Talking Digital Identity with GO-GN

There is no better feeling than when some of your plodding experimentation starts to come together after several months of work.

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of presenting to the GO-GN network about digital identity. I asked Martin Weller and Beck Pitt if I could experiment a bit for this talk with some various video shots via OBS, and they were more than willing to let me run wild. In fact, they were even accommodating 🙂 They gave me a test account for their video conferencing application, ClickMeeting, which quite frankly was one of the best I’ve used yet.* I did a preliminary run at this setup with my “5 Questions about EDUPUNK” video last weekend that  I posted about earlier this week. The primary difference was that this was in front of a real-time audience and if I messed up there were no do-overs. Dear reader, I nailed it!

My discussion of digital identity might be broken up into two parts: 1) I play the hits and talk about my blog, narrating your work, and the now venerable ds106, but part 2) was a bit of a departure wherein I discussed the possibilities of streaming video for new ways of building and imagining presence. I was lucky that both Meredith Fierro and Katie Hartraft did the heavy lifting by modeling Tik Tok-style narratives and being far more insightful and thoughtful than I could ever be! It was a lot of fun for me, and I was more nervous about this presentation than I had been about one in a long while, which for me is always a good sign I am stepping out of my lane and trying something new. For me the form was the message, I was spending 45 minutes presenting my story via dynamic, streaming video. It wasn’t The Wire or anything, but it was mine in ways the typical video conferencing video box never could be. I didn’t stream it to ds106.tv out of respect for the GO-GN network, given they invited me to their space, so no need to push folks elsewhere, but I could have quite easily. What’s more, I could record a hi-quality version of the video I can then use for my own purposes. Something like this….

One drawback of this version of the talk is that I didn’t capture the ongoing chat (though I could have), and I didn’t capture the audio questions Martin asked towards the end. I edited the above video to account for that, but GO-GN has the more complete version up on their Youtube account, embedded below:

Now riddle me this, which is the official document? Textual historians are gonna be working overtime for the next few centuries 🙂 A couple of interesting notes about the version on Youtube is that with it came copyright claims that made monetizing it impossible. Fine by GO-GN and me, but it does get to an issue that came up in the talk regarding the lack of de-commodified green spaces for video on the web . The nice part about a ds106.tv, as Tim reminds me, is there are no copyright trolls. Small can be very good for a video community. Plus, I have already spent my time dealing with the Youtube copyright crap, and I have no interest to go back there. Everything I have on Vimeo is backed-up locally (and remotely); I basically have my bug-out bag by the door ready to go at anytime. If they delete my videos, it would just mean finding another home for them, and maybe that is exactly what we’ll do with ds106tv  🙂

Anyway, I am getting off topic here, this entire process has gotten me even more excited about working with Tim and Andy Rush on a special topics ds206† course, namely #ds206video. And while we still have to iron out a bunch of details, I did mention this development in the above video, and Andy and Tim are officially on-board. It will be a multi-week open course around working with OBS, streaming video servers, hardware, video editing software, etc. with the idea of helping interested folks bolster their video game. I’ll hopefully have a lot more to say and blog about this anon. But for now let me try and document what I did for the “Like <3 and Subscribe to Your Digital !dentity in the Time of Corona” presentation.

In fact, it was quite similar to the process I blogged about for the EDUPUNK Q&A, so I will try and keep this a bit briefer with the understanding you can refer back to my previous post for details (at some point I’ll try and come up with a more cogent tutorial).

Like with the EDPUNK Q&A I had 3 main scenes:

1) The Console Living Room:

2) Reclaim Arcade

3) Slide presentation mode

Each of these scenes is composed of pretty much the same inputs/shots as the OBS screenshots in the EDUPUNK Q&A post. Only difference is I deigned to change my shirt, or at least the unbuttoned button-up. What’s more, I added five video shots this time versus the four I used in the EDUPUNK video. Katie and Meredith’s Tik Tok videos were Media Source inputs of a video file I had in a folder on my desktop. Nothing else special, other than making sure in Advanced Audio Preferences for the videos I could monitor to hear it as well as the audience (see “Brian on Crack” example in EDUPUNK Q&A post). For the Buggles’s “Video Killed the Radio Star” video I included my webcam in that shot so I could be goofy and sing/dance along. This was as easy as adding another video capture device, my webcam, but I made sure there was no audio for me on this.

The coolest bit was Katie filmed her 2 minutes discussion of her story around her viral Star Wars Tik Tok against a green screen, so I could add the Yoda image cleanly behind her using the Chroma key in Filters for her video. That was a new process, and remarkably easy in OBS.

Finally I mapped my Stream Deck with the 3 primary scenes: LR (console living room), Full Screen (Reclaim Arcade shot), and Vinylcam (which is actually the presentation mode). The other five video scenes are in yellow and I order them to my liking, but can also label them to make sense for me.

The last bit which is different from the EDUPUNK Q&A video was I used the OBS Virtual Camera plugin for the Mac, it has been around for a while for Windows but a new development for Mac this Spring. This plugin let’s me choose everything I output from OBS as a camera input for an application like ClickMeeting or Zoom or any other video conferencing tool that supports it (this is why I needed to test ClickMeeting well in advance). It is super slick. When I chose the OBS Virtual Cam as my camera for ClickMeeting everyone can see my OBS app as the output. That worked brilliantly.

In fact, I tested everything again that morning so that by 2:30 PM when I was ready to test in the room I was sure everything worked—did I tell you I was nervous? Well, while the virtual video output was fine I had a bit of a scare when Paco, who was awesome, let me know the audio from the videos was not coming through. Oh no! I was racking my brain until I remembered I needed to use the virtual audio output from the Loopback application I use to mix sound together from various applications. Once I switched my audio from just my mic to the virtual sound output I named OBS Audio I was cooking with gas with only 5 minutes to spare, whew! After that, it was show time and I am pretty stoked we could pull it all off! Let me know if you need some comedy relief at your next online event 🙂

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*The big test ClickMeeting passed with flying colors was working with the OBS Virtual Camera plugin, but more on that in the post above.

†A few years ago Alan Levine and I toyed with the idea of doing a ds206 course (http://ds206.life) wherein we started thinking more intensely about various aspects of managing your digital identity and resulting work online. I think the idea of doing it as a course through a university (which was on the table at the time) was a bit more than either of us wanted to commit to given other demands, so we shelved it.

Reclaim Roadshow at MSU: the Ghost of Digital Presence

We are happy to announce our second Reclaim Roadshow at Michigan State University on February 21st and 22nd of next year. As I already noted in my last post, I’m pretty thrilled with the Scooby-Doo inspired aesthetic we dreamed up for our Roadshows, and this is the first time we are putting into action. In fact, you can head over to the site and see how it’s “rolled out.” 

I would also recommend reading Lauren’s post on her creation process of the website for the Roadshow, which simply pops! But lest this devolve into a backslapping post about how awesome the art is (there will be plenty more posts about that ? ) it might be helpful to talk a bit about this event. When we were considering the Roadshow originally we actually reached out to Michigan State first given the great work Chris Long, Kristen Mapes and Scott Schopieray have done to promote the idea of Digital Presence for their faculty and graduate students. They really nailed the concept with a short video they produce a couple of years ago that sums up their vision quite well:

Originally MSU was going to be our first Roadshow, but when the opportunity to try it out at Skidmore College availed itself we grabbed it, and I am glad we did because I think the experience will make the MSU Roadshow that much better. The plan for February is that we will run a focused workshop on February 21st that will be an opportunity for folks managing Domains at their campus (or who will soon be) to get an in-depth look at the backend of the system. If you are interested in this workshop you can register here.

On February 22nd (day 2) the good folks at MSU will be organizing a day-long  event loosely organized around the topic of Digital Presence. I am excited about the unconference approach, and it is something quite different from what we did at Skidmore College. MSU recently hired Kathleen Fitzpatrick as the Director of Digital Humanities and her pushing on academia reclaiming their web presence for publishing and beyond with her work at the MLA with Commons in a Box offers a unique and exciting opportunity to bring together folks exploring the intersections of Digital Humanities, the Indie Web, and broader ideas of digital identity. I’m getting excited just writing about it. So, if you have no interest in the workshop, but want to come for a day-long conference dealing with a wide range of concerns around the specter of digital presence (you like what I did there?) then sign-up for day 2 and come join us at MSU.

Well, that’s it for now, I need to get this officially announced before the holidays, but I’ll be sure to say more later next week after the Christmas dust settles to start drumming up interest in what promises to be a pretty awesome Roadshow.

Reclaiming Domain Privacy

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One of the issues that’s gotten increasingly troublesome recently has been the increasingly more aggressive domain registration spam and scams. As I wrote earlier this year, it’s gotten to the point where companies are calling our clients soon after sign-up pretending to work for Reclaim and asking for credit card information. This is unconscionable, and we knew then and there we could no longer make identity protection for domains optional. So, as of January 1, 2017 we will be including ID protect for all new domains, whether registered individually or as part of a hosting account.

There is a cost involved in doing this, so we will be increasing the price of domains to $15 /year, and Student and Faculty shared hosting accounts will be raised to $30 and $50 /year respectively. We understand increasing prices may not be ideal for many, but being able to guarantee Reclaimers’ online identity helps justify the costs while reinforcing an ethos of openness and vigilance when it comes to one’s digital lifebits.

Let us know in the comments below if you have questions or concerns.

Nota bene: Any existing coupon codes that entail bulk account purchases will be honored at previous pricing structure.

Password Management Ground Zero for Digital Literacy

During the open infrastructure panel at the OpenVA conference in Virginia Beach this past Fall, Martha Burtis had a great little tear about how we should focus less on centrally integrated IT systems that hide complexity, and push towards loosely coupled systems that reflect more accurately how the web works. She went on to advocate that rather than endlessly pursuing the holy grail of single sign-on, institutions should we spend time showing their community how to use a password manager. It’s a great, provocative bit, and captures Martha acumen quite nicely:

It’s a moment I have thought about many times since, and while I was traveling during the second week of the Domain of One’s Own Faculty Initiative this spring, Martha sat in for me with my cohort. She introduced them all to the password management tool LastPass, and effectively changed their digital lives :) I am only half kidding. If you have worked with faculty or students regularly, you quickly realize how difficult managing passwords is for most folks. I often tell #ds106 internauts that the biggest technical challenge they’ll face in the course is managing their various passwords, and it’s absolutely true.

Password management tools like LastPass (we use that to collectively manage our DTLT passwords thanks to Ryan Brazell) and 1Password (we use that for Reclaim Hosting  thanks to Kin Lane) have increasingly become essential to my regular web workflow. With the advent of UMW Domains (not to mention all of our servers for Reclaim) I have as many as 25-30 different logins for work alone. Remembering them is impossible, and storing them locally on my browser or in my keychain is not only risky, but they don’t travel well (or at all) to other computers. Turns out learning a password management tool was one of the most useful lessons for me this year, and that was also the case for several UMW Domains faculty in my cohort, thanks to Martha.

I’m starting to think password management should be ground zero for literacy when it comes to managing your online world. It was immediately apparent how big an impact it made on faculty in the cohort. That might be why Kin Lane suggests your first step to reclaiming your online world is taking inventory of all your online services (as well as the logins and passwords) so you can actually begin to understand how extensive your online world is, and how much you need to start managing that presence. The lesson is both practical and conceptual all at once, it’s a great way to start any conversation around managing one’s identity online.