Amid the Grids; Among these Gestures

Lots of people this week have taken up the call by graphic artist Nick Sousanis to create “Grids and Gestures” — a comic-creating visual activity in which you move beyond a literal interpretation of your day or moment or some period of time. Instead, you let your mind wander, drawing (without words, if possible) a visual representation (that’s the gesture) of the time period (that’s the grid).

Gridgestures4

I’ve done this once before with Nick, but doing a series of them over a few days has been interesting. Sort of like our Slice of Life writing activities, but with lines and circles and smudges instead of stories and vignettes. How would you “write” your day if you could not write, but only draw? How do you represent moments of joy? Frustration? Confusion? Boredom? Love? What does those ideas look like when you sketching at the edge of it all?

Gridgestures5

My five Grids and Gestures used the same six-panel grid, and I used the Paper app for my drawing. So each has a similar feel to them (and exposes my limited artistic abilities). I tried to explored different topics, and used the title on each to indicate what I was thinking about.

It does occur to me that while I can “read” the gestures, others outside of my head (that would be you, dear reader) might wonder, what the heck is that? I wonder if how you read my grids is different than how I wrote my grids? Maybe that is the case with writing, too, at times.

Gridgestures3

There was a community question in the Twitter hashtag about whether these Grids and Gestures are really comics, or something that comes before the comics. In other words, are they incomplete ideas, only part of the brainstorming process?

Nick suggests that this method of creating art with gestures is where much of his time is spent before moving into a larger project, and that it is an effective way to gather ideas and explore the flow of connected concepts. I suggested that the grids are comics in their own way, moving ideas through inferential design and using art to represent abstract ideas.

Maybe it doesn’t matter anyway. Art is what you make of it.

Gridgestures2

If you are interested, explore the Twitter hashtag of #GridsGestures (actually, check out the link to photos only in the Twitter hashtag stream — that’s pretty cool) or check out Nick’s website and some of his amazing work.

Make your own. Share them out. Be creative. Every day.

Gridsgestures1

Peace (beyond the grids),
Kevin

 

Immersed in the Music: Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan and You

 

This is a pretty amazing use of video technology by the team that continues to share out the late Jeff Buckley’s music. They have used Buckley’s cover of a Dylan song (Just Like a Woman), and made an interactive watching/listening experience for the viewer/listener — transforming the song and interpretation by Buckley into something magical. Not to mention with sexdecillion combinations (according to the producers .. I didn’t count).

They say:

All together there are over 16,000 different music combinations that can be created. The video contains 73 different animated cells that can be clicked or tapped to alter the story, adding up to a staggering number of possible visual and story combinations: approximately 1 sexdecillion. That’s a 1 followed by 51 zeros.

Throughout the song, you can click on small images which change the ‘story’ of the song, as Buckley’s amazing voice and single guitar guide you through, and then a few minutes in, they start sprinkling remix options, where choosing various paths add new layers to the track you are listening to at that moment. Strings get added or removed. A guitar run comes into play. Keyboards move up in the mix.

Wow.

I found myself deep inside Buckley’s voice here. I worried that the immersion in the video might distract me from the song and the singing. Maybe it is because I already know the song. Maybe it is because I already know Buckley’s voice. But the combination of listening and exploring combined for me into a satisfying experience all around.

Play/Listen/Remix/Enjoy

And now the question that comes to my mind? How did they do it? I want to see a “behind the scenes” video of how this all came to be created? I want to learn about the process and wonder about how one might even venture forward this way? I wonder how this might be viewed and taught as ‘writing’ in the digital age.

Peace (in the Muse),
Kevin

Twenty+ Comics In: Checking In On The Internet Kid

InternetKid1

I’m past 20 now. Twenty-odd daily comics for The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid, an idea that was sparked by my participation in the open Western106 story adventure. I thought I would take a breather here to reflect on how it’s going for me, the writer (I make an appearance now and then in the comic, usually for criticism for not writing better comics or not paying attention to equity issues. Guilty as charged!).

Well, breather, plus today’s comic:

InternetKid12

So far, so good with my idea of a daily comic, although I have very little idea if anyone is reading them. A few comments and reactions trickle in now and then. I’m still more focused on the question for myself: Am I having fun making the comics? I am and so, I keep on going forward. In fact, I have at least another 15 comics in the bank, set to go forth, including one story arc that will invite readers to play a game. I also have an ending comic, for when I get there.

The way I have been writing them is in bursts. In fact, the first weekend when I had the idea for the Internet Kid, I had a deluge of comic making. I cranked out about 15 of them in a three-day weekend, just keeping up with the ideas. I won’t claim that every comic every day is great, but I hope they add a little entertainment chuckle value for folks now and then.

InternetKid8

What I am really trying to with The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid is to combine some of the elements of the Western genre (the cowboy, the horse, the villain) with some insights into the modern culture of technology. It’s trickier than it seems to pull that off in an entertaining way. I am often trying to make fun at the stereotypes of gender, making the so-called villain — Anarchist Annie — an interesting character, or so I hope. Her goal is to poke holes in the bias of our world. Sometimes, she blows things up to make her point crystal clear.

Attacking Annie ... Dumb move

In fact, a few of the storylines and comics are pulled directly from my reading of Participatory Culture in a Networked Era, a slow-read in the Digital Writing Month community. If you have read that book (and you should), and if you read The Internet Kid (which, of course, I hope you do), you will start to see some parallels of ideas around technology and learning and young people’s interactions in the Digital Age that surfaced there in that study of participatory culture by Henry Jenkins, Mimi Ito and danah boyd, and then got woven here into this comic.

The app I used to make comics — Comics Head — has limits, particularly to expressions of characters (although an upgrade this weekend with a ton of new art seems to open the door for adding more elements .. still checking that out). But I do appreciate the flexibility of the Comics Head app for what I am doing as a comic strip writer. (And I have not yet used the Audio element on The Internet Kid … which allows you to layer in audio tracks on top of the comic .. on my list)

I am purposefully posting the comics in different places — on Twitter with the #western106 hashtag, in Flickr in an album, and on a Tumblr site that I set up just for the comics (it turns out Tumblr is a perfect space for daily comics). Sometimes, I share on Google Plus. I also have the feed of the Tumblr site spilling into the DS106 course. I wonder if anyone else other than me uses an RSS Reader to peruse the posts going there and make comments?

Can I just give a shout-out to my favorite character in my comic?

The Horse with No Name just cracks me up. I hadn’t even thought of a horse until I had the Kid in mind, and then .. of course he needed a horse. The Kid is a cowboy. But not just any horse. The Horse with No Name (cue: America song) has his own personality.

He refuses to let The Kid ride him and the Horse even negotiates an agreement with the Kid on this matter (The Kid agrees but worries what other cowboys will think of him). Yet, the Horse with No Name remains a funny and insightful sidekick to The Kid.

I think, as the writer, I am the Horse with No Name more than I am The Internet Kid. (Maybe I have some Anarchist Annie in me, too.) This particular comic of the animals having a farmyard chat about The Kid, in particular, still makes me giggle. I love how the Horse has the tablet and the image of The Kid on it. Look at The Kid’s posture and expression. Priceless. We know who is really in charge of their partnership.

InternetKid13

Peace (more comics to come),
Kevin

A Cup of Coffee, with Connections and Conversations

On Blab with Maha, Sarah, Maha

Yesterday morning, I had the good fortune to hang with out with friends from Egypt and Scotland. At 6 a.m. my time —  but later in the day for them, of course — Maha B., Sarah H., Maha A. and I held a discussion on Blab (a new platform to me but reminds me a bit of The Brady Bunch opening sequence .. it’s still in Beta, and there were some minor technical difficulties) about Digital Writing Month reflections. Maha B. and Sarah are presenting to a TESOL conference soon, and they hope to use parts of the video chat in their presentation. The video eventually will be live on Youtube, I believe.

For me, the conversation brought home yet again the concepts of connections. Yes, we were reflecting on the experiences of facilitating Digital Writing Month back in November and yes, it was recorded for a presentation to other educators, but here I was, at the break of day, chatting it up with some friends from other parts of the world on issues important to me, and all from the dining room table as my kids were getting up and getting ready for school.

Pretty amazing — this small world.

I am fortunate to have connected friends like these three, and many others, and I am fortunate to be living in a time when connections can be made and nurtured and extended time and time again. Now, how to help my students see those kinds of connections and extend their own views of the world ….

Peace (in the shift),
Kevin

Audio Letter 3: Dear Mimi Ito

mimiquote

This is the third and final “audio letter” that I created as a reader response to Participatory Culture in a Networked Era.  The letters use a quote from the three writers of the book as an inroad to a reflective response. The first audio was to Henry Jenkins. The second, to danah boyd. And this one is to Mimi Ito.

Peace (in thinking out loud),
Kevin

 

Audio Letter 1: Dear Henry Jenkins

After finishing up Chapter 4 in Participatory Culture in a Networked Era as part of a slow-read with Digital Writing Month folks, I felt this impulse to respond in voice to the three writers as they talked through complex issues of learning and literacy.That led to the idea of three “audio letters” to the writers — Henry Jenkins, Mimi Ito and danah boyd — and the first is here, to Henry.

henryquote

I took a quote from the chapter and built my response around the ideas in the quote. I’ll share out my audio letters to Mimi and danah in the next two days.

Peace (thinking),
Kevin

Digital Access and Equity: What if THEY is all of US?

What if they is us?

I am in the midst of reading Participatory Culture in a Networked Era with the Digital Writing Month community and thoroughly enjoying the format (discussions among Ito, boyd and Jenkins) and the topics, which connect nicely to my own diving into Connected Learning.

Chapter Three of the book centers on access and equity issues (under the academic guise of “genres” — at least, in my mind) and as I was reading, this comic began to form in my mind. It’s a bit metaphorically simple: the locked door and no access to the inside from those on the outside.

But it was tagline that seemed most important to me: What if they is all of us?

What if we (us teachers, us adults, us) are the ones closing that door on different elements of our population? What if we are doing it inadvertently? What if we don’t even know the door has been closed? Who’s waiting out there, wondering?

And then, of course, the ancillary question: how do we break that door open wide so no one feels left out? Pass me that sledgehammer won’t you?

access issue

Peace (in the think),
Kevin

Entry Points in the Interaction Universe

participatory culture mapping

There has not been a whole ton of interacting itself for our slow-read book talk on Participatory Culture in a Networked EraFolks are still getting the book, or recovering from the holidays, or just plain ol’ busy in their lives. But that hasn’t stopped Terry Elliott and myself (mostly Terry) from trying to encourage open participation along many different sites and technology platforms.

Mostly, this is because no single experience captures the kinds of participatory activity we envision for a book talk. But also, this is because exploration and dispersion of ideas is part of the experience itself. We don’t want ideas confined to one space.

The chart above is my attempt to keep track of it all, and I am sure I have missed bits of it. I know, and I hope, there are discussions unfolding outside our field of vision. There be dragons …

But there is the danger of too much dispersion of interaction, too, and the worry is that all will be lost in the haze of connections. Or, that someone entering now will think, I’ve missed it all and don’t know where to begin. We can say “there is no fixed beginning point” all we want, but we need to show that and keep the invitations open. Terry is working on a place where links to all of these discussions can be had for anyone just entering the discussions or interested in what’s going on.

What I realized as I was putting the chart together is that it is not easy to keep something like a slow-read book talk moving forward over weeks and months time. Momentum gets lost rather quickly. Maybe our aim to build a participatory culture experience around a book about participatory culture ideas won’t quite work. If all of the energy falls to the organizers, is it truly participatory? Don’t know. Prob not. What you get then is a small book group or conversation, not a participatory experience.

It’s worth trying, though. It’s always worth trying.

Me? I aim to keep reading and reflecting on it all, as best as I can. I am finding the book useful and the authors interesting, and I look forward to what others are noting and observing.

You’re invited, too. Of course, you are invited.

We’re on Twitter with the #digiwrimo hashtag. And in the Digital Writing Month Google Plus community. Folks are annotating with the Kindle app in Amazon. Goodreads is another place for notes and reactions (here are my notes). Blogs are another means of book talk writing. Heck, send notes as smoke signals. We’ll find a way to see them and connect.

Peace (in the chart),
Kevin

Book Talk: Youth Culture, Youth Practices


Participatory Culture slowread – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

The second chapter of Participatory Culture in a Networked Era is a fascinating discussion and inquiry in ways in which youths use technology and digital media on their own terms, and I appreciate that Ito, boyd and Jenkins tear into the notion of a Digital Immigrant/Digital Native divide. I hope we can all agree by now that such a dichotomy is too simplistic to be of any value.

I went back to my highlighted notes and pulled out some quotes that I like from the three researchers in their discussions, and put them into Haiku Deck for a visual tour of the chapter.

Peace (in the think),
Kevin