What Light Sounds Like (Turning Image to Audio)

CLMOOC StarChart Complete
Now this is cool … as part of my exploration of audio and light with the Making Learning Connected MOOC this week, I stumbled across the idea of taking an image and converting into an audio file … quite literally. I’ve been trying to find some easy software to do it for my Mac, to no avail, and instead, went to my PC netbook with some freeware called AudioPaint that only works on the PC.

This what it says about the process at the AudioPaint site:

A picture is actually processed as a big frequency / time grid. Each line of the picture is an oscillator, and the taller the picture is, the higher the frequency resolution is. While the vertical position of a pixel determines its frequency, its horizontal position corresponds to its time offset.

I took the collaborative Star Chart that we have been constructing in the CLMOOC and put it through AudioPaint and then moved my way into Audacity. Check out what the file looks like in wave form:

star chart audio wave

Wow, right?

Now, take a “listen” to the image of the CLMOOC Star Map.

OK. I tinkered a bit with the file and added a little narration under the file. Not quite subliminal, but getting there.

:)

Peace (in the sound of light),
Kevin

 

 

Remembering Music: Variations on a Poem 2 (Kinetic Typography)

Draft Remembering Music
(The rough draft of the poem, complete with scribbles and such)

I have this single poem that I wrote (Remembering Music) and I am moving it across media platforms as part of a variation of writing with media this week. I am curious about how the poem looks in different formats, and what I find as I work on it.

This second version of the poem uses some kinetic typography, but I have to admit — I never really found a way to do it that I liked. I spent a lot of time, looking for an inexpensive way and there just isn’t much out there. (We need an app for that!) Vimeo has an entire channel dedicated to kinetic typography.

I am sharing out two forms of kinetic typography with the poem.
First, I used Prezi. I really tried to play with the text, and with some small images, to make the words and visual flow work in partnership with the poem. It worked well enough but I wish the transitions were automatic, so I could control the flow of the poem for the reader. But, maybe I give that agency to you, dear reader. Click away.

I also used Keynote to create a version (exported to Youtube as video). I am not all happy with the result, which I find rather boring (despite the time I spent tinkering with animation on it). Plus, the visual quality of the converted presentation-into-video is poor. Anyway ..

Peace (in the variation),
Kevin

Remembering Music: Variations on a Poem 1

I’m exploring the idea of playing with using a single poem, as told in different formats. I wrote this as part of a weekly writing prompt — which is connected to a National Writing Project writing marathon underway in New Orleans called Finding Your Muse — and I wondered how the poem would look/hear/read through the lens of different media.

So today, I present the poem as text only. Tomorrow, I will try something else with the poem.

Remembering Music:

Remembering melodies buried deep

notes and stories mingled together with harmonies

echoing out beneath street corner lights;

Remembering Music:

Remembering me, miles away,

with headphones slotted into spinning discs,

the map to a musical adventure moving into

the landscape of Louisiana;

Remembering Music:

Remembering New Orleans in syncopated rhythms

and rich architecture of sounds,

crafting the heartbeat ambiance of jazz,

the pulse of America becoming the soundtrack

of a nation finding itself;

Remembering Music

Peace (in the variations on a theme),
Kevin

Soundscape Story: From Sunrise to Sunset

Sunrise 2014-07-06 1
I’ve been challenging myself to do something around the theme of “light” this week at the Making Learning Connected MOOC, using only audio to tell a story. I failed at it many times. It turns out that telling a story completely with sounds is pretty difficult, even with the experience I had doing this with DS106 earlier this year. I had one story idea of someone wandering through a dark house, lighting candles. I had another one with an alien invasion. They didn’t work and those stories were abandoned.

Finally, I realized I should stay simple and soulful …. I should create a soundscape story of a day that begins with the light of sunrise and ends with fading into sunset, as told from someone reading a book. The audio becomes the story the reader is reading. I still had troubles here. I struggled with how to represent parts of the day in audio only, and then realized I could use church bells ringing out the hours as a sort of anchor point for the listener.

All the sounds come from Freesound.org, where people openly post and share out sounds they have recorded.  Just know … I didn’t record any of the sounds. I pulled them together in Audacity editing software to produce the story, so I am appreciative of the Freesound users for sharing their sounds with the world. (See list of credits at the end of this post of the audio files I used)

You will hear an odd sound near the end of the story. This was created by someone using a software program that turns a bitmap of an image into audio wave files. The image he used is of the moon. So the sound is of an audio interpretation of a picture of a moon, if that makes sense. I want to dig around for that software program, because I think it has possibilities for storytelling, right?

I can’t say I am completely happy with the results of From Sunrise to Sunset, and I am left wondering: Does the story drag on? Does it capture the splendid beauty of morning as light hits the world? The liveliness of the day as we move about under the sun? The slow settling of the night as the Earth turns away from the sun? Is light even really a theme, here? Or just an artificial storytelling construct? You know, I got questions for myself.

Sunset in Tazacorte

I am making the soundscape story downloadable for anyone to remix, as part of the ethos of the CLMOOC.

Peace (in the story of light coming and light going),
Kevin

Sound Clip Credits:

  • Pages of Book Turning 1 and 2
  • Church Bells ringing at noon and 6
  • Sound of the moon
  • Rooster in the morning
  • Dusk insect sounds
  • Daytime street sounds

Bottom of the Ninth: Two Versions, One Story

Yesterday, I wrote about my son being in the free Apple Story Movie Camp, and how I was able to storyboard out a story, too. When we went home, we shot video footage for his movie (which came out great!) and then he agreed to be the actor in my movie, which is called Bottom of the Ninth. I wanted to do it all on the iPad only, with iMovie app.

Here’s how it came out:

But I also tried another version, using the PicPlayPost app, which is a video collage. I like the iMovie version better but it is interesting to see the story in this format.

Peace (in the vid),
Kevin

Reinventing the Night: A Star Chart/Constellation Collaboration

star chart
With the theme of light this week at the Making Learning Connected MOOC, I have launched an invitation to people to help me create a new set of constellations, and origin stories, in the night sky by opening up four “star charts” that I have created in Google Drawing.

Anyone can come on in and add some star clusters and then write a short origin story. I hadn’t thought about it until Amy did it, but adding the story right into the Google Drawing as a comment makes great sense. I wrote out instructions and the four star charts (north, south, east, west) are open and editable by anyone.

Check out the instructions on how to add to the star charts

Or go to the charts:

You come, too. Add some stars. Make a constellation. Write your story. Collaborate with points of light.

Here is mine:

clmoocius spelledoutius

In the north sky, in mid July of 2014, the giant Makers of the Universe gathered together and noticed that on the small planet below, the Earthians had relied so much on consuming that they had forgotten creating. The Makers of the Universe decided to send a sign to the Earthians, something to help them remember that their hands were designed to make things and their minds were designed to invent things and solve problems, and the #CLMOOC constellation was born. The Makers of the Universe moved the stars into a cluster, confident that with the light of the CLMOOC shining down on the planet, a movement would be born and inspiration would be found. And it was so.

 

Peace (in the sky),
Kevin

At the Apple Store: When the Cynical Me Met the Maker Me

Storyboards
My youngest son is participating in a free “Movie Making Camp” through our local Apple Store. The cynical side of me thinks, This is such a sneaky way to get parents and kids into the Apple Store and get us hooked on Apple products. (not that we aren’t, already). But the kinder, more generous side of me — the Maker/Educator  me — thinks, This is a free and accessible way for any kid to learn how to make movies, and how can that opportunity be anything but a good thing?

Apple Camp. Creative creatures wanted.

It’s a three day camp that goes for about 90 minutes each day, run by three energetic young Apple people, and my son had a blast yesterday as they began learning about the basics of making movies on mobile devices. Now, my son has made movies before and much of what they are telling him he already knows. That didn’t matter. He is still enjoying it.

What the Maker/Educator Me liked about it?

They began with work away the iPads completely, by focusing in on the storyboarding process. It was a neat image, all of these young kids bent over their storyboard papers, mapping out a short movie project that they will be completing in just a few days. Now, parents are required to stay in the store (Keep quiet, Cynical Me!) and the program leaders offered up storyboards to all the parents, too. (See, Maker/Educator Me?)

I was on the only parent to accept a storyboard and as the kids were drawing and planning, I began working out my own movie idea, too. I guess no other adults wanted to play. But I sure as heck did.

After the storyboarding, they (we) moved into learning how to use the Garageband App to create their own original music that will become the soundtrack for the movie itself. Making original music? (Well, as original as it is when it is constructed out of loops). I’m down with that. I always have fun with the GB app.

Their homework assignment was to shoot about four minutes of video, based on their storyboard. The final version will be about 2 minutes long, or less. My son is working on this neat idea, inspired by the Fruit Ninja game, that involves fruit, a large knife, and a blender. Let’s just say, it does not end well for the fruit. We spent about 45 minutes shooting his raw video, and then I bribed him to be the star of my movie called Bottom of the Ninth, which is based on him playing whiffle ball in the backyard. We spent another 30 minutes shooting that raw video, which I shot and then edited entirely on the iPad last night. I was curious if I could do it all on the iPad. Yes, I could, and did.

Storyboards

For a free camp, the Movie Camp is pretty nifty. I’ll keep the Cynical Me at bay here so that the creative spirit can be open to possibilities, particularly when it embraces a shared ethos of allowing kids to be creators, not just consumers, of movies. On Friday, all the kids will be sharing their short movies, so that should be a hoot. I’ll share out mine here later this week.

Peace (at camp),
Kevin

 

Considering Light and Stories

nightsky
The theme for this Make Cycle at the Making Learning Connected MOOC is all about “light” or rather, storytelling with light. It will be interesting to see which direction people will take this idea. The group facilitating the Make Cycle share examples of using Makey Makey, and Squishy Circuits, to make literal lights with stories. It might be the week I finally open up my Squishy Circuit box and see what’s inside. Ditto for Makey Makey.

But I have to admit, what came to mind for me was the idea of the night sky and constellation myths. So I am on the trail to figure out some way to create a collaborative star/constellation map that others in the CLMOOC can contribute to, so that we might collectively create an entirely new night sky full of stars and stories. Admittedly, I don’t know how to do that yet, but I am going to explore some options, and share out. (If you have an idea on how I can pull this off, please leave me a comment.)

This Make Cycle is being planted by a group out of Philly called Maker Jawn.

Maker Jawn experiments with creating replicable, scalable spaces and programs that prioritize the creativity, cultural heritage, and interests of diverse communities, embedded directly within the fabric of the library. We cheer-lead latent enthusiasts by providing resources, tools, and an encouraging space. Programming is geared towards for interest driven projects that develop skills, build persistence, and open up new trajectories. We currently offer daily youth Maker programming in ten libraries across Philadelphia.

Peace (in the light),
Kevin

We Don’t Have the Right Words for What We Do

hackcloud
(word cloud created from G+ discussion referenced below)

I suspect that if I told some of my computer programming friends about what the Making Learning Connected MOOC was up to this past Make Cycle with the “hack your writing” theme, they would get a chuckle, and tell me, “That’s not hacking.” Remixing poetry, shaping odds and ends of writing, moving words into image …. that’s just … writing, right? My computer friends would probably be more narrow in focus, with the act of hacking being working with the code of programs or the inside workings of a computer/network.

Hacking writing?

Check out this discussion that Terry started in our Google Plus community, in which many of us grappled with the terminology of “hacking” and what it is that we were doing. First of all, this kind of rich, thoughtful discussion is exactly why the CLMOOC is so important to us as teachers. Second of all, it surfaces the confusion that many of us teachers and writers and learners are feeling as the idea of composition is in the midst of a pretty sizable shift.

We don’t have the right words yet for what we are doing, and what we are doing when we compose in the digital age, so we reach out for the somewhat familiar. The idea of hacking? While it has come to have negative connotations (black hat hackers), the original concept (white hat hackers) was to tinker and play and make the system run better for everyone. The idea was that when problems arise (with computer networks), the community can solve the problem, collectively, and move the entire technology movement forward. (And of course, there are other meanings — to hack something violently is to chop it up, or the hack worker who does a crappy job at something, or the life hack to make your day run smoother, and more variations of the word than you can shake a dictionary at.)

In some ways, we are slowly returning to this idea of the positive hack (I think/I hope). Look at the Hack for Change movement. You may even have a chapter near you, where programmers, educators, social service agencies, and local government officials spend a weekend identifying problems that need addressing, and then working together as a team to solve them. We have a group in our area, and I have had members come talk to students about what they are doing — about using programming skills and computer know-how for the good of the larger world.

“Hacking” certainly has a cool cache with kids, too. When I tell my sixth graders that we are going to “hack” some websites with Mozilla Webmaker X-Ray Googles, there is a real excitement in the room. They imagine themselves going on some covert operation, dipping into the code of websites, and being a bit nefarious. Of course, I pop their bubble a bit, explaining that we will be hacking websites only through a layer of hack (X-Ray Goggles does not change the original) as a way to understanding some basic coding and to write from a different point of view (such as, revamp the front page of the New York Times and give stories a slanted view of the world – change the lens).

What concepts bubble up when you “hack writing”?

  • Agency of the writer/composer
  • Lens of the reader
  • Word choice/Image choice/Video choice
  • Ownership of content

So, this Make Cycle, I was on the look-out for collective hacks within CLMOOC — ideas that would draw the community into the shared experience, to tap into the groupthink knowledge. I even instigated a comic remix activity that was interesting to watch unfold. I wish there had been more ways to get us to write together, to remix together, to hack together … but I know, too, that being in the midst of the change (such as that which writing/composition is undergoing right now with the digital world)  is like holding on to an umbrella in the midst of the storm — sometimes, it takes all your strength to keep the umbrella from flying away … you don’t have time to offer a dry space to your neighbor.

I write all this inquiry in a positive light, and I am thankful for the facilitators (Mia and Erica) for all that they did to get this Make Cycle in motion and how they nurtured these discussions along the way, in forums and in the Make with Me hangout, Twitter chat and more. We won’t even be able to understand the change unless we get into it and play, and reflect on it. This is the heart of Connected Learning — both the act of trying something new and the connections with colleagues to understand a difficult topic, as well as following our own passions. We may not yet have the right words for what we are doing when we “hack writing” and remix our words, but it is through the “doing” that we can come to better understand the possibilities of what’s ahead of us.

The words will follow …

Sheri created this prezi exploration of “hack” that is worth ending with:

Peace (in the meander),
Kevin