.

I'm not sure it's the perfect configuration for a classroom, but who knows? I need to mull it over . . .


Having trouble explaining to people exactly what I intend to do with a text analysis program in the context of a course in college writing, I made this audio, to be heard in conjunction with this video.

Download the audio. Click on the video link. Stop the video. Start the audio. Then restart the video when I tell you to (on the audio).

The link to the text analysis program in question, TextSTAT is here

Update (11/8/05): This demo's for Dr. B!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Instant Text Analysis

Yeah, Right.

The most frustrating phrase in the English language (especially when it's printed on a package of mozzarella cheese):

"Easy Open."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Finger Index

The arrival of a cold front in South Dakota today was heralded by a corresponding shift in the "finger index." The finger index is an informal index which uses finger color as a gauge of air temperature.

Today's cold front brought with it a distinct shift of the finger index into the "violet" color range. The index is expected to shift in to the "blue" range later this month.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Draw You, Draw Me

Richard Bell has posted to his online journal a couple of drawings of him I drew some time ago. So I thought it only fair that I post here a cartoonish drawing of myself.

Never Too Old

You're never too old for Halloween.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Tell Me the Story of Your Mind

Gardner Campbell's podcasted remark that podcasts may help to "bridge imaginations" suggested to me a convergence of academic investigations and creative writing. What if students were instructed to articulate their analytical thinking in the voice of a reliable (fictional) third person narrator, or (more interesting still) in the voice of an unreliable (fictional) third person narrator? What if, instead of textual outlines in Writely documents, students performed research as adventure in a virtual world such as Second Life?

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Breakthrough for Online Writing Instruction

My friend TQ and I blew ourselves away when we struck on a terrific combinations of tools. While playing with jybe, a synchronous chat program that runs in your browser, we opened a Writely document. Thus we were able to coedit the Writely document while chatting with each other, all in the same browser window. The potential for online writing instruction (and information literacy instruction) was both obvious and thrilling.

Here's a screenshot of our epiphanic moment.

Tricky Background Image

For Dr. B.

link to mp3

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bookmark Skype Chats

Today I learned how to treat a multi-party Skype chat session as if it were a chat room and bookmark it so I can recall the same group of contacts to the same chat in the future.

Want to see how it's done?

Click here (4.3mb) for the video. Click here(500kb) for the audio.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

DanToday Theme Candidate 3

Ladies and gentlemen, let's give a big hand to our third candidate for official DanToday theme song.

OPML Reading Lists

As Dave Winer defines the concept, a reading list is a dynamic OPML document containing links to multiple RSS subscriptions and curated by a subejct area expert who filters the subscriptions.

What is new in this idea that takes it a step further than something like publicly viewable bloglines subscriptions (OPML) is the introduction of expert filtering. For example, the list of my own subscriptions to educational weblogs might be rather arbitrary compared to Stephen Downe's (expertly filtered) list of educational weblog subscriptions.

I think I may ask my writing students to create reading lists on their topics which could be inherited (and edited for currency and relevance) by students in subsequent writing courses.

A Voice of Experience

At lunch today an older gentleman, retired from retail sales and high school teaching, asked to weigh in on a conversation I and two of my colleagues were having about evaluating student writing. He told us that, in his experience, students don't know how to write in the real world. He told us if we wanted to remedy this problem, not to teach to standardized tests; rather, he implied we should make writing assignments authentic, true to life, and make sure they involve critical thinking and audience assessment (he may not have used these words, exactly, but you could tell he wanted to). On the subject of student assessment, he told us we should not curve grades, but rather that we should grade to an unwavering standard. Finally he told us that the buck for student performance stops with us. "When I taught high school," he said, "if my students did poorly, I always blamed myself."

I bet that man graded holistically.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Interview With An English Major II

In this, our second "interview with an English major," we meet Nicole. Listen to find out what Nicole likes best about being an English major.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Creative Learning

Quote of the day:

"Learning is becoming a creative activity."

Stephen Downes

Friday, October 21, 2005

Theme Song: Candidate 2

The second candidate in our DanToday theme song contest is a group effort .

Now that's independent media!

Theme Song: Candidate 1

Just for fun, here's a look at the the 1st contestant for "official DanToday theme song!"

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Horse Race

My enthusiam for poetry recordings collected at the Pennsound website has resulted in a horse race of mp3 downloads!

A personal favorite (recommended by my friend, Ken): poet David Antin. Antin's is a "poetry of thinking."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Interview With An English Major

Meet Abbey, a current English Major and a member of my writing class. In our interview , Abbey tells me why she chose to become an English major, what keeps her coming back to class, and how she believes her experience as an English major will serve her in the future.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Dr. B's Active Rubrics

Dr. Blessinger's use of active rubrics in Word merits an A for precision, an A for efficiency, an A for professionalsim and a C for documentation (just kidding, Dr. B.).

Perhaps detailed instructions will be forthcoming.

Update: He did it! What a mensch!

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Today I tried out the Taskable OPML / RSS browser. This is a very small application that allows easy access to OPML and RSS directories. To see what I mean, just download and install (Windows only); it comes with several demo links that prove the point.

I was hoping it would be better for reading text, such as Dave Winer's DaveNet essays indexed here.

You can subscribe to an OPML version of my own Bloglines RSS subscriptions here.

Goes great with OPML Search!


Chat with a Friend

Last night I spoke with Ken Sherwood, poet, professor, and soon-to-be podcaster. We spoke of Skype, outliners, and the social bookmarking service. I hope you will enjoy these highlights of our chat.

download (16.3 mb) mp3

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Isn't It the Cutest?

Isn't this just the cutest, most adorable little flash mp3 player you've ever seen?

Play This Page

For a playlist of every audio or video file linked to this webpage, go here.

It's that easy.

For an RSS feed for media files linked to this webpage, go here.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Identity 2.0 Presentation

Dick Hardt's presentation style is getting a lot of attention.

What's An Outline?

I'd been telling my student to write outlines. My position is that it makes more sense to advise students while they're outlining their paper than it does to guide them after they have written a draft. Then it occurred to me: what if they don't know how to write an outline? What if they don't really know what an outline is? Hey, it could happen.

Then I found this handout.

Most useful.

A Junior Moment

CHILD: Sometimes I forget things.
ME: What did you forget?
CHILD:I don't know.
ME:Can you remember a time you forgot something?
ME:When was that?
CHILD:I don't remember.

DanToday Theme Song Contest

Management has determined that it's high time DanToday had its own theme song. Although many tunes were auditioned, in the end, the choice was clear. The official theme song of DanToday is (and how could it be otherwise): "Do You Know the Way to DanToday?"

Those of you familiar with the work of Burt Bacharach will no doubt recognize the homage to the song, "Do You Know the Way to San Jose." At this point, however, all I have is the music. I think it would be nice to have some vocals as well - a vocal adaptation of the Bacharach song for use as the theme song of this blog.

After all, Jeff and Pat of the "This and That" podcast have their own theme song, why shouldn't I?

What I'm proposing is that you take the music (midi | mp3) to "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" and the lyrics, and, with a program like Audacity, add one or more vocal tracks to the recording. Change the lyrics so the song is about DanToday, not about San Jose, save the file in mp3 format, and send it to me at djweinstein at gmail dot com.

If I like it, I'll host it and post it. If I really like it, I'll make it the official theme song of this weblog, and a link to it will appear in the sidebar, permanently.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Though not quite as fancy as Writely, Whiteboard also offers literary collaborators a wiki-style, syndicated writing space.


If you would like a dead-simple, lightweight word processor (no bells, no whistles, just something with which to write that term paper) and you would like it to be free, allow me to recommend AbiWord.

Piggy's Great Adventure

image of an adventuresome little toy pig

OWL Interview

Last year, student renovators of DSU's Online Writing Lab interviewed several DSU faculty members about their views on college writing. These interviews have been posted to the OWL. They contain text and audio components. One can read and listen to my interview here.

Podcasting Hits the Big Time

As if the availbility of podcasts via ITunes was not enough to cement the legitimacy of this personal-on-demand media form, Yahoo! now has announced its own podcast subsite.

Plus, there is an informative section on producing a podcast as well.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Call for Podcast: "Mr. Literal"

Here's an idea mp3 for a podcast:

A character, named "Mr. Literal," has a great deal of trouble seeing beyond the surface of things. Another character, "Mr. Critical," by guiding Mr. Literal through readings of literary works, tries mightily to deepen Mr Literal's understanding of both literature and life.

What do you think? Should I produce a series of "shows" after this concept? Comment on this post to register your vote.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

WebJay Playlist Community

Probably the most convenient way to share podcasts and other open audio files is through WebJay's playlist community. WebJay hosts lists of links to media files created by members. Membership is free. Here's a link to an ever changing playlist of my own favorite podcasts.

The Child Looks Out

What's out there?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Use Iriver to Record Skype

Rob Wall, a Canadian teacher who curates the StigmergicWeb blog and moderates one of my favorite educational podcasts, "The EdTech Posse," reports that he has successfully used his Iriver to record a Skype call.

To do this he used a male/male 1/8" cable to connect the Iriver's line in jack to his computer's headphone jack. He then connected his headset's microphone plug to his computer's microphone jack, and his headset's other plug to the Iriver's headphone jack. Consequently, he was able to record a skype call while bypassing his computer.

Of course I had to try it, and you know what? It works!

Bean - Not Meat - Burritos

Oh, how they teased me! "What?! The burritos you made (to feed thirty hungry English majors) contain no meat?!"

That's what you get for cooking beans in beef country.

Nevertheless, the dinner for our English majors was a success, even if only eight, rather than the anticipated thirty English majors showed up.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Today I rode in a parade and went to a football game.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Technorati Tags

Imagine this:

You're at a conference, writing blog entries about the conference as it unfolds. At the same time, other attendees are doing the same thing, blogging their conference-related impressions. Now, what if everyone who wanted to read blog entries about the conference could instantly aggregate everyone's entries in one place? Well, they could. Easily. How? Technorati.

Here's how it works:

When you blog about something, assign that something a tag (descriptor). Link that tag to Technorati and ping the Technrati server. When others blogging about the same thing do likewise, the result is a Technorati-driven aggregation of related entries.

For example, you may view blog entries about Hurricane Rita by clicking .

For details see Technorati's tagging tutorial.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

RssOwl 1.1.3

RssOwl version 1.1.3 is out!

The "Aftercast"

If you're a teacher like I am (and you know you are - well, maybe you're not), you know what it's like to have your best thoughts about a class discussion occur to you after the class has ended.

No fear: podcast them! Today I spent an engrossing seventy-five minutes with a writing class talking about the essay "Waking Up From the American Dream" by Sasha Abramsky. But the final formulation of an assignment based on that discussion only came together in my mind after the class was over. Rather than hold these thoughts for the next class (when they would be a little late in coming, the students having done another version of the assignment over the weekend), I podcast them to the class.

I called the podcast "afterthoughts." You might call it an "aftercast." At any rate, it's a way of preserving those "out the door" thoughts and sharing them with students while they're still fresh. Doodle

I installed 1.1.5, then I drew this. At least we know Draw works!

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Here's a definition of Ajax.

And here's a link to Dan Grossman's list of top 12 Ajax applications.

Ajax: if you you thought it was a tub and tile cleanser, think again.

A Doodle Game

A while ago I blogged about a doodling game called "squiggle." When you play squiggle, you draw a squiggle and try to embellish it into a drawing.

Today I came across another doodling game. It, too, is a game of visual association, but this one's sequential.

Thanks, Kevin Cornell!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Collaborative Outline Document

This semseter my writing students will work in groups of four to produce collaborative annotated research outlines alongside their independently written research essays.

This is the form I expect the collaborative outline documents to take. In other words, this is the template.

To develop the outline, one student, working on one of the group's four topics, posts locations and summaries of five sources. The other group members read the summaries, skim the sources, and offer comments on the quality and usefulness of each source.

Furniture in Two Flavors

Our campus library has made some improvements this year, including the addition of some mighty inviting furniture. As you see, the new loungeware comes in two flavors.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Personalized Email in WebCT

I've devised a way to embed thumbnail portraits of myself and my students in our WebCT email. WebCT should really do this by itself, but since it can't, I thought I'd help it along.
We do it by pasting an image tag into the top of each message we send or discussion post we post inside WebCT. The (html) image tag looks like this:

I took the trouble of snapping digital pictures of all my students and placing the images online. Then I gave each student the URL of his or her image and left the embedding up to them.

I find it helps to see the image at the top of each message. It helps to remind me not just which student's words I am reading; it helps to remind me that there is a person behind each and every one of those words.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Humans Teaching Humans

"Human beings learn best and most from other human beings." -(Mister) Fred Rodgers

Today I introduced my writing classes to Skype telephony. It is my hope that, through Skype, students in their workgroups will talk with one another and learn more by virtue of their increased connectedness.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Originally uploaded by djweinstein.

I'm passing this Saturday afternoon at Kaladis, a coffee house in Sioux Falls, SD, a large latte close at hand.

The lunch crowd has gone; now it's down to me and and fifteen other patrons relaxing in a comfortable yet stimulating atmostphere of caffeinated wifi support.

Of the restaurants that offer wifi in Sioux Falls, Kaladis is the most comfortable place to actually get work done online.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Stormy Skies

Originally uploaded by djweinstein.
Sometimes the sun shines brightly on our commute, and sometimes it doesn't.

Yesterday was one of that other kind of day.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Until today I'd been scanning and downloading podcasts through my Bloglines account. But today I installed IPodder and subscribed to the following feeds:

If you would like, you can download an opml version of my ipodder subscriptions here (I've even included a feed to my own modest podcast!).

IPodder scans podcast feeds and downloads podcasts automatically, so you don't have to download them one at a time, and you don't even have to be there when they download. Then all you need is hundreds of hours to listen to them. Maybe IPodder's next feature should be a built-in "podscanner," like a radio scanner, that would sample ten seconds from each downloaded podcast to help you decide which are worth your precious time!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


I've been playing around with a certain kind of synaesthesia, the kind whereby a revisited image evokes a formerly associated thought. Today I ran across a blog post about an experience of "audio synaesthesia." Seems I'm not so crazy after all. Or, if I am crazy, at least I'm not alone!

Monday, September 05, 2005


This cunning little booklet can be folded from one sheet of letter size paper. The only thing more cunning than the booklet: the website that shows you how to make it.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Firefox as Collaboration Platform

What do you get when you combine the Firefox browser, the Sage (feed reader) extension for Firefox, and the Writely web document sharing service (now in beta)?

You get this:

Writely being used in Firefox with the Sage aggregator extension added.

A very serviceable platform for collaboration.

I think this is the setup my Advanced Composition students and I will use to create collaborative outlines for group research projects. Why add the feed reader? Because Writely provides acount holders with rss feeds that tell them when documents they're working on have been changed by their collaborators. Of course, one could also use a wiki like Schtuff or SeedWiki in such a setup. I think I'll stay away from full-blown wikis, though, as they are more than this class needs right now.

(Weird) Little White Guy

This has got to be the strangest stuffed entity I've ever seen. The child, nonplussed, calls it, "Little White Guy."


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