TrailBlazing: Rhizomatic Practice


I have been experimenting with the idea of ‘feedforward’ in my work here in #Rhizo15. In a guided journaling exercise I shared with some folks (and I am still sifting through your responses) I discovered a few ideas that I wanted to explore further.

Below is a Hackpad page that describes one of them,  a ‘feedforward’, rhizomatic practice called prototyping.  This is where I prototyped one of several ‘fastforwardings” or imagined futures.

Now that you know the ‘future’, let me move to the second part of the post where I guide it into being. I have been playing quite a bit with what amounts to a creative substitute for my beloved Zeegas–PopcornMaker by Mozilla. It is a little less intuitive than Zeega, but it is capable of much greater control and complexity than Zeega. If Zeega was a ‘low bar to entry tool’ then PopcornMaker is the next level. How do these two ideas (the scout bee in my Hackpad and the multimedia tool, PopcornMaker) come together? Simple: I use the media tool as the vehicle for my scout report.

Below you will see the first of what I hope are many “scout reports” about the practice of rhizomatic learning and teaching. I am creating a map where the hive can find food or as Deleuze and Guattari say,

…the rhizome pertains to a map that must be produced, constructed, a map that is always detachable, connectible, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entryways and exits and its own lines of flight. (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 21)

This is a waggle dance. I am just pointing to the food source, the practice is up to you.  I am giving you a sense of direction but you have file your own line of flight.

I think that rhizomatic learning and teaching has something to do with creating embeddable spaces.  For personal learning this means embedding ourselves in these spaces (internships, mentorings, cMOOCs, informal/adhoc situations) as well as internalizing the most handy of them. For teaching it means creating both simple and complex practices  for our friends that are similar to the ones we learn within. All the better for them to join us later. Embedded and embodied cognition are at the heart of my understanding of this.  We learn in our own hearts and then we invite others in as well.

I will be scout bee for this flight.  The hive is swarming and always moving.  The queen lives within but the rhizo declares she is both core and whole, intermezzo and margin.  Join with me.



Lunch Pail Manifesto

One of the tropes that grew out of my feedforward journaling exercise was this:

I am returning to the hive on a regular basis with pollen and water and taking out poop and the detritus of regular hive activity.  I also feed.  Around me are workers and drones.  Sometimes I am one, sometimes the other. Sometimes I am very far afield and a bit lost looking for feed sources that I can bring back home with a cool waggle dance of joy and sharing.  I am a bee in this landscape.  Sometimes I feel like a queen who wants to re-hive.  Right now I am a scout be for the hive, but I want bring home the food in the very near future.  This feedforward work is part of that personal and professional desire.

So I am a worker bee today, finding a source of food and doing my little waggle dance to orient you toward it.


Also, in line with my feeling that rhizo is practice and action and being, I salute Steven Pressfield’s Lunch Pail Manifesto.  I am a working class dude. Been doing hard work since I was 11 years old.  Maybe that makes me as stupid as Boxer in Animal Farm, but it makes me something.  Here goes.



Here is a response Hackpad for those who wish to respond.  I don’t agree wholly with the manifesto, but I think it is good starting pad for discussing what it means to write, be a writer, share writing and keep writing. Just click on any bulleted hyperlink and add kibbitz away.


View Lunch Pail Manifesto on Hackpad.

Holy Meta, Batman! Posting about Podcasting then Podcasting the Posting about Podcasting

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I don’t really buy into learning styles as a classroom management tool, but I do buy into sound, sight, connection, and practice as personal knowledge, or as Michael Polanyi defined it, “tacit knowledge”.

I bring this up because I just finished reading a post in Medium by Matt Haughey about podcasts that rings with my own tacit practices and connections. According to Haughey, blogs have flourished, podcasts…well..they haven’t. That resonates for me. I am forever saying to myself, “I really need to podcast.” I want it to be a practice and a regular intellectual process . I want it to be an active verb in my life.

Haughey points out that podcasting has two issues that have kept folks like me from adopting it as a ‘writing’ practice. First, subscribing has too much friction and there are tech gaps to listening across platforms and across spaces. Second, there is what Haughey calls the “social problem”. You are tethered to the podcast as an audience of one. Much like reading, listening is profoudly non-social. There are exceptions to this rule (Soundcloud annotation, Vialogues, Kindle highlighting, Genius for lyrics), but Haughey is mostly right here. We are sociable beings confronted by a technology that removes us from the milieu.

In order to really take podcasting to the next level, the natural social habits of people needs to be included in how they are found, downloaded, listened to, and discussed afterwards.

Haughey has some suggestions:

1.  Make the subscription process easy, perhaps browser based, so that when you come across a podcast you can subscribe to it automatically.

2. If you want a podcast to be sociable you have to create a social space.  Haughey advises that every podcast needs a meeting place much like the one he helped create at MetaFilter.

3. Use all the potential that already exists for embedding data in the podcast RSS feed.  Yes, there really is quite a lot of meta you can cram into that feed.

4. Podcasting needs a “clip and share” app that allows you to cut out just the right moment in a podcast that you want to share with others.  This would be the biggest help as far as I am concerned.  This is what inspired me to write this.  I want audio clips to be ubiquitous in my blog posts.  I want them just like Haughey wants them.

Podcasts are usually large mp3 files but mobile apps could offer share options that give you a scrubber to highlight the audio you want to share, create a short clip, and make that shareable and embeddable in tweets, facebook, and blog posts.

Yeah, exactly what he said.  Wouldn’t this expand their use much like YouTube-to-gif apps have done for video and multimodal creation tools like Zeega and Weavly?

5. Extend the value of podcasts by having automatic transcription services.  Some are already working on this.  Although I have not done this myself, perhaps podcasting needs to be something that YouTube can do.  You can already use tools like Mechanical Turk to do a hybrid transcription.  Sorry for the density of this paragraph, but I think it shows just how up in the air and klug-y podcast consumption and production have become.  No one is jumping in to make the frictionless desktop-to-app product that works from a bookmarklet or extension in a browser.  Huffduffer shows some possibilities, but early days.

6.  Podcast MeetUps.  We go from analog (ourselves and our ears) to digital (podcasts) so why not from digital analog and use podcasts as an excuse and more to get together?  Maybe that is all one needs to build a real community, just that one little push to get together.  Who knows?

7. Connect desktop to mobile and sync.  Instacast does this on the Mac but it isn’t cross platform.  Pocket Cast syncs across platforms (Android & IOS), but doesn’t have a desktop presence.  Plus, how can we share with others, family and friends and colleagues and online buddies.  I would love to share a podcast space where I could comment back and forth asynchronously or just note where they are in the audiobook we are listening to together. Haughey’s point is that we are nowheresville on this.  He’s right.

8. Somebody needs to figure out what everybody else is listening to in your community.  Just thinking out loud here perhaps folks working in a federated wiki can share a page of podcasts that they listen to or just include an RSS feed from their podcatcher which an aggregator like Inoreader could subscribe to and share back out as another RSS feed.  OK, that’s crazy talk, but what starts in the sandbox stays in the sandbox, cat turd ideas like the above included.Is it too much to ask for a podcasting tool that is part curatorial much like Amazon reviews?

I realize that I have taken most of the content from Haughey’s post.  Not much original added to it on my part, but it has served as a template for acting.  In this case that means that I have done a pretty close reading of Haughey’s post, I have thought more in terms of my own podcasting possibilities, and I am inspired to do my own Soundcloud podcast of this blog post.


[soundcloud url=”″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]


Some meta thoughts on podcast making.  I used my fav tool right now for a more finished sound product–Bossjock.  I am able to set up sounds in ‘cartridges’ like radio stations use stingers and commercials. I then record live adding these preset sounds.  After I am done then it encodes it and I can export it numerous places including Soundcloud (as above).  My workflow here is getting simpler all the time.