What I was tinkering with yesterday was Twitter Tools, a plugin for WordPress that connects your blog and your Twitter account, allowing you do a range of things like have your twitterings (I really can’t bring myself to use the word “tweets”) appear in your sidebar, notify Twitter when you post something to the blog, etc. What I’ve done is create a special category, “twitter,” which gathers my twitterings and posts them to the front page, but in a special format that sets them a bit apart. I’m going to let this run a while and see how I feel about it; if it’s too annoying, I may move to a daily digest posting.

Now to pretend to real productivity.


I swore I wasn’t going to miss it this year, as I did last year and the year before (and the year before that, and the year before that). I even went so far as to put it on my iCal, so that I’d remember to mark the occasion, but then I failed to look at the calendar yesterday. It’s a bit disappointing. I mean, this was moderately significant: the five year anniversary of starting things up here at Planned Obsolescence. I’d meant to mark the moment, but as wonky as my moment-to-moment understanding of what moment it is has gone, it’s not surprising that I missed it.

In any event, to mark the just-having-passedness of the moment: I’ve instituted a little “Five Years Ago” link, to be found at right. I’m curious what will happen on a day when, five years before, there was no post, but I guess we’ll see.


I’m tinkering a bit with my categories, trying to make them a bit more tree-like, but given that I’ve already got two systems represented here (the old tripartite novels/networks/inbetween structure and the more recent whatever-occurs-to-me structure), they’re not organizing terribly well. In any case, several of the categories at right expand when clicked upon, in particular “life,” “media,” “technology,” and “work.” But I’m dissatisfied, as some of the subgroupings are uncomfortable. Is “reading” really a child of “media”? (For me it is, which may say something about which way the wind is blowing in my academic affiliations.) But is “blogging” better considered “media” or “technology”? Or “work,” or “life,” for that matter? How did I end up with both a “blogging” and a “metablogging” category? Wouldn’t a blog post labeled “blogging” automatically be an instance of metablogging? In which case a blog post that consciously labeled itself “metablogging” would be, in fact meta-metablogging?

Sigh. More changes under the hood are afoot, though one hopes they’ll be pretty subtle.

Welcome, Almost

The transition to WordPress has thus far gone fairly well, and what you see is roughly the site you’ll see once I’m done. However, I’ve got one significant problem that’s going to require me to go offline briefly this morning, I think: I originally installed WP via a one-click install in my testing subdomain (, and once I was ready to go, changed the installation’s options to reflect the proper URL and moved all the files to the top-level domain ( For whatever reason, though, WP in this new location seems not to think that I’m the owner of the files. The permissions are set identically to the permissions in the “new” subdomain, but I keep getting funky “if this file were writable, you could edit it” messages from WP, which suggests that something’s wrong. I’m about to attempt a backup and reinstall, so if things go away briefly… well, hopefully they’ll be back.


mod_rewrite is determined to kill me. Here’s what I managed to figure out: I can use mod_rewrite to rewrite my URLs from


And I can, theoretically, use another set of rewrite rules to replace the underscores with hyphens. And then at least many of my inbound links should transfer to the new WordPress permalink scheme.


I couldn’t make it work to save my life. It has taken me much of the day yesterday, and most of the day today, with lots of back and forth with someone on my hosting provider’s forums, to get part one of the rewriting — eliminating the “/” chunk — to work. I’m not getting much of anywhere with the rewriting of underscores to hyphens.

One begins to wonder how much trouble is really worth it.

Because I Am Precisely That Nuts

And because I didn’t feel like working today: I managed to find a way to export my content from ExpressionEngine and import it into WordPress. And I’ve found a theme I rather like, and futzed with it until I like it even better. And I’ve gotten just about everything working the way I want.

Except for my permalinks, which are completely hosed. Now to attempt to teach myself mod_rewrite, to see if this is salvageable, or if I’m going to have to manually fix all my internal links and use a general 404 page for everyone coming in from the outside…

The MLA, Thus Far

It’s pretty much been a non-MLA, due to complete and total physical collapse. When I arrived in Philadelphia, after the shuttle bus, the first plane, the shuttle bus, the second plane, the “air train,” the real train, and the cab, I checked into my hotel room, put my stuff down, checked my email, and got a phone call from a former student who’s here interviewing. I wanted a drink and something to eat before bed, and so went down to meet him in the lobby bar.

At some point during our conversation, I did the math, and figured out that as I’d awoken at 3.30 am in Prague, that meant that I’d gotten up at 9.30 pm the night before, local time-wise. And I was clearly not at my sharpest, because while I had a fantastic time over what turned out to be two drinks with the former student, I somehow forgot to eat, and hadn’t eaten anything since the second plane. But, I figured, I’m so tired now that I don’t even feel like eating.

Not the best decision, I don’t think. I went up to my room, completely crashed, and woke up three hours later, ravenous and unable to go back to sleep. I drank a bunch of water, read a bit, turned the light back out, turned the light back on, read a bit more, made another assay on sleep, and then finally just gave up and sat at the computer, hoping to get some work done.

And, in fact, I did! But I did it the very, very hard way. My intent was to use yesterday morning to record the audio track for a video presentation of one of the talks I’ve given this fall. I’d planned on using ProfCast, which records both your audio and the content and transitions between your slides as you play them. The problem is, however, that I need to see the notes from my slides in order to record the audio, and thus I need either to print out the paper and read from that, or I need to be hooked up to an external monitor so that Keynote will default to the “rehearsal” view on my own screen. And as I am without printer or external monitor, that wasn’t going to work. So I recorded the audio track in Audacity, imported it into iMovie, exported my slides to jpeg, imported them into iMovie, stretched them out to meet the appropriate transitions in the talk, et voilĂ !

Except. When I compress in iMovie 5, the sync between audio and video slips. The more compression, the more slippage. So a “reasonably sized” (i.e., only ridiculously large 10MB) .mov file plays fine for the first couple of minutes, but then the slides start refusing to change, even as the audio marches ruthlessly on. I’ve exported a “full quality” (i.e., 87 MB) .mp4 file, which is perfect. Now I just have to (a) figure out how to compress it enough to have any hope of a reasonable web distribution for it, or (b) find a way to print my paper and do the stupid thing over again in ProfCast.

In any case, that little morning adventure, pleasant though it was, apparently took every bit of energy I had for the day. I’d room-serviced a huge breakfast, and so thought that despite jet lag and lack of sleep I’d be fine. I met my friend Cyrus for lunch, though, and about halfway through, it suddenly became really, super evident that I was Not Fine. I somewhat hastily excused myself, went back to my room, and spent the next three hours attempting fruitlessly to take a nap. (Can someone explain that to me? How is it that you can get yourself to the point of nervous collapse from exhaustion and then find yourself unable to fall asleep?)

Finally, after a room-serviced hamburger, I took one of my big-gun sleeping pills, and completely crashed. Slept through until 6 am. Which I think is the first full night’s sleep I’ve gotten since leaving California.

And thus ends my first day at the MLA!

Today promises to be more conferency, all the way around. My schedule:

8.30 – 9.45 am:
Everquesting: Digital Learning and the Humanities
Liberty Ballroom Salon C, Philadelphia Marriott.
Presiding: Priscilla B. Wald, Duke University
–Anne Balsamo, University of Southern California
–Cathy N. Davidson, Duke University
–Anna Everett, University of California, Santa Barbara
–Douglas Thomas, University of Southern California

12.00 noon – 1.15 pm:
Textual Materialities
Grand Ballroom Salon I, Philadelphia Marriott.
Presiding: Neil Fraistat, University of Maryland, College Park
–“Save As: Textual Studies and the Challenges of Born-Digital Literature,” Matthew Gary Kirschenbaum, University of Maryland, College Park
–“Picture Criticism: Textual Studies and the Image,” Kari M. Kraus, University of Rochester
–“Textual Studies and the Book,” Peter Bigland Stallybrass, University of Pennsylvania

1.30 pm: lunch with editor and co-editor.

3 pm: coffee with scholar I’m very excited about meeting!

7ish pm: drink with former colleague.

8.45 pm: blogger meetup. Assuming I can stay awake that late.

I’ll hope to see some of you there!

Linky Update

You might not have noticed without my pointing it out, but several of the links at right have changed. I now have my very own subdomain for networked teaching projects,, and so I’ve migrated my old projects (including the MarxWiki) to the new space. If you’ve linked to or bookmarked any of those projects, please update the URLs; the older versions will go away shortly.