A Million Blue Pages

Thu, 18 Feb 2016

Still going "strong"

Well, it's been about two years since I first created this site, but miraculously -- and considering how hacky this all is -- it still seems to be working as well as it ever did. Which is to say, the things that this site has done continue to more or less work the way they have been working and mostly, it's really great! As my class is getting ready to jump in, I've had a lot of fun going back in time to see what's here. And as Jeremy Douglass's students' remixes flow in, there's plenty of new stuff coming in. The current stats as I write this are:

1273 artifacts spanning 450 pages.

That's pretty amazing, but it still leaves 293 pages so far unaccounted for. Let's get to it!. By the way, since my students are working on their projects, I'm taking a little time to improve and tweak various things about this site, including some better embedding and organization. If you have any suggestions or questions, leave me a comment below.

posted by zachwhalen at: 17:43 | path: /news | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 26 Mar 2014

A new, more 'interactive' front page

The AMillionBluePages.net project continues to grow, and now that my class, Mary Holland's and Stephen Lemieux's are wrapping up their engagement with House of Leaves, Brian Croxall's, Chuck Rybak's, and Paul Hurh's will soon be getting involved. We've already seen an amazing array of work and I'm excited to see what comes next. Currently, we're tracking about 425 objects across Tumblr, Twitter, Vine, and Instagram, covering about 245 pages of the novel. The most popular page to respond to continues to be page 110, which is interesting -- I'm honestly not sure why it's so popular, but that's something we can discuss on thage page's comment thread.

Speaking of comment threads, I've changed some of the navigation and created a more interactive front page for this website. I'd been concerned that the content here -- as impressive and cool as it is -- doesn't necessarily convey how impressive and cool it actually is. Thanks to some feedback from UMW's Shelley Keith and my fellow Digital Scholars fellows (Janine Davis, Jeff McClurken, Jim Groom, Sue Fernsebner, Mary Kayler and Stephen Farnsworth), I've been thinking about how to shape this site to be more audience-directed and less data-driven. I mean, it's all a big spreadsheet, but it doesn't have to look like one.

To that end, I've got some other ideas in progress, but for now, I hope the new homepage, by emphasizing the most recently-shared content, does a better job of demonstrating how people are using and interacting with the platform. If you have any other recommendations, please let me know!

Also, sorry for the goofy stock image. I wanted to try out Getty Images' new embed feature, and this was the first embeddable result for "interactivity".

posted by zachwhalen at: 11:47 | path: /news | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 05 Mar 2014

Platform and Teaching Updates

Github logo

I've been making some incremental improvements to the code here at AMillionBluePages.net, and I'm happy to announce to significant steps forward. First, visitors can now browse page-by-page views of nodes, and leave comments by page in Disqus conversation threads. For example, click on the number 5 from the table view to browse all seven nodes created for Page 5, and below all of the embedded thumbnails, leave feedback or comments using Disqua. Also, if you're a creator of one of those nodes, you can use Disqus to sign up for updates about that page. The whole system is a bit loosely-coupled, I'll admit, but I think it has great potentional for cross-curricular conversations.

A second important technical update is that the code for this site is now being cloned in GitHub, which may be of interest to you if you'd like to see how this all works or if you'd like to set up your own version of what we're doing here. There's a lot of messy code, too, as you'll see, so if you see opportunities to clean up what I've written or improve it in any way, I'd very happily consider your pull request. There are many features I'd love to implement, but I just don't have the time or skill to get it done, so by all means, jump in. Similarly, if you just have an idea for an improvement or you see a bug, you can use the issue tracker in GitHub to let me know.

A teaching update is in order as well, as Mary Holland's and my students have completed their initial contributions. So far, this amounts to currently 376 nodes spread across 214 of House of Leaves' pages, which is an amazing amount of work already. I look forward to Steven Lemieux's students contributions in the near future, and I'm hopeful that we can use AMBP to foster opportunities for conversation between campuses. Along those lines, my students are on Spring Break right now, but when they return, we have another week scheduled for HoL discussion (awkward timing thanks to all the snow cancellations we've had). I originally wanted them to submit brief reflective statements to account for their creative work on this project, but I think now it might make sense to do some of that publicly via Disqus threads.

There's a lot of good stuff happening here, and I'm proud of the work mine and Mary's students have been doing. If, by the way, you or your students would like to contribute, you're all very welcome to, and do let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions by getting in touch via email, GitHub or the comment thread below.

posted by zachwhalen at: 13:02 | path: /news | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 19 Feb 2014

Beta Launch Announcement

Image of Betta fish by Anandarajkumar.

This is a post welcoming you to the Million Blue Pages project, a collaborative endeavor to "re-network" the novel House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. This project has evolved to include students at 7 schools, all reading the same novel and responding to it by creating and sharing content associated with a page in the novel. Inspired by Zak Smith's illustrations of what happens on every page of Gravity's Rainbow, our objective is to eventually account for each of House of Leaves's 743 (or so) pages of content.

Currently, you can use this website to learn more about the project and its participants. You can also learn how to contribute your own content -- and whoever you are, you are welcome to contribute!

Most importantly, though, you should be here to view the current state of our network. At the moment, the only view mode available is the large table of thumbnails, but I'm planning on adding more including a single page view and a better tag exploration mode. Got another idea? I'd love to hear it.

Similarly, if you find problems with the site, first please understand that this is a work in progress and therefore it is bound to have a few bugs or incomplete areas. If something's still bothering you about it or if it's simply not working, please get in touch me (Zach Whalen). I'm easiest to find on Twitter @zachwhalen, but there are other methods of reaching me as well.

This project exists thanks to the contributions and input of the primary #hol14 collaborators: Brian Croxall, Chuck Ryback, Mary Holland, Paul Hurh, Peter Katz, Jeremy Douglass, Steven Lemieux, and myself.

The history of the current idea goes back to 2011, which you can read more about on Mark Sample's blog. That year, Mark, Brian Croxall, Erin Templeton, Paul Benzon and I directed our students in a redux of the originally houseofleaves.com forums, calling ours thisisnotfor.us.

Web hosting and other support for amillionbluepages.net is being provided through the University of Mary Washington's Domain of One's Own initiative.

posted by zachwhalen at: 17:22 | path: /news | permanent link to this entry

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