Following Your Curious Nose: the Inside Story of the Microbiome

I am always looking for research projects.  In the fall I teach courses that asks my entering freshmen to follow their own noses and search for answers to questions that they are passionate about.  I use Ken Macrorie’s model for this.  It’s called an “I-Search”.  I always do a parallel I-Search along with them.  Here is my site where I gathered answers to my I-Search question: How can I help students focus their attention in the classroom and out?

 Come the spring I will be teaching a junior level research course called “Writing Across the Disciplines” and I will choose a research question to parallels theirs. The microbiome might be a good topic although I am tempted to look into the new gene slicing technique called “CRISPR” as well.  I always have several projects going at once.  I often will drop a question for awhile but come back to it later.  Curation tools like Scoop.It are terrifically handy for seeking out and sharing “signal”.  I believe that we all need at least one digital curation tool in our repertoire. is a good one.  The free version lets you pursue one topic. Here are a few more curation tools at this site.


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.