Creating Ritual Space in #Rhizo15: Why and How



typical_cricketI have been closely annotating my way via the Rhizo15 Diigo Group through a rich repast of a blog post by Sarah Perry on Venkat Rao’s blog, Ribbonfarm. One of her purposes is to explore how identity  is created or as she terms it, ‘peopled’.

Perry draws on the writing of Philippe Rochat in his book, Others in Mind: The Social Origins of Self-Consciousness.  According to Rochat we create each other’s identities through a recursive process where 

…each person learns to be aware of himself – is constrained toward self-consciousness – by other people being aware of him. He learns to manage his image in the minds of others, and finds himself reflected, as in a mirror, through the interface of language and non-verbal communication.

According to Rochat we see ourselves through the constraining influences of other people, through the ‘peopling’ of others.

I think this idea has significance in #rhizo15. How? We are all seeing ourselves through the eyes of others.  How accurate is that subjective view?  Sometimes it is off by degrees of magnitude.  For example, I see some pretty effusive praise for my stuff that by its nature is half-baked.  I know the negative connotation inherent in the term ‘half-baked’, but I cannot help but feel that what I create has not grown all the way to fruition and that my comments and interactions with others are sometimes just dashed off and ill-considered, certainly not worthy of the work done by those I am responding to.

Yes, some of our work is very good for a first draft, but most goes little past this initial draft and into further revision. Your mileage might very much vary.  This shoe I am putting on might not fit you.  I beg your forgiveness for this if you feel I have been unjust, but…  I expect further recursion, further refinement through reciprocal action. Sometimes I get that social recursion, mostly I don’t. Part of me takes no offense while another part is deeply disturbed that our responses are so cursory.  And the cursory nature of most responses and in the desultory considerations of others, we have generated a default behavior.  And, worse, those defaults have become internalized as the default mutual mental modeling that Rochat calls peopling.  We are peopled by shallow necessity, by force of circumstance, and by the barest reciprocal exigency.  If you feel this is unfair,then just view this as a sample of one, of me ranting and venting and feeling inadequate.

In our offline social life we have ways to compensate for this–shallowness.  It is called ritual.  Perry notes

People are able to accomplish this feat of mutual simulation by use of two tools: language and ritual. Ritual allows for the communication of information that language can’t convey – hard-to-fake costly signals of commitment, dependability, harmoniousness, and cooperative intent.

So how do we play this infinite game of mutually modeling each other’s identities to each the other? Through language and ritual. Language for the surface, intellectual stuff and ritual for the deep, social stuff. I believe that language is so fragile that without the reinforcing social power of ritual it becomes brittle and ‘unbelievable’. We need ritual if for no other reason than that it is the substrate for language.

That begs two questions: what are the #rhizo15 rituals and what should they be?

I am not sure if we have any.  Dave’s introductory videos are something we all share, but what else?  Perhaps folks can comment here on what they think #rhizo15 rituals might be (that #rhizo15 hashtag, for example), but I want to suggest some we might try.
The sparseness of ritual environment in rhizo15 is very painful to me.  The sparseness of feedback from language is just as painful, but the lack of ritual makes it even more so.  Dreadfully more so.  In fact I am on the edge of withdrawing all the time.  I think it is the ritual that might save me. So bring on the salve of ritual to rhizo15.

[Aside: I am patterning these rituals after the work done by the Group Pattern Language Project. ]

Here are some of my suggestions for potential ritual activity in #rhizo15:

Ritual 1: greeting folks as often as possible in familiar digital spaces–I need to make this overt in my own online rhizo15 activities.
Ritual 2: Breaking Bread Together–actually eating and talking online about whatever.  No, really being seen with each other in a Hangout for example having lunch/dinner.
Ritual 3:  Share natural spaces through YouTube and  make part of any group meeting (e.g. Hangout) opening.  What I suggest here is that you record and upload an environment near you and share it on YouTube. This does not have to be just Nature.  It can be street traffic, a market, a bus stop, or any place that renders the ‘spice’ of your environs. When we meet we can share begin the meeting with one of our spaces.
Ritual 4: “With joy and zest, publicly celebrate milestones and recurring events. Affirming shared history, we nourish community, crystallize a sense of accomplishment, and build group identity by unifying our stories and common goals. Can be planned and ritualized, or as spontaneous as a group cheer.”  Celebrate | Group Works. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2015, from
Ritual 5:  Feedforward with the imagination.  In other words project your self into the future and ‘recall’ all that ‘happened’ from the beginning of #rhizo15.  In a way I think this defines what rhizomatic learning is.  Each of us creates identity for the group by being who we are with the voices we have.  Why not imagine that forth along with others instead of relying solely upon our individual strivings.  Feedforwardings would allow us to compare rhizomatic identities and from there decide where we might be drawn to as a group as well as individually.
Anyone interested in doing ‘feedforwarding”  might look at a this journaling activity taken from the Presencing Institute.  I am working on adapting it for our use, but you can do that just as easily on the fly as I can.
Or you might simply stand at the point where #rhizo15 ‘ends’ and reflect on what happened.  Perhaps if we shared this as a ritual activity, a future prototyping of a kind, then we might be able to see each other’s identities more clearly and pull together in the newly visible harness of shared vision.

I plan on doing this later today and hope I can get others to share.  Here is a common space for storing your feedforward and for talking about it as well.

Ten Ideas for a Sunday Morning in April

I am continuing to do the work of creating at least ten ideas a day a la this hackpad. The hackpad will by month’s end be a wikibook on this adventure. I think this might be a good way for students to develop long form projects/habits/essays/books–an organic approach to growing a narrative that is entertaining, full of different media, persuasive, recursive, hypertextual, and more. Plus, it is a classic example of Harold Jarche’s “seek|sense|share” knowledge management model. Here is today’s graphic that will also appear in the hackpad above.

graphic that sums up the ten ideas
10 ideas for a Sunday in April

And some audio comments using my old friend ipadio:

Honor by Annotating: Susan Watson’s “Quicksand, Ellipses”…

I have taken Susan Watson’s latest post/poem (I sure wish she would post more often) and put it into Genius so that folks could close read and honor the work she does. I consider this the full monty of reciprocation. I have been using Diigo to do this in the past, but I also like the crowdsourced, very human feel of Genius’ annotation tool and site. More players can join in the game. While I think this could become an ego trip for the annotator,  I hope that instead it becomes a careful exercise in caring and considering that is not even hinted at with the Common Core-induced trance state the words ‘close read’ have begun to signify. In short, annotation is a gift that gives back…  Click on the shaded parts below to add your POV or click here and go directly to Genius.

The Streetlight Effect and the Drama of Play and Infinite Game

Scott Glass was messing about with the #edjoy twitter xtravaganza the other night. I suggested a collaborative poem on hackpad to celebrate the #enjoyment of poetry. He, Kevin Hodgson and I played a bit in Hackpad.

The next day Scott asked for some help embedding gifs in the hackpad and that led to a poem for his students and an invite to add to the collaborative work there. Here is the Hackpad with the responses to the Billy Collins poem, “Forgetfullness”.

View Loss on Hackpad.

I followed up by forking a page off of the first line of the Collins poem responses: “I had an idea but I lost it. . .” If you click on the link I created in that line it takes you to another wiki page that is a short scene recreating the Streetlight Effect along with pix and gifs.

View but I lost it… on Hackpad.

I don’t know if this is what Scott had in mind. If it isn’t, no big deal, but I think the spirit of play and infinite game are attitudes that go a long way toward igniting the creative spirit. BTW, play along with this by creating ten ideas a day. Click here for more info.

Also, if you want to play along with a larger group annotating Collins’ “Forgetfullness” then check out Genius:



Cr8 w/ Canva, Learn w/Canva, Use Canva: A Month of Creative Ideas

Canva Design School Blog

One of my favorite brushes for my digital palette is Canva. I like it because it is free to use, easily shared, remixable, a user-friendly joy to use, and so very handy. I have always thought of Canva as one of those perfect hothouses for creative work– any age and skill level.


 It provides a healthy balance between templates and free rein. What I hadn’t realized before was how much it is designed for the informal learner. There is a sweet course-in-a-blog that I outline in the Scoop.It embed above. There’s a blog for newsy/teach-y stuff, tutorials to get you started in the world of design and teaching resources. I especially like the design post below: 10 Menu Design Hacks Restaurants Use to Make You Order More – Design School


I also plan on adapting one of their lesson plans on using Canva to create what amounts to a social media ad campaign.  How handy is that!


Author Innovation through Social Media – Design School

Lately, I have been trying to exercise my creative muscle as part of my ‘pense-betes’ motto, “Don’t Just Derive, Create and Thrive”.

poster with motto
Don’t just derive, create and thrive.

I acknowledge that part of everything we do is ‘derived’ from what someone else has done, but I also want to promote the idea that we can step out onto the creative cloud by putting the stamp of our own lives on the tools, ideas, and acts already out there.  I was inspired to do this by blogger James Altucher’s post, “The Ultimate Guide to Exercising our Creative Muscles”.

His post is an inspiring outline of how he does a creative workout by writing  down ten or more ideas every day.  That’s it.  He says the practice helped save his life.  So what are the ideas about?  Anything. Do they have to be all good ideas? No.  It is quite unlikely that any of them will be, but without pushing that capacity, we all know what happens–we  descend into the world of the xerox, of the routine, of the solely derived.

Here is  a hackpad with my ten ideas for today:

And here is where to go if you want to add your own to each day’s version. I am making this a priority for the next month. Every day. Wander through, lurk about, report on, or create your own list here or elsewhere. Just let me know how your month of ideas is progressing. And read Altucher’s post for more ideas and further discussion on what to do with these ideas going forward.

Don’t Just Derive | Engender and Thrive

Just finished reading Tania Sheko’s blog post about Pinterest as well as viewed her SlideShare presentation below. Go ahead and check it. I’ll wait.

You can tell she has thought about Pinterest and its thoughtful uses for quite awhile.  Sometimes you just know someone else has paid her dues just in the self-assuredness that shines through.  Tania is self-assured in her Pinterest practice and knows what it affords.

I commented on her post because I have been thinking about my own tool use of late, and about how I have lost  one of my favorites–Zeega. I feel its loss so keenly because it helped me create.  I got the dopamine rush when I used it and now its gone. I have looked far afield to find something to give me the same feeling, but no joy suffices so far.  This has made me think about how I need to embrace the undifferentiated creative life, the one that cleaves close to the heartwood and releases the Muse there.  Tania’s post made me write the comment below:

Love the uses for Pinterest. Wondering what other wild uses might be made of it not intended by its creators, what re-purposes? Could we make a paper-style Pinterests for the classroom? in the hallway? for parents to create, too. Could Pinterest be like a seed packet? How about a mystery gift used one time and then discarded? Could we collect badges together? or pictures of weeds and wildflowers which we assign ours and others’ names to?

I find myself looking at your blog’s background photo and thinking to myself, “That is a much more authentic Pinterest board than Pinterest could ever muster. So why can’t Pinterest be more like it?”

Back to your post, I find all of these “annotation/curation” tools to be great for helping me to process the world, but I also ask myself, “Why?” You answer so ably here and I want to go …differently,too. I am not saying better, just saying further. There is a natural progression from collecting without comment to curating to creating. I think that creating is where I want to be. I want what Pinterest is and what Pinterest does to serve the Muse. That is what my paragraph above dithers about. Just thinking about how so much of what I do is secondary, indirect and adaptive. I get this powerful voice inside me that says, “Don’t just derive, make and thrive.” Of course, the irony is that I am replicating what you have started. For that I thank you, Tania.

I am struck by this progression and would add a bit more by using a Pinterest template from Canva (is that hopelessly derivative or what?)

lurk (1)


Now the final reveal.  I derived these thoughts from the very interesting ideas here.  Sigh.  Is it habitually derivative all the way down?  Commenters are invited to help me out of this quicksand.