I spent the better part of today finally finally finally after years converting from Movable Type to WordPress. I’ve run EWM on Movable Type since 2004, and the blog has in part as a result of its cumbersome platform dwindled, faded, crept quietly into an idle corner of the web. If I don’t write into it or visit, why would anyone.

The changeover was easy enough, since I’d upgraded Movable Type in early January. That upgrade was necessary for restoring the blog to logging in. Once I could login, I could back it up. Once I could back it up, I could export it, do a little dance.

I’m at the end of a four-month research leave, with a few days to meander before closing in on the last two chapters of the book I’m working on. And with this meander, I’d like to dust off the various websites I keep up, especially this blog and my landing page for the CV and teaching dossier. I’m discovering the limits of my having kept up with HTML5, the limits of letting weeds creep in and not especially paying much attention to the interplay of various javascript modules and snippets from elsewhere.

I have a couple of IFTTT recipes I’d like to chisel free, and maybe this will spur new or different energy for Twitter, or for posting here and relaying it to Facebook. I pose this more as possibility than prediction and publish it with a shrug, a maybe, a glance out the window reminding me that it’s springtime and won’t for all the rest of the days between now and summer’s end be raining quite as steadily as it is today.

Vervous Blogging

I have been preoccupied lately with wrapping my head around the question of
"professional ethos" concerning graduate students who blog (e.g.,
Questions: Does the blogging graduate student assume risks that the non-blogging
graduate student avoids? Are there greater risks or rewards in either
choice? What, then, are the payoffs? And are they immediate and tangible,
delayed and abstract?

The puzzler has been, "Why should a professional ethos for blogging graduate
students be any different than it is for non-blogging graduate students?" This
is a puzzler because every response I can come up with demands qualification:
whether A.) it’s no different or B.) it’s the blog.

Take the first response: "It’s not all that different." Professional
ethos is, after all, performed.
It is performed in the more long-lasting snapshot of the CV and in the fleeting
here-now moments when we, say, utter something in a class we are teaching or
taking (any venue, really, where we have a chance to say something insightful
and smart or irrevocable and humiliating). Professional ethos for graduate
students leaks into all of these activities; it is performed at nearly every
turn. Graduate students who perform their professional ethos well
in all its aspects will not be harmed by blogging; graduate students who perform
their professional ethos egregiously
(which is almost to say unethically or unawares in this regard) may find that
blogging makes the quality all the more conspicuous, that it makes ethical
recklessness, to say nothing of the lessons learned from mistakes, somewhat more
transparent and lasting. Already I can see that this tentative response is
beginning to buckle under the possibility that a blog may serve as a record of
the messy lessons where professional decorum gets tested (see Tribble).
Then again, that’s what I’m trying to get at: testing professional decorum,
whether blogger or not, bears consequences, and how we anticipate those
consequences and work through them when we’ve messed up seems thickly entangled
with the very idea of professional ethos, whatever the stage of the game.

At least that much is settled.

To reiterate and to put it more plainly, many aspects of professional ethos
(as performance) pertain to blogging graduate students and to non-blogging
graduate students alike. And yet, as a blogging graduate student (as one, that
is, who has blogged through a near-complete program of study), my own practices
rather tip my hand
(a Euchre reference, not Go Fish) and give away my clear preference. Keeping
mind that many aspects of professional ethos are shared by bloggers and non-bloggers,
what about blogging makes it different? How does blogging add dimension to
what it is we are trying to do while we are in graduate school? I’m not
all that keen on the fast switch to personal, anecdotal experience as evidence,
but maybe I can frame this as a series of professional-ethical convictions or
(as performed ethics) that have loosely guided
Earth Wide Moth since its first entry, just a few months before I moved from
Kansas City to Syracuse in 2004.

1. An ethics of experimentation. Participating in the RSA panel last May on
the ethics of amateuring greatly pushed my thinking in this area (I even read
Booth’s For The Love of It on Jenny’s recommendation). The blog
understood as an experimental space does not always need to explain itself in
terms of "professional efficiency" or productivity drive. This does not make it
unprofessional. Instead it (re)establishes the necessary and delicate
orchestration of "for pay" and "for love": professional and amateur.
Experimentation, like inquiry, favors the side of wonderment, mystery, and
intrigue, the side of "I do not know, but I can’t resist the delight in finding
out, the delight in toying around with possibilities, with unknowns." Now,
this commitment to experimentation does not always come off well. Often,
it fails or rather is about failure, interruption, digression. Yet, in a blog,
it plays out in the midst of others and in such a way that it lays a skein of
re-discoverable pathways for the future. Re: professional ethos, this principle
seems to underscore the vitality in networked experimentation.

2. A second principle involves an ethics of engagement, stale commonplace
though it risks seeming. This is, rather, a point about the outward blog ethos
as one that conveys investment, conviction, and panache for a professional
trajectory, in a disciplinary orientation, in a research specialization, in a
body of work: I am going to make my living doing this, and, thus, I am going to
put my greatest possible effort into it. So: in the blog (as a collection) and
in specific entries, I have sought all along to be genuinely engaged. It
has not always worked this way, and this principle, perhaps like all principles,
grows weaker as I describe it in more idealistic terms. Nevertheless,
where professional ethos is concerned, blogging affords graduate students a
venue for engagement appropriate (arguably) to the rhythms of graduate

3. An ethics of lifework harmony. When I started blogging, I was a
professional, but I wasn’t a graduate student. Thus, when I became a graduate
student, I didn’t experience any remarkable change in how I thought about myself
as a professional or as a professional-in-becoming. Sure, I was leaving
behind a livable salary, a private office, home ownership, and certain daytime
schedule constraints to become a "student." But I had already trampled on
the faux-dyad of work and home or personal and professional for seven years, and
I find in blogging (granting that this is a privilege) a healthy and rewarding
breach in the hemispheric division that would separate life from work.

More to come…

MT 4.2

I just bussed in all of the upgrade files for Movable Type 4.2, so I had to
hustle together an entry to see whether it lives up to the
especially the faster page-creation times, which had become downright arthritic
with the latest releases (e.g., 4.x).

So far, I can offer the following (exclamation-style, so as to keep
with the mood of 4.2’s release):

  • the upgrade was a cinch. That’s good!
  • my search form is broken. That’s bad!
  • the basic templates held up. That’s good!
  • I will have to install a dummy blog and ransack its templates to
    troubleshoot the search error, and I have no time for that. That’s
  • a full site rebuild took less then seven minutes. Good!
  • posting this entry took something like four seconds. Faster than before!

I still haven’t read any of the release materials closely enough to figure
out the difference between MT 4.2 and MT Pro. For now, my justification is
not only a case of the late-summer lazies, but also a principled objection to
the "Pro" designation, which, for my purposes, would be better if it were "Am"
or, on the best of days, "Pro-Am."

Spill, Aisle 4.0

Expecting it to take no more than 30 or 40 minutes, I attempted to upgrade to Movable Type 4.0 early last evening. With all of the hubbub about the new release, I thought there was a chance the process would go somewhat more smoothly than it did. I backed everything up and FTPed over the new files. But when I attempted to initiate the upgrade, I kept getting 500 Server Errors. Icdsoft customer service is usually very helpful, but this time they pointed me right back to Six Apart.

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Baby Oubliette

Since she reached eight months (on 4/1), Is. has grown keenly aware that most
of the sitting posts (bouncy chair, door-frame jumper, pack-n-play, and Baby Einstein contraption)
are the functional equivalent of an oubliette. I don’t mean to imply that we are
torturing our daughter by putting her in these what fun! places, although if
you asked her (could she talk), she would almost certainly add a few indignant
qualifiers. It’s just that she is cognizant of the shift in attention–often
away from her–when she is put in one of these devices for more or less
independent play. The shift in attention might be understood as a momentary
forgetting, but that’s not the only correspondence: like the medieval chamber,
the Einstein can only be escaped from the top.

Baby Oubliette

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I’ve refurbished the exam notes blog, Exam Sitting, and converted it to a
dissertation blog. I suppose I’ll use it to post notes and other gems of
speculation. I’ve never dissertated before, so it’s not entirely clear yet
just how useful such entries will be. All the same, I’m convinced of the
benefits that carried over from the exam note-keeping to the performance of the
exams themselves. And I appreciate that some processual transparency
allows others who might be interested in such a thing to see into what I’m
working on, what I’m thinking about. It also introduces a mild, supportive
form of accountability in that everything I do there is out in the open for my
committee to follow as they see fit.

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Mark All As Read

For the past several months I’ve been using
Google Reader to aggregate the loose
pieces of the day into a readable list. I was a fairly dedicated
Bloglines user before that. Both
systems seem to skip certain feeds occasionally. That said, I’m not quite
prepared to pass around any glowing recommendations for Google Reader.
It’s especially lacking in its handling of feeds. For that
reason alone, I’ve considered switching back to Bloglines. I also like Bloglines’
Keep New check-box better than Google’s Add Star option, but before I go too far
with a critique of Google, I should experiment a bit more with the settings.
To be fair, I haven’t spent all that much time checking out the full range of
options and settings.

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Trouble Shot

Even if the following fixes are only useful to one or two people, posting
them to the blog makes them differently available for searching and bookmarking.
Since I installed MT3.34, I ran across a couple of small snags. Nothing
too off-putting, really. Just bumps along the up-gradual way.

First, the new tagging features in MT3.3+ are, as I’ve said before, really
slick. But I was having trouble with the interface that allows me to merge
tags. Say I have two tags I want to merge, like "method" and "methods."
Okay? I click on one or the other and I the tag becomes editable. After I
apply changes, I can select "Rename," in which case it will summon the database
to see if the new tag already exists. If it does exist, a java popup asks
whether I want to proceed with the merge. If the revised tag doesn’t
exist, it goes ahead and applies the change. The other option, "cancel,"
does just that. Simple, eh?

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