First Day Dealing: Advantage to the House



This is a common workflow for me especially at the beginning of the term.  I have been trying to draw more of the ‘stuff’ we do from the student side of the card which on this first day is quite blank.  Below is a ‘popplet’ version of this 4X6 card that I project in class as both class notes (which I email to them) and as our platform for discussion.

I like the flow from analog card to digital space.  Everything is there for the learner.  It serves as a reminded for what happened in class, it has the assignments on it, and I can add to it.  In this case I will add the spreadsheet that is created by the google form, add notable quotes from the Vialogue perhaps in a hackpad, and perhaps create an annotated link with Diigo with my own response to the Clay Shirky article from which I will create my tl:dr version of his article.  Lots of room to play.

One Direction: How We Lead from the Future with Boy Bands, Pleasure Reading, and Larry Stylinson


If a podcast and a survey had sex, this post would be its love child. I am tempted to bring in Munchaloompas here, but this post will be weird enough as is.

How often does this seemingly random mashing and thrashing of information happen to you?  For me, not often enough.  It is one of the reasons I love/fear the addiction of the Net.  I figure the longer I am here, the more likely it is I will get this happy accident to happen.  No, I know serendipity doesn’t work that way, but here’s how it went down.

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts the other day, “Reply All”, while I was bushhogging.  I love podcasts. You can take them anywhere.  I love Reply All especially because of its variety and depth. I can count on knowing not only something more but something better and deeper.  It is always surprising.

Podcast with show notes. 

#6 This Proves Everything + The Best Hold Music in the World by Reply All

Keith Calder is known in some circles for his work as an independent film producer. In other, much bigger circles, Keith’s known for having the same last name as Eleanor Calder. She’s a model who dates One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson.

I almost had to quit working and just listen to this particular podcast (above). It was alternately ‘milk squirting out the nose’ funny and ‘this cannot be true’ sad. Without spoiling too much of this priceless podcast I can tell you it is the story of mistaken identity that leads to the revelation that there are:

  1. millions of fans of a pre-teen/tween/teen boy band I am only lightly aware of called One Direction (1D),
  2. in the larger set of 1D fans exists a subset of perhaps hundreds of thousands called “larry stylinsons” or just larrys for short,
  3. the main tenet of the larrys is that there is a conspiracy to hide in plain view the obvious fact that two of the band members are gay  and in love with each other (Harry Styles + Louis Tomlinson= Larry Stylinson).
  4. this fact is obvious to them, but they put an inordinate amount of energy in demonstrating on forums, in Twitter, on YouTube and wherever conspiracies are sold that this is indeed a case of the band’s management and label trying to keep truth in that needs to be out.

I know that there are conspiracy groups everywhere, but I never knew that there were ones that made so much over so little.  Of course, that’s just my opinion, man. It is a big deal to the larrys of the world, the hundreds of thousands of them that create stuff like this to prove their point to those who would doubt:

Top 30 Iconic Larry Stylinson Moments

Aren’t we lucky we get to witness the most beautiful love story of all time? Tumblr:

This would be an ordinary if weirdly ordinary story of true love seeking redemption with the help of young women everywhere (that is the main demographic of 1D), but it doesn’t stop there for me.  Remember that I had been bushhogging?  When I came in I grabbed some well-deserve iced green tea and sat down for some serendipity on the Net.

What I chanced upon was a post at KQED’s Mindshift on tween and teen literacy:  “Why Don’t Teens Read For Pleasure Like They Used To?” The tl;dr version of the post was this: research by CommonSenseMedia on the reading habits of kids and teens found that reading for fun was way down.  Or you could look at a much more interesting summary that they provided along with my annotations:


2015-08-05_08-44-45 (1)



I suppose I “lucked up” on this research brief and infographic, but it did ride in on my Inoreader RSS feed on purpose. I suppose it also got there because KQED played a major role in the MOOC I helped facilitate/participate in this summer. The fact that I glommed onto their feeds so as to not miss out on their brilliance really wasn’t a happenstance. I suppose I chanced upon it, but the real lottery here was that I came to the article after listening to Reply All while on the tractor.  That particular synchrony was pretty off-the-charts improbable.  If I had moved the electric fence like I should have before coming in, I don’t doubt I would have collapsed in front of our single overworked window unit air conditioner while watching something on Hulu. No words would ‘ere have been writ.

What was most important in making the link between post and podcast was the demographic one.  Both are about a tweens and teens.  And because of this obvious discovery,  the podcast might go a long way toward explaining some of the questions the post raises.

I was hard struck  by the “reading for fun” category in the infographic above.  If you think of fun as a pie chart (or just as a pie which really is fun unless it’s mincemeat and that would just be wrong) it looks like a finite resource.  That is arguable, but let’s just accept that as given for now.  If it is finite, where the hell did all the fun go for 17 and 13-year olds?  They lost 18% and 14% respectively of their total fun.  Why isn’t there a revolution among this demographic to get their fun back?

No one stole their fun.  They are just distributing it in “better” places.  They are, also, finding it in many more places than ever before.  They are rooting it out in Twitter, tumblr, Facebook, and YouTube as “larrys”.

What does this signify to those of us who do knowledge work as teachers and coaches and mentors?  For one thing, we cannot count on the cushion we got for years from this ‘reading for pleasure’.  And by cushion I mean fluency and sheer competence. And by competence I mean vocabulary and the million words you need to have read to be a disciplined reader. (This carries over into competent writing, too, by the way.)

For another thing, the cognitive sink they are investing in (the online universe) is one we do not value like we have valued reading for pleasure.  We don’t have a survey that looks at measuring how ‘larrying’ has grown over the last decade.  That’s just absurd on its face.  Who cares about ‘larrying’?  They do.  Very. Much.

We have to ask this: is ‘larrying’ just as valuable as “reading for pleasure”?

And that is when I started thinking hard about what this future really invites.  I originally wrote ‘portends’ because the future often seems to me like it did for Lady Macbeth–a hell that is murky. Then I realized that there might just as likely be lots of ‘brights and shinies’ there.  Where does a future with Larry Stylinson beckon us?

1. The larrys are still readers, but they are also makers and doers.  There are probably a higher proportion of makers than takers among this group.

2.The larrys value their passions above all else, especially their pleasure reading. Their pleasure reading is tied up in pleasure doing.

3. Larrying activity might be the future equivalent to pleasure reading

4. There are larrys aplenty in your learning environs–clever, creative, autodidacts who know something AND more importantly can figure out how to learn more on their own.

5. The larrys represent latent learning capacity that can be extended elsewhere.

6. And many more adjacent possibles that arise from the initial condition of being a larry

There is much more here than we can see in the murky future’s roar, but there are hints that while all is not perfect, all might be well enough as we muddle toward it.

I still don’t like 1D’s music, but I love every passionate conspiracy-seeing Louise, Harry and Larry that is trying to make sense of their world.  Isn’t that what we want ultimately in any learner?  Someone who seeks, makes sense of, and shares with the world?  I hope so.

If this upsets you, then Yogi Berra gives us a little zen wisdom as a balm for this brave new world.  Listen to Yogi.

fork in the road



I have been playing about with a resurrected version of Z33ga. Not resurrected by me, but by my daughter’s significant other, Brennan. Not sure if he wants his name bandied about. He has been a total mensche about getting me running after I asked him to just take a glance at the github source code for the program. He is an astonishing tech dude with a little free time so he just took on the project. It’s not open for prime time yet, but my goal is to exercise due diligence and get this on my own server and see how much I can share without things breaking the bank for server access.

I recommend as always that you click on the play button then hover over the lower right hand corner of the image box and go to full screen. Much better that way.

Also, please read Simon’s post first. Why? The post and the multimodal z33ga are supposed to work together. In fact, I have always envisioned each z33ga as first intended for an audience of one and then afterwards for others, but only if they read the post first. Ideally, folks would come to their own translation via the remix aspect of zeega.

I first started doing z33gas as a method of close reading by translation. By recodifying text into image and music I was able to really do the original work much greater justice. Besides…I am a slow wit not a quick wit (don’t go the rest of the way there, pardner) and this tool is perfect for getting me part of the way into a text. My first reading of Simon’s post was basically, “WTF?” By using z33ga, I got my camel’s nose under the tent.