What in the World Have I Been Writing About?

Yesterday, I noticed I had pushed the number of tweets in my account to 54,000 tweets. Holy smokes! What the heck have I been writing about? (Just a bit of math on the writing blog: That means, given the 140 character limit, that I posted 7.6 million characters on Twitter.  Ahem. I won’t vouch for the character of those characters … some are good, some are bad, some are meh. A scant few might have been gems.)

Well, I write about teaching, about writing, about collaboration, about Connected Learning, about comics, about digital literacies, and, yes, a lot of other stuff that often seems ancillary to my identity as an educator. Twitter is one of my go-to platforms to engage with others. Despite all of the reasons why people may not like Twitter (some of which are very valid), I still find it valuable for discovering new ideas and reflecting with others on the journey forward.

Still, 54,000 small bits of writing? That sure seems like a lot.

I wondered what my 54,000th tweet actually was. I think it was this one:

tweet number 54,000

Shoot. I can live with adding more debris of words to the world if it means being part of something like the #HaikuForHealing project that Mary Lee Hahn and others have been engaged in for the past month or so, as a way to grapple with the fallout from the election and the emerging chaos of the Trump years to come. Some days, it feels as if words are all we have. And Twitter is made for Haiku.

Interestingly, Twitter also has a tool that allows you to go back in time to find your very first tweet. Here’s mine.

first tweet feb2008

That was nearly nine years ago. That was before Obama even took office? Time sure flies. Gotta run. I have another haiku to write. See you on Twitter.

Peace (writing it over and over),
Kevin

Writing Short: Flash Fiction in 140 Characters

One of the hashtags I keep open in my Tweetdeck is #25wordstory, which was first introduced to me by Brian Fay, and I try to contribute now and then. The small stories, confined by 140 characters, are interesting to write. While some believe the stories have to be 25 words, exact, I am more of the mind that it has to fit inside a tweet.

With flash fiction like this, you need to leave gaps for the reader. You can only hint at the larger story. They are interesting to write, and intriguing to read.

In the past week or so, I have written a handful for the hashtag and in the interest of curating, I ported the stories out of Twitter and into Pablo in order to marry the words with images. Then, the stories all got pulled into Animoto for a video collage hosted on YouTube. (Note: I am trying to make clear my paths of composition these days.)

Writing these very short, short stories reminds me of a presentation I once did for an NCTE Ignite session called Writing, in Short.

Peace (expand it),
Kevin

A Day Late to a Twitter Chat (but not a dollar short)

Margaret Simon, who helps facilitate a weekly discussion around digital literacies with the #DigiLitSunday hashtag, organized a Twitter Chat on Sunday that I could not attend. So, I played Monday Morning Quarterback with her Storify curation, adding comments as a way to engage in the conversation (after it had already ended). And days later, I am now sharing.

The theme of the chat was about essay writing, and centered on a book by Katherin Bomer, entitled The Journey Is Everything Teaching Essays That Students Want to Write for People Who Want to Read Them. Margaret gives more info at her blog.

Here are my comments, strung together.

 

Peace (write it from the heart),
Kevin

Appreciate the Unexpected: Haiku Call/Response

Sunday morning. I see my friend Ray is sharing a haiku. It’s about jazz. I can’t resist. I riff off his poem, make my own and send it out. It starts there and then expands into something wonderful: a day of writing and sharing haiku.

I tried to curate the many strands as best as I could here:

Peace (words matter),
Kevin

Curiosity Conversations: Turning Tweets into Music with Karon

I feel honored to meet so many interested and creative educators in the CLMOOC. Since last week, Karon B. and I have been engaged in an intriguing email conversation that falls under the umbrella of this week’s concept of “Curiosity Conversations” in Make Cycle 3 of CLMOOC.

Our interactions began with a Daily Connect, themed on “reaching out” (which she did), and then took a path towards presence in social media spaces (or, rather, non-presence and how that feels), and finally our back/forth reached a point where we worked on a project together that turned tweets into music.

Actually, she did all of the compositional work, and I just followed her lead as best as I could. This is what she did, in a nutshell, and where we have sort of ended up. For now. She is still working on other versions.

Karon is not on Twitter, for her own valid reasons, but she has followed the weekly Twitter Chats through the curated Storify projects that we put together afterwards. She has also been tinkering with a musical notation program, and so, she wondered if she could take the Twitter feed from the CLMOOC Twitter Chat and code the tweets into musical notation, and then create a “song” of the Chat.

 

 

I thought that was a pretty cool concept, and she went about it with an intense passion that I admire. I still don’t quite understand her coding system (sorry, Karon!), even with many intriguing emails back and forth as she worked hard on the project. The five-page music manuscript of the Twitter Chat is so interesting to read through, as themes emerge and counter-melodies of people and ideas.

from Karon Tweets into Music

You get a perspective of a Twitter feed that you don’t get in any other way. We’re slanted, on an angle, and see the sharing as music. How friggin’ cool is that, eh?

I wanted to do something with Karon’s manuscript. I wanted to find a way to turn her music on the page into music for the ear. So, using Soundtrap recording platform, I tried to record the song with my tenor saxophone, layering the top melody with the bottom harmony parts. I fumbled many times, and still don’t like this rough cut version. But I hope it gives you an idea of how the sharing from Twitter turned into music on the page turned into sounds for the ear.

Take a listen.

Thank you, Karon, for pushing my thinking about music, social media, and composition over the course of the week, and reminding me of how creative we can be when we think beyond the normal. She saw Twitter as an inaccessible point, and turned it into music.

For more on her project, check out the slideshow video she shared in the CLMOOC Google Plus space. She used a midi sound generator to create an audio soundtrack for her presentation, too, so you can “hear” what each person “wrote” in the chat. Nifty.

Peace (it sounds like the sunrise),
Kevin

Curating a Connected Conversation


flickr photo shared by m-louis under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

The first CLMOOC Twitter Chat took place last night, but I had a family conflict that kept me away from the computer (not a bad thing). So this morning, I spent time going through the questions and answers from the chat, via the #CLMOOC hashtag, and, more importantly, dove into the conversations during the hour-long discussion on Twitter. With topics ranging from discoveries to connections to remix, and with important offshoot wonderings about how CLMOOC experiences might impact the world beyond the summer, I felt as if I a water bug traversing along on the expanding notion of ideas and experiences.

Being removed from the chat itself gave me a little distance — well, not all that much — and I hope I honored the participants by pulling out what I hope were the most pertinent tweets for this curated archive on Storify. I refrained from adding my own comments here and there in an effort to focus on the conversation as it happened.

Peace (it’s all good),
Kevin

A Single Word Can Change a Story (Perhaps)

Short Fiction Ornament String

Yesterday, I wrote this flash fiction story on Twitter with the #25wordstory hashtag. You know … write a story in 25 words (give or take a word here and there, that’s my interpretation). My aim was to infer another story, behind the ornament being put away, and also, to shorten each sentence to make the story more and more compact by the end.

I let that story sit and then realized, if I added the word “cried” at the end, as a last single-word sentence, it would change the emotion of the story. While before it wasn’t clear why she was putting the ornament away, now with that one word, you have a better idea (albeit, still not completely clear. Is she crying over remembering? Over loss? Sadness? Maybe happiness?)

And what, I wondered, would happen to that story — still so very short — if I changed that last word to something else. Another emotion. What if I made it “laughed” or “smiled”? Would the whole tenor of the story shift? I think so.  I used “laugh.” But now I wonder, after reading it with some distance, if “smile” would not have been better.

It’s interesting what you can do in the small confines of a Twitter story. A single word is a powerful anchor of emotion.

Peace (in the tiny),
Kevin

Robots As Publishers: Curation Conundrums in the Digital Age

NWP Daily NewsIt’s been some time since I shared out my curated NWP Daily News via Paper.li, and I use that word “curate” very lightly here, as the robotic overlords who feed on algorithms are the ones who gather up news and sharing from a Twitter list of National Writing Project folks (670 peeps, listed as of this morning … wait .. make that 669 … see below), and somehow, it comes together in what I think is a moderately interesting daily collection of media, tidbits and more.

But I received a direct message on Twitter from a person in my NWP network about their inclusion into the “newspaper”  this week and the notice of their Twitter handle in an auto-tweet that comes out every day. They clearly were not happy with it, and they wondered how their Twitter account got so entwined with mine. They suggested that it was a misrepresentation of both of our Twitter accounts. I think they thought I have been intentionally scraping their content and representing it as my own.

Have I, inadvertently, doing that? Not in my mind.

I messaged back to them, politely, and then removed from them from my NWP List, so as to avoid putting them in the same situation in the future. The last thing I want to do is make anyone uncomfortable when the robots take over. To be honest, I’m not sure bringing other NWP folks to their Twitter account or bringing a small spotlight to something interesting that they shared out or wrote about is such a bad thing, but that’s not for me to decide.

Or is it?

Here I am, making a “newspaper” of Twitter folks who self-associate with the National Writing Project, and that message reminded me that I never do ask permission of anyone to become part of my NWP Twitter List. I just add them in. I also assume that the tweets from public accounts are public and that if you tweet something out into the open, then you are signaling your approval in having it viewed and collected  — or, in this case, curated under an unofficial NWP umbrella (“unofficial” because NWP bigwigs did not sanction me doing this, nor did I ask permission.)

I realize now that it is a bit of a can of worms, indicative of the Information Age.

On one hand, I hate the lack of agency I have in actually curating the darn Paper.li thing. I don’t think I can manually add content, just people’s streams of information (or at least, I can’t do that with the free version I use. I’m not sure about the paid version.) On the other hand, I am grateful that the algorithms do all that work on my behalf, so that I don’t have to spend the time each day. Because, you know, it wouldn’t get done, otherwise. I’m a realist.

It’s the typical Digital Age Cunundrum, right? How much agency do I give up to technology in order to achieve what I hope to achieve with the smallest amount of effort? And if I give up too much, am I really achieving what I wanted to achieve?

I don’t have the answer to that. (Do you?)

Instead, I just read my NWP News most mornings, and think, these NWP folks are doing some amazing things, and I enjoy reading about it. I get inspired by them. I learn from them. I guess you could say, I made this “newspaper” for me. But I am happy if others enjoy it, too. I even get a kick when someone who get mentioned shouts out some thanks to me, via Twitter, and all I can do is say, “You’re welcome. I had little to do with it. The robots are in charge!”

What I hadn’t realized, until this morning, is that not everyone would be so open about it and grateful to be part of my NWP experience. I guess that part of curation — the view of the skeptical curatee (is that a word? The one who is being curated?) — never crossed my mind until this morning. Maybe it should have.

Peace (on the page),

Kevin

Twitter Chat Preview: Are You? Can You? Will You?

Join_the_CLMOOC_Twitter_ChatIs it Thursday already? Tonight, we will be hosting a Twitter Chat for the Making Learning Connected MOOC (#clmooc) and we invite you to come along for the ride … er, discussion … as we share out thinking about open spaces and public parks and other threads from the current Make Cycle that we are in.

CLMOOC Twitter Chat

  • When: Tonight (Thursday)
  • Time: 7-8 p.m. Eastern Time
  • Location: Twitter
  • Hashtag: #CLMOOC
  • What to bring: ideas, questions, insights and maybe an image or media to share
  • Suggestion: use the Tweetchat site as a way to manage the flow of discussion.

 

And I made this a few years ago: How_to_Survive_a_Twitter_Chat
Haven’t gotten outdoors yet? This handy flowchart might help you make that decision. Flowchart to get outside

And if you missed our Google Hangout/Make with Me the other night, it has now been archived and posted. We talked about youth outreach, the US National Park System, engaging teachers in the outdoors, and the Every Kid in the Park initiative. (The chat roll archive is here, too)

I hope to see your tweets tonight!

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin