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Follow-up on ‘Checking the petri dishes: End game analysis for MultiMOOC 13’

February 16, 2013
This post is the second in a series, following

Thanks Natasa for the great questions.  I changed the subject of this post which will mess up the thread in YahooGroups, but will allow me to post it on Posterous by cc’ing this email to the blog.  If you reply, reply-to-all, and this will cause your reply to reach the YahooGroup and also be posted as a comment on the new blog post.

I wrote an earlier piece on tagging earlier here:

and there I pointed out some places you can go for more information on this fascinating topic.  David Weinberger offers the clearest and most approachable beginner’s guides to what tagging is all about, so check out the links to his videos in the above post.

This topic is so fascinating because an understanding of tagging is key to figuring out how to game your social presence online, and this MultiMOOC session was essentially about that.

As I mention in my post the fact that I knew so little about tagging was the reason I got Barbara Dieu to co-author an article with me on the topic.  I knew I would learn from her about what she knew on the subject (more than me) as we co-wrote our article.  Since then I’ve been learning more about the topic though experimentation, as we have done in this session.

My interest in going to the trouble of doing this session year after year is in learning more about how social networking works.  Since posting yesterday I’ve been reflecting more on the test-tube which publishes items tagged mmooc13. is simple to study this week because there are only three posts in it, shown here in the Feb 15 archive link:

These posts encompass the time between issues (Feb 8 to Feb 15) and comprise:
As Natasa correctly surmised, Twitter seems robust in aggregating tags on #mmooc13.  If we look at all the tags with that #hashtag that Twitter picked up for that week, we see all of those items listed at (compare the archive link with this screen shot of the Twitter posts in question):

If is harvesting mainly (or only) from Twitter, what about the other posts there? Careful inspection shows that the other posts are all links and a link to a hangout. allows simultaneous posting to twitter as scoops are published; apparently ignores such posts. And of course, a Hangout would be a temporary link, so it makes sense that would not publish that either, since that link would no longer be active by the end of the week when the next edition of came out.

So here is what we’ve learned in this exchange.  Just as Natasa feels she should have known the answers before mounting the inquiry in her mind, they are all so simple, this simple truth emerges here.  If you want to aggregate content in your MOOC, diigo or delicious could be one way to do it, but the most robust mechanism currently in most people’s workflow is Twitter.  

The rule is, if you want to appear in our stream, then Tweet the objects you want to appear there. 

Our Tweets are showing up not only in, but in Addictomatic as well (all of them, even the scoop.its).  In Spezify on tag search mmooc13, they are the ONLY content of ours that shows.
So, to answer Natasa’s other questions:
  1. In websites that work with tags, the tag appears as metadata in the code. Blogs derive from (or output to) an .xml file. The tags should appear in the .xml code as metadata, separate from the body of the post.  So tags are always external to the content of the post itself.
  2. Twitter’s #hashtags are a special animal unique to Twitter. You can for example search for mmooc13 on twitter and the results will be much different from searching on just the hashtag #mmooc13.  When people deliberately put the # symbol before a word they are indicating to Twitter that they want this post to be aggregated with other posts that include that tag.  So the #hashtag distinguishes that word as being a viable tag as opposed to just any string in the content of that post.
  3. I’m not familiar with Technorati’s blog tag generator.  Technorati will search on blogs for tags given as metadata as described in question #1 above.  That is, Technorati searches the .xml code of that blog for metadata that matches the tag you are searching for.  Technorati used to allow us to find even the most obscure bloggers, such as all those tagging their posts mmooc13. However, as the number of blogs proliferated beyond Technorati’s ability to scale, and as just-anybody’s blog doesn’t fit technorati’s business model and simply clutters results for its corporate clients, they have been ignoring blogs without “authority” for some time now, or at least making it difficult for them to be included in searches.
  4. Finally, regarding the question of Blogger’s ‘categories’ or what other websites might call ‘labels’.  These are tags.  They function in the same way, they are just given a different name.

Resources and further reading

MobiMOOC documented its use of social networking tools here: 

Meanwhile I noticed this in my Google+ stream today, from Tuba Angay-Crowder, who made a presentation to us on Multimodality vs. Multiliteracy January 27, 2013

I am not able to view this on Google Play from UAE without invoking a VPN, but it looks like it should provide insights to our discussion.

For something more free and open source, try Howard Rheingold’s recent crowd-sourced e-book on Peeragogy, available via, and soon to be added to the other fine offerings at

Meanwhile, in a follow up to the follow up

I scooped this post here


Now, the post will appear in the Twitter search on #mmooc13 but not in the, since the above Tweet is embedded in a scoop.  Therefore, to get it into I have to Tweet it separately:

So check back on Feb 22 to see if the post (but not its scoop) will appear here:

On Sat, Feb 16, 2013 at 6:54 AM, Natasa wrote:


That was a very thorough post about tagging and aggregating. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that you were able to pull some of my content from the web. The thing is, I believe I am not very good at the technical side of tagging. I understand its importance, but I am not quite clear about the proper way to tag a blog post so that it is aggregated and goes where it should go. In EDCMOOC they are still unable to read my posts in the class RSS aggregator.

So, I would like to ask some questions:

1. When you tag a blog post, do you add a tag at the end of the post, or do you use it as part of the post title? Or both?
2. Do you add # before a tag in a blog post? Or is that only for Twitter? (By the way, Twitter hashtags seem to work perfectly at all times, unlike other tagged content).
3. I still use a Technorati blog tag generator, even though I have given up on Technorati. I simply don’t know how else to add a tag to the end of my blog post. Should I be doing this? Or is there a better way?
4. Finally, a question on Blogger labels. They seem to be different from tags, in that they separate the labelled content into categories. Do they still work like classical tags?

Well, that’s a lot of questions and I have an uneasy feeling that I should have worked out the answers by now.

Thanks in advance,


— In, Vance Stevens wrote:
> I’ve decided to write a brief reflection on MultiMOOC, having just awakened
> this morning to find a copy of our news, weekly edition, laying on
> my virtual doorstep.


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