Week Two at #Teachtheweb MOOC: Remixing Others

Our task this week at the Teach the Web MOOC is to check out other people’s work from the first week of introductions and do a remix of their work. Interesting. I selected a profile page by Lou Buran because of some connections we have via the National Writing Project (it turns out, we have met, a few years ago, but I had forgotten that when I was working on his remix). I took a screenshot of his profile page from his Thimble page and then used Popcorn Maker to add some layers of pop-ups with notes to Lou about our connections.
Lou Remix1

Check out my Remix of Lou’s Profile Page

After I had posted it in the Teach the Web Google Community, some folks suggested that others take my remix, and remix it again. Which is what Lou did. He took my piece, which was based on his piece, and added a third iteration to it. So now we have this remixing conversation going back and forth (which is when Lou reminded me that we briefly met one summer while working on the NWP Digital Is website). I am hoping someone else takes his remix and does it again. I wonder how the work will change as more hands get to work on it?
Lou Remix2

Check out Lou’s Remix Response

Pretty neat, and it all has me thinking of why we are doing this kind of activity and exploration within the MOOC. Certainly, my remixing of Lou brought me closer to him as a friend and colleague, and I was interested to see how he would take my remix and make it his own. I don’t suppose Lou minded what I had done but all this remixing and hacking work does bring up the issue of ownership, right? And I never asked Lou’s permission. I just did it.

Those of us in this MOOC probably are OK with others taking our digital stuff and doing what they want with it. But how about most people? Would folks outside of the MOOC be OK to know that a bunch of folks are taking something original, remixing it with new content and then publishing it to the world? I don’t know. What do we unwittingly give up when we post to a digital space?

I do know these are the conversations that we need to be having with students.

We hammer home copyright infringements, and how to use other people’s work with respect, and then we tell them: go hack this page and publish it? Let me say, I am OK with that. I think the goals here are to move more agency into hands of the viewer/reader and the Mozilla suite of tools does that in many interesting ways. Kids need to have skills to not just remix the web, but also to be critical of what they read and how they are targeted by the web, and having tools to remake that experience is powerful.

Still, I wonder about the conversations …

Peace (in the MOOC),


Slice of Life: Teachers Who Made a Difference (in my life)

This is for Slice of Life, although the idea began over at our National Writing Project iAnthology site, we’ve been writing about teachers who made a difference in our lives. I created the following comic to remember three teachers whose philosophies and styles linger with me.

Influential Teachers

Peace (in the past),

Six Word Memoir: The Thimble/NWP Experiment

6words thimble

If you have been following my writing this month, you will notice that I am diving deep into six word memoirs for the Slice of Life challenge. (And thank you for reading them, too. I appreciate it.) As it turns out, the National Writing Project and the Mozilla Foundation have created a site with the webmaker tool, Thimble, on the Six Word Memoir theme.  (You can read more about the project at Digital Is.)

So, I gave it shot this weekend, and found it interesting. Since it designed both to create a six word memoir AND teach a bit about coding, the composition takes a bit longer than it would normally do. But I liked the site, and here is what I created:
6words Music

You can try, too. The Six Word Memoir Thimble site is open and accessible to all.

Peace (in the six words),


Remembering Composing My First Multimedia Poem

It was a fair number of years ago (back in 2006) now that I hopped on a plane and flew across the country to Chico, California, to take part in an Advanced Technology Institute with the National Writing Project. It was one of those weeks that forged connections that remain powerful and strong even today. And the work we did in exploring writing and reading, and digital spaces, moved my own ideas forward. I started this blog during that week, learned about stopmotion animation, and brought along a new device on the market: a Flip camera. While these little handheld video cameras are ubiquitous now, they were just a curiosity back then.

And I wanted to figure out how I could use my little white Flip for something that would push my thinking about digital composition. I ended up with a poem I called Blink, Blink, Blink. But not just a poem. It was a poem with a video component that became quite complicated as I dove into it. I conceived it as project in which three videos would be running together, at the same time, recreating the idea of a human face but with multiple people being part of the larger composition. Even today, it is difficult to explain what I was after.

What I did was ask the folks in the Advanced Institute if they would allow me to film them, but in an odd way. First, I filmed their eyes – left and right. Then, I filmed their mouths, saying the refrain of “blink, blink, blink.” I got more than a few strange looks when I asked to film their eyeballs. Luckily, this was a group of creative people, looking to the leading edge of digital writing. Everyone agreed, even though they could not get their heads around what I was after.

On the plane ride home, in the airport, I began to edit the videos, and when I got home, I worked with HTML to craft a webpage that closely captured my vision. For a while, I hosted it at my old band’s server space and the videos were in the old Google Video space. A few months ago, I noticed that Google had moved the videos over to YouTube (that must be odd, to stumble across the two eyeball videos without any context). Meanwhile, the server space for the webpage went dark, and all of my options for hosting the page in a way that would allow three videos to run simultaneously (which is critical to experiencing the poem) ran into walls. Most would only allow one video to run at a time (Glogster, Google Spaces, this blog, a wiki page, etc.)

Then, the other day, I saw this post that Google Drive now can host HTML as if they are webpages. Aha! I went through the steps and sure enough, it worked! The poem does not quite live up to my vision of it, but it marks a place in time for me and is still interesting to watch. If you run all three videos, and keep the “nose” centered on the screen, it really does seem like a human face reading the poem, but with the collective experience of many people. The audio is tinny, but that was the early Flip camera.

Experience Blink, Blink, Blink

Take a look and see what you think. I’d love to get feedback.

Peace (in the composing),

PS — here is a reflection I recorded as I was composing the poem.


The iAnthology Book Shelf

I led a writing prompt last week at our National Writing Project iAnthology space, asking folks what they were reading. I took cover images and created this as a gift back to those who were writing with me:

Peace (on the shelves),

Digital Writing: Jogging the Web with Anna

Jogweb Conversation Site
Anna Smith and I have been working on a digital dialogue about digital writing, and some friends and readers have asked for us to provide a more coherent “path” to those conversations. That makes sense. You should know our intention is to eventually create a larger curated resource at the National Writing Project Digital Is site, but for now — in the midst of our give and take — it is all just a series of blog posts at Digital Is. I created this Jog the Web as a way to create a sequential “path” so far, so if you are just jumping in to the discussions, you can track where we have been.

Jump to the Jog the Web project

As always, we invite you to join the conversations over at Digital Is.

Peace (in the sharing),


Responding to Anna: A Screencast Challenge

Anna Smith and I are in the midst of a “digital conversation” about digital writing. Most of this is taking place at the National Writing Project’s Digital Is site, but I am also sharing my end of the activities here. We’re moving across platforms and strategies as part of our conversation, and adding a reflective piece to our role as writer/composer.

The other day, Anna shared a video screencast, and challenged me to do the same. Here it is:

And here is my reflection, which I am doing in comic form:
Reflection on Screencasting with Anna
Peace (in the writing),