I’ve written this kind of post before — the feeling of loss when a favorite technology site announces it is closing up shop. I guess I should be grateful the announcements even happen.
The latest is TitanPad — a powerful collaborative document tool that I have used with many other people over the years, mostly for collaborative poetry. TitanPad was built out of a wave of other collaborative document makers from the roots of Etherpad and Google’s acquisition of a key element of open collaborative document makers, but I liked it for the simplicity and for the way it archived every keystroke, turning the static document into something you could watch unfold like a movie.
Here is a collaborative poem from this past summer’s Connected Learning MOOC:
I know there are add-ons in Google Docs and a host of other sites that do much of what TitanPad has done and I appreciate that the programmers (who reasonably cite changes in web browsers, underlying code and issues of privacy as rationale for pulling the plug) are doing a “graceful shutdown” so that people can make decisions about their work. No more new pads after May and then by the end of 2017, the site will be gone.
I’ve always thought of the collaboration we have unfolding in TitanPad to be mostly temporary writing, sometimes captured beyond the pad in other ways (such as with video and audio), so I don’t even have many links to past work I have done with others to save, even if I wanted to.
The programmers helpfully point to a resource that has “sites similar to” TitanPad, which might be useful. I’ve bookmarked that resource, and hope that my bookmarking tool doesn’t fade away on me, too. (I’ve had that happen …)
Here are steps to making and sharing a simple stopmotion animation with Para Para Animation (part of Mozilla’s Webmaker family … I think …) Warning: The site is kind of funky at times and not always completely stable. And I am not sure how well it works on mobile devices. Just warning you. But I have used it with students and they LOVE it for the simplicity and easy entry point. You will, too.
I was reading and commenting and enjoying the discussion that has been unfolding in both the body and the comments of this Open Document/Slow Chat format centered on the nature of images as digital writing as part of the CLMOOC Pop-Up Make Cycle last week. You should read it. And contribute.
I was wondering how to make sense of the various threads, and decided to try my hand at a Found Poem. I narrowed my reading to just the comments off to the side. As I dug around, some common themes and phrases began to emerge, and I assembled and then re-assembled them in another document, tinkering with the flow — adding a few words here, changing some endings there — until a poem emerged. Of sorts.
I decided, in the interest of Digital Writing, that I wanted to do something different with the poem, so I opened up Keynote and began constructing the poem as Kinetic Text, using the animation feature within the slideshow to have parts of the poem appear and disappear. I could have gone fancier, I suppose, but I wanted to keep things simple so the words would not get lost for the flash. (I’ve done this kind of piece before. See my resource at Digital Is.)
The CLMOOC Crowd has opened up a conversation about Digital Writing in the margins of this interview of Troy Hicks, and you are cordially invited to come on in and add your thoughts, questions, observations about digital literacies. Troy has graciously joined in the conversation, too. We’re using a tool called Hypothesis (see below on how to use it) to crowd-annotate and crowd-discuss the theme of Digital Writing and the teaching of digital literacies.
I don’t claim to understand all of the data analysis that goes on when people research and examine all of the elements of our social interactions in places like Twitter and beyond. Here, for example, is what the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC looked like from a data analysis viewpoint.
Some of the elements explored here about hashtags and the wandering spirit of those in networked spaces in this research article certainly caught my eye. I am one of those people. And I wander around quite a bit, hoping to connect with people and picking their brains about writing, teaching and more. The insight of how hashtags are connector points makes a lot of sense to me.
I am intrigued by the term of “nomadic learners” — those of us who skirt and toggle between open educational spaces. In fact, that term is more fluid than the “lurker” terminology that is often used, and debated in online spaces. A nomad is forever on the move, but not just transient — they stop, talk, chat, share, gather and then bring what they have learned to other spaces.
I’m not on Facebook, so I don’t know the extent of the “fake news” filtering into feeds there during the US presidential election. But I have seen more than a few articles in which Mark Zuckerberg is defending the algorithms that might have allowed some made-up news to come into the system, and worries that such items might have influenced voting.
I could not resist taking one of Zuckerberg’s denials and popping it into Mozilla’s XRay Goggles for a bit of a remix myself. Yep. Fake news about fake news. In mine, he owns up to Facebook’s role and admits that Facebook itself is behind the fake news (it’s not true, as far as I can tell … just to be upfront).
Still, even if some of what he defending is true — that the automated system still allows items with no veracity and tilted political bents into millions of people’s feeds — the issue of fake news in feeds has larger ramifications about how a social networking site can play a role in elections, and … perhaps even more importantly … it raises the question: why aren’t more people getting news from multiple and reputable sources?
Who relies on Facebook for all of their news? I know. I know. Many people do. It reminds me of the need for us, as teachers, to double down on teaching media literacy, and rhetorical moves, and determining the surface truth and the deeper slants of everything we read, whether it is the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Facebook or your local newspaper (do you still get your local newspaper? Is there still a local newspaper to get? My old journalism hackles get raised here. I hope you still have a local newspaper).
Check out this report from Pew Research, which indicates that almost two-thirds of Americans get our news from social media. What? And that report is from the summer. Who wants to bet that the number went up during the election?
I went into MapStack and created a few versions of my neighborhood with its coloring layering tools and then pulled those images into Adobe Spark on my iPad, writing a poem as the narration, and ended up with a digital poem.
I like how the map layout doesn’t change, but the layered effects does, and the words are inspired by each image, to some degree. In other words, the writing of the poem came AFTER I had created various versions of the maps, not the other way around.
I also used the Fused app, which does double exposures of images, to pull maps together to make something slightly different. By keeping the layout exactly the same, the blends gave a slight twist to the originals. Subtle, even.
Will Stephen, a comedy writer, gave this TEDx talk about Nothing as a way to expose the rhetorical moves of TED talkers in a hilarious yet insightful way. In doing so, he makes us laugh as he deconstructs the appeal of TED talks. It’s worth your five minutes.
As an experiment, some folks turned over scriptwriting for a short film to an algorithm. You can read more about it in detail at this post, and/or watch the opening credits on the movie embedded above. It explains how and what they did. The film itself? It makes no sense, and yet, it is intriguing as an experiment.
And it reminds of the very human nature of writing. Maybe someday, computers will be able to write (or, in an educational connection, assess writing) but I don’t think we are there yet. I know we are not there yet.
There are complexities that come from subtext, from story, from character motivations, and other elements that can’t (yet) be replicated by machine.
(This is a post for DigiLitSunday, a regular look with other educators at digital literacies. This week’s theme is connected to the upcoming National Day on Writing, which takes place on Thursday with the theme of Why I Write.)
I write digitally to find the grooves between the spaces. Digital writing does not replace the other ways I write. It accompanies it. It harmonizes with it. I have notebooks brimming with lyrics, poems and stories. Sticky notes dot our fridge. I am always an arms length away from a pencil. Pens of all colors take up residence in the pockets of my jacket. But digital writing gives me another venue to consider the intersections of media and words, and how they might mesh or even collide together into something new. I have yet to find the perfect moment — that ‘aha’ spark when it all works just as I envisioned — but knowing that moment might yet be possible gives me hope and inspiration to keep moving forward. I write with images as words and words as image, sound as image and image as sound, and video as platform for alternative paths to break down the wall between reader and writer. My ideas for digital writing collapse as often as they work. Beneath all that I write digitally, I seek to keep my words and language and stories as the foundation. Words still matter, no matter how glossed up they look and how interesting they sound. I’m still finding myself as a digital writer, and still helping my students find themselves as digital writers. I write digitally because the possibilities hint at something just on the horizon, and I can’t wait to write it into realization.