“No Digital Facelifts” – Rich Reflection

Article Title & Link:

“No Digital Facelifts” (Video) by W. Gardner Campbell


In reference to the three recursive practices:

Screenshot of Gardner Campbell gesturing to his slide about the three recursive practices: narrating, curating, and sharing in his talk "No Digital Facelifts" (17:07)

“No Digital Facelifts” (17:07)

“[T]he web is not just a platform for these things, it is the natural outgrowth of our desire for these things. That makes the web itself recursive, and students have an intimation of that, you know, they have a feeling about that from their own use of social media[…]” (17:00).


Gardner proposes three recursive practices as an alternative to the digital facelift: narrating, curating, and sharing. While familiar to anyone in education, Gardner makes a case for these practices not only having a place in our digital world, but that technology “amplifies” their impact (16:22). What I love about the above quote is it that draws attention to our natural attraction to recursive practices. As humans we want that kind of reflection and connection, and have pursued/built online experiences that feed that need. Gardner is right when he says that traditional education “militates against each of these things” (16:05). Recursive practices may be a common topic of discussion, but I would say that it clearly doesn’t drive our education system in the same way product and results do. On the other hand, education on the web is naturally suited to this kind of interaction, because we’ve designed it to be so. Why do we act like it would be such a painful transition? This is how students want to engage online anyway, and with guidance their experience could become more mature and self-designed. It’s time to start taking advantage of the resources inherent to the digital environment.

“A Personal Cyberinfrastructure Revisited” – Rich Reflection

Article Title & Link:

“A Personal Cyberinfrastructure Revisted” (Video) by W. Gardner Campbell


(2:07) “It’s not simply a matter of technical skill. It’s not even, in some respects, a matter of being able to make a web that can be the kind of curation spot and the cyberinfrastructure for your own data driven life. It is those things, of course, but it’s also about the ability to externalize a model of one’s own conceptual framework having to do with the information in which one lives, which one produces, which one comes into contact with…”

(12:59) “By becoming a sys admin in this way by actually operating this distributed publishing system by operating a server you are actually much closer to understanding how the net works…”


The concept of digital agency has been lurking in the shadows of my past couple posts, and it’s time I should pay a little more attention to it. While no one has come out and named it directly in the definition, I think it’s a key player within digital citizenship. Figuring out what digital agency could mean is another issue: From what I’ve gathered, it speaks to an individual’s capacity for action and creation of a product in a digital environment. For W. Gardner Campbell, digital agency takes the form of a personal cyberinfrastructure. His video elaboration of some ideas from an earlier article gives specific examples of current spaces that allow users to start the process of developing their server. Projects such as BlueHost and EC2 for Poets provide the tools for those who are ready to exercise their digital agency and collect/organize/publish their life online in a meaningful way.

One aspect I appreciated about Campbell’s plan was that he has very high expectations. The superficial interactions we have online regularly will not cut it. Not only will you curate your digital products, but you will design the server that hosts them in a way that specifically reflects how you engage with information as a whole (and do so without having an existential crisis). No pressure. A personal cyberinfrastructure is digital agency flexing its muscles and taking things into its own hands as the sys admin.

And while the idea may at first seem a little overwhelming, maybe we shouldn’t be shying away from this kind of engagement with the digital world. My instinct is to say that Campbell’s idea, in its most ideal form, is currently out of reach. I know it would be awesome if we could set a precedent for this in schools, and that Campbell is correct in saying that this is a huge step towards a better understanding of the Internet, but I still hesitate. Why is it so hard to think of ourselves as not just creators but owners/system designers? As we transition from blind consumers to eager creators, we should have a little forethought for the next step in the process, an example of which I think Campbell is offering here. What could our digital experience look like when we start exercising control on a larger scale?


“A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” – Rich Reflection

Article Title & Link:

“A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” by W. Gardner Campbell


A Personal Cyberinfrastructure for Students: Here's one idea... Assign students a web server upon matriculation. Students pick domain name. Students receive constant support from instructional technologist, librarians, and faculty advisors as they start exploring server management tools, playing with wikis and blogs, and installing scripts. Eventually their platform will be able to support publishing, archiving, importing and exporting, and internal and external connections.What I found most interesting in this article was Campbell’s step-by-step guide to helping students build their own personal cyberinfrastructures in an academic setting. I based my concept map on two different excerpts. The first excerpt provided the detailed plan, and the second excerpt discussed the importance of guidance/support by instructors who are engaged and modeling the process (which in my map is represented by its position as a jumping off point for each new task):

  1. So, how might colleges and universities shape curricula to support and inspire the imaginations that students need? Here’s one idea. Suppose that when students matriculate, they are assigned their own web servers — not 1GB folders in the institution’s web space but honest-to-goodness virtualized web servers of the kind available for $7.99 a month from a variety of hosting services, with built-in affordances ranging from database maintenance to web analytics. As part of the first-year orientation, each student would pick a domain name. Over the course of the first year, in a set of lab seminars facilitated by instructional technologists, librarians, and faculty advisors from across the curriculum, students would build out their digital presences in an environment made of the medium of the web itself. They would experiment with server management tools via graphical user interfaces such as cPanel or other commodity equivalents. They would install scripts with one-click installers such as SimpleScripts. They would play with wikis and blogs; they would tinker and begin to assemble a platform to support their publishing, their archiving, their importing and exporting, their internal and external information connections. They would become, in myriad small but important ways, system administrators for their own digital lives.3 In short, students would build a personal cyberinfrastructure, one they would continue to modify and extend throughout their college career — and beyond.
  2. To provide students the guidance they need to reach these goals, faculty and staff must be willing to lead by example — to demonstrate and discuss, as fellow learners, how they have created and connected their own personal cyberinfrastructures. Like the students, faculty and staff must awaken their own self-efficacy within the myriad creative possibilities that emerge from the new web. These personal cyberinfrastructures will be visible, fractal-like, in the institutional cyberinfrastructures, and the network effects that arise recursively within that relationship will allow new learning and new connections to emerge as a natural part of individual and collaborative efforts.

“As We May Think” – Rich Reflection

Article Title & Link:

“As We May Think” by Vannevar Bush


I chose to annotate the article using Hypothes.is, focusing on the ideas of access and preservation (and anything that made me laugh). In retrospect, I should have posted my annotations publicly, but instead I made a private Nousion group that you are all welcome to join. Once you’re in, you can choose the article and turn on your Hypothes.is extension to see the annotations. Feel free to post annotations of your own on the article.

Sorry for the inevitable confusion as I learn how to use a new tool!