Want to build a website but find a blank canvas intimidating? Found a great “open” resource that’s legal, but really difficult, to copy? Have a new Domain of Your Own but don’t know how to get started?
For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a new web app called Peasy (as in “easy peasy”). Peasy is relatively easy-to-install and easy-to-use platform for building simple websites. There is no “back-end” to fuss with, no database to administer, just a simple web site that you can edit live while you’re logged in.
But the aspect of Peasy that I’m most excited about is that it makes it really easy to clone existing web sites, if they’re also built in Peasy. That means that you never have to start from scratch. You can find a site you like ― such a syllabus, an “about me” page, a CV, a course website, an online textbook… ― and with just a couple clicks, you can clone that entire site and make your own copy of it. Your focus, then, is not re-building existing work, but building on that work, extending it in new ways. And since all Peasy sites are easily copyable, remixable, and given an open-source license by default, Peasy makes it easy for others to build on your work, too.
In an article for Hybrid Pedagogy a few years ago, I wrote
Scholars and pedagogues are not merely consumers (of journals, of textbooks, of ed-tech tools, of old scholars). Scholars and pedagogues are not merely creators (of journals, of textbooks, of ed-tech tools, of new scholars). Scholars are creator/consumers, developer/users… hackers.
We are unapologetic tinkerers who neither invent the wheel, nor are satisfied with the wheels already at our disposal.
Peasy is built with this philosophy in mind. As scholars and teachers (and, I’d argue, students), our role is neither to create and broadcast, nor to consume passively. Our role is to engage critically with what exists, to extend it, build on it, break it. With Peasy, I’m hoping it will be easier to do exactly that.
Peasy is still at an early stage in its development. But you can download it, install it, tinker, play, build, break, and even contribute to the development! I’d love to get feedback (and even code!) from others who try it out, so I can continue to fix bugs and add capabilities. (As a young project, Peasy still has some kinks to work out. Please backup anything you build! :) )
And if you just want to see it in action, check out these sample sites:
- Peasy – open by default
- Digital Storytelling (DS106), a course website
- Computational Music Analysis – a single-page site with a course syllabus
- Music Notes – an open-source mini textbook
- Digital Pedagogy Lab Praxis – Lee Skallerup Bessette’s home page for her track at the Digital Pedagogy Lab 2016 Institute
Let me know what you think! And if you build a site you’d like to share, I’d love to add it to the list of examples for people to visit ― and clone!
Image by Karen (CC BY-NC-ND).