#RevolutionaryPoets: Exploring Six (or Seven) Words in a Networked Space

Six Word Memoir

When someone invites me in, I often jump. So it is with Ian, who is running a university course called Revolutionary Poets Society, and the name caught my attention when he began sharing it out via Twitter. I’m going to poke around, from out here in the open (Ian will have students in his classroom, I believe).

His first post is a call to create six word memoirs, which I have done more than a few times but always enjoy it (and my sixth graders are working on their own right now as part of a getting-to-know-you activity). Then, Ian asks folks to take it a step further by sharing it with others, and sparking conversations about the word choices and ideas. Maybe inspire others to write their own.

I decided to bring my new six (or seven) word memoir into a relatively new online space — Yap.Net (join in if you want — it’s a closed network for sharing works in progress, etc)– and ask folks for feedback.

First, my words:

I am no longer who I was

Actually, my original six were:

I’m no longer who I was

but the contraction seemed to be cheating, somehow, in my head when I read it to myself and so I broke it out. Which leaves me with seven instead of six.

What does it mean? I was going for the concept of each day brings a different you/me/us — with new experiences and insights — with echoes of the past but a step forward towards the future. Or something like that.

I shared my words out in Yap.Net and posed the technical question: Who or whom? (I wasn’t quite sure, because I thought Whom was technically correct with I as the subject, but it sounded terrible on my lips, while Who seemed wrong grammatically but sounded right on the tongue.)

Well, the grammar query sparked a conversation, with mixed signals, as one friend thought it was Whom but Who was better used, and another friend, self-described grammar queen, stated that Who is right, not Whom. Others jumped in with their own words, including one in the form of a poem and another that reads like a painting on a canvas, and the thread of discussion was neat.

Interestingly, I don’t think anyone called me out for the Seven versus Six.

I’m sticking with Who, by the way.

Peace (in the share),
Kevin

 

Badge of Badges Collage

Badge CollageI’m not a huge badge fan, even though I see the potential. I’ve used Mozilla’s Open Badges over the years to gather together different online badges that either I have earned or created (mostly via CLMOOC but also, in the early days of Thimble and Web Maker, etc.). This week, I received a notice that the Mozilla Open Badges Backpack (which was a handy place to transfer badges earned in different platforms) is closing up, and that things will move to Badgr. The email included a file of all my badges, so I figured I would put them into a collage — sort of a Badge of Badges.

Peace (pinned),
Kevin

CLMOOC Postcards: An Invitation to Write Out

CLMOOC WriteOut Postcards

In our CLMOOC community, we periodically send postcards to each other as a way to stay connected on paper, with a stamp, and mailbox delivery. Some of us do it more frequently than others, and I have lapsed a bit on getting postcards out the door.  (See a post I wrote about why we do this postcard exchange) There are more than 60 people on the mailing list right now, which is pretty neat. Not everyone is active, of course, which is to be expected.

I figured my work with the upcoming Write Out initiative — an offshoot of CLMOOC, in a way — gave me an opening, or inspiration, to use some artistic National Park postcards as a invitation for folks to consider joining us for place-based writing and the National Day on Writing in October with Write Out. Write Out is a two-week place-based writing initiative.

Yesterday, I mailed out nearly 40 postcards to the CLMOOC folks who are on the list and live in the US, and then I sent a handful more to folks outside the US because I didn’t want those friends who regularly send me postcards to feel left out. Write Out certainly does not have to be US-centered, but most of the focused outreach will be between National Writing Project sites and the National Park Service.

If you were on the postcard list and live in the US, keep an eye out for a park postcard.

Peace (in writing and invitations),
Kevin

 

Visual Reflection: Park in Every Classroom Retreat

Visual Reflection: Park in Every Classroom RetreatI was lucky to be invited to join a gathering of National Park Service sites from the northeast for a week-long retreat to learn more and to think more about how to connect park spaces with schools and students as authentic learning experiences. I came away from nearly a week of sharing, presentations and discussions with a head full of ideas that my partners at the Springfield Armory Historic Site and I will be mulling over in the weeks ahead.

I used a new tool at Visual Thinkery called Storyline to get some basic “aha” take-away moments down before I forgot … particularly with school about to start … but also, with the free Write Out project coming soon in October, where park and public spaces are seen as resources for learning for schools and educational organizations. I layered some basic-takeaways with photos I took while at the Delaware River Gap Recreation Area, where the PEC retreat took place.

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin

 

Book Review: Memes to Movements (How the World’s Most Viral Media Is Changing Social Protest and Power)

I was expecting an academic examination of social media and memes with this book — first mentioned by my friend, Christina, at a National Writing Project retreat during a meme writing activity– and it was that … and so much more, too. Memes to Movements (How the World’s Most Viral Media Is Changing Social Protest and Power) by An Xiao Mina shines a light and lens on the ways that image and words, and messages, being shared over vast social networking spaces are impacting politics and more.

First, what is a meme? “Memes are pieces of content that travel from person to person and change along the way …” according to Amanda Brennan, a meme librarian, and Mina’s own definition runs parallel to Brennan’s idea. Mina makes the case, too, that memes are not just digital pieces but can have a life outside of technology.

Mina, in her book, also repeats an important assertion time and again that memes, by themselves, are not forcing cultural and social change, but that the combination of image, message, remix and virality are echoing and enhancing changes already afoot, through amplification of messaging.

Mina examines Black Lives Matter (and its oppositional movements, such as Blue Lives Matter) and the pink pussy hats (as physical memes) of the Women’s March in the United States, the Arab Spring, the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong (now suddenly back in the news), the subversive use of memes in China, and the ways the Chinese government is countering such attempts, and more, all with a close look at how memes (digital and physical) are created, spread, have impact, and — for some — have long-lasting effects.

She also explores the popular conceptions of cats as the source for memes on social networking spaces, balancing a historical approach to how memes — remixable, shareable, riffable media — tap into something rich in people’s sense of storytelling. The intersections between art, culture and politics, along with an easy way to share, have made memes a powerful messaging platform, even if memes can also be untrustworthy (see Know Your Meme for where memes originally spring from)

Some of the more fascinating sections in this book involve China (where Mina has worked and done advocacy), in which activists often use memes to get around censorship through imagery and symbolism (the llama, or grass mud horse, has political meaning, for example) and support for those imprisoned by the government.

Just as you start to think, memes might be another tool for political change, Mina shifts her focus, showing governments — autocratic and otherwise — have started to reverse course on trying to block memes and now floods the networks with its own social media, in an effort to overwhelm users and create doubt about truth and veracity in the minds of users.

The writing here in this book is lively, and researched, and global on scale. If you have interest in social media and literacy, and the way viral messaging seems to be overwhelming the way people share news, jokes and information, then this book is well worth your time.

Peace (no meme necessary),
Kevin

Uncovering Stories and Spaces with Write Out (in October)

Write Out sign 2019 smallThis coming October, in conjunction with the National Day on Writing, the National Writing Project and the National Park Service are once again joining collaborative forces to offer Write Out — a free, open, online, connected learning experience to explore public spaces (not just national parks and not just rural wild spaces) for teachers and students.

As the updated Write Out website explains, the central theme of this year is all about stories and spaces:

Making Stories of People, Place, and Perspectives

Beginning October 13, 2019 Write Out will be a free two-week series of activities where educators, National Park Service Rangers, and youth they work with, are invited to:

  • explore national parks and other public spaces, including rural and urban settings, whether on-site or online
  • create using a variety of media, including text, image, video and others
  • connect to learn about using place-based learning as a critical cultural and environmental lens

Bookending the October 20th National Day on Writing, Write Out consists of activity cycles that include prompts that invite participants to write across a variety of media and curricular areas, facilitated online meet-ups, curated resources, and Twitter chats. Participants take part in as many or as few activities as fit their schedule. Additionally, through collaborative online possibilities, participants will be invited to share their creations, write, learn, and connect with the larger community.

You can sign up for information about this free event at the Write Out site and look for more details and activities on Twitter with the #writeout hashtag.

In case you are wondering, I am part of an amazing team of Write Out facilitators — from writing project and classroom teachers to National Park Service rangers — working to develop all sorts of activities and sharing possibilities for students and teachers, all in hopes of surfacing place-based learning and uncovering the stories of those spaces.

I hope you will join us with Write Out this October!

Peace (in open spaces and beyond),
Kevin

Yap.Net: An Invitation to Join a Community of Writers and Artists

YapNet SocialMediaAn experiment of sorts is underway. It’s a new online space for adult writers and teachers and artists and others to come together, in a safe and closed environment, to share work and connect, and support, each other in their endeavors.

Yap.Net is the brainchild of Geoff G., whose work with young writers through the Young Writers Project, based in Vermont but with a global reach, has opened up many possibilities for emerging authors. Now, with Yap.Net (tagline: A community of creative people who share unfinished work and ideas for feedback), Geoff hopes to extend the same invitation to adults.

Yap.Net is free, and closed, and designed for members to share drafts of works in progress, but also to serve as a publishing and sharing space. You can register here, but know that Geoff approves all members, as another barrier to the online riff-raff that sometimes filters into spaces.

Even if you have your own blogging space, as I do, the addition of Yap.Net opens up other possibilities. In just a few months time, there are already hundreds of posts and hundreds of supportive comments for the first wave of participants. There are themed challenges as options and a variety of different media on display. Geoff envisions an active and supportive network, and you are invited in, too.

Come join Yap.Net and see for yourself. See you there!

Peace (in writing it down),
Kevin

Reversing the Telescope: A Feldgang of Feldgangs of Feldgangs

CLMOOC Feldgang Feldgang CollageI’ve spent the month of July, letting my eye wander to the world for the CLMOOC Feldgang Variations — an invitation to explore the world and ideas closer, with detail. (See the prompts we released via CLMOOC at the Daily Connector). The Feldgang concept is an exploration of the previously known world, but seen closer, deeper, with attention to what is often missed.

Mostly, I’ve been creating image-themed collages — of the front and back yard of my home, of the sky, of my saxophone, of the beach, etc. —  with an eye to paying closer attention to the world I am walking through. I also had this notion in the back of my mind that I wanted to do something with all of the collages, but what?

I decided to go meta — to make a collage, each with multiple images, of the nine collages that I had created (above) and then to go one step further and make art from the collage collection by filtering nine copies of the master collage, and then pulling those into yet another collage. Layer upon layer upon layer.

The result? An interesting weaving of themes and images, which get lost in the final art remix but I found that I was OK with that — something new surfaces there, I think, a fuzzy, beautiful world of worlds, all connected to the original impulse to lean in a little closer and see things with more detail. The art collage project reverses the telescope of the Feldgang moments, giving me yet another lens to think about.

CLMOOC Feldgang Feldgang Collage Art Remix

What did you find in your explorations?

Peace (in seeing),
Kevin

 

Taking a Digital Pause

Purposeful Pause

For July, I’m going to be taking a pause/break/rest from much of my digital writing and some of the connecting with others (but not a clean break — I’ll still be doing some CLMOOC stuff). I try to do this every year, step back as a way to recharge. I’ll be reading books, writing music, hanging with family, doing other activities. I won’t be completely quiet in all the spaces. Just mostly quiet.

But first, before I go, a Back Yard Feldgang for CLMOOC, to complement yesterday’s Front Yard Feldgang.

Backyard Feldgang

Peace (in restful respite),
Kevin