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Week 2: Experimenting with your blog and a personal cyberinfrastructure

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a) Experimenting with your blog

Note: If you are not hosting your own domain/blog for this course don’t sweat this part of the assignment and just skip down to part b of assignment 2 below.

First, we would like each of you to start experimenting with your blog space. Look for information and tutorials online about how to embed videos, include images, audio files, etc. (All things you will need to know shortly.) What’s more, do some research on the features of WordPress, there are literally thousands of free themes (template designs) and plugins (third party extension to give you more capabilities) that you can experiment with. Below we’ll list a few plugins we strongly encourage you to in install.

  • Subscribe to Comments: Allows commentators to subscribe to a comment thread, this is crucial for this class, and easy as pie to install. Just go to Plugins–>Add and search for Subscribe to Comments. Once you have uploaded it, activate it and you are ready to go.
  • Twitter Tools: we would like you all to play with Twitter Tools. Ever since Twitter move to a new OAuth this plugin has become a pain to install, but give it a shot, and their is extensive documentation in the plugin panel itself, be sure to read it.
  • Akismet (already installed): this will prevent your blog from being over run by evil spammers. NB: you will need an Akismet API key—would love if someone posted the play-by-play for others, or even found one.
  • Google Analytics: Experiment with some Google Analytics plugins for WordPress—go to add plugin and search for “google analytics”—you should find a bunch. We’ll be expecting that you sign-up for a Google account and get Analytics running on your blog.
  • JetPack: WordPress offers this suite of tools that includes a subscribe to comments tool, statistics, and more. You can use the same API code to authorize it as you use for Akismet.
  • Other: look for other stuff you might be interested in. It could be anything from plugins for Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, plugins, etc. Contact form plugins, etc. Get creative.

When you are done, report back on your process, what you’ve discovered, what you installed, and any issues you may be having. Remember, if you have issues—use your blog or Twitter to communicate you process and your problems—it is expected.

Tag this assignment: blogexperiment (one word)

b) Gardner Campbell’s “Personal Cyberinfrastructure” essay and “No More Digital Facelifts” video

For week two we would like you to have read Gardner Campbell’s short essay Personal Cyberinfrastructure as well as watch his presentation “No More Digital Facelifts” —both of which can be found here:

Gardner Campbell will be speaking to all of us live during class onThursday, January 26th, 2012 at 6:00 PM. This talk will be streamed live as well, you can tune in here: An archive will be available after the event.

Your assignment is to write a blog post reflection on these ideas. Why do people not want a Bag of Gold? What is a digital facelift? Where else does this happen? What are the potential benefits/drawbacks of these Personal Cyber Infrastructures?

As you read the essay and watch the video, keep track of a key sentence or sequence in the video that generates interest or questions for you- in his own teaching, Gardner calls these “nuggets” and will be launch points for our discussions. In the video, note the time stamp when these occur (You may even try to use the technique of linking to a portion of a YouTube video.

Tag this assignment: pci

Also, be sure to see the responses to this essay by others in #ds106 here.


  1. David Ferris

    January 19, 2011

    Can someone please point me to where I can learn about tagging? For instance the first part above says “Tag this assignment: blogexperiment.”

    Sorry for my ignorance, but where and how am I supposed to implement/add/apply this tag?

    • Reverend

      January 19, 2011


      Are you using WordPress? If not, what blogging platform are you on?

      In WP, for example, there is a space in the right-hand sidebar that allows you to add tags to a post, and I am sure Blogger, TypePad, and other platforms have something similar. let me know.


    • Eva Jones

      January 25, 2012

      I have the same problem!!! i think you put # then what ever you want to tag but thats a guess! :( have u found out anything

  2. Brad Efford

    January 19, 2011

    I don’t seem to have the Subscribe to Comments plugin available. Any ideas? Is there a plugin that does the same thing, but under a different name?


    • Reverend

      January 19, 2011

      Well Bradleigh,

      You happen to be very lucky in that UMW Blogs has that running out of the box. So you should be good to go, but let me know (when you are signed out—if you don’t see the subscribe radio box.

  3. Tenisha Minor

    January 19, 2011

    When registering for the twitter tool application, what should we be puttin in the space that asks for the application website? It says that this is suppose to be the homepage where people can go and download the app? Also, after via on my twitter stream it says web, however it says that this has already been taken. These are two problems I am having so far with the twitter tools. Help please?

  4. Stephanie Lefferts

    January 19, 2011

    Just got the Akismet API key set up and working. Realized there are a few ways to get to the Akismet site….One way: type “Akismet API key” into Google and clicked on the link which specifies for WordPress. Follow the easy and quick instructions and then you’ll get an email. Follow the instructions in the email and you’re all done. (Basically your key is sent to the email and you have to copy and paste that into the Akismet section which is found in your Plugins. All very straight forward! [2nd way to access the Akismet site, rather than through Google, is from a link listed in the description of the Akismet Plugin.]

    • Reverend

      January 19, 2011

      Excellent Stephanie,

      Thanks for the lay this out for us so clearly. Very cool.


  5. Stephanie Lefferts

    January 19, 2011

    So a heads up with the twitter tools plugin: when you’re on the application site, the “Application Website” is actual the URL for your twitter site, including the “http://” Otherwise follow the directions in the plugin panel and its fairly straight forward.

    • Tenisha Minor

      January 20, 2011

      I was sitting here experimenting with the twitter tools! I just made a post on my site and I clicked the option to send the post to my twitter. It works! This is a pretty cool feature. I must say I am amazed that you could do this!
      I agree with Stephanie. It is a pretty basic setup just follow the directions. The problem that you run into is definitely the Application Website entry. I think I actually put in my url for my website and it still worked! Also you have to make sure that your application name is something that is not already taken. If you get this down your all set! =)

      • cogdog

        January 24, 2012

        That’s fine to use your website URL- it is only used in places where twitter links to the “tool” that publishes a tweet (e.g TweetDeck, Echophone, etc). What you are doing by registering this telling twitter your site is acting as any othe twitter posting client.

        Good on you for getting it working, it is not trivial. You mightvwantvto activate the associated hash tag plugin, it can be used to set a tag by default (e.g. #ds106)

        • Reverend

          January 24, 2012

          My bad, some of these comments are from last year :)

  6. Cris

    January 20, 2011

    Where can we catch the live stream for Gardner Campbell’s talk? Looking forward to it!

    • Reverend

      January 20, 2011

      Be sure to check the twitter #ds106 tag, and I will be sure to post it as the top post in ds106 as well before we lead up to it. it will be 6 pm ( EST), and all things being equal, he’ll be broadcast in technicolor to your computer screen :)

  7. Tiffany

    January 20, 2011

    I have been using my edublogs account for my blog, but decided to go ahead and put up a WordPress installation on a website I already own. It turned out to be incredibly easy (hardest thing was retrieving my webhost password), so I’m glad I took the plunge. I’m going to import everything from my old blog to the new one later today, but what will happen when I syndicate the new blog’s posts into DS106? I suspect that the blog will show up twice on the blogroll (I kept the same blog title) and I wonder if all my posts tagged DS106 will also be doubled. Should I just go ahead and syndicate the new one anyway and let you do the housekeeping on the DS106 backend, or is there something I can do to prevent the duplication?

  8. Reverend

    January 20, 2011

    Just send me your new URL, and I’ll make sure everything syndicates perfectly. Glad to see you are moving off edublogs, those inline ad links make me cry.

    Leave the new URL in the comments here and add it to the sidebar as well.

  9. Tenisha Minor

    January 20, 2011

    The only app left that I am trying to get working is the google analytics. I have granted access from my google account. It shows the app there under my account where I have the option to revoke it at anytime; however, on the google analytics settings page on WP I am getting an error messgae that reads: Unfortunately, an error occurred while connecting to Google, please try again. I have tried to re-authenticate with google, but it is still not working. Has anyone else had this problem?

  10. Sofia Ahmad

    January 20, 2011

    I’m also having some difficulty with the Google Analytics. It says I need to copy paste the tracking code into my page. I don’t think I am posting it in the right place because some weird happens when I post it in the tracking code box. Does anyone know what I am doing wrong? Thanks!

    • Reverend

      January 21, 2011


      This is awesome, exactly what you need to get up and running, and exactly the spirit of ds106, search and discover :) Fine work!!

    • Jim Stauffer

      January 23, 2011

      Ah, if I had only read this first. Thanks for the link. Gonna have to subscribe to that wpbeginner site. It will save me from muddling through WP the hard way.

  11. sarah

    January 20, 2012

    how can i tweet my “tutorial” if i only have so many words?

    • Reverend

      January 20, 2012

      You can tweet a link to your blog that has the post :)

  12. Sarah Parlett

    January 20, 2012

    so im trying to add music to my page, i uploaded simple music widget which is simple enough but you need an mps url for the music to play on the page and its almost impossible to find a url that will work. anyone have any suggestions on how i could get music on my page?

  13. Reverend

    January 24, 2012


    There is an easier way (or even two). Find the name of the theme you want on and then go to your blog and the Appearances section and activate it right from there following the directions below:

    Log in to the WordPress Administration Panel.
    Select the Appearance panel, then Themes.
    From the Available Themes section, click on the Theme title (or Theme screenshot) for the Theme you wish to activate.
    A preview of the Theme will be shown.
    To activate the Theme click the Activate “Theme Name” link in the top right.
    Your selection should immediately become active.

    To upload a zip file from your desktop directly to your wordpress blog, follow these directions:

    Log in to the WordPress Administration Panel.
    Select the Appearance panel, then Themes.
    Select Install Themes
    Use the sub-menu or the Search or Filter options to locate a Theme you would like to use.
    Click on the Preview link to preview the Theme or the Install link to upload the Theme to your blog.
    Use the Upload link in the top sub-menu to upload a zipped copy of a Theme that you have previously downloaded to your machine.

    Let me know if this makes sense, I found this information on the WordPress Codex here:

  14. Brian Metcalfe

    January 26, 2012

    Hassles with “Twitter Tools” on WordPressResolved

    Check out good Vimeo movie at: However, I must have worked through this process 10 times and always got the error “”Authentication Failed. Please check your credentials and make sure Twitter is up and running”

    My problem was caused when I copied & pasted the different Consumer Key & Secret as well as the Access Token & Secret string codes. If you copy the Consumer Key & Secret strings from their location under the “Details” tab, they seem to always paste into the “middle” of the cell on the Twitter Tools page (with leading blanks that I always deleted). COPYING FROM THE “DETAILS” TAB GUARANTEES FAILURE, To correct this “hiccup” COPY THE KEY/SECRET & ACCESS TOKEN/SECRET STRINGS OFF THE “O-AUTH TOOL” TAB and they will paste without any problems into the appropriate cells on the Twitter Tools page and the setup will work flawlessly.

    I trust this tip will help others avoid the hassles I encountered.

    Take care & keep smiling :-) Brian

  15. Alasia laureano

    February 7, 2012

    I’m confused do you tag this assignment on your blog as assignment 2 or as pci on your blog posts or your account for ds106?!!Please let me know ASAP thanks:)!

    • cogdog

      February 8, 2012

      YSorry for missing your comment… you should tag it into your own blog post as “pci” – when the ds106 web site reads your blog, it will include it with all other responses to this assignment via The web site will look in your blog RSS feed for posts with this tag.

  16. emmanuel ayettey

    May 8, 2012

    how will ds106 know if i hav posted or updated my blog

    • Reverend

      May 8, 2012

      What is your blog address? I will make sure it is syndicating in cleanly.

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