My Day as Infographic: #Walkmyworld

My Day as Infographic

As I wrote the other day, I am curious about how to use visual infographics to tell a story. Here, as part of the #walkmyworld project, I decided to map out a typical day of mine (time spent where) and create an infographic of my day. I used an app on my iPad for the creation of it and rounded up and down a bit on the times to make them whole numbers.

I also tried to use artistic design to create the face (although I now realize the mouth is frowny because of the way the arrow points. My days are not normally frowny). The sleep element I put off to the side because it felt like that state of mind is different than the waking state of mind (and the focus was on the day). If I had more space, I might have broken down the “other” a little more in specifics.

But overall, I like how it came out, though, and the reflection points to just how much time I spend in school on a typical week day. Obviously, weekend would be different. (Maybe a different infographic).

What would your day look like?

Peace (in the data),
Kevin

#Rhizo14: Steal This Poem

As I work my way into the first week of a P2PU course around open learning and Rhizomatic Learning, I’ve been thinking again about who owns what in the digital landscape. This connects to the theme of “cheating as learning” in the first week and about the ways in which Terry Elliott and I have been remixing our words this week. I have another idea related to my classroom to write about another day.

Yesterday, during a writing time with students, I started this poem, trying to get at the heart of what it means to be a writer releasing a work into the wilds of the Internet. It became a nod towards Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book and the open culture of remixing and making meaning on your own terms. I tried to “perform” it in a the rhythm of a slam poem, with short rhymes and lines, and a quick pace.

I’d love to think of some cool way to represent the poem digitally beyond the podcast but my brain is empty right now. How about you? Wanna take my words and remix them? Wanna steal my poem? The invitation is there to do what you want with my words, including ignoring me.

Take a listen (you can download the file from Soundcloud, too):

 

Steal This Poem

Take these words
Steal this poem
NO — go on now –
make it your own
Break it / Fix it
Rip it apart / Remix it

Defy my intent
until all meaning is spent
and then use your tools and tricks
to rebuild it

Cheat my meaning in ways
that make sense to YOU -

Tinker against type
don’t believe my hype
I’m a painter not a poet
using words as ink as I write

I refuse to shackle this work
to paper or screen
or that nebulous world in-between
in hopes that maybe later YOU’LL appear;
watching my words tumble down the spine of my lies –
made up only to be broken / spoken / a token of truth

No, you’re no cheater
you’re a seeker
a keeper of stories in this literary landscape
just like me

So, go on:
Steal this poem
Give it a home
I’m already off writing something else
and I’ve left these words all alone
waiting here for YOU

Peace (in the poem),
Kevin

Book Review: Best American Infographics 2013

Wow. I was completely absorbed and blown away by this new collection of infographics from the “Best American” series. With an insightful foreword by editor Gareth Cook (whose name I recognize from the Boston Globe) and an introduction by David Byrne (he, of Talking Heads fame and beyond), the collection of visual stories told with data as infographic is a deep dive into new ways to think not just about reading, but also about writing and expressing ideas.

“We now find ourselves in a golden age for information graphics,” Cook writes, but then he also explains the long history of using graphics to relay information, pulling out a census map from the Civil War that documenting populations of slavery in each state of the United States — a map that Lincoln kept handy and referred to often.

The Best American Infographics 2013 is chock full of amazing information (including the glimpse at that map), and yet both Cook and Byrne remind us that data gets tilted when brought to view in the visual. What the artist leaves out, and how they portray the data, and which lens is deemed most important, all work in the mix of telling the stories. I’m connecting those ideas in my head to work we do in our classrooms around argument and persuasion, and the need to pull more visual information into our stories and essays and writing.

Here, with infographics ranging from “Feelings that Cannot be Expressed in English” to “A Better Food Label” to “Who Reads Erotica” to “Where Twisters Touch Down” to “American Education Gets a Grade,” this collection touches on a wide range of topics, grouped around the concept of You, Us, the Material World and Interactive Infographics. I encourage you to check out the online links to the interactive infographics. You’ll be blown away by the real-time carbon animation, Bear 71 (you can even put yourself in that one), and the wind chart …. it’s all just stunning.

I also enjoyed, as I always do, the vignettes of the artists and number crunchers explaining where the data came from, what the intentions were, and the artistic choices they made when creating each infographic. Those kinds of reflections are valuable not just in understanding what someone else has made (and it is), but also to begin the shift towards the idea of: How do I best build my own infographics of value?

This is a book I am going to return to, and hope that the series continues next year.

Peace (in the data),
Kevin

 

Enter the Rhizome: Roots Take Hold

I’m checking out a new P2PU offering by Dave Cormier (whose work around open learning has inspired many) around Rhizomatic Learning. It’s a term I heard folks using during our Making Learning Connected MOOC but I have not yet come to fully understand it. I had the sense that it means a circular learning pattern — where ideas spark ideas spark ideas — and there is a keen unfettered world of discovery to be had, if we can only be open to anything.

Or, you know, something like that.

So, in I go.

First, Dave’s great introduction is here but I popped it into Vialogues to add some comments. I invited others in, too, but we’ll see if anyone takes me up on it.

Earlier in the week, I read some posts by Dave and looked up the word (online, of course) and then began to consider Rhizomes in terms of a poem. Here you go. (The poem looks more polished here).

Rhizomatic Journeys: Roots Take Hold
By Kevin Hodgson

buried here
beneath the ground …
… roots take hold …

fingers like fibers
reaching out ….
… roots take hold …

interests collide
paths, align …
… roots take hold …

we move in starlight, together,
here in this undiscovered country
navigating without maps or stars
or compass points north

we close our eyes
sensing if not seeing …
… roots take hold …

move into the unknown
community as nodes …
… roots take hold …

discovery as learning
learning, discovery …
… roots will take hold …

we learn our way, together,
here in these distant connections
nurtured with passion and interest
our compass points north

And I did a podcast, of course.

You come, too.

Peace (in poetic understanding),
Kevin

PS — Terry Elliott took my poem and did something cool with it. I’ll share that out tomorrow. But I am starting to envision rhizomatic thinking in terms of my own views around remix culture and collaborative learning, and how the threads — though disparate and global — can begin to come together to make meaning out of the parts.

Digital Learning Day: A Twitter Chat on Sunday Night

Check it out: Troy Hicks and I are heading up a Twitter Chat sponsored by NCTE in preparation for Digital Learning Day coming in February.

January 19, 2014: Celebrate Digital Learning!

ncte chat logoAs you prepare for Digital Learning Day (#DLDay) — February 5, 2014 — join two NCTE members and edubloggers for a conversation about classroom technology’s past, present, and future.

Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax) and Troy Hicks (@hickstro) will host #nctechat on Sunday, January 19th, 8 PM EST, and will invite you to consider three big questions while sharing tech tips and teaching tools:

  • To begin, what was your first brush with technology and how did it change the way you wrote, read, and interacted with others?
  • As you think about your classroom right now, what are your plans for Digital Learning Day this year? With critics concerned that technology has become more and more of a distraction, how can we help our students stay focused on smart, intentional work?
  • Finally, what are you looking forward to learning, trying, or making in 2014?

Join us for a conversation about the history of Digital Learning Day and great ideas for teaching digital reading and writing in your English classes!

Peace (in the chat),
Kevin

Slice of Life: A Bright Wire

(This is part of the Slice of Life weekly writing activity with Two Writing Teachers)

The other day, I was watching this child just move through the space we were in, all in a world of their own. It was as if no one else were there. And I remembered that feeling, too, suddenly and out of the blue. I had this phrase “live wire” in my head from the last sentence of some New Yorker article, and out of that, I began to write this poem of childhood and adulthood, and the act of observing through the lens of memory.

I used Storybird to use the text of the poem as a picture book (although, I am not sure if work as I wanted it to work. The images don’t quite match up to what I had in my head.)

I also podcasted out the poem, as I often do.

Thanks for reading and listening and observing my poem. I hope you, too, are a live wire.

Peace (in the poem),
Kevin

#Walkmyworld Morning Commute Photo Collage

WalkMyWorld Morning Drive
As part of the #WalkmyWorld social media experiment, I decided to visually capture my commute into school on a typical morning. I had my camera on the passenger seat and when I thought I saw something interesting out my window, I’d pull over and take a shot. Luckily, there is not much traffic on the side roads I travel. I wasn’t sure what would come of this but when I pulled the photos into this collage, I was pleasantly surprised. I see the beauty every morning — the rolling hills and tree-lined streets — but the sunlight at that time of day, during this time of year, is particularly beautiful.

Peace (during the drive),
Kevin

Shaken, Stirred and Remixed: A Poem on Tap

This is the poem that I remixed the other day, with Terry. I turned to Tapestry for merging our poems together because I think it allows for interesting movement of text on the page. Plus, I love the clean design and feel to Tapestry. For the most part, the left side of the screen is Terry and the right side is me, and the middle is where lines merge, converge and become one. I hope you enjoy it.

Peace (in the tap),
Kevin

Student Video Game Reviews: Temple Run 2

Norris Gamers Icon
As part of our game design unit, my students explored games they liked to play and then reviewed them through a critical lens of a game designer. I’m going to be sharing out a few podcasts that my students did around their reviews, giving voice to them as players and creators.

Here, Emma shares her views about Temple Run 2, which is an app for mobile devices.

Peace (on the run),
Kevin

The Abandoned Book: When Gimmick Overtakes Storytelling

Book-580.jpg

It’s painful to write this post of why I abandoned a book, and the fact that I got this particular book as a gift from my family (after openly expressing interest in it) made me stay with it longer than I would have otherwise done.  I’ve got some guilt today. So, believe me when I say, I really, really wanted to keep with this novel that pushes the envelope in so many directions in ways that I find intriguing. Co-written by JJ Abrams (yes, that JJ Abrams, of moviemaking/television fame) and Doug Dorst, S. (that’s the title) is a story within story within story (and maybe more).

But I won’t be staying with it.

Ostensibly, the centerpiece is an old manuscript called Ship of Theseus by V.M. Straka, but the real story unfolds in the margins as two graduate students make notes on the text itself and then letters to each other. Colored ink with the notations shows the layered passage of time, as some notes have been written early and some notes late, and other notes, even later. Plus, the “book” (Ship of Theseus) has footnotes from the editor, adding yet another layer to the stories. And there are postcards, letters, code wheels and other objects stuffed into the page of the book. (See New Yorker piece about the book for more information from the authors on their intentions to tell the story this way).

So, as you read the main story, you also read the notes in the margin, and the footnotes, and all three are working towards some larger story. (although one person on Goodreads said they were going to read the main story first, and then go back and read the margin notes. I’m not sure what that experience would be like). It’s like juggling for the mind. And I like that feeling of being stretched by writers. I’m a sucker for pushing the expectations of what a book is, and what a book can be.

Except … except …. I am almost halfway through the book and …. nothing is happening. I have completely lost track of the multitudes of confusing characters (there are many in the main story — Ship of Theseus — that have  connections to the ‘real” world of the writer V.M Straka, as postulated by the two graduate students …. oh …. I’m confused just trying to explain it all here). Oh sure, there are hints of some grand conspiracy, and of break-ins, and of academic theft, and other elements. And the story between the two students is nicely done, which I suspect is not easy to play for (setting forth a relationship entirely in margin notes). Colored writing as story device is fascinating, as I found my mind switching time modes depending on the ink.

But, I am at the end of my patience waiting for something, anything, to happen. I mean, this is J.J. Abrams, for goodness sake. No offense to Dorst (who seems like the one who did most of the actual writing, if I read the interviews correctly) but Abrams is the master of suspense and action these days. Lost, Star Trek, Star Wars. There’s plenty of suspense in this book but no resolution of the suspense. And not much action. Actually, no action to speak of. I’m not even sure how I have read the 200 pages I have read.

The book has become stalled in the act of the gimmick of storytelling. And, as the reader, I’ve had enough. I’ve been mulling over whether to abandon the book for days now, eyeballing my stack of other books and sighing as I hefted up  S. each night, coming to get that “Do I have to?” feeling of picking the book up. Finally, this morning, I realized, “I don’t have to.” I am setting it aside, maybe to someday return to it. Maybe not.

I feel disappointed and letdown by the promise and premise of the book, though, and I am more than a bit sad that the story element seems have been buried under the whiz-bang of producing something new and eccentric. Writers, I don’t have time for gimmicks that don’t work. Give me a story and characters to believe in any day, and you’ll have me hooked and faithful every time.

Peace (on the pages),
Kevin