If you’ve started a new site on Wikity, you’ll notice that it has a new interface. We’ve taken some cues from people who loved the index-cardiness of federated wiki and from others who urged us to embrace the “like Pinterest for text” elevator speech and JUST GO WITH IT.
These are your latest posts, with special first two cards.
The first card has your site name and description, as well as a number of functions we’ll get to in a moment. The second card, which only appears when you are logged in as an author or editor, is a “quick create” window, and it turns out to be awesome.
So let’s make a page using the quick create interface.
We’re going to make this page using Markdown. While Markdown has a but of a learning curve to it, it turns out to be easier to learn and less overwhelming than many graphical WYSIWYG interfaces. It also turns out to be a killer way to compose posts on your phone as well as make sure that the site is accessible to people who may not be able to operate a mouse or trackpad, or may have a vision impairment which makes selection of text time-consuming. In the past few weeks, I’ve come to see Markdown support in terms of universal design, and it’s a good fit.
So we make a page. Here we’re going to take some notes for a class on colonialism. We’re researching the 1931 Paris exhibition (one of the last of the “human zoos”) and we want to research and record what we can on the full-scale model of Angkor Wat which was constructed in Paris for the event.
We fill out the title and write an introductory paragraph. Then we decide we want to add a video, so we copy a YouTube URL.
And then paste it in our text box as a bare URL
Now we’ll add a blockquote, using the Markdown “angle bracket” syntax, and the asterisk syntax to italicize the title:
Want to add a picture? We use the markdown syntax with a twist — put in a Markdown image reference to an external image, and when you save the file the server will go out and fetch that image for you and upload it to your server, replacing your image URL with the new one. (Make sure you cite the author!)
Here we put an image at the top of our post:
Now we add our works cited, and related pages using the hash heading syntax (here we’ll do heading level 3):
And here’s what that page looks like — formatted, with an embedded YouTube and a cited image that is now being served from your local server:
Want to edit it after you post? Just click any card in your “card stack”, and it goes back to edit mode.
I know this may seem like it’s complex, but I’ve shown this to a few people now, and the pain of having to learn a bit of Markdown is made worth it by never having to enter into the Dashboard interface, even when doing a complicated multi-part formatted document like this.
Moreover, I am not kidding you when I say it is possible to compose a document like this using any size smartphone — there’s no modifier keys needed (alt, cntrl), no complex download and upload behaviors, no ribbon menu bars, no right click. I personally believe the laptop is the most perfect machine ever invented, but I have done edits on the fly on my phone, and even started an article or two. The ability to do this on mobile can supplement laptop use in nice ways.
Anyway, next post will be on the new feature called “paths”, which was inspired by Vannevar Bush, but can also form the basis of an OER strategy.