Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing


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The Magic of Books

I received a great link from Kent Anderson at The Scholarly Kitchen this morning.

Kent writes about a stop motion film made in the Type Books Toronto bookshop.

The Joy of Books was made by Sean Ohlenkamp and Lisa Blonder Ohlenkamp.

The film was posted on YouTube on 9 January 2012. By the time I saw it there had been 1,498,241 views.

I was delighted by the creative imaginations that made the film possible. In addition to admiring the passion that led Sean and Lisa to make the film I found myself thinking about how we can transform everyday learning environments.

I liked the soundtrack composed by Tim Westin of Grayson Matthews too.

If you would like more information about this project there is:

  • an interview with Sean Ohlenkamp in a Quill & Quire post
  • a CTV report
  • Organising the Bookcase (Sean and Lisa’s first stop motion film about books) “This weekend we decided to organize the bookcase. It got a little out of hand.”

After watching both videos I went back to a post I wrote last October about Brigita Ozolins and her Reading Room show at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. I thought Brigita, Sean and Lisa would have a great conversation.


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Op Shop, Connectivism and Mutual Flourishing

This is another post that has been waiting to be written! Michael Clarke’s post on Sounding the Revolution gave me the impetus I needed.

I like the idea of Op Shops. Wikipedia points out that:

Charity shops are a type of social enterprise. They usually sell mainly second-hand goods donated by members of the public, and are often staffed by volunteers. Because the items for sale were obtained for free, and business costs are low, the items can be sold at very low prices. After costs are paid, all remaining income from the sales is used in accord with the organization’s stated charitable purpose. Costs include purchase and/or depreciation of fixtures (clothing racks, bookshelves, counters, etc.), operating costs (maintenance, municipal service fees, electricity, telephone, limited advertising) and the building lease or mortgage.

I take connectivism to be a kindred social enterprise. Each day, because of the generosity of others, I discover wonderful opportunities to learn and then share. I have an opportunity to participate in the move from information to coordination.

Recently I was struck by Sally Fincher‘s Op Shop credentials. I found her work through a Mark Guzdial post Tell Sally Your Stories: Monthly for a Year. The Share Project is researching teaching practice. Sally points out that:

we are investigating how academics represent, share and change their practices. One strand of our investigation (this one) is designed to collect material on the everyday lives and normal routines of academics. If you sign up, we’ll ask you to keep a diary for a day—the 15th day of each month—detailing what you do (especially with regard to teaching) and what you think and feel about it.

I was struck by a post by Kent Anderson in the Scholarly Kitchen that prompted me to think that this really is the age of social enterprise:

An interesting change has come in the modeling of society over the past few decades, namely the move from a generation gap to a fixation on youth to a reorientation on youth showing elders the way. Now, a study from the Pew Research Center indicates that older adults are adopting social media quickly, with those 50-64 years old picking it up at an 88% greater rate in just one year. Overall, 47% of people in this age group now use social media, up from 25% in April 2009.

Tools like Greplin are giving us the opportunity to range far and wide in our sharing.

As a conclusion to this post I thought I would add Clay Shirky’s TED video from 2009 about the transformed media landscape and the Internet as a site of coordination.


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Play and Playfulness

I have written a good deal about play and playfulness in this blog. In June I wrote about Sliding to Catch a Train and more recently wrote about Play and Display.

This morning I received an RSS feed from The Scholarly Kitchen with a delightful example of the play spirit central to Johan Huizinga’s play elements of culture (Homo Ludens, 1938).

The Scholarly Kitchen post took me back to Roger Caillois too. Caillois suggests that play is:

  • Not obligatory
  • Separate (from the routine of life) occupying its own time and space
  • Uncertain so that the results of play cannot be pre-determined and so that the player’s initiative is involved
  • Unproductive in that it creates no wealth and ends as it begins
  • Governed by rules that suspend ordinary laws and behaviours and that must be followed by players
  • Involves make-believe that confirms in players the existence of imagined realities that may be set against ‘real life’.

In Les Jeux des Hommes (1958) he identifies four play forms (competition, chance, role playing and vertigo) and places these on a continuum that extends from structured activities with explicit rules (games), to unstructured and spontaneous activities (playfulness).

This is The Schorlarly Kitchen post that prompted these thoughts!

This one is dedicated to the parents out there. In this recently rediscovered clip of Mary Carillo’s rant about backyard badminton, every parent can take a moment to recall a day like this, which has certainly occurred at your house or at a house near you. Best line? There are many, but my vote goes for, “Then you see Christopher Berg — and it’s always Christopher Berg”.

Mary Carillo demonstrates in this video some of the cultural universals of play and playfulness. The video started out as a run of the day report from the 2004 Olympic Games and evolved into an absolutely delightful improvised story about backyard badminton. It is a story that will resonate with any parent and teacher. (Please excuse the quality of the audio!)

I thought it was a wonderful playful story about playfulness. It took me back to a remarkable experience my two children and I had in a park in Monmouth in South Wales in the mid 1990s. It was our first attempt to collect some conkers (horse chestnuts) in the park. We were happily throwing sticks at the conkers in the tree with very little success when I caught a glimpse of a policeman approaching.

Thinking we had broken some local bye-law we awaited our fate with trepidation. When the policeman got to us and uttered that time honoured line “Ullo, ullo, what’s going on here then?” We admitted that we were failed conker getters. I am not sure if it was the sad look on the children’s faces but the policeman decided to help us.

I have no idea what possessed him to throw his helmet into the tree but he did … and it failed to come down. Heroically he decided to throw his truncheon after it … and that got stuck too. At this point the children and I were desperately trying not to laugh but we were caught up in that uncontrollable fight with and enormous laugh trying to break out that sounds like a very large vehicle’s air brakes.

To his great credit the policeman did not give up and asked me to give him a bunk up into the tree to retrieve his equipment. I did so but to my great dismay he wedged his foot in the bowl of the tree. I am not sure if you have ever been in this situation but I wonder what message you would send on a police radio you are not supposed to use to request the fire brigade to extricate a policeman from a tree he should not be in retrieving equipment that should not have left his person.

Mary Carillo brought these memories back so vividly!

Photo Credit

Badminton (33)


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Identity and Identification

Recently I have been thinking a great deal about connecting and sharing. I have been following some of the blog posts about identity, identification and privacy in relation to Facebook. The Scholarly Kitchen and Stephen Downes have been rich sources of information for me. This post pulls together some items from the past couple of weeks. Some of them are mulling around in my thoughts about semantic web discussions and the appearance of tools like Diaspora to add to our connection behaviour choices.

During this time Google Wave was used at a Facebook press conference as a live blogging tool (26 May).

26 May

Facebook Addresses Several Privacy Issues (Chris Conley, ACLU) “over 80,000 people to sign ACLU petitions demanding that Facebook give users control over all of the information they share via Facebook and ensure that user information is not shared with any third party without our own opt-in consent.”

23 May

Monkeys vs Robots: The Mysteries of Identity in the Age of Facebook (Kent Anderson, The Scholarly Kitchen) This post has some interesting points to make and links to posts by Jeff Jarvis (Confusing *a* public with *the* public) and Danah Boyd (Facebook and “radical transparency” (a rant)). There were 107 responses to Jeff’s post and ninety comments on Danah’s post when I last looked.

I know we have made a bunch of mistakes (see Robert Scoble).

22 May (archived from February 2010)

You Are Not a Gadget (Kent Anderson, Scholarly Kitchen) raised some fascinating ideas about “participation in social media and electronic commerce, especially the centrality advertising is gaining in the culture developing around online identity”  prompted by Jaron Lanier’s  You Are Not a Gadget.

18 May

Your guide to the Facebook revolt of 2010 (Jon Ippolito, UMaine NMDNet)

13 May

There’s More to Social Media than Facebook (Lana Brindley, On Writing, Tech and Other Loquacities)

Photo Credits

Summer Mayhem

More than a Hundred People


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A Perfect Mess: on-line communication

I was driving home last night and came across an interview between Michael Duffy and David Freedman on Radio National’s Counterpoint. David Freedman is the co-author of A Perfect Mess. In the interview David outlined his view on the messiness of life. The book “demonstrates that moderately messy systems use resources more efficiently, spur creativity, yield better solutions and are harder to break than neat ones.”

As I was listening to the interview I was thinking about how messiness has contributed to my learning. In the last couple of years, particularly post CCK08, I have accessed a variety of on-line sources to explore learning possibilities. Occasionally I try to collect these sources here in this blog. As I was sifting through my early morning feeds today I happened upon a delightful post on the ABC’s Drum Unleashed page by Helen Razer. Now that I have read her post, Twitter quitter, I lament that I have not been organised enough to find her work!

Helen discussed her decision to delete her Twitter account and contemplate Catherine Deveney’s removal from the pages of a Melbourne newspaper. She observes that:

Derailment becomes possible with the invention of the locomotive. The air disaster becomes possible with the birth of aviation. I don’t know what to call the spite, rage and fervour that unfolds every second on Twitter, but I no longer want any role within it.

You might think professional writers would exercise a little more caution with this push-button publishing. The fact is we don’t. We’re right down there in the mud of the populaire rolling around like malicious, attention-hungry hogs.

This is a medium that has seen journalists of national reputation call me, sans any personal provocation a “Druggie”, “Shameful” and “A crap writer”. The last of which was re-Tweeted by a former editor with whom I’d never differed.

Helen’s post was published on the day she appeared on ABC’s Q&A’s discussion of the Future of the Internet (on a panel that included Kaiser Kuo and Brett Solomon.) I missed that too but caught up with that this morning. Helen’s Drum Unleashed post had received sixty-four responses by the time I read it.

One of the comments was from Beagle:

In the early days of the internet, I used an electronic term to describe what I experienced in my quest for information on “the net”. I equated my experience in locating specific information about a topic in terms of signal to noise ratio. Think about it as if you are in a car, listening to the radio. As you drive away from a rural town, the further you get from the transmitter the less signal you get and the more noise you hear. Eventually, you hear mostly noise and very little of the signal that is being broadcast.

In the beginning, the internet was very noisy (95% noise and 5% signal). My impression as we moved forward into the 21st century, was that companies like Google got much better at how they interpreted our requests and actually gave us a better signal to noise ration (50% signal – 50% noise). That relationship is drifting back towards more noise and less signal as companies like Google give us “Ads” dressed up to look like signal, when they are actually just plain noise. As an example, try searching for something you want to go out and buy, but are looking for local stores close to you that sell it. Almost impossible! Most “hits” you get will be for companies selling something online.

Twitter at the moment is (99% noise and 1% signal), Why anyone would put up with so much noise beggars belief.

The way I overcome the noise in my messiness is to have trusted sources. I find Stephen Downes’ OLDaily an essential part of my day and his links give me enormous opportunities to explore and connect. I have reduced my use of Twitter but follow 332 others who act as my guides in that space. Recently I have added The Scholarly Kitchen as a source of information and was delighted with the synchronicity of two of its feeds today:

I resisted the temptation to follow links from the XML paper but did pursue a fascinating link from Kent Anderson’s Facebook post. I found Ashwin Machanavajjhala, Aleksandra Korolova, Atish Das Sarma’s paper on On the (Im)possibility of Preserving Utility and Privacy in Personalized Social Recommendations. Their abstract concludes that “We … show that good private social recommendations are feasible only for a few users in the social network or for a lenient setting of privacy parameters.”

This connectedness is a perfect mess for me and one that is invitational and volitional. I take from Helen’s post that each of us can choose how we share our thoughts and that we enter any forum with our eyes wide open. I am attracted increasingly by slow blogging but realise that the remarkable efforts of others makes my blogging possible … now I need to understand XML to savour the prospect of semantic connectedness.

Photo Credits

Phone-wire tangle

World Class Traffic Jam