Making/Hacking/Playing with WMWP

Make Hack Play LEDs
This morning, I have a small group of folks from our Western Massachusetts Writing Project Tech Team (which I lead as as the co-director of technology for WMWP) coming over to my house to do a Make/Hack/Play session. We’re connecting together over coffee to play around with paper circuitry first — we will be making “maps” (metaphorical or literal) that we will light up “nodes” of interest.

Then, we will shift over to Webmaker’s Popcorn Maker for remixing of video and media. My hope is that we will use MLK’s I Have a Dream speech as the center and then layer in media on top of or inside of the video. My friends have not ever used Popcorn, so I am curious to see how best to guide them into it.

webmaker popcorn overview

This is what I created this morning:

This small group work will also help me and a WMWP technology team colleague think about an upcoming presentation at a WMWP Spring Symposium, where we are facilitating a session around student agency with media and technology. She teaches a college course on using media and I am leading the hands-on portion, where folks in the session will be using Popcorn for remix.

WMWP Invite to Spring Symposium


(If you are in Western Mass, please consider coming to the Symposium. The registration signup is here: )

Peace (in the make),


Zeega Music Demo: I Fall Apart

This demo song is one I wrote quite a long time ago, and only recently pulled it back onto my guitar. It was first written in the aftermath of the devastating Haiti Earthquake. I tinkered a bit more with it in the last few days, adding a new section, and then recorded this as a spare song. Don’t worry — it’s thankfully not about me. I am happy. I am fine. The narrator of the song is not. (I always feel the need to write that for these kinds of songs.)

I am still making with Zeega until the doors close …

Peace (in the fall and recovery),

Of Dreams and Songs and Childhood


The theme of the recent Walk My World Learning Event is “dreams.” I don’t often remember my sleep dreams at night. But thinking about the theme of dreams had me remembering this: my very first song that I ever recorded. I was in my teens, and my friend and I had a cheap two-track recorder and a little Casio keyboard, plus a guitar (we used it for bass, too, if I remember correctly). We had to keep combining tracks and layering them over one another. It was very complicated. (Today, Audacity or Garageband offers easier options but you don’t have to think about it as much, either.)

The song’s title and theme? Follow that Dream.

It’s a little embarrassing to hear it now on the Interwebz, and to share it out, but it is a bit of a memory road trip, too. I was just beginning to write songs — this may have been the first or second song that I ever wrote in a complete form and shared with my childhood friend, a drummer. You can tell by the words that I was moving from teenage poetry into songwriting. I had just taught myself how to play guitar, too, as I am a saxophone player. We recorded Follow That Dream as a lark, to see if we could do it, and then realized that we both liked the recording process, tinkering with sounds, and spent the rest of the summer making songs. (Although everything is so tinny in those sessions, because we had these little cheap Radio Shack microphones and the two-track recorder.)

Dreams #walkmyworld

Peace (in the dream),

Slice of Life: Ice Falls

(This is post for Slice of Life, as facilitated by Two Writing Teachers each Tuesday. We write about small moments. In March, the Slice of Life goes daily for a month. Consider joining the effort to write every day.)

Ice falls #sol15

It was one of those nights and aims to be one of those days …
Peace (with one eye open),

PS — If need information about the March Slice of Life challenges, here you go:

PSS — a bonus Zeega to celebrate Slice of Life



False Horizons: A Found Poem, Remixed

You should read Terry Elliot’s post about a chart that Audrey Watters put together about the Horizon Report and its predications for trends in EdTech over the years. Terry warns us that when an organization like Horizon makes predictions, it shapes the future. He is more deep than that, though, so give his piece a read.

This was my take on the chart (which was interesting to read):

Horizons reports
And I could not resist a meme after reading Terry’s post.
Horizons reports
But I was also struck by Terry’s heartfelt views of the impact organizations like Horizon have on policy makers, and that led to a “found poem” that I then moved into Zeega as part of my push to make Zeegas until they close up shop soon.

Peace (in the think),


A #Walkmyworld Blog Tribute Remix

I don’t know if can keep it up but I am trying to do a Zeega-a-day before the site closes up to the world on making new Zeegas. Yesterday, Ian O’Byrne posted a wonderful blog post, reflecting on the latest Learning Event for Walk My World that had to do with totems and identity. I remixed Ian (who facilitates Walk my World with Greg) by taking some of his insights and moving them into a remix Zeega.

Peace (inside the media),

I Heard the Words …

I am going to keep making Zeegas until time runs out … this one is from a poem I wrote about hearing a racist comment about a friend and the defense mechanism that kicked in.


Peace (in the poem),

Book Review: The Pleasures of Reading in the Age of Distraction

Add Alan Jacobs to the list of people who are both concerned and excited about how the act of reading is undergoing significant changes in the digital age. In The Pleasures of Reading in the Age of Distraction, Jabobs explores “reading” along many different tangents but remains centered on the theme of Whim at the heart of how we read (or should choose our reading).

Yes, we need to learn how to read. Yes, it helps to be guided to books by others. But the kind of reading that stick with us for life is with the books that we choose to read because there is something about the story or the writer or even the cover art, that pulls us in. Even in this age of digital text and hyperskimming/hyperlinking/hyperreading, our Whim in what we read can take us far, if we let it.

I appreciated how Jacobs pushes back against the scholars who say “this is the list of book you must read” as well as those who say “reading has changed and deep reading of books is no longer how people read in their lives” and instead, shows us how literature has the potential to transform our lives. Interestingly, Jacobs found a balance after realizing that his focus on deeper reading was waning and only found it when he bought himself a Kindle. The e-reader allowed him back into deep reading, he says. (I’m not sure that has helped me and when I use an e-reader, I find myself more distracted than Jacobs claims to be.)

In The Pleasures of Reading in the Age of Distraction, Jacobs explores the art of annotation (and pushed back a bit on the crowd-sourced annotations now available via Kindle and others as noisy interference to one’s own mind in the act of reading); of re-reading books at another age from when you first encountered them, so that life experience gives you another lens; about the beauty of discovering that book that changes your perspective forever; of getting lost in the story so completely that the world in front of you is the story itself, for a brief duration of time, anyway; the need for quiet spaces to get lost in a tome; and how educators can both be a shining beacon for emerging readers or a stoplight in the love of a good book.

Jacobs urges readers of all ages to come back to books. Not to abandon their skimming for knowledge in the data bases of our lives — all that online dancing from site to site, media to media — but to find the time to read deeply, too. Find the books you want to read and then read them.

“Don’t waste time and mental energy comparing yourself to others (readers), whether to your shame or gratification, since we are all wayfarers. Come to what you read with a charitable disposition; don’t expect to fight with the text, but instead seek to treat it well; be willing to meet it more than halfway, as though it were a guest in your home, which in a way it is.” — Alan Jacobs (p. 97)

I agree. You?

Peace (in the book),

So Long, Zeega

Another casualty of the technology world (for me and a few friends anyway) as Zeega, a multimedia creation tool, is being closed down by its founders, who are moving on to other ventures. I get it. But I don’t like it. Zeega was different from some other media apps in that the reader had the agency — they could move forward and back through media at their own pace. As a writer using Zeega, I had to consider that shift in my composing, and it forced me to think different.

But, look, I get it. Technology comes, technology gets used, and technology goes, particularly if the money runs out or the enthusiasm runs out. Or whatever. I’ll miss Zeega for what it did. Sure, the Zeegas will continue to live on the site but this may be my very last Zeega creation

Thanks for the ride! Buhbye.

Peace (in the mix),