Category Archives: Information Technology & Computers
I’m not sure if moving from self-hosted WordPress (which costs money for hosting) to WordPress.com (which is somewhat more limiting, but free) is “downsizing,” exactly. However, I’m now most of the way there. The URL will be https://durrellbowman.wordpress.com until my web-hosting account expires, by which point I will have reassigned http://durrellbowman.com to come here. This is also a test to see if this post gets to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and/or LinkedIn.
The Future of Higher Education?
December 2113, at breakfast:
- Dani (14): Hey, Daddums. What’s “philosophy?”
- Dad: Something about the meaning of existence; your great-grandma studied it.
- Dani: Where did she study it?
- Mom: At UCLA, I think. Her blogkive has some gradeypost she wrote about this government arts and music ambassador in the 2030s, named Miley Cyrus.
- Dani: Do you mean that people actually used to submit things mostly in words, and sometimes about the arts? My Business Economics Enabler-Bot-ing administrator, Master Baights, MBA in Seed Acquisition, Level 7, says university has been only about honing your entrepreneurial potential for at least the past sixty years.
- Dad: That’s all true, my little stevia lozenge.
- Dani: Can I study to be a doctor of philosophy?
- Mom: Not anymore. Your great-uncle had his “Ph.D.,” but in sociology. It had to do with the early, post-postmodern, post-postindustrial history of manufacturing small electronic devices in other countries in the early decades of the 21st century.
- Dani: That barely even QRs, Momsie. Do you mean that China used to make its stuff here? Where did he work?
- Dad: At first, he taught a course or two at the State College of Eastern West Virginia. He was an “adjunct,” so he didn’t have access to the instructohub and mostly used his car as an office.
- Mom: Smaller cities didn’t have subways and skytrains back then, and most of their LRTs failed and were torn out for additional efficipark structures by about mid-century. He was also on something called “food stamps.” After about ten years, he ended up at AmazoogleFedEx, working part-time as a gravlift drone-fleet pilot.
- Dani: That QRs even less. OK, well I better get my visohelmet on and get started on my webdeck about some quaint, “hippie” thing from the 2010s, called “crowdsourcing.”
- Dad: Surf safely!
Development vs. Design – gladwell.com, etc.
What They’re Using
I suddenly found out that my new website for Malcolm Gladwell (on which I spent around sixty hours) has been replaced visually by something virtually the same as the old site from before I worked on it. However, the new version still uses the WordPress structure I developed for its content and data. My contributions include:
- article categories and dating, to organize a post-archive of New Yorker articles
- the addition of articles to cover the past two years
- the organization of the site’s pages for book excerpts, etc.
- content editing & formatting for all posts and pages
- updated and corrected purchase-links
- a browser favicon derived from Gladwell’s new book cover
However, given the nature of website “design” vs. “development,” almost no-one (other than you) is going to know that I had anything to do with it.
What’s No Longer There
A lot of people had told me that they really liked the look and improved functionality of my new design for the website. My version had:
- a thin, site-wide header-image showing Gladwell, plus highlighting his latest book and listing the other four
- below the header (i.e., also site-wide), a custom menu with book-purchase locations and info-page-links for all five books
- a sidebar widget with links to all article-types and a dated archive (again, site-wide)
- a way for you to share any page or post to Facebook or Twitter (or to print or email it)
- a biography right on the home page (the new design doesn’t have one at all)
- the book covers and book-cover icons right on the homepage
- a page of professional photographs (again, the new design doesn’t have any)
- the capability of doing a site-wide search from wherever you are on it
Now, however, it’s gone, and no-one will ever see it. To see a website I developed AND designed, please visit the Grand Philharmonic Choir.
The Need for Dynamic Content & User Interaction
All of the research about modern websites and the efficacy of online presence indicates that: (1) your content must change reasonably often and (2) your visitors have to feel empowered to be able to do certain things.
A website should include a blog, newsletter, or some other dynamic content that is updated at least a couple of times every month. If you have a website plus Facebook, Twitter, and/or similar social-media accounts, then the content should be integrated so that your website’s new posts automatically appear on the other platforms. An alternative would be to have things from the other platforms automatically appear on your website. At the very least, you should provide basic links on your website to your social media pages.
Site visitors should be able to share your posts to their own accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and/or similar social-networking sites. In most cases, they should also be able to comment on your posts and pages. Comments can be moderated (such as by an appointed lieutenant), in order to keep out all “trolls” and the vast majority of spam. You can also choose not to allow comments on selected posts and pages.
Without dynamic content and at least some kind of basic possibility for user interaction, a return visit to a website is not very likely.
Technology Constantly Changes
Technology–especially internet technology–constantly changes. From 1997 to 2013 (in addition to also being a Ph.D. in musicology, writer, musician, etc.), I have used and/or formally studied the following open-source and other website development technologies:
- Expression Web
I have also studied and/or used object-oriented programming (C#), object-oriented analysis & design, databases (SQL, including SQL Server) and used various additional content development tools for images, video, and so on. Whatever the merits or outcome of my studies (GPA of 3.97 in 2009-10) and work (a number of significant web projects since 2010), I know that it is not a good idea in 2013 to design a website that looks and works almost entirely like it has for many years–and could have looked and worked in 1996.
The Glacial Pace of Academia
I just filled out the American Musicological Society’s enhanced profile, a very basic section of the AMS website that apparently took them more than three years (!) to develop.
Compare that to the mere six weeks that it took me to develop the AMS’s most popular website section: Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology. Also compare it to the fact that I developed a prototype for a possible new website for Malcolm Gladwell in the last day and half!
Naturally, on the new AMS profile system, I filled in as much information as I could: publications, articles, works in progress, and as many external links as possible — thus excluding “Departmental Web Page.” Of course, I also had to leave the “Institutions” field blank.
For obvious reasons, I’m looking forward to Malcolm Gladwell’s new book — David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants (Oct. 1, 2013).
Career Archetype Test
On the Career Archetype Test, my top categories were Sage (81%) and Revolutionary (75%).
The Sage never stops learning and has a desire to understand everything. This understanding doesn’t necessarily mean a desire to act on that truth, which can sometimes keep the Sage a dispassionate observer in his or her own life. If Sage is dominant, you will feel most comfortable in a learning culture where people are valued as much for their knowledge and expertise as for the amount of work they generate. Strengths: Discovering the deeper truths in situations means that the Sage is less likely to get caught up in an emotional reaction to short term problems. You may have a capacity for critical analysis and tend to be a good strategic thinker. Traps to avoid: The Sage can study issues forever and never act. There is also a danger of getting caught up in a particular way of studying an issue, shutting out new or revolutionary ways of doing things. (from Sage)
By comparison, and in contradistinction to the end of the previous section,
Revolutionaries are unconventional risk takers with a tendency to do things differently just to be different. Revolutionaries are rarely content with the status quo and will create new ways of doing things, even when the old ways are working just fine. If you have a strong presence of the Revolutionary archetype you will feel comfortable in a work environment that encourages innovation and gives people the freedom to be themselves. Strengths: Revolutionaries are innovators. The innovation applies not just to products and process, but also culture and thought. If you are a Revolutionary you are comfortable taking risks and usually don’t care what other people think about you. Traps to avoid: The Revolutionary needs to avoid change for change’s sake. Anarchy and chaos can overtake the reasonable order and discipline it takes to get everyday tasks accomplished. (from Revolutionary)
Those sound about right, but the only job types both in Sage and Revolutionary are Education and Science and Research, with IT-type things (computer software, hardware, and executive/consulting) also under the former category and Arts and Entertainment also under the latter. My next three categories were Explorer (68%), Creator (68%), and Magician (62%), which certainly also explain my: (1) adventurous, but chaotic and unfocused, self-reliance, (2) inspiration, vision, and single-mindedness, and (3) over-complicating desire to redefine the issues in order to meet a new situation.
None of that is much help in my job search, though, I have to say! Indeed, the fact that my highest “grades” on these scales are not actually very high underscores the issue that my diverse background (Ph.D. in musicology, academic research, university course instruction, professional choral singing, arts admin, IT studies and work, website and web content development, small business programs, etc.) has not actually coalesced into an employee profile that makes much sense in the “real world.” I guess the results do motivate me, however, to think more about the idea of writing digital-only e-books on music-related subjects (for students and lifelong learners) and maintaining a related purchase, media-clip, and discussion-hub website.
Music and Labour – conference
Friday May 24th’s “Working Situations II” is going to be a weird session, with a pair of papers about improvisational live electronic music and remix aspects of electronic dance music and my completely unrelated and semi-autobiographical one about the academic, alternative-academic, and non-academic labour situations for Ph.D.s who specialize in popular music.
I find it interesting that the conference is, on balance, largely about economic uncertainty impacting the music industry. So, I guess my paper on economic uncertainty also impacting music academia is at least semi-related to that.
Employment Counselling and Jobs vs. Career
My self-employment business advisor is still optimistic that http://ourmus.net (a collaborative community for music history & culture) can move forward and be successful in making me some income. However, music scholars probably think that the way they do things (peer review, committees, etc.) actually works properly and that something also directed towards the public would not be sufficiently academic. Meanwhile, the music-interested public would probably find the site too academic. A “happy medium” may not be possible. My self-employment coordinator (different from my advisor) got me an unrelated appointment with an Employment Ontario job developer. However, that person has not really been of any use to me, probably because my background (in academia, music, and IT) doesn’t fit the types of jobs and employers she encounters.
I’m also now enrolled in an individualized job-search program. The employment counsellor for that (actually a friend from my past!) and I concluded that I should do my academic work, music-making, and IT/website activities on the side (“evenings and weekends”). For employment, I should use my local network outside of those areas to find some other type of work. The areas of work I have in mind could be in administrative assistance (at a business, social service agency, church, or school), arts admin (at a museum, library, or performance organization), retail (such as technology, musical instrument, and/or other music-related sales), or publishing (editing, web content, etc.). I have some people advising me in those employment directions, as well.
Meanwhile, I’m now lined up to do a book proposal for a “listener guide” about Rush’s music. So, hopefully that project will move ahead. The editors involved are both fans of Rush’s music, so that helps! In addition, four out of six of my conference paper proposals have been accepted this spring, although I’ve had to bail from two of the four for lack of money. The two I’m doing are about songs and mini-musicals in The Simpsons (in less than two weeks) and on the employment situation for popular music university courses (six weeks later). I also still have possible conference papers coming up in July and October.
Khan Academy vs. OurMus.Net growth timelines
For Salman Khan (of Khan Academy) to expand his project from his cousin Nadia (2004) to:
- dozens of users (2005)
- hundreds of users (2006)
- thousands of users (2007)
- tens of thousands of users (2008)
- hundreds of thousands of users, quitting his job as a hedge-fund manager, getting $110,000 (from the interested spouse of a venture capitalist), an actual office, and a handful of employees (i.e., other than himself) (2009)
- millions of users and getting multiple millions of dollars (from the Gates Foundation, Google, etc.) (2010)
took: 1. one, 2. two, 3. three, 4. four, 5. five, 6. six years.
By comparison, from my initial handful of business training sessions in September 2012 to the point of making my vaguely similar OurMus.Net a reasonable success (i.e., also on my own), I have: six MONTHS!
Self-hosted WordPress vs. hosted WordPress.com
I had some trouble getting self-hosted WordPress working as an add-on to my server account, but it’s now working properly. I briefly thought about using a hosted WordPress.com account, but it would have cost a bit of money to have my URL over there, would have temporarily messed up my email, would have had some ads showing up, wouldn’t have allowed me to add any plugins, and wouldn’t have allowed me to alter any underlying code.
I’ve already done both of the latter two things, to extend what my site will be able to do, such as add a media-player and podcasting capabilities, automatically share my postings on Facebook/etc. and also let other people share specific things, add categories to media so I can add them directly to custom menus, and alter the media-type filter code to account for PDF, Word, Excel, etc., so it doesn’t only know about images, audio, and video.
So far so good!