Terry Elliott’s Newsletter 30 June 2017

Arctic Lightning V. Grit, McConnell V. Storybook Cookies

‘Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you—
Ye are many—they are few.’
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Daily Commentary

Sometimes I am struck by the degree of problematicity in these items. How problematic is Mitch McConnell compared to arctic lightning on the rise? Storybook cookies to grit? We’re defined by the problems we choose to consider, the worlds we observe.  I say lightning over shitheads and cookies over grit.  

Daily Readings

Savaging Mitch McConnell–Huzzah!

Beautiful! When This 7-Year-Old Boy Could No Longer Afford Treatment For His Brain Tumor, Mitch McConnell Dressed Up As Batman And Wheeled Him Out Of The Hospital
ClickHole – Jun 29, 10:32 AM
“Life has been extremely difficult for 7-year-old Aaron Burkhart ever since he was diagnosed with a brain tumor five months ago. To make matters worse, Aaron’s family lacked health insurance and was soon unable to pay the medical bills for his…”

Comment:  Savage irony blooms like a dead rose. I will say this. I live in Kentucky and have worked against this personification of the banality of evil. Some day.

Scaffolding Grit

edutopia.org – Heather Wolpert-Gawron – Jun 29, 12:00 PM
“Often when I look at how to help students, I think back on my own journey as a student. When challenged to teach students to trust that the effort of persistence is worth it, I think back on when I myself figured it out. And do you know what I came…”

Comment: As if…sounds like a sandblasting
medium. Personal persistence, this has the classic stink of blame the victim and faux meritocratics. And privilege, did I mention that.

10 of the Most Versatile Digital Age Skills We Can Teach Our Learners

globaldigitalcitizen.org – GDC Team – Jun 29, 7:00 AM
“In the past, we’ve talked about the critical 21st-century skills students need and why. But what about other digital age skills? There are so many other useful and practical abilities to have that can help our learners build success and enable…”

Comment: You decide: is this clickbaitish post worth a read especially when the #1 skill is ‘Personal Branding’. There are some good suggestions, but you could scrape all the links off and explore them without all the word cruft here.

 

Fires rise in Arctic as ‘lightning follows the warming’
eenews.net – Jun 12, 7:22 AM
“Climate change is driving up the number of forest fires ignited by lightning, and it’s pushing them farther north, to the edges of the Arctic tundra, researchers say. Lightning-caused fires have risen 2 to 5 percent a year for the last four…”

Comment: Sweet jesus, the power of the climate feedback loops. ‘The feedback loop could worsen significantly in the future if tree cover spreads northward.Lightning strikes near trees,so increased cover could bring more lightning, &more fuel for fire.’

Handmade Storybook Cookies Made From Natural Dyes

spoon-tamago.com – Rachel Mimms – Jun 20, 7:58 AM
“Anyone who questions baking as an art form should look no further than the cookies made by Okashi no Kobito. Professional cookie artist Nobuyo Toyono began this enterprise creating edible masterpieces out of Osaka after graduating from…”

Comment: Cookies as an edible story medium. Dang, dude. These are a testimony to the imaginative
genius that we can all tap. All of us.

In a Dark Time by Theodore Roethke

poetryfoundation.org

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood—
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks—is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.
A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is—
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.
Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

 

Comment: I think this poem is my American version of Yeats’ “The Second Coming”.

 

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Raising the Signal to Noise Ratio: A Digital Feldgang

Venkatesh Rao called it a ‘frankenstack’.  He defined it as,

An assemblage of information technologies duct-taped together with a mess of protocols, and forming what philosophers call a rhizomatic structure.

Everybody has his or her own frankenstack, so which one am I referring to ?  The #Digciz.

The Storify embedded below arises directly from the #4wordstory hashtag and indirectly from the gathering of folks into #digciz ,part of the frankenstack rhizome.  And the common plaint is one shared by @teachercreates (Emily Page Oh)

So I try to curate a path through to a main course and away from the chocolate fountain–

#4wordstory (with images, tweets) · tellio

Break the digital ice.

I call this trail a “feldgang” which roughly translated means “field walk”. I am a sheep farmer and I do feldgang’s every day. I have been doing them here for 30 years. I check the grass in the paddock where the sheep are to see if they need to be moved onto fresh grass. That is a very direct feldgang with a purpose. Sometimes I do general feldgangs. For example, I will scan a field for the green haze of growth that indicates good news for ruminants. Or I just turn over stuff and see what is there.

A few years ago I discovered you can do digital feldgangs as well. They can be particular or general. My storify above is both.
Part of the feldgang is intended to address those in #digciz who have been a part of #4wordstories. Storify is dead simple as a gathering tool to make this possible. Once I have created a ‘field’ then I can walk in it. Here are some of my discoveries:

1. #4wordstories are rarely concrete. There are exceptions.
2. #4wordstories are not poetic.
3. #4wordstories are abstract.
4. #4wordstories are often vague and de-contextualized.
5. #4wordstories might not arguably be stories at all in a fictive sense (plot, character, setting)
6. #4wordstories sometimes are more like zen koans than narratives, puzzles in service to the larger #digciz context
7. #4wordstories can (and did) inspire more creation
8. #4wordstories are invitations, implicit or explicit. Very few seem to regard them as invitations judging by the lack of response.
9. #4wordstories can be both examples and non-examples. (Note: Bonnie citing George Seimens’problems.)

10. I have some serious blindspots about the abstract, the adverbial, the lack of context.

So…the blog post is just a thinking out loud about what is in the digital field.

I started talking about the frankenstack at the beginning of this post and ended in the digital field.  The rhizomatic nature of modern digital discourse is so apparent to me (and @teachercreates, too).  Venkatesh Rao’s newsletter piece about rhizomes is a must read. I want to quote stuff, but it isn’t a hierarchical post so you gotta go for it all.

He is right on when he says,

43/ In a rhizomatic world, if your expectations and work habits are built around architectural cleanliness, you will get deeply frustrated and be perennially frozen.

44/ If you can only navigate well-paved paths and clean, well-lit spaces, you’ll likely spend a lot of time in low-value, or even futile, ritualized behaviors while getting nothing done.

45/ You must be willing to adopt an opportunistic approach to navigating complexity, and switch from ugly hack to elegant beauty, from amateurish fumble to expert flourish, in an instant.

The world he describes is most definitely #digciz.  Get over it.