Lateral Reading: Who Made This and Why?

This is a helpful video with John Greene about reading deeper, and understanding, digital information and digital media. Greene, author (The Fault in Our Stars) and vlogger (often with his brother), digs into how we can understand what’s behind the veil of what we read online, and to understand the move he calls “lateral reading.”

Greene’s key question of inquiry that we must always ask ourselves: Who made this and why?

He explains that we have been taught to read “vertically” — starting a text at the top, reading across line by line, ending up at the bottom. Like a book. Unless it’s manga (sorry, had to get that in). Reading “laterally,” he explains, means opening new browser tabs, checking information out against the original, jumping from the main text to complimentary text.

He suggests we become more active readers, checking information out before diving in with belief. Understanding who is funding sites, and why, is key to understanding how design and algorithms influence our thinking and understanding.

Networked Narratives is starting to explore a similar tangent, using the Four Moves concept. Greene’s ideas around “lateral reading” gives a complimentary angle to that.

Check out even more from Greene’s Crash Course videos that connect with this examination of how we experience and make sense of this world of digital information and manipulation:

Peace (in the reading screens),
Kevin

Book Review: The Library Book

What a writer Susan Orleans is. In The Library Book, Orleans shows her skills at weaving a deep dive into a topic (public libraries), history, crime (the fire at the Los Angeles library), and her own personal story (she writes this book for her mother, who is dying as she begins this book and has died when she ends). Orleans’ talent is such that you don’t even notice the way she has artistically structured all of this — you only know that you are in deep, and you don’t want to stop reading.

This is more than a book about libraries. It is a book about the heartbeat of shared public spaces, about the ways a community gathers together, about shared experiences, about the power of stories to guide us forward, about how we preserve the past to guide us into the future and navigate the present. It is all that, and more.

The Library Book is also an ode to our geeky hearts, those of us who loved libraries as kids, who still love libraries as adults, and if you are lucky like me, those of us who are married to a librarian. (I quickly passed this book to her). Orleans’ narrative focuses on the fire that nearly destroyed the main library of Los Angeles, and then weaves her stories of the people, the books, the experiences that connect to the library, before pulling back on the larger picture of how libraries function in our communities as vital cogs beyond literacy.

You don’t need to love libraries to enjoy The Library Book. But it helps, and if you don’t appreciate libraries before reading this book, you certainly will afterwards.

Peace (in the stacks),
Kevin

When Your Classroom is a National Historic Site

We just wrapped up a professional development partnership between the Springfield Armory Historic Site and the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. I was one of the lead facilitators, and it was such a great experience to use the Armory itself as our classroom as a way to explore history and primary sources. The course was supported through a grant by the National Writing Project and the National Park Service.

After all the participants shared lesson plans and resources and topics — ranging from the role of light rail transportation at the Armory, to the use of the Organ of Muskets poem that was inspired by a visit to the Armory by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, to use of The Things They Carried to invite a veteran oral historian into the classroom, to deep research into local history of a community — we asked the teachers to write a reflection. Part of what we are doing is gathering resources for a future website to showcase the potential of exploring local history.

Peace (and thinking),
Kevin

Networked Narratives: Listening In On Chris Gilliard


Surveillance flickr photo by Simon Aughton shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

I’ve been taking my time, listening over a few days to the classroom conversation that the always-intriguing Chris Gilliard had with Networked Narratives the other day.

Chris is insightful in his look at how technology impacts our lives, bringing to the surface not just the privacy issues but also the concerns of how our data might be used against us (and is being used against us) by companies and governments. Chris is wary of the digital landscape but also is optimistic that users can force changes for the better (or I infer his hopefulness, which maybe just is my own reflection that the ship can still be set right).

The video is in Vialogues, allowing for conversation in the margins. Thanks again to Karen for joining, and hoping others will, too.

Come join in the conversation via Vialogues

Peace (pondering the way forward),
Kevin

Even More Reasons for Remix

Reasons for Remix: A Remix

Remix Remix by Sheri

I want to thank Sheri for remixing my video about remix that I shared out this week. Her visual interpretation of the video is wonderful, and useful, capturing my points from another angle. Even more, her exploration of remix at her blog is a valuable insight into what we are talking about when we talk about remix as an act of appreciation of another’s work of art.

Peace (still remixable),
Kevin

 

Networked Narratives: Oh, This Dystopia


utopia banished flickr photo by kr428 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Networked Narratives hosted a Twitter chat the other while folks were watching this video — We’re Building a Dystopia Just to Make People Click on Ads by Zeynep Tufekci — and so I popped the video into Vialogues for slow viewing and commenting.

Thanks to Karen and Terry for jumping in with me, so I didn’t feel so alone in the digital landscape of manipulation engines and algorithmic targeting of my data.

You are invited, too, to watch and react. Tufekci is insightful, connecting algorithms of advertising to the creeping elements of an authoritarian state. It’s not that much of a leap, unfortunately.

View the video and add your own comments/conversation

Peace (in the mix),
Kevin

 

An Experiment of Sorts: Some Reasons for Remix

I am trying out Powtoon for Education as a way to enrich a unit on expository/informational writing with my students … and I thought I might as well explore the reasons why one might remix as I explored the site …

Peace (nearly remixable),
Kevin