This is slightly amusing, but also instructive, as a site called Human Brain Cloud seeks to gather intuitive word associations from as many people as possible and then collate that data through a connected web. It’s social data gathering, with a fun twist.
||(c)2007 Kyle Gabler
The site gives you a word or phrase, and it asks you to quickly write down the word or phrase that comes first to your mind, and then your response goes into the database. Then, after you’ve done a few, head to the cloud itself, which fans out before you like a great big growing tree. You can even search by words or terms.
Peace (with association),
I have written before about a book I am co-editing that profiles teachers from k-college as they begin to study, think about and explain how technology is slowly changing the way they teach writing and the way their students are writing. We are focusing in on how teachers are assessing such tech-flavored writing in light of state and national standards, too.
And I need to write my chapter on the digital science book project that my students worked on this past spring, so this weekend — thanks to Western Mass Writing Project and National Writing Project — I am heading to the beaches of Connecticut for a writing retreat for other teachers in our network who want to write for professional publication and I hope to get much of my chapter written. Ambitious? Yes, but much of the chapter is unfolding in my head during the days when I am not writing. I just need to capture it.
I am looking forward to a Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon writing-and-nothing-but-writing (except for some walks along the beach and a few beers at night) getaway.
On a related note, I was rummaging through my computer and stumbled upon this old PP show that I did in my Summer Institute for the Western Massachusetts Writing Project about the uses of picture books in the upper elementary classroom. This was a research question that I pursued that summer and then presented to the rest of the SI folks. Some of the information is still helpful as I think about my chapter.
So I uploaded it to Slideshare for more sharing.
Peace (in pictures),
I continue to toy around with this music loop program and decided to do a remix of a song from my band, The Sofa Kings, called Get Up. It’s an uptempo reggae song about a nation rising up against its leaders through music that I have recast here as a sort of R&B Hip-Hop song, with loops. I like the results … I think. The song itself was co-written with my friend John, who did the music progression, and I wrote the lyrics during the ignorant reign of Don Rumsfeld in the early days of the Iraq War and the implementation of the Patriot Act, so it has political overtones to it.
Give it a listen and let me know what you think.
Listen to Get Up
Peace (with music),
PS — Happy Second Birthday to Edublogs!!!
The latest edition of English Journal features a column by Traci Gardner on books for teenagers that seek to blend the multimedia world with traditional fiction. I have seen some of my sixth graders reading a few of these books but I have not done so myself (yet). I wonder if this will be more of a trend — shifting narratives into the wired world and using some of the facets of the wired world into traditional narratives.
Here are some of the books profiled by Gradner in the article:
- Click Here (to find out how I survived seventh grade) by Denise Vega — involves a secret web site that suddenly becomes public (oops).
- Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe — is a narrative built on email messages, chat room transcripts and handwritten notes.
- ChasR: A Novel in Emails by Michael Rosen — showcases one side of an email conversation and ASCII artwork (smiley faces, etc) and forces the reader to interpret the other side of the conversations
- TTFN by Lauren Mryacle (is that her real name?) — is told mostly through IM and follows a group of girls in their social circles.
- The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriquez by Judy Goldschmidt — is written entirely through blog entries that were designed to be private but suddenly become public and well, you can probably guess the aftermath.
“The texts communicate the emotions of the characters in authentic detail, as the characters themselves compose blog entries, email messages and IMs. Many of the multigenre and epistolary texts provide an interactive opportunity that invites readers to discover the story, like participants in a video game.“
One of the books on her list — Cathy’s Book — is one that I have read (based on a recommendation from Bud Hunt, I believe) and it was quite interesting and mostly drew me into its web of hints and plot devices. There are web addressed hidden in the book and a complete web presence that one could follow, plus a few phone numbers to call that give you more hints to the plot.
But I wonder — so many of these books are geared towards girls, it seems to me, and where are the books for boys? (Ok, I need to write one, right?)
Peace (in many forms),
I don’t use a mac so I have been very jealous of those who have access to GarageBand for making loops and other fun projects. I stumbled across this software called SuperDuperMusicLooper, which is for kids, and decided to check it out. It’s very fun (my kids will love it) and is simple to use. The program uses a “paint” the sound (and “eraser” for removing sounds) and it comes with a large selection of loops. You can change the key, tempo and even record your own voice or sounds.
The songs are then saved as .wav files, so I am converting them to MP3 via Audacity.
You can even try a demo at the Sony site, but it won’t let you save and it has limited options. (and now that I am going back to the Sony site, I realize that I maybe should have bought the next level up, something called Jam Trax. Oh well, maybe another day)
Here is what I created in 10 minutes yesterday after installing the software:
Listen to Wit Da Flow
This does bring up an entirely new question, though, of whether I am creating music here or something else, and what benefits does this kind of software have for young people interesting in music, and I am not so sure what this mixing and mashing means for young musicians. It is so easy to use, and so quick, and requires very little effort, that you wonder how you can convince someone to woodshed for hours in their room on a single note, or phrase, or song, when the argument is that the computer can do it better (it can’t, I don’t think, but that is one argument). In defense of SuperLooper, it does make visible the construction of a song in its many myriad parts, and that can be valuable to a young songwriter.
Peace (peacepeacepeacepeace in loops),
I have periodically come across the Pew Internet and American Life series of research articles that take a deeper look at the impact of technology on our lives, particularly the lives of young people. They do a fantastic job of pulling together information.
A recent study by Pew looked at the impact of online video and how it is changing the nature of the web (again). Some interesting stats:
- About 20 percent of all adults watch some kind of video on their computer (via the net) once a day. Just think about that — that is a whole lot of eyeballs scanning the web and belies the reason why Google snapped up YouTube.
- About 75 percent of young users (ages 18-29) watch online videos each day (an amazing number)
- 10 percent of people re-post or share links to videos via their Weblogs and other sites (such as MySpace, Facebook, etc)
- 20 percent either post a comment on the videos or leave a rating (which seems to indicate the desire to be participatory members in the experience)
- Comedy and humorous videos are the most popular genre of videos that people are watching and sharing with others (so true, so true)
- Young males are more likely to watch animation or cartoon videos than any other demographic.
- Almost no one pays any money for video services — “free” is the operative word here (although commercials and advertising videos are also being viewed, primarily by young people.)
I wish the report had dug into the ways and means and motivation of people who are doing the posting of videos, but maybe that is for the future.
Peace (with information),
Sometimes you stumble across something so amazing and intriguing, it makes you glad to know there is a wired world of inventors and artists. I love jazz, and I love John Coltrane (our cat is named Coltrane) and this artist used the classic song, Giant Steps, to create an animation based on the notes of Coltrane. It’s based on building blocks and notice how the movie shows the song and solo building up, and then tearing the melody back down again.
The movie is by Michal Levy and is wonderful. Be warned, though — there is a significant load time (100 seconds, I think) but it is worth the wait.
This is one snapshop from inside the movie
Peace (in jazz exploration),
My sons and I were at a used book store this weekend and we picked up this quite large book about the history of Marvel comics. When I was my oldest son’s age (9), comics were a big part of my life. I had many, many comics, sorted by various categories, and could not get enough of these stories of flawed heroes and their adventures.
This poem for my One Poem Every Month for a Year project sprang to life as I perused the Marvel comic books and recognized many long-forgotten names and stories.
Listen to the poem
The soul of a superhero
complex and unfathomable —
full of inconsistencies that bend reality
on some sort of divergent ground
in which the powerless ignite,
standing down the villains of oppression
and righting wrongs in spite of themselves
and their own limitations of
I stand here, a collector of souls,
piled dozens deep in a paper bag
and purchased with pocket change
how I, too, can be altered in some accident
and if it were to be for the better or for the worse
if I could suddenly fly and fight and protect
or if it is better that my destiny is to remain
immobile and passive in the face of the Evil
threatening to shatter this world
into tiny tentacles of suffering and paranoia
and dangerous illusion.
The child in me yearns for power that is just beyond me;
the adult in me fears it,
knowing as I do the responsibility of our
the bravery masked as impulsiveness and
that innocence that ventures close to imperfection.
Brazenness was never my virtue
and so my powers remain dormant
somewhere inside this timeworn paper bag
even as I await the calling of the hero
inside of me.
This seemed an appropriate time to use my son’s Comic Book Creator program:
(click on the comic to view the PDF version)
Peace (with powers of the unknown),
Last weekend, the Wall Street Journal published a lengthy piece about recognizing that blogging has been underway for a decade (although I bet even that is in dispute somewhere out here). It was an interesting overview of the evolution and transformation of the Weblog World and notes how the Weblog really helped spark the content-driven revolution that underpins most of our notions of the Web 2.0 world. I can publish, you can interact, we are connected.
Here is a quote:
The consumption of blogs is often avid and occasionally obsessive. But more commonly, it is utterly natural, as if turning to them were no stranger than (dare one say this here?) picking one’s way through the morning’s newspapers. — WSJ
The articles goes on to profile some folks who blog and asks them to reflect a bit (Tom Wolfe blasts the idea of blogging while Mia Farrow discusses its power to a writer).
So, ten years? I have been married ten years. Interesting to think of the timeframe and how the world has changed in that time.
Peace (in decades),
Here are a few more small movies made by kids at my animation camp in their free time. The first one is interesting because it is a take-off on the fairly famous (and wonderfully done) web-movie called Animator Versus Animation (and the sequel). I showed the kids how to do a version of it in Pivot but it is difficult (the original uses flash). Some of the movies have sound and some do not.
Download Video: Posted by dogtrax at TeacherTube.com.
Peace (in video),