#NetNarr Post-Hangout: Sending Gifs


I could not attend the online Google hangout the other day for Networked Narratives, which featured guests Amy Burvall and Michael Branson Smith on the art of the animated gif, and the possibility for expression with the social media photo formatting. My friend, Wendy, suggested on Twitter that we make gifs from the hangout video, and well, that sounded like a fine idea.

I did all of this within Giphy itself, which has stickers (which I keep forgetting about) and a drawing tool (ditto).

Here is the original video:

And then I went a little nutty. First, I found a neat shot of the Alan, Amy and Michael, and added … a few special guests to the hangout.


Then, I grabbed video of a gif art project and made it further into art with some gif doodling.


Peace (animated within reason),

#NetNarr: Patent Entertainment With Animated GIFS

Original Patent: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/16972882

The folks over at Today’s Document surprise me now and then when they slip an animated gif into their RSS feed, usually in the form of an item about one of the patents in the Library of Congress. (They also will regularly convert video archive moments into animated gifs, but I find these illustration remixes to be the best to enjoy).

Original Patent: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/6277655

I’m always fascinated by the old drawings in the patent applications, so the animated gif is another fun way to bring history alive. The animations are more whimsical than informative, to be frank. More entertainment, than educational.

Original patent: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/6858602

It’s still nice to know there is always a chance to inject some fun in the dusty archives of history.

And the Library of Congress itself even created a GIF to show the construction of its building. This is more educational than entertaining, showing the construction of a national treasure (which holds national treasures).

And finally, there are those out there in the wild world that take vintage photos and … well … spook them up a bit.

Created by Kevin Weir via http://fluxmachine.tumblr.com/

Peace (learning it),


#NetNarr: Getting a Bit Crazy, Making GIFS

Over at Networked Narratives, the theme is now shifted into GIFs, and all the wacky things you can do with them. Alan’s assignment calls for a GIF storm of sorts in the #NetNarr hashtag, including GIFs that connect with the Digital Life underpinning and finding narrative points in the clip from the Western movie The Big Country to pull out as animated moments.

So …

First, I went in to the clip and found the dramatic scene where the rider and horse are trotting away (later, the men will join the solo rider in a dramatic turn-around.) I use the Gif It add on for Chrome Browser, in case you are curious. The function gets built right into YouTube video viewer. Easy peasy.


Then, I went into Frinkiac, a GIF generator of Simpson’s clips and found a Karaoke scene, so I layered in dialogue from the same clip I Gif-ed earlier, but made it into a sing-along song.


Finally, I was watching the latest Courtney Barnett song, which is all about trolling people on the Internet, and grabbed a clip to Gif.

The video is cool and strange and weird, so the Gif is, too.


Finally, this morning, a student in the NetNarr Universe had shared some time-lapse movie making, and I grabbed a gif out of Roj’s work, just to see what might happen when a time-lapse becomes a gif. It’s interesting.


Peace (slow mo),

#NetNarr Discovery: Lost In Hyperland (A Fantasy Documentary)

Hypermedia flickr photo by Dominik W. Neuffer shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Thanks to some sharing of an article by Wendy in Networked Narratives a few weeks ago, I stumbled on this 1990 film about where hypertext might be going, with novelist Douglas Adams.

The Internet Archive site explains a bit more about Hyperland:

In this one-hour documentary produced by the BBC in 1990, Douglas falls asleep in front of a television and dreams about future time when he may be allowed to play a more active role in the information he chooses to digest. A software agent, Tom (played by Tom Baker), guides Douglas around a multimedia information landscape, examining (then) cuttting-edge research by the SF Multimedia Lab and NASA Ames research center, and encountering hypermedia visionaries such as Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson. Looking back now, it’s interesting to see how much he got right and how much he didn’t: these days, no one’s heard of the SF Multimedia Lab, and his super-high-tech portrayal of VR in 2005 could be outdone by a modern PC with a 3D card. However, these are just minor niggles when you consider how much more popular the technologies in question have become than anyone could have predicted – for while Douglas was creating Hyperland, a student at CERN in Switzerland was working on a little hypertext project he called the World Wide Web…

Peace (link it beyond),

In Celebration of Reading and Writing: Mobile Storytelling

In a time when so many of us bemoan a seemingly apparent decline in writing and reading in young people, this video reminds us that maybe we are looking and observing in all the wrong places. Check it out. Candice Faktor shows us where and how young people are engaged in stories and fiction.

This is part of a cool video series I found that dovetails nicely with my thinking of how to use technology to transform writing and literacies. I’ll sharing out other videos in the coming days, too.

Candice Faktor – Mobile Storytelling: The Rebirth of Reading and Writing

Peace (read it, write it, live it),

Inside the #NetNarr Alchemy Lab: An Open Invitation to Collaborate

NetNarr Invitation to Collaborate

A group of us who are in the Wide and Wild Open Community of Networked Narratives decided we want to put into practice the elements of those networks and narratives with a collaborative transmedia project. Transmedia concepts involve various forms of digital media, and digital platforms, connected together into one larger story thread.

We’re calling this project “MediaJumpers”, and our tagline is “Every Object Tells a Story.”

We’re using the concept of the magical “Alchemy Lab” as the setting for the backbone of our narratives, and folks like you who join in will have their own digital art and stories connected inside elements of the lab. We’ve got a cool idea brewing in the background for how this might all work as a final project.

Come play the invitation and sign up to be part of what we think will be an interesting collaboration.

We hope the students in the Networked Narratives classes (Mia Zamora and Alan Levine are professors in the US and in Norway this semester, and Maha Bali will be joining in later from Egypt) as well as friends and collaborators from other networked spaces — like CLMOOC and DS106 and beyond — will join us.

We hope YOU will join us.

The first step is to play the invitation … then sign up at the form at the end of the game … the Master Alchemist will be in touch in the days ahead with further instructions (basically, create some digital work).

It’s going to be a blast! And the more, the merrier.

Peace (and MediaJumping),

Video Annotation: Emilio Vavarella and the Art of the Digital

Emilio NetNarr Visit

A Networked Narratives hangout last week with digital artist Emilio Vavarella provided some keen insights into how an artist might use digital tools and technology to make statements on the connected world. I popped the video of the interview into Vialogues so I could watch at my leisure and add comments/ questions/ observations as I went along.

Emilio has done some pretty interesting art endeavors and museum installations, including:

  • The Captcha Project, which critiqued the concept of human labor in the digital age
  • Do You Like Cyber? — an audio installation using digital voices of bots from dating sites
  • Animal Cinema, of animals caught taking pictures with cameras
  • Driver and Cameras, which focuses in on the selfie images made by mistake by Google drivers taking images for its Streetview Maps
  • Digital Pareidolia, in which Emilio documents the errors of Facebook’s face recognition software

I invite you to join me in the margins of the video.

Peace (asking questions),

The Fragmented Me (Exploring Selfies in an UnSelfie World)

Eye selfie #tdc1111 #dailycreateWe’re exploring the art and act of Selfies in Networked Narratives, as Mia Zamora and Hannah Kelley are researching the impact of selfies and plan to curate a public art exhibit under the banner of #SelfieUnselfie in Norway. Both are on Fulbright Scholarships right now and focused on digital literacies (I think).

Take a look/listen to their project and their invitation:

True story: an hour after watching that video by Mia and Hannah and thinking about the idea of the Unselfie the other night, my wife and son and I sat down to watch an episode of the Modern Family sitcom, which opens with the parents berating the older daughter for laying around all day, taking selfies on her phone. (Later, we learn she’s been building a blogging site for fashion and making money of her images of herself and her fashion choices).

My 13-year-old son pointed to the television.

“That’s what the girls do,” he observed, “at school. All the time. Selfies, all day long. It’s annoying.”

Not boys, we asked?

“Some,” he admitted. “Not like the girls. It’s like they want their image everywhere.”

There are a lot of layers to the act of creating Selfies — from identity in the digital world, to capturing moments as memories, to connecting in social media with others, to artistic choices that get made (or not). More and more apps now help you “touch up” the Selfie, which seems at odds with its original intent to me (which might say more about me, as a middle aged white man, than many selfie takers.)

I went into my own Flickr account to search for “selfie” and only a few popped up. Either I haven’t done many, or I don’t save them. I suspect I don’t often think enough of the Selfie itself to put them into my Flickr for saving. Selfies seem more … momentary, temporary, fleeting. Interesting.

Bad Selfie (with Webcomic Photobomb)

Some of these I found (like the eyeball image at the top) are from DS106 prompts, I realized. And a few are from an old webcomic site I used with my sixth grade students. In it, they would create avatars as representations of themselves.

Remember that year, those movie stars at the Oscars created that famous group selfie? Suddenly, everyone knew what a Selfie was.

I used that a visual prompt for students that year to create webcomic selfie collages. I did one, too. Some of the characters in here are avatars of friends from the Connected Learning MOOC and other social spaces.

My Self, My Selfie (comic-style)

And my students did their own Selfie collage activity, with friends avatars joining them.

Comic Selfie Collage

The SelfieUnselfie project asks us to create an unselfie, so the other night, I did.

They also ask for an Artist Statement:

With my comic, I was trying to capture the idea that instead of us using our technology to capture an image of us as Selfie, it would instead be the reverse: our technology using us, on a Selfie Stick, to capture a representation of it for the world. Sort of like a cultural mirror. And of course, the devices wants to know how it will be perceived on social media.

Underlying the lightheartedness of this comic Unselfie is the real concern about technology driving our agency for us, instead of the other way around (us, making decisions with technology as a tool for expression), and how our devices seem to become a larger part of how we sculpt and curate our digital identities. Are we pushing boundaries or are we falling prey to our devices?

Selfie unselfie

Peace (capture it),


Slice of Life: A Meme Walks Into the Classroom

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

Most mornings, we have a Circle of Power and Respect in our sixth grade classroom. It’s a version of Morning Meeting, aimed more for older students. At this point in the year, I have my students lead all aspects of our morning.

One element of Circle of Power is the initial greeting, and there are all sorts of variations of activities that one could do, and I encourage my students to invent their own way of saying hello to every students in the classroom community, and making sure everyone feels welcome into the day.

The other day, the student leader — a bit of a goofball who straddles the line between serious and goofy on a regular basis — told us that the way we would greet each other is with the phrase “Do you know the way?”

Or, as he pronounced it with exaggerated emotion: “Do you know de wae?”

I did a little double-take because as soon as he said it, there was a lot of laughter in the room. I had never heard the phrase, but I could sense immediately this was some sort of online joke, video, game or meme that was outside my field of vision.

I had three options as teacher at that moment:

  • I could say, find another greeting, but that seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to youth culture
  • Stop everything and search online, but that would have gummed up the morning meeting time
  • Ask for more information, which I did

The student told me the phrase was from a game that became a meme, and he assured me it was not inappropriate for school. I decided to trust him, and the phrase of “Do you know de wae?” made its way around the circle.

Later, I immediately went into Know Your Meme, a database in which memes are deconstructed and traced back to their origins. According to Know Your Meme, the “Do you know de wae?” and found that it originated from a character in a Sonic the Hedgehog game called Uganda Knuckles.

From Know Your Meme:

Ugandan Knuckles is the nickname given to a depiction of the character Knuckles from the Sonic franchise created by YouTuber Gregzilla, which is often used as an avatar by players in the multiplayer game VRChat who repeat phrases like “do you know the way” and memes associated with the country Uganda, most notably the film Who Killed Captain Alex? and Zulul. The character is associated with the expression “do you know the way”, which is typically spoken in a mock African accent and phonetically spelled as “do you know de wey.”

The meme has gone in all sorts of strange directions.

There have been accusations that the meme has racist overtones, however, with the pronunciation in fake African accent and may be built upon African stereotypes. Roblox, a very popular gaming platform site, apparently even banned the character from its server games because of concerns about negative stereotypes.

After talking some more with my students about using the meme, now that I had some information to speak from, I realized that they were not even aware of the racist possibilities. They were just amused by the funny character who repeats the same ridiculous phrase over and over again. Still, a discussion helped frame the meme, and I haven’t heard it in the classroom since then.

I did ask my own 13 year old son when I got home that same day if he had heard of the “Do you know de wae?” meme. He goes to a different school in a different community, with a different crowd of kids, and he immediately knew of the meme, too. (A year or so ago, we had a long discussion with him about using Pepe the Frog and he was startled by the how the far-right had appropriated that meme for its own dark purposes.) Needless to say, he immediately knew the meme and said many kids in his school were saying it in the hallways, as they moved from lockers to classrooms — sort of as a directional sarcasm of the school-day experience.

All this goes to show the cultural power of memes and the difficulty we adults have in understanding their stickiness, never mind the origins and the mad rush of social sharing across platforms. Memes often are part of the language of youth, even if they don’t always comprehend the underlying cultural appropriations and potentially negative messages embedded in the memes they use.

Peace (meme-ing it),