A new blog name, and a recommitment

So, I’ve stopped hacking around on my blog, and settled on the new theme. And we’re sticking with it.

And for the first time since I launched this blog I’ve given it a title other than my name. The name, Tran|script, is meaningful to me, because it was the name of one of my first major OER projects. From 1997 until the birth of our first daughter in December 1998, my wife and I spent much of our free time scouring bookshops in Seattle for interesting books in the public domain, than scanning them in for free use by educators. We’d decide to get old pictures of famous buildings, and build an archive of pre-1928 photographs book by book. We built the front page to try and tie those resources to current events — we’d take old 9th, 10th, and 11th edition Encyclopedia Britannica articles on perjury and put them up to tie them to the devleoping Clinton story. We developed a mystery game that used the buildings, called “The Demolitionist” where students would have to sort through the photographs of buildings, and explanations of styles of architecure to figure out what building a fringe guerilla group had targeted for bombing.

As we said back in 1998:


If one accepts John Dewey’s definition of education, then tran|script is an educational site. The philosophy behind the site is simple: education is not a process of spoon-feeding students facts, but of empowering students to create. So, unlike the majority of educational sites, tran|script has made substantial effort to make available the resources students need to create compelling presentations and programs. The contents of the image and text archives are free for non-profit educational use. The contents of the feature archive demonstrate what students can do with the materials

I still think a lot about those days, and how Nicole put up with me, and actually even eagerly embraced my insane project — and how great the promise of the web seemed to be at that point. So part of the title is nostalgia, and a reminder to myself to never lose that idealism that propels you, when you see a gap, to fill it, to just get it done.

But the other part of the title relates to why I originally chose it. I felt what we were doing by putting these materials up was giving back the world the cultural transcript that rightfully belonged to everybody. And I think if you look at most of the stuff I write about, on this site and others, it’s about democratizing access to that transcript — both by critiquing the powers of the MSM, and by encouraging students to participate directly in the discussions that shape our world. So I think it’s still a decent title all these years later.

Thanks for dealing with my trip down memory lane — maybe it’s this election coming up, maybe it’s just my natural tendency to get nostalgic in the midst of a New England fall — but today, particularly, I’m really optimistic about the future, and so indebted to everybody out there that has moved it forward. Looking at my copyright statement on that site, I see now how I was stumbling around in the dark — unable to trust public domain, but having no idea how to cut a middle ground — problems that were being solved at that very time by David Wiley (though I wouldn’t know this for many years). And looking at the gallery concept is quaint in an age of decentralized weblog publishing — “Send us your projects, and we”l publish them for you”? Really? And it’s been accomplished, mostly, by people moving this forward in the interstices of other tasks, with what time they could scrounge….

I guess I’m saying — “I love you all, man…” and isn’t it great that we’re all here, all these years later…and even though I’m buried in my job right now, I’m going to get back to blogging here regularly, so please stay tuned.

Oh, and here’s to you Nicole, who really made all this possible, though I always forget to say that. I don’t think we’re all that separate from those days, despite the roller-coaster ride of kids and career. And that’s pretty amazing.

2 thoughts on “A new blog name, and a recommitment

  1. “The philosophy behind the site is simple: education is not a process of spoon-feeding students facts, but of empowering students to create.” This is why I get berserk about a public school district spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new reading text series every three years, while forsaking the fact that most classrooms of 21 to 25 students have one or two computers in them, in a community where many households do not have a computer. And this is also why I’m learning to write grants, so that I can afford to have current technology in my classroom to help reach the needs of my students.

  2. It’s really sad you have to write grants to get that stuff. I think for the most part kindergarten has it right — put lots of crayons and paper (and nowadays computer). Have some circle time, but let the kids spread out. Make it a facility the students are excited to have access to.

    In my perfect world, school would be a place where students had access to *more* resources than they did at home.

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