Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude3

DocDigiDetox3

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude2

DocDigiDetox2

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Blogging Break: Webcomic Interlude1

DocDigiDetox1

As part of a reflective ‘digital audit’ for CLMOOC’s Pop-Up Make Cycle this month, I am taking a break from daily blogging. Instead of writing posts here, I am going to be writing postcards to CLMOOC friends as part of our ongoing postcard exchange. In place of daily writing, I have scheduled a series of comics that I made, and shared on Twitter, about digital detox, with the Doc.

Peace (stay calm and power down),
Kevin

Collection of Student-Made Hero’s Journey Video Games

We’re nearing the end of our video game design unit. Here are a few of the Hero’s Quest games created by my sixth graders that I think showed good use of story and game design. Not all are easy to play and to win (although I have, as I graded them for story and design).

Peace (in games),
Kevin

Footsteps and Traces: A Personal Digital Audit

AnnaSmithQuote

My good friend, Anna Smith, helped launch a Pop-Up Make Cycle in CLMOOC this month that is perfectly in tune with the idea of the new year. Anna, inspired in part by a resource shared in December by Wendy Taleo in the CLMOOC ecosystem, asks us all to pause and think a bit about our digital traces and relationships with technology.

Call it: Conducting a Digital Audit.

Over at her blog, Anna has posted some of her questions for herself, and shared a ThingLink with various links to activities that anyone can do to audit how we are being tracked by apps and sites, how our use of technology impacts our life off-line, and more.

I’ve been spending time on this topic by delving into some online reading (and in making comics — I’ll share those here another day) in order to remind myself about the positive nature of my relationship with technology, social media and the digital platforms I use. Even with the many negatives — privacy intrusions, advertising targeting, hacking possibilities, etc. — I still find plenty of positives — from connected learning, collaborative projects, writing in spaces with others, exploring art in many forms and fashions, learning together, etc.

Here are some of the articles and blog posts I have been perusing and thinking about this week:

BryanAlexanderQuoteA piece by Bryan Alexander, shared in Terry Elliott’s newsletter, brought to mind the way that technology is changing the places of our learning, and in particular, our libraries. Alexander rightly praised librarians for being on the vanguard of understand and adapting to these shifts, all in the nature of helping adults and children make their own transitions into the digital world (while holding true to the values that our libraries have long represented around access and community public spaces).

JimGroomQuoteJim Groom wrote recently about the act of archiving, of curating what we are creating in online spaces. He notes the difficulty, due to the complexity of how we share with the world, but suggests the effort to archive is worth it, as it preserves a sense of who we are now, in this moment, as well as who we were, in the moments past. Digital tools allow us to do this in ways we could not otherwise, although it takes thought and planning and an active effort. The flip side is to lose yourself in the maelstrom of media. We’re always better at finding ourself, than losing ourself.

JoeBerkowitzQuoteDo you watch Black Mirror? I’ve only seen a few episodes of this rather dystopian view of how technology changes us, mostly for the worse. It’s anchored on our insecurities about technology, and the ways our digital lives will overshadow our real lives, and the impact that shift will have on society and relationships. Black Mirror freaks me out a bit, so I only watch it now and then. It’s vision is so extreme that I lose my faith in the possibilities.

KateBowlesQuoteA piece from some time back by Kate Bowles reminds us not to be drawn in by technology, particularly when it comes to educators who hold the door open for young people. She notes that many companies are pulling out the stops for a chance to market to our students, and schools and universities have an obligation as digital gatekeeper to keep the wolves at bay, as much as possible, while still harnessing the potential of technology for learning. This is often a difficult balancing job.

AndrewSullivanQuoteAn article by Andrew Sullivan caught my attention this week, as if by chance. I am reading Best American Non-Required Reading 2017 (which is a collection of pieces selected by high school students) and came upon Sullivan’s piece as I was thinking of Anna’s post. Sullivan explores his own efforts to disengage from his work as a digital writer, and how he had to re-learn to find the quiet and solitude of life again. He turned down the noise, and found some music again, and I think his lesson about reminding us to be human in all of our interactions — interpersonal as well as inner-personal — is valuable. It’s a powerful piece, well worth your time.

AlanLevineQuoteI appreciated a piece by Alan Levine, who wrote about his reaction to so much worry and concern being written these days about the media landscape. Yes, some of it is real and of real concern. But Levine notes that much of the best of technology, and the web, is still in those strange and creative places where people come together to spark imagination, make change for a better world, and imagine a future that works for us. Levine is not being naive in his assessment. He understands the pitfalls as well as anyone else. What he holds on to, and what I hold on to, too — and what I hope you do, too — is the potential of technology to enrich our experiences, as creative artists in whatever media you dabble and as people of these places, virtual or not.

Last, I’ll leave you with a video interpretation of a post by Laura Ritchie from a few weeks ago. Her piece explores musical harmony, with fingers stretched into how we learn and how we teach, and she weaves those ideas together in an enriching way. Laura’s piece reminds me again of the possibilities of being in balance with our technology and our agency in using that technology.

Next week, I am going to take Anna up on some of her advice of the digital audit, and I am going to begin with Twitter. (I’ve already shut off all notifications from Facebook, where I have an account only because I administer the site for our local writing project. The amount of notifications from Facebook is staggering.) I aim to cut my follows and followers on Twitter by a substantial percentage, and try to keep true to those whose work inspires me. More may not be merrier.

Also, I will probably take a blogging vacation, spending the time I usually write for this space instead with some postcards in the CLMOOC project — handwriting notes and poems and whatever to individuals in the CLMOOC community, honing in on the personal connections that make the online connections so powerful and enriching.

Peace (sharing it so pass it on),
Kevin

 

One Little Word for 2018: Compose

The One Little Word project is a yearly endeavor to think about a guiding word for the year ahead. I’ve used words like reflect, and remembering, and pause, and last year: filter. I had trouble coming up with my word this year, but decided upon “compose” for a variety of reasons.

First, my One Little Word for 2018 — Compose — captures how I see the shift in the way people write with media. We’re back to the word “composition” in my mind, using video and images and audio and words as a sort of stew of ideas. We compose when we write on digital platforms.

Second, the word is a remember to me to keep my anger fueled by national politics, yet also to keep it under control. Don’t get all riled up by every headline and every act. Keep focused on the task at hand: removing the GOP from power and kicking Trump to the curb (while not handing the reins to Pence). Stay composed.

So, that’s my word for 2018. I usually put it on my desktop as a little file in the corner of the screen, as a reminder. Time to archive “filter” and add “compose.”

What’s your word?

Peace (more than a word),
Kevin

A Year of Data: CLMOOC Postcard Collection

CLMOOC Data Postcard Collage 2017What began as a cool shared reading experience within the CLMOOC (Connected Learning MOOC) transformed into a year-long project in which we added a themed data element to the CLMOOC Postcard Project in 2017. The book that inspired the themes was Dear Data, which captured a letter exchange between two women in the form of data observed around their lives. The book was fantastic and a wonderful exploration of observation. (You can read my review of Dear Data.)

In 2017, CLMOOC put forth a theme each month (and used postcards as connector points for a summer Make Cycle), and a handful of us from around the world worked on our postcard exchange through the lens of data. I did it every month, keeping true of data, and got a little tired of data by the end (and I sent only one single postcard out in December, to my friend Karen, whose partnership sparked this whole thing.)

The collage above captures each of the postcards. I did mine in a program called Simple Diagrams, so that I could make copies for multiple postcards. On average, I sent out about 12 postcards each month to different folks on the CLMOOC postcard exchange.

Come join the CLMOOC postcard project. Send and receive mail, not email.

Peace (in the post),
Kevin

 

Book Review: Footnotes (from the World’s Greatest Bookstores)

I could re-read this a few times, just because … I love the quirks of independent bookstores. Illustrator Bob Eckstein’s collection of stories and drawings/paintings of bookstores from around the world make Footnotes* From the World’s Greatest Bookstores a visual delight, made even better with short anecdotes of strange happenings and wonders from those places.

If you love stories, and if you love books, and if you love bookstores with an independent spirit, then Eckstein’s collection is for you. I got this one out of the library and am now eyeing the “14 Day” sticker on the cover with a bit of trepidation.

I joked to my wife, a librarian and book lover like me, that we could use this book to start planning our future retirement travels. I was only half-joking.

Peace (in the stacks),
Kevin

A Month of Morning Doodles (Collected)

Every morning, all month long, I have been doodling on a theme with my friends in CLMOOC (Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration). My approach has been to keep it simple: I used a stack of very small sticky notes, and my doodles on a sticky note were often done in pencil. I purposefully kept myself to a short time limit — read the theme, get inspired, doodle and share.

Collage bw

As a result, some of my doodles … look like they were done by a toddler with a big pencil (which is not to disparage any toddler artists out there, or the use of big pencils). Drawing has always been a creative weakness of mine, but I liked the freedom of the daily inspiration and I was often very impressed by the doodling of others in the #DecDoodle Twitter stream and elsewhere.

I gathered up all of my 31 doodles and sorted them, with a time-lapse camera running, and then put them all into an Animoto video. I lost the small bits of color I ever used  in the doodles in this video theme, but I could not resist the party elements.

Thanks, in particular, to Susan W. for inspiring the month of making art in CLMOOC!

Peace (doodle it!),
Kevin