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

 

Book Review: Unbound (A Novel in Verse)

This book packs a powerful voice — that of nine-year-old Grace — into its pages, and Ann Burg’s Unbound never lets up. Grace is a slave, sent to the Big House to help, but even her mother and step-father know she will have trouble keeping quiet. Grace is a girl with a mind of her own, and slavery’s injustice gnaws at her.

In fact, it is Grace’s words that set the story into motion, as she and her family escape the plantation in the night, making a run for Freedom, with a capital “F” even if Grace does not know what or where that is.

Burg’s historical references to the Maroons — communities of escaped slaves that did not head north to Canada or elsewhere, but instead, stayed hidden in the South — is a fascinating piece of forgotten stories, and Grace’s harrowing adventures into the Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina remind us of these stories of slaves who risked everything to leave the shackles and to help others along the way.

What resonates is Grace’s inner voice, brought to the surface with talent and compassion and spoken poetry by Burg’s writing. It’s nearly impossible to read Unbound without your heart jumping to save Grace from the violence and struggles of her times, and to give her strength on her journey.

Unbound never loses track of the internal narrative struggles — the doubts, the joy, the love, the worry — of young Grace, even as the novel reminds us of yet another chapter of our country’s horrible past and the yearning of those in chains to be free.

As Burg noted in her Author’s Notes at the end of Unbound:

The choice to brave the wilderness rather than suffer the brutality and humiliation of bondage is a towering testimony of an oppressed people who risked everything for the chance to be free.

Peace (and Freedom),
Kevin

Combining GIFs Together in Digital Alchemy Experiment

Combining Gifs

This morning’s DS106 Daily Create call for “making stuff” was to merge a name with a famous person with the name of something else. Betty White Cake was the example (chuckle).

I wanted to do Edge of Darkness, with the U2 guitarist. And I wanted to merge two animated GIFs — the Edge with a dark scene — but I didn’t know how to do that. So I learned how.

I searched the Net and re-discovered Animated GIF Maker (which I have used before to make a single GIF) and learned that you can upload multiple GIFs at a time and then arrange and re-arrange the frames. It’s not perfect but it worked for what I wanted, a hint of the darkness of The Edge.

Now all I need is a soundtrack for the end of the world …

Peace (in frames),
Kevin

An Invitation to Collaborate: The Writer’s Block by Grant Snider

If you have never checked out Grant Snider’s wonderful illustrations, you have been missing out. I have long loved seeing his work, and have bought his calendar (2018), bought his book, and purchased a poster from him for my classroom, and I’ve shared his work through my networks.

See his site — Incidental Comics — for yourself

Grant’s latest piece was in the New York Times Book Review (although I saw it first in my RSS reader) and is called Writer’s Block, and it is full of visual puns and elements of literacy. I borrowed his image from his site and put it into Thinglink, and invite you and others to add layers of text to it.

Go to the Thinglink overlay of Writer’s Block

Peace (in textual surfaces),
Kevin

Digital Palimpsest: Words Lost to the Night

Here’s a poem that emerged rather unexpectedly from a daily alchemy prompt through Networked Narratives.

It began here with some silhouettes and a call for wondering who shadows might be. I wrote a poem and layered it on top of the prompt image itself:

Notice how Wendy took that and went a step further, layering another piece on top of the layer.

I took that piece by Wendy and added a few more layers, writing a second poem (video at the top of this post) and then using a few different media apps to create what was fast becoming what Wendy called an onion. Only hints of the first layers are visible.

 

To which Mia commented about the layering process itself:

And I had to look up the word:

To which Karen added:

Neat, right?

Peace (in the discovery),
Kevin

 

 

 

 

 

YOU and The Way Social Media Tells the Story

My wife and I have been watching the television show, YOU, for the past few weeks, creeping out on the storyline. Besides shouting at the television for all the narrative holes in the plot (there are many) and for characters not seeing the obvious, it’s been sort of fascinating to watch how social media is baked into the fabric of the show of obsession.

This isn’t the first television show to necessarily do this — use social media and technology as a key storytelling device — (see Black Mirror for other examples) but YOU utilizes it so well for telling the story over an entire season — for the obsessive surveillance of one character over another (usually Joe watching Beck but sometimes Beck watching Joe); for a character who is a social media influencer, as her job; for creating fake accounts to create a false reality; for ghosting people and people worried about being ghosted; for tracking people down through bits of information; and more.

Wikipedia notes:

As You is situated in modern day New York City, it explores the dangers of social media culture with an emphasis on a lack of digital privacy.

Mobile phones for these young adults living in New York City are never far away from any character in the show, and when one character – Beck, a writer, of all things, who’s at the heart of Joe’s obsession — has her devices and apps and router all shut off by a colleague so she can actually write, the cold-turkey-syndrome of being so bored we see her pacing her apartment, doing all sorts of things (other than writing, alas) before finally giving in and booting up her router.

This might be you. Or me.

Television has long been a window on culture, if often slightly warped by narrative design. YOU is one of those shows, reflecting our desire to be connected to the stories of others and to project our own version of stories for others to read. YOU also shows us the surveillance state we have allowed ourselves to be part of, where tracking the histories and present of another is often as simple as following accounts, where we openly and freely share lots of information.

YOU uses this digital connection to creep us out with how the digital world feeds and nurtures obsessions. Maybe we should pay attention a bit more to what it is telling us about our world out here, beyond the screen, too.

Peace (go dark),
Kevin

Do You Know of Dark Patterns?

This video by Nerdwriter (whom I support via Patreon) seems like it could connect with the inquiry now being done in Networked Narratives around technology, surveillance and agency.

Dark Patters are “crappy user experience that intentionally makes it difficult to do something ” that hurts the company. In other words, intentional design to thwart our own agency as a user. This is a fascinating look at this concept.

Be alert out there …

Peace (into the light),
Kevin