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.




Slacking Is Not a Dirty Word

This morning I came across this post in Brainpickings apropos of Labor Day to come and May Day just passed.

Leisure, the Basis of Culture: An Obscure German Philosopher’s Timely 1948 Manifesto for Reclaiming Our Human Dignity in a Culture of Workaholism

I stripped out the relevant links using LinkGrabber and put them into Dropbox’s Papers. Since Papers doesn’t provide an embed (unlike its now open-source predecessor Hackpad did) I had to save it into Google Docs and get an embed from there. See below.

I then opened up Webrecorder.io in my browser and “archived” all the links I grabbed from the page.  Sorry for the generic embed below, but Webrecorder doesn’t appear to be embeddable. (Update: Yes it is!)

You can go to the link here.
Or you can download the desktop software, download the web archive, and view it there.

Now I get to ask: Why?

I have a webarchive of pages and objects from within all the pages I gathered.  That means text, images, and videos in this case.  You do not get any links inside the archive unless you have opened them while the recorder was  recording.

Perhaps I could use it for:

  1. A collection of readings on a syllabus so that all students have open access to materials,
  2. A reading list for a course,
  3. A course-in-a- box, the box being the archive,
  4. Resources for those with low bandwidth (put it on a USB drive),
  5. Archiving government sites that are precarious,
  6. Check out how NetFreedomPioneers are using Webrecorder.io in their Project Toosheh to archive the net for parts of the world with no net access using filecasting,
  7. Save live video broadcasts and check out this use of Periscope and Webrecorder.io

  8. Old applets can live on like this one in Java that is unplayable otherwise.

  9. Creating self-contained journal articles like this one in Google’s new journal, Distill.

It is amazing and the possibilities just keep on rolling.  Add some more in the comments or feel free to hypothesize in the margins.