Building An Authoring Environment For The Web, Part 1

What I want is a web/cloud based authoring environment that gives me the capability to create documents that can are digital and can be displayed as needed. Some examples include a blog post, an essay, a research article, a presentation, documentation, notes, and so on.

First up is a flexible text markup system. I need something that is capable of handling a lot of different markup elements. Some of the documents that I need to create have complex structures that are not easily simplified. After looking at a number of markup schemes including various wiki languages and Markdown, I decided to go with AsciiDoc. AsciiDoc provides text markup for most elements of DocBook 4.5 allowing for the creation of highly structured documents using a simple text editor.

At this writing there are 2 tool chains for rendering AsciiDoc. The original AsciiDoc, which is written in Python and AsciiDoctor, a new native Ruby version. I plan on using AsciiDoctor for most of the work, but will need to fall back to the original tool chain for some features (like PDF generation). I will be installing both.

Next up, solving the web-based editor issue.

Trying something a bit different…

I think I’m sort of surrendering to the dark side, but I’m working on increasing integration with Facebook on this blog. It is part science experiment and part art project. The science part is to see how useful these tools are in increasing both Facebook Page traffic and website traffic. If it seems promising I’ll move into trails with AHG and Raw Editorial. The art part involves seeing how much stuff I can push to Facebook before folks start finding all the coder prattle annoying and wander away.

Wish me luck.

My quick status post

Working on some of the Facebook integration stuff in WordPress. Interesting and possibly useful for things like AHG. Need to dig a bit deeper tomorrow.

My quick status post

Just a few small changes. Brought back the Twitter digest of things I tweet. Added a feed widget with interesting articles I find in my reader.

My Twitter Digest for 06/28/2013

My Twitter Digest for 06/27/2013

My Twitter Digest for 26/06/2013

What Free and Open Access To The Law Looks Like

I spend a lot of time working on and thinking about free and open access to the law, mostly court opinions. Today the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The opinion strikes down a section of the Voting Rights Act and will certainly trigger much discussion, debate, and possibly legislation going forward.

I’ll leave analysis of the decision to others and instead point out a graphic demonstration of the power of free and open access to the law. I think we can all agree that Shelby is going to have an impact on voting in America. Now this decision is the law of the land. Everyone needs to know about it. Access to the decision needs to be free and open. As soon as the opinion was issued it began cropping up on the web. Links were being posted to Twitter:

Following the links in these tweets provided interesting results that provide a graphic highlight of what free and open access to the law looks like. Clicking on the link in the Westlaw tweet gives the user this:

Shelby on WLNOn the other hand clicking on the link in the LII tweet gets us to a better place:

Shelby on LII


I understand that WestlawNext is a commercial service owned and operated by Thomson Reuters, but this document is law that applies to everyone in the United States. If you are going to link to it in a public space at least put the text of the opinion in from of the paywall so everyone seeing your link can read the opinion. Save the login for all of the extra value your products bring to the analysis of the decision.

I also understand that all too frequently our access to the law that governs our country is restricted by commercial interests who have little or no incentive to freely and openly distribute the law. Our law protects our freedom and our law needs to be free and open for all to readily access.



Here I do mean free as in freedom and free in the economic sensePowered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5

From The Front Lines: Peeking Inside a MOOC in Progress

For example, students have complained about not being able to complete in-video quizzes when they download the lecture videos. While our instructional team wanted to help them complete this work off-line—many students have very limited Internet access—we could not provide a way to do so. We pressed Coursera support-staff members for a solution, but they could not provide one.

My limited ability to make key pedagogical choices is the most frustrating aspect of teaching a MOOC. Because of the way the Coursera platform is constructed, such wide-ranging decisions have been hard-coded into the software—decisions that seem to have no educational rationale and that thwart the intent of our course.

via Inside a MOOC in Progress – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

I suspect that this will not be the first time we hear from a MOOC faculty complaining about some sort of failure of the the tech platform. Something important here is that Coursera is commercial company and the platform is closed and proprietary. At least if this were an open platform like EdX or Canvas there would be a chance to add the features that the teachers need to educate their students as they see fit, not as some random engineer or developer tells them it needs to be done.

American Airlines Dumps 35 lbs of Paper By Deploying iPads

“Our Electronic Flight Bag program has a significant positive environmental and cost-savings impact,” said David Campbell, American’s Vice President – Safety and Operations Performance. “In fact, removing the kitbag from all of our planes saves a minimum of 400,000 gallons and $1.2 million of fuel annually based on current fuel prices. Additionally, each of the more than 8,000 iPads we have deployed to date replaces more than 3,000 pages of paper previously carried by every active pilot and instructor. Altogether, 24 million pages of paper documents have been eliminated.”

via American Airlines Completes Electronic Flight Bag Implementation :: American Airlines Newsroom.

American is replacing nearly 35 lbs of loose leaf binders with a single iPad as it rolled out the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). The press release notes the program is fully underway and the paper is gone. That means no more paper updates and loose leaf filing chores for flight crews. The FAA-approved EFB uses a specially designed app from a division of Boeing Digital Aviation to manage all of the information and is kept up-to-date electronically.

As we see more and more iPads being used in various professions, it should only be a matter of time until law schools start handing incoming law students an iPad loaded with all of the material they need for their law school education. Or maybe not.


And I thought that onerous task was only endured by librarians and their minionsPowered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5