I’m not on Facebook, so I don’t know the extent of the “fake news” filtering into feeds there during the US presidential election. But I have seen more than a few articles in which Mark Zuckerberg is defending the algorithms that might have allowed some made-up news to come into the system, and worries that such items might have influenced voting.
I could not resist taking one of Zuckerberg’s denials and popping it into Mozilla’s XRay Goggles for a bit of a remix myself. Yep. Fake news about fake news. In mine, he owns up to Facebook’s role and admits that Facebook itself is behind the fake news (it’s not true, as far as I can tell … just to be upfront).
Still, even if some of what he defending is true — that the automated system still allows items with no veracity and tilted political bents into millions of people’s feeds — the issue of fake news in feeds has larger ramifications about how a social networking site can play a role in elections, and … perhaps even more importantly … it raises the question: why aren’t more people getting news from multiple and reputable sources?
Who relies on Facebook for all of their news? I know. I know. Many people do. It reminds me of the need for us, as teachers, to double down on teaching media literacy, and rhetorical moves, and determining the surface truth and the deeper slants of everything we read, whether it is the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Facebook or your local newspaper (do you still get your local newspaper? Is there still a local newspaper to get? My old journalism hackles get raised here. I hope you still have a local newspaper).
Check out this report from Pew Research, which indicates that almost two-thirds of Americans get our news from social media. What? And that report is from the summer. Who wants to bet that the number went up during the election?
I grabbed the template from the Make Cycle and tinkered with the wording (but kept the same image). If you hit the remix button, you can remix mine as another iteration. So, for example, my friend Michael created a poster that was a message about more localized politics in Arizona, and I remixed it with a larger message.
I like Thimble but wish you could easily embed or share the image of the page, once the coding is all set. Instead, you have to take screenshot or share the link out.
Mozilla’s pivot to mobile makes sense from its worldwide view and mission of connecting people around the world and giving them tools to “make the web.” Most people in global communities use mobile devices, not desktop computers.
While I personally mourn the loss of Popcorn Maker (oh, I miss it terribly, and all of its remix media possibilities) and celebrate the new and improved Thimble tool (with file uploads and multiple page possibilities), I was sort of left out the mobile app experiment because I did not have an Android phone.
Nothing overly impressive yet, either, as far as I can tell, but I was able to make a website poem within minutes, and once I got myself situated, I found it fairly easy to use. I could see the threshold for using this app to be very low for most people. You can make the web within minutes.
I purposely did not include any images or graphics with my small poem, as I was trying to keep the design simple, with words and links to side stanzas broken off from the main trunk of the poem. Basically, the editing mode gives you branches to create multiple pages and buttons as links to those pages. The downside is that viewing of the finished project is best done in the app itself. On the web, the poem looks scrunched up, at best.
But maybe that claustrophobic effect is effective for a poem whose theme is the smallness of the web. I’m going to nod my head and say, that was my purpose as a writer all along. (You believe me, right?) The poem became digital within the constraints of the technology.
I’m continuing to push a single poem in multiple directions with this Make Cycle in Making Learning Connected MOOC on the issue of remediation — a term that is getting some pushback here and there in various spaces.
This time, I went into Mozilla Webmaker’s Thimble tool. I used a kinetic text remix in an effort to do a sort of “reverse blackout poem,” in which words drop from the poem, leaving behind a second poem.
And one more further remediation of the poem for today. I don’t think this worked as well as some of the other experiments. I created a comic version of the poem. What I struggled with was the representation of ideas within the allotted four frames that used the possibilities of a comic to tell the story of the poem. It just … didn’t work.
I’ll finish up tomorrow with two more versions of the poem as the Make Cycle moves into reflection stage.
Another remix tool getting carted away. Mozilla recently announced changes to its whole Webmaker suite of tools, as they shift from web-based activities to mobile-based activities, and as a result, Mozilla is shutting down Popcorn Maker, an innovative and valuable remixing tool for video and media. Sure, it has always been a bit quirky, but Popcorn Maker has been a site that I have used with students and with teachers, to introduce to the concept of remix as a shift in literacies.
So, with the deadline approaching for pulling the plug on popcorn, I had to make one more project: A Requiem for Popcorn Maker. It maybe my last bit of Popcorn.
Interesting aside: In 2012, my oldest son took part in a free filmmaking camp at our public access television, where they were piloting the first iteration of Popcorn Maker with youths, to see how it would be used and test it out on a real group of filmmakers. I remembering thinking, what is this? You take video from the web and remix it and share it? I was hooked before I even started working with Popcorn.
I was sharing Jabberwocky with my students last week. They are sixth graders and most had never heard nor read the poem, although a few remembered the name a bit from the last Alice in Wonderland movie (with Johnny Depp). After I read the poem, and then get students to read the poem, and after we talk about it from the writing and narrative stance, I show them The Muppets version.
What stuck with me was the line that Scooter says at the start, along the lines of “Even when you know what it is, you don’t know what it is ” as the Rhizomatic Learning event kicks off this week, and lots of folks are wondering about syllabus and stuff. Dave Cormier sent out a nice note this week, saying that the questions and uncertainty are what will drive the activities.
Here I am, still working with a single poem, from draft to finish and beyond. This is not how I usually write. I am a quick, “I am done” kind of writer, who moves on to new things once the last thing is completed. I don’t suffer from attention deficit (I don’t think) but I am always in search of the next writing piece that will kick in that moment of creative excitement.
Working on the same poem for days on end … not my cup of tea. I am a little tired of this walk through the woods to get to the beach …
But here I am, moving into a remix stage of my piece about walking through the woods on the way to the ocean, a poem of place about Maine. I want to share two versions here, both of which use Webmaker’s Thimble site, and both are a little different in nature and experience.
First, this remixed poem layers the text into four stanzas, with images for each stanza that shift when you hover the mouse over them. It’s not that dramatic a remix, to be frank, but I love the look and feel of this (which I remixed from a former poem from last year, which used a template that I remixed ….)
Second, I was thinking about how I could use the Blackout Poem idea (of using a sharpie to remove words from a text, leaving only a poem) and I wanted to do it with Thimble. I remixed yet another remix poem, in which the push of the button “drops” text out of view, leaving designated words behind. In this case, I tried to make a new poem living inside of the old poem.
I stumbled into an open source, online animation tool that is simple to use and pretty nifty way to teach animation to kids. ParaPara is a Japanese animation tool that allows for simple animation (and apparently, there is a way to collaborate with others … looking into that feature …) Mozilla’s Webmaker hosts a tutorial on how to use it, with links to the ParaPara site.
Once you make your animation, it kicks out a link and then an embed code, so that you can embed like I did with my Happy Friend animation that I created in just a few minutes.
(Each day in March, a whole bunch of educators are writing Slices of Life — capturing the small moments. It is facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. You write, too.)
Sometimes, opportunity presents itself. Yesterday morning, I was checking out the Twitter hasthag for #walkmyworld (a series of media-centric activities around the theme of identity and creation — see more here) when I noticed that Shawna had posted a digital poem. Of course, I was curious. And she was looking for feedback. I went there, at her blog site, to see what she had been up to.
It was a lovely rendition of a Georgia Heard poem about school and conformity and “straight lines” that we expect our students to fall into when they come into school, instead of the crazy zig-zag of life outside of school. I’m not philosophically opposed to imposing order on the day – and plenty of kids need that consistency, given the chaos of their lives at home. But Shawna did such a nice job.
I left her a comment (including a request to share out the “how she did it” at her blog) and then decided to go one step further — I decided to honor her poem by remixing it, via Webmaker Popcorn Maker. If you have not used Popcorn, it allows you to layer in various media and do other interesting things with online video. The remix does not affect the original. It only borrows it. Remix is a way to honor the original, and in this case, I was hoping to add a layer of my own art to Shawn’s art.
And of course, one of the beauties of Popcorn is the ability to remix the remix. So, why not give it a try? You can either click on the “remix” button at the top right of my Popcorn Project, or you can just click here and get started (no account needed to play around with the remix.)
See what you can make. And then maybe write about it.