The Signal From Inside the Annotation Flash Mob Noise

Annotate

That was interesting. Last night, I followed an invitation of my friends, Terry and Joe, and took part in an online annotation Flash Mob experience, where a bunch of folks mostly used the tool Hypothesis (a browser add-on) to close read and annotate a New York Times article … about annotation.

The article is worth reading, just for the read. (if you have the Hypothesis add-on, you can also read all of the annotations on the article, and add your own)

But the act of annotating an online article together, as a crowd, is always an interesting experience. There are a lot of tools out there to do this, from the comment feature in Google Docs to Genius to Diigo and more. Hypothesis is a nice tool, clean to view, and if the tool is activated, when you come to a page that someone else has annotated, it allows you to view and comment and add to other people’s annotations. You can also add images, video and animated GIFs. It saves your annotation into your own “home” stream.

Annotate Flashmob Hangout

The way the Annotation Flash Mob worked was a bunch of us hung out in a Google Hangout, talked about annotation, and then got to work — all the while talking through the annotation process and screen-sharing what we were doing. Well, I found I could not really talk and listen closely, while also reading closely and annotating, so I sort of found myself in my own little cloud of thoughts for a big chunk of time. There was a bit too much “noise” for my brain to handle, but I did the best I could to listen, read and write.

For me, the best part was the end, when we stopped annotating and starting talking reflectively about the implications of this kind of online annotations for learning in the classroom.

  • Ian talked about having students in his college courses annotate the syllabus with suggestions and comments.
  • Joe talked about the power of the crowd, coming together on a single document (apparently, that is going on tonight with the State of the Union speech) as an example of social networking.
  • Jeremy (of Hypothesis) talked about (or wrote about) how teachers can keep track of student work, and the article references how this might fold into student learning portfolios.
  • Terry noticed Karen working all through the hour, and talked about how one might video-capture with reflection the act of annotation as a way to show your learning and thinking.
  • Remi noted how this kind of active annotation might have more value than Twitter chats and other social gathering activities, where too much affirmation and cordiality might soften some deeper learning and sharing of insights.

Many of us, including me, wondered, as voiced by Terry, So now that you have all this “noise” of annotation, how do you find the signal? How do you curate your annotations, and your crowd’s annotations, into something useful that moves beyond that single moment of time?

We did not have a solid answer, except to note that teaching the art of curation is getting relatively short-thrift in a lot of our classrooms. Ian noted that by not teaching curating, we are missing an opportunity and important skills in the information-rich Digital Age.

I agree. This blog post is one way that I am doing for myself. I am trying to make sense of our Flash Mob activity, but to be frank, the idea of now going back through more than 50 annotations on the page from last night seems rather daunting …

Peace (in the signal),
Kevin

 

Bonnie’s Digital Collaborative: Joy in the World

My friend, Bonnie, is a very talented digital storyteller, and each year, she gathers up images from friends in various online spaces on a theme and weaves them into a digital story.

The theme for 2015 was JOY, which was a wonderful counterweight to some of the things that Bonnie was going through in 2015. She lost someone very close. I hope that by weaving together images of joy, she found some, too.

My contribution was a collage pic of the “band” that recorded the song that kicks off the video, as people from around the world used an online site called Soundtrap to record my song, All Join Hands.

Peace (and joy to you),
Kevin

 

Video Game Design: Plenty O’ Reflecting

Video Game Journal Collage 2016

We’re at the tail end of our science-based video game design project that lasted through much of December, and I have been spending time this weekend reading through the online Game Designer’s Journals that students kept as the project unfolded. I wish I had budgeted even more time for reflective writing because the entries in the journals give such a good glimpse into what they were doing and learning and thinking about.

I’ve been going in to each student’s game designer journals and leaving comments and ideas about what I saw in their games (I have played nearly 65 video games since holiday break) and what I see in their reflective writing.

Peace (beyond the game),
Kevin

 

Book Review: Thing Explainer

Cover of the book Thing Explainer

What Randall Monroe pulls off in Thing Explainer reminds me a bit of what Dr. Seuss did with his early books for young readers: he purposefully uses a minimal amount of words to explain the complicated world (although Dr. Seuss sought to teach young people how to read with The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham).

In the case of Thing Explainer, Monroe limited himself to 1,000 common words, and no more (he lists them at the end of the book). That may seem like a lot, until you realize the complexity of the world he is explaining — such as computerized data centers that make up cloud computing, and the space stations, cells, and the human body, and more.

What Monroe brings to these explanations is his witty sense of visuals and webcomic ability, which are always on display at his xkcd webcomic, but here, his visuals are given full pages (the book is oversized, and I would probably recommend going with the physical book over a digital book, but that’s just me). He may only use stick people, but those stick people are hilarious in their poses and verbal asides, and they fit in perfectly with Monroe’s visual design of our modern world, told in simple language.

It’s fun learning.

My students are in the midst of expository writing right now, and I might see if I can get a few of Monroe’s drawings out of the book and up onto my classroom walls. The pencil one in particular is very interesting and inviting, and it would surely draw the attention of my students (we’ve been doing diagram drawing all year long for creative writing).

Monroe also created a “simple writer” website, for trying out yourself how to explain something in few words, using his database of common words. I popped this entire blog post into it, and discovered many words above and beyond the complexity point.

Using SimpleWriter

 

Peace (in the thing, explained),
Kevin

 

Webcomic: The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid

InternetKid1

Last weekend, I was reading up on Alan Levine’s move to push ahead with a Western-style DS106 course, even though the college where he was to teach it pulled out due to lack of enrollment. Lack of enrollment in the course? Do they even know Alan Levine and DS106? Their loss, but Alan is launching the course as an open invitation.

There is sure to be lots of critique of the Western genre — of violence, and gender, and more — and I hope to do as much of it as I can, if only to be part of another DS106 adventure.  I am already part of an Outlaw Brigade with Wild Toady. I was thinking about Western DS106 this past weekend and started to get inspired to do a webcomic which has come to be called The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid.

Really, the comic has little to do with the Wild West and more to do about technology. No surprise there, if you follow my blog and comics. Before I knew it, I had more than a handful of comics created, and so I have decided to “publish” the comics, one per day (except today, when you get one plus my cover), on Twitter via the #western106 hashtag

I also just now realized that a Tumblr site would make sense, so here it is: The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid tumblr site. 

My aim is to have some fun with tweaking the Western genre AND technology and writing.  Plus, I like making comics. Honestly, some of the Internet Kid storylines work better than others, but I am sending all of them into the Wild anyway. I hope you get a chuckle now and then. And if it makes you think, well, all the better.

So, here you go — the first comic of The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid:

InternetKid2

Peace (partners),
Kevin

Audio Letter 3: Dear Mimi Ito

mimiquote

This is the third and final “audio letter” that I created as a reader response to Participatory Culture in a Networked Era.  The letters use a quote from the three writers of the book as an inroad to a reflective response. The first audio was to Henry Jenkins. The second, to danah boyd. And this one is to Mimi Ito.

Peace (in thinking out loud),
Kevin

 

My One Little Word for 2016: Remembering

(This is a Slice of Life post, part of a weekly writing adventure with Two Writing Teachers. Come write, too.)

I’m not losing my memory, but I do find the quickening flow of information and all of my making of media creates this underlying sense of anxiety about remembering. About curating the conversations and the creating so that I may learn from what has been done (and maybe do better next time). Remembering “the here and the now” before “what comes next” comes next.

So, my own little word for 2016 is “Remember.”

Remember the little things of life.

Remember the larger things of life.

Remember the context of all those things as they play out.

Remember to connect, offline as much as online.

Remember to write to reflect.

Remember to put each day in its proper perspective.

Remember that for some young people, you are the anchor point in their lives.

Remember that each act has potential to change the world.

Remember

Last year, for 2015, my one little word was “pause” and a gif that I created for that word sat on my desktop all year long. I did, in fact, pause as I saw the word each morning, but maybe never quite long enough. Still, I remembered the pause because I left a sign-post for myself.

I am not retiring “pause” — merely, adding it to my daily thoughts, and maybe adding it into this year’s word, too. Pause to remember. I need a “one little phrase” more than “one little word,” perhaps.

And a poem:

remembering

Peace (in the memory banks),
Kevin