Remixing Agency and Adjacency

robin eggs in a nest

I had an interview with Remi Kalir Saturday morning about It is part of his research effort to look more deeply into as it is used in professional contexts. I mentioned to him the need to go further with what is generated in the margins that enables, to not abandon them, to use/re-use them. Below is an attempt to think out loud about what I mean.

Here is the original piece that was slated for annotation.

I took Kevin Hodgson’s (@dogtrax) reply here

and remixed it as scene from a play.

(Scene follows.)

A Re-purposed Annotation

K: I don’t have the answers.

T: Thank the gods.

K: I just know.

T: What do you know?

K: We need to keep pushing against the testing machine

T: Speak it, Brother Lud

K: And the infrastructure horse it rode in on.

T: Amen and what the hell else.

K: Find paths forward, sideways, up around and through to help our students.

T: What if we can’t see clearly?

K: Do it, even if the path is not always visible. Especially then.

T: We can’t do this alone. We need each other…

K: …we need voices…

T: …in the margins supporting the work and learning going on…

K: ..we need networks, communities, affinity spaces, whatever you dare to call it.

T: Mos def, we need to raise the stakes.

K: I see your raise and call ya. Whadya got?

T: A heart flush.

K: A winnuh!


We could take any number of the other responses in the sidebar annotations of the original article  and do the same.  Make poems, multimodal works, original essays inspired by them, collaborative how-to’s, etc. . I am reminded of what Scott Bradlee does with PostModernJukebox–adapts pop songs to other times and styles. Why not that here? We just can’t thoughtlessly abandon the time and care invested in these “nests”. They are clearly more than sidebars. They have eggs in them.

If we don’t intent to hatch them, then we need to make it apparent that what we are doing from the beginning is intrinsic only.  I think that these sidebars represent great sources of agency and profound nudges toward the adjacent possible that  Stuart Kauffman suggests is at the heart of innovation and evolution.

P.S. This post represents another repurposing, a thinking out loud that might drive traffic and interest back to the original post which leads to more annotations and further re-purposings.   Amen.


What I like is the “Burma Shave Sign” effect. What I like is how much media you can mix into this. This has an Edison flickers feel to it. Just turn the crank and view. Very hands on. What I like is how I can treat Twitter like a blog

What I don’t like is that I can figure out how to embed the whole thread at once from my Twitter home page. I don’t think they have that function. It would be so useful if they did. What I don’t like is how I have to put the hashtage in every tweet if you want it to stay together. Also, there is no numbering of the tweets.

I was able to move the tweets into a moment. That be twitterspeke for the twitterati. You can create collections of tweets on twitter called ‘moments’. So I put the tweets into a moment. Well, that sorta worked, but it takes you away from the blog to view. So…this is poor substitute for Storify. Compared to Storify, it sucks. Otherwise, give it a spin


Mapping User Experience to the University Experience in #Mapvember

UX Mapping Methods Compared: A Cheat Sheet

I stumbled over these handy user experience maps this morning and thought about how useful they might be in my teaching, learning, and research.

Empathy maps: designed to help folk understand the mind of the user.

empathy map in four quadrants with user in the middle.

I could use this at the end of the semester to understand how my students navigated the semester-long research paper we write. I have no idea how my “users” experience the most time-consuming and constraining activity in the course. This could help.

Customer journey maps: describes the path a user takes in adopting a particular product or service.

journey into adopting (or not) a product or service

My department could use this in exploring how our students adopt the English major and how that journey works from inside the student. I suspect that the journey we lay out for them and the one they actually follow are quite different, complementary but different. We just revised our curriculum. This might be a qualitative way to evaluate whether the path we are requiring is one that those who are taking it signed up for.

Service blueprints: much like the customer journey maps, these apply to teachers/employees. These maps help to uncover the how and where we ‘touch’ our learners/customers. They would work in conjunction with the customer journey maps.

We could use these with new teachers to help map out where they see these ‘touchpoints’ and compare those maps with what the department sees as the touchpoints. I think these maps might be fleshed out using tools like Dave Snowden’s Cynefin Framework/SenseMaker techonology.

Experience maps: these take customer-journey maps and apply them across user types and user products. You use these maps to make generalizations about user experience. In this image, the experience mapped is “pregnancy”.

Since the purpose of these maps is to understand a general human behavior, I might use them to explain the arc of a course and the learning behaviors it might generate in students. The follow up would be whether those behaviors were actually generated in the users. This map is quite a bit fuzzier and more abstract than the others, so perhaps it might be used in planning or revising a course syllabus and then making readjustments on the fly to the course as required. Used in conjunction with empathy maps?

Maps like these are often guilty of the sin of ‘making complexity legible’. Or as James C. Scott says, they destroy the “metis”, the local knowledge, or at the least they valorize this legibilizing over local, folk knowledge and concepts. Entering with an awareness of this bias, I think that what could be revealed would allow teachers and admins insights that might lead to a ‘re-messification’ of the various ‘fields of users’. We could make our blind spots legible with the end goal being to make the relationships more natural, more like what we find in the margins of fields. Rich. Diverse. Messy. Convergent and divergent.

That is the idea I took from this foray into UX. Anybody need a really interesting research project that might be turned into a consulting business? Maybe this is it. There is a UX conference in Washington, D.C. in April. If I can find $5000 I might go. A big investment, but maybe a worthy career move.