We Need More Dandelions: Who Owns What in the Digital Age


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

Call me naive but …

… I keep finding myself wandering back into the question of ‘who owns what’ in the Digital Age. It’s not just a question of a single item — say, a photograph, or a music file. Those kinds of issues — particularly when it comes to livelihood of an artist — are important and still being sorted out. I do think, and hope, that elements like Creative Commons licensing helps delineate lines for those of us who create (and may need to protect some of our art) and those of us how like to use art of others to create something new (and may need to learn better how to note where the original came from).

I’m thinking more of ideas here, and who owns the idea. If I spark a discussion in online forums and along various hashtags, or if I launch a collaboration that others take part in, do I own that idea from now to forever? I think about the poems I have invited others to write into, and various media projects that I have opened the door to, and other projects that I have been involved in. The spark has always been collaboration, not ownership.

I know I may be unrealistic but ..

… once the idea is out there, I figure it’s no longer just mine to do what I want with. I’ve given it, as a “gift” of sorts, to the world (and in my case, the world might only be a few people), which may very well completely ignore the idea or it might remix the idea into something different entirely. It may even call my idea the same name I gave it. Or not. It may give me a heads up about its use of the original. Or not. But it’s not really all mine anymore. If I didn’t want that to happen or unfold that way, I probably should have kept the idea to myself or tried to sell it with licensing restrictions — a phrase that gives me pause even as I write it.

Information cover final web

In Corey Doctorow’s book, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, he uses the metaphor of a dandelion and the release of seeds to explain in a way how ideas can take root from artists and others in this age of the Internet. The dandelion doesn’t care about where the seeds go, or even if the seeds become flowers. What the dandelion cares about is the spawning of new seeds and the release of those seeds to the wind. That’s where all of its energy is at. It puts faith in the notion of something will be planted somewhere, and the world will continue.


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

Doctorow uses this metaphor as part of his argument around on how small artists can emerge as successful, or at least surviving, artists in the digital age. Release seeds (or music tracks, or photo teasers, etc) and see where those ideas flourish. If your seeds find root, your audience will find you and support you.

In contrast, large organizations — such as record companies and movie companies and publishing companies — spend all of their time with their prodigy, like overprotective parents. If I remember, I think Doctorow continues the metaphor by noting how much alike large organizations are like mammals, with all of the energy in the system centered on ways to nurture and protect their progeny. We give our children our last names and then talk about “family” honor and hereditary lines. We celebrate this with family trees. I’m not saying that is necessarily wrong, but it feels at odds with the open promise of spawning ideas in the Digital Age that I believe in.

I like to think of the whole DS106 ecology as one fine example of how no one really owns the ideas. I don’t personally know Jim Groom or Martha Burtis, two folks I believe were at the start of DS106. There might be others. I’ve only walked virtual dogs with Alan Levine in online spaces like The Daily Create. Others who were part of the whole DS106 shebang from the start are people I don’t quite know or remember. No offense to them, but they aren’t all that important anymore to the DS106 environment … as it exists today.

The DS106 world — with its digital storytelling and creativity focus — is there for the picking. I believe you could start a DS106 course right now, today, and connect in and it would be fine. You could set up your own version of The Daily Create, and it would be fine. Heck, I think Alan Levine will even give you the WordPress Theme to do so. There are no legal documents to sign. There are no permissions to get. Just go on and do it. It’s an open invitation, set in motion years ago, to take the idea and run with it.


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

Why isn’t there more of this? Why don’t more innovative ideas have huge REMIX THIS buttons? I’d love more dandelions in the digital fields of play.

To be upfront and honest, though, I still struggle with this concept as a classroom teacher. As I make slow but steady movement into Connected Learning ideas with my sixth graders each year, I try to find balance between needing a certain sense of control and providing opportunities for independence for my students. I wish I leaned more than I do towards the latter. But I am learning, and I am always open to possibilities. I have my ear to the ground, as much as I am able. I celebrate the Remix and wonder at the Creativity. I don’t quibble over who owns the ideas that began it all.

Peace (together),
Kevin

Bringing the Animals In

Today’s Daily Create for DS106 was one for the audio senses. It asked us to use a Nature Soundmap project (where people post audio recordings of animals in nature) and mix five sounds together. I was tempted to add some backing drumbeat … but then found that the first track, of frogs, created its own internal rhythm.

The way it works is you can download some of the audio tracks from the map and use an audio editing system to mix them together. I used Soundtrap but Audacity or Garageband would work just fine, too.

In this track, along with the chorus of frogs, I have birds and raccoons and even the rush of bats leaving a cave. It’s a nifty meshing of natural sounds.

Peace (it sounds like …),
Kevin

Exploring the Muse: SongMap

SongMap

At the DS106 Daily Create the other day, we were given the task of creating a “hand drawn” map. In other words, get away from the computer and make something on paper. I’m glad I did that because this map got me thinking metaphorically about how I go about writing songs. Plus, I got to poke fun at myself and my own wanderings in this imaginary world where I hope melodies and rhythm will come together.

Peace (on the map),
Kevin

Forgive Me, Shakespeare, for I have Sarcasmed You

All last week, the DS106 Daily Create community was alive with Shakespeare, as part of the 400th year celebration of the Bard. To say we took it seriously would be an overstatement. But still … each day, we were given words and/or images and/or passages and set free to do what we would. (Thanks to Sandy Brown Jensen for all the inspiring prompts).

Here are some of mine from the week:

Muse Daily Create

shakespeare head

Irreverent Art

Rich Jewels in the EarPeace (and all that),
Kevin

Continued Reverberations of Online Connections


flickr photo shared by priyaswtc under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

Three posts recently had me thinking again about the reverberations of online networks or communities or whatever term it is you wish to use to indicate projects that never quite end.

First, there was this tweet from my Making Learning Connected MOOC friend, Allie:

My answer to Allie was: Truthfully, I don’t know.

It may be that the CLMOOC has run its official course and that some variations of it may continue into the summer. I’ve been a facilitator in the past, and enjoyed it immensely, but I am not in charge of the official decision of whether another six week CLMOOC will happen this summer. I don’t think National Writing Project, which has hosted CLMOOC, envisioned supporting CLMOOC forever, and I know a focus right now by NWP is on Educator Innovator projects such as Letters to the President.

So, I don’t know.

I think I can safely say this. The #CLMOOC Twitter hashtag isn’t going anywhere, and until Google pulls the plug on Google Plus Communities, there is still a home there, too, and people are still sharing links, resources, ideas and a weekly #SilentSunday image share. And we have had some “pop up” Make Cycles this spring, thanks to Joe Dillon and Terry Elliott and others. I know I am planning to use the CLMOOC Make Cycles for a graduate class I am teaching through the University of Massachusetts and our Western Mass Writing Project this summer.

Second, I saw a blog post by Alan Levine, reflecting on the Western version of DS106 earlier this year, which he explains better than I can, but I want to note in that in his reflection he reacts to a comment about a sense of “fading” in DS106. I suspect that any online adventure has its time of high activity that slows down after time, even as it continues to persist in some fashion.

DS106 is an intriguing example because some university classes use it as a framework of classwork, connecting the physical classroom to online exploration. At times, there are “headless” DS106 courses that are not connected to a university — with only nominal direction. Come and go, as you please. Other times, a theme starts and ends, and echoes in the Daily Create. People keep making stuff. Cool stuff. Every day.

Alan writes:

I was talking to someone who’s been around the DS106 corral and it was this person’s contention that DS106 had “faded” suggesting in so many words it was past the top of a curve, and maybe it was missing a “charismatic leader”. Many people who got crazy bit with ds106 in 2011, 2012 are not much less or non-active. That’s not a problem, that’s a natural curve of evolution.

And DS106 does persist and it continues encourage continuous creativity, even if you never dipped a toe into any of its online course mutations. Just look at the DS106 Daily Create. It rolls on and on. People don’t just come and go; People come and go long after their first connection to DS106 ever took place.

And then the third post that caught my attention was by Dave Cormier, who has spearheaded Rhizomatic Learning communities since 2014, wrote a fascinating post that references an article he wrote two years ago, in which he responds to a question his young son asks as he is watching Rhizo14 unfold. (The question: Are you in charge? The answer: Not really.)

Dave begins:

… we are potentially radically redefining what it means to be an educator. We are very much at the beginning stages of our learning how to create the space required for community to develop and grow in an open course. These field notes speak to the my own journey in the design of ‘Rhizomatic Learning – the community is the curriculum’. They are, in effect, a journey towards planned obsolescence.

Interestingly, the Rhizomatic Learning connections seem sort of shackled by the hashtag. We began with #rhizo14 and then #rhizo15 and now #rhizo16, but adding a number hampers the ability of the community to last beyond the year, it seems to me. This sort of calls attention to the importance of early course design — how to design for something to never end in social media circles? (This is not a critique of Dave or any of us in Rhizo, by the way, but merely an interesting observation of how a time element stamp can lead to unexpected narrowing of community reverberations.)

How do these three strands/posts come together for me?

Well, I’m intrigued by Dave’s notion — made years ago but seemingly more and more relevant — about “planned obsolescence” of the architect of online experiences. Dave’s notion of “the community is the curriculum” is intriguing, as is Alan’s notion of the “natural curve of evolution” of an online experience.

We may not yet be there. Dave is launching a third iteration of Rhizo under the banner of Learning Resilience.  Maybe we still need someone behind the wheel. While the Rhizo community remains active and vibrant, I think we were waiting for Dave to kick off something for 2016. (I know I was but I didn’t realize it until I was writing this post.) I wonder if the person who wondered about DS106 “fading” was waiting, too, for someone like Alan to step up and lead the way. Did Allie think I was in charge of CLMOOC?

How do we encourage folks to take over and be the learning itself? Dave and Alan have certainly encouraged that every step of the way. Yet we still gravitate towards someone to get us started. (Maybe that’s not a bad thing. We all need a spark.) How does that decentralizing of learning translate into our classrooms? That’s the question of the longer journey many teachers are on in the Connected World, I suspect. I know I am. Maybe you are, too.

If someone comes looking for CLMOOC activities and exploration, perhaps the best answer is to encourage them to create and share Pop Up Make Cycles and invite others to join in. Do we need someone in charge to tell us that CLMOOC is taking place or not? Probably not.

We can make learning happen just by making it happen. The fact that Allie had a “serious remix moment” that reminded her of CLMOOC is incredibly exciting. I wonder what that moment was? Can I join in? Don’t you wonder, too?

Peace (in the make),
Kevin

Grids and Gestures: A Comic Make

Gridsgestures1

Nick Sousanis, whose work as a graphic story/artist is always intriguing (see Unflattening) and interesting, is hosting an informal week of Grids and Gestures, his activity that invites you to make a conceptual comic built around time and design. Nick did a Make with Me hangout with CLMOOC this past summer, and we all did the activity. He also wrote a great piece for Digital Writing Month about the art of comics.

The image — done in the Paper app on my iPad — above is my first Grid and Gesture attempt for the week .. tracking my weekend day over time.

Here, Nick explains how Grids and Gestures works:

Give it a try this week. I’ll be doing mine, too, as I think about my days in terms of conceptual design. You don’t need to be an artist or a writer or a comic creator. That’s the beauty of Nick’s activity. Anyone can enter, at any level, and still come out with an understanding of the world.

Comics space time

Peace (inside and beyond the grids),
Kevin

Daily Create: Five Image Story

Today’s Daily Create at DS106 was a multi-step affair — generate a story starter and then construct a visual story with five images. So, StorySpark gave me this odd story starter:

An anxious storyteller spies on a quick-witted quantum chemist in a diabolical toy store

So I went into Flickr Creative Commons to make this visual of that story:


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


flickr photo shared by Elvert Barnes under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license


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


flickr photo shared by benchilada under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license


flickr photo shared by Foomandoonian under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Phew.

I used the Flickr CC Search Engine, and then Alan Levine’s wonderfully helpful CC citation tool.

Peace (in the story as image),
Kevin

Ambient Audio Reverberations in Story and Poem

Keystrokes: APoem

Yesterday, thanks to a wintry late start at my school but not at my sons’ schools, I had time before school to work on two sound stories. One of the stories was the third Learning Event for the HearMyHome project, and the other was an assignment for the DS106 Daily Create.

The Learning Event for HearMyHome (which is exploring the ambient audio of our lives as literacy moments) asked participants to find some rhythmic audio that represents their day, in some way. I had already done my morning coffee maker (!) but wondered how I might capture the sounds of my writing morning routine.

Simple. I turned on Audacity, opened up Google Doc, and began writing a poem about capturing the keystrokes of writing a poem. I then posted the sound with the poem, called Keystrokes. It is strange to hear my fingers cranking on the keys as the meta-poem unfolds (some slight editing happened after the recording ended, just to be honest) …. but there it is: a fair aural landscape of my writing mornings.

Second, the Daily Create at DS106 asked us to be inspired by a SoundTransit audio file. At the SoundTransit site, you can pick geographic points and create an “itinerary” and the site will piece together ambient sounds from those places into a single file. Cool. Then, the prompt asks us to write a story, inspired by those sounds. I wrote a story about traveling from Beijing to Boston, with a stop in Kyoto, but then folded it into the soundscape itself, sharing it out as an audio file.

Peace (is what we hear),
Kevin

So Long, Internet Kid — It’s Been Great Writing You (and You, Too, Horse)

InternetKid23

This post wraps up The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid, a daily webcomic that I started in January as part of the #Ds106 offshoot known as #Western106 and 40-plus comics later, I am bringing the adventures to an end (for now). I decided to make this FlipBook of all of the comics in the series, and you can find the collection at The Kid’s tumblr site, too.

Thanks for reading. I hope it made you smile here and there, and maybe got you to think about genres and stereotypes (of Westerns and of Technology), now and then. I had a blast writing them. See you on the open trails!

Read the Collection

Peace (in the flip),
Kevin

PS — Wondering how I made the Internet Kid flipbook? I created a Keynote slideshow (powerpoint or slides would work), imported all of the comic images, and then saved the whole thing as a PDF. That allowed me to use the Fliphtml5 site (which requires PDF uploads) to convert it into the flippable book. Easy. But I like how all of the comics look like they are in a book format.

 

Play the Kid out of the Video Game Vortex

InternetKid26

I wanted to add an element in which you can join The Internet Kid on his adventures against the Video Vortex. So, come play the game The Kid is stuck inside of.

Peace (in getting out),
Kevin