The Nerdlution: 40 Days Down; 10 More to Go

The view from Day 40
As I was writing the title of this blog post on Day 40, I realized that it seemed like a football play announcement (OK, folks, the team is back on the 5 yard line and still needs a first down. With the clock running down, Dogtrax steps back to find a receiver of his comments. The line of scrimmage is crazy right now and perspective is out of whack. He sees an open blog. He releases the pass and ….).

While the #nerdlution has not been a race nor has it felt competitive, 50 days still seems like a long stretch of time to keep up with a resolution. In fact, the start of the whole thing way back in early December is like some distant memory. Yet, here I am, still finding blogs every day to write comments on as I do my 50 comments on 50 blogs over 50 days idea. I created the infographic as a funny way to show how the final stretch seems larger than the last part. I know that is not true. But it feels that way right now. Plus, I am enjoying playing around with infographics.

I have also been keeping track of where I’ve been and will share that out at the end. It’s been a cool visual way to curate my wanderings and comments and words. I have not yet had time to return to those blogs and comment back to any replies left to my original comments (brain twister there) but that will be part of my post-nerdlution writing. For now, my biggest struggle has been … finding blogs that I have not yet commented on. I’ve tried to keep a focus on other folks in the #nerdlution effort but some days, it has been difficult to find a blog that I have not yet visited (in the past 39 days, I have only inadvertently repeated a visit once, and I only realized that when I was curating my comments).

One thing becomes clear as I do my blog-skipping, though. A lot of folks are writing powerful reflections about teaching, learning and reading. This effort on commenting has forced me to visit spaces that I might otherwise have overlooked, and I am appreciative of that.

And now, it’s off to find a bloc to comment on ….

Peace (in the final stretch),


Halfway into the #Nerdlution: A Tappable Poem

If my math is right, then we are just past the halfway mark for the #nerdlution (doing something over 50 days). That calls for something, right?. Right. So, I created this tappable poem for all of us (tap to read the poem):

And then I made this little cheerleading diagram.

Peace (and inspiration),

CodeBits Forking for the #Nerdlution

The other day, I noticed something new over at the CodeAcademy site. Called CodeBits, it is series of small projects that bring to mind the work being done with the Mozilla Foundation with Thimble and other coding projects. With Codebits, you can tinker with code and create/adapt small projects. I took a postcard and revamped it (CodeAcademy calls it “forking,” which is a term used for various programming projects. I think…) for the Nerdlution effort of friends in the midst of our 50 days of some resolution, and I shared out the link on Twitter.

Check out my postcard

The screenshot above shows how the coding is laid out (again, reminds me of Mozilla’s Thimble).

Then, I saw another project that can be forked. While it’s original was a countdown to the New Year, I changed the programming so that it keeps track of the 50 days of the #nerdlution.

Check it out and again, feel free to fork it for yourself.

Peace (in the snow code),

A Visual Poem for the #Nerdlution

Thanks to all of my #nerdlution friends and those beyond, and in the all of the various corners of world, for being part of my community. Whatever your religion or beliefs, I hope you find peace in your days.

Peace (in the poem),

Storifying My #Nerdlution … so far

It’s Day 12 of the #Nerdlution and each day, I have been adding a few elements of what I have been up over at Storify as a way to curate my path. I can’t do this for 50 days, so I am wrapping up this part of my curating (but will keep participating and collecting where I have been for my 50 comments / 50 blogs / 50 days at Diigo).

Peace (in the tracks behind and path ahead),

The Collaborative Song: Tweeting ’bout a #Nerdlution

Nerdlution song lyrics
The other day, I created a collaborative document on TitanPad (open source/free writing platform) and asked folks to contribute lyrics to a remix of Tracy Chapman’s Talking ’bout a Revolution by making it into Tweeting ’bout a Nerdlution. Over a few days, a few folks joined me and added lyrics and ideas, and then I worked (see above) to pull it together into a song. This week, during our “frozen roads day” off from school, I finally had some time to record a version of the song (no one took me up on the offer to sing it with me so I was on my own, and I apologize in advance, y’all. It’s out of my natural range.).

Take a listen:
Tweeting ’bout A #Nerdlution by Dogtrax

And here are the final lyrics:

Tweetin’ bout a #Nerdlution
Don’t you know we’re talking about a Nerdlution
Found on Twitter
Don’t you know we’re talking about a Nerdlution
Found on Twitter

Well, we’ve got these personal goals in line
opening up doorways of creative invention
Making time to nurture body and mind
Sharing out our daily resolutions

Don’t you know we’re talking about a Nerdlution
Found on Twitter
Don’t you know we’re talking about a Nerdlution
Found on Twitter

All people are gonna rise up
and fight back their fears
All people are gonna wise up,
and tweet what’s theirs!

Don’t you know you better, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet
Oh I said you better share, share, share, come on and let’s share

‘Cause finally the world is starting to turn
(talking about a nerdlution)
We’reĀ  finding different ways to connect and to learn
(talking about a nerdlution)

And we’re moving through some awkward times
always on but we feel so disconnected
yet here we are, reaching for the stars
making friends and sharing out reflections

Don’t you know we’re talking about a Nerdlution
Found on Twitter
Don’t you know we’re talking about a Nerdlution
Found on Twitter

Peace (in the collaborations),
PS — if you want to see the writing in real-time, check out this link.
PSS — I recorded this in Garageband, with a drum loop track. The guitar and keys are me, playing.

Digital Composition: The Marriage of Image and Words

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

(Note of honest disclosure: I’m not sure where I am going with this post, so bear with me.)

Yesterday, I shared out the Haiku Deck of six word stories that were shared as part of the #nerdlution effort. I had asked folks to write and then wanted to celebrate their writing beyond the impermanence of the Twitter Stream. I turned to Haiku Deck, which I use quite a lot and really enjoy. As I was working throughout Sunday, though, I started to think about what I was doing, how I was composing with borrowed words of others.

This is one of the central underpinnings of composing digitally these days — how do we make decisions about the look and feel and overall design of our writing? In some ways, Haiku Deck — like so many sites — makes that process easier than ever. Built for short pieces of writing in a presentation mode, Haiku Deck is an interesting platform to consider choices around image and words. You only have two lines for writing and words get smaller as you write, so you start running into the distant horizon event — words become too small to read.

But for an activity like Six Word Memoirs, Haiku Deck is perfectly suited as a platform. The stories started flowing on Twitter early in the day and just kept right on rolling throughout the late afternoon. I had about 50 stories to work with when all was said and done. You should have seen me, reading the tweets on my computer while balancing my iPad on my lap, tapping away furiously to keep up (I know, Haiku Deck now has web platform but I haven’t had time to check it out).

This is where things get interesting.

In Haiku Deck, you access data bases of images for the backgrounds. It begins by using the text of each slide as a keyword search, but you can change or adapt as necessary. Now, when I do my own writing, I know what “feel” and mental image I am going for. It’s internalized and when I go public, I understand that I need to externalize what I am trying to convey. I won’t say I am an ardent stickler for the exact right image, but I am very conscious of how the image works in partnership with the words. I’m often tweaking the keywords and scrolling down pretty far through the bank of images to find the right fit.

But here, I was working with the words of others, not just my own. I felt a little uncomfortable, to be honest, as I were hijacking someone’s loved ones, even if I were doing it for all the right and good reasons. Words have value. Words have meaning, and sometimes, in online spaces, the inferred meaning of the writer can become very different from the meaning understood by the reader (particularly when you only have six words to play with — there’s a lot left unsaid.) I was conscious of the fact that my friends had placed an implicit trust in me, as their curator. And most didn’t even know I was creating a collection of stories.

What this all means is, I had a responsibility to the whole, as community; and to the individuals, as writers; and to myself, as curator. I worked very hard to find the right images, and that included thinking along lines of colors of images, so that the words would stand out, and to balance the implicit and explicit meaning of the image as part of the message of the slide. More than once, I came back to a slide, shook my head and began another search query. Sometimes, I visited a story multiple times.

So, for example, look at Michelle’s story slide. At first glance, it seems like a typical outdoor scene. But look closer, and you can see that I focused on her word “cornerstone” as the metaphor in her writing. This picture, with the view looking up, shows the power of cornerstones in holding things up.

michelle 6words

Or here is Kay’s. This is one that I revised a number of times, never quite happy with the results. I wanted to project movement, but with a static image, that can be difficult. I finally came to this image, which is colorfully kinetic in nature, and attuned to Kay’s words.

kay 6words

Finally, I grappled with Julia’s story, which she composed as a list. I focused so much on the breathing that I lost track of the message of peacefulness. One too many images of someone’s lips breathing out steam (or smoke, as most of them were) had me frustrated for quite some time. Then, as I toyed around with keywords, I saw this image of the statue, and I was hit with that feeling of “this is it.” The image is perfect partner to the words, in my opinion.

Julia 6words

So, why write this post? I knew you’d ask.

It’s because we need to make sure we are being purposeful in our digital composing. So many cool sites, like Haiku Deck, automate our decision-making processes in way that strips us of much of our agency as writers, and we need to continue to inject ourselves — as writer, as composers — into the process. It requires both effort and a step back from the technology.

We should use the tools out there — Haiku Deck is a beautiful platform — and we should tap into them as we see fit, but be sure to observe them as merely tools to our own vision. I could have quickly gone through and randomly chosen images to with the six word stories. In doing so, though, I would have cheated those writers in way that is difficult to articulate, and I would have cheated myself. Let’s teach our students and emerging writers in the digital age to be the ones in charge of the technology that surround them, not the other way around. Move beyond cool. Move into composing with agency.

Peace (in the meandering about),

There’s Beauty in Brevity: Six Words from the #Nerdlution

Unlike Saturday, when encouraging folks to write haiku poetry was an impromptu thing, yesterday was a deliberate effort to encourage folks who are participating in the #nerdlution to write a six word memoir update on Twitter. You never know what to expect when you toss out a writing prompt, but it wasn’t long before the words were flowing. All through the day, more and more six word memoirs were published in the #nerdlution Twitter stream, and they were just beautiful examples of how teachers writing together can create a powerful experience.

Early on, I realized: I can’t just let these words go into the invisible ether of the Internet. So, I began grabbing the six word memoirs and put them into this (now quite large) Haiku Deck presentation, hoping to add a layer of imagery to the participants’ words, and showcase the writing. There are more than 50 six word stories here and each is a gem worth savoring over. I hope I did justice to everyone’s words and ideas.


Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Peace (in the deck),