Breathing with Another’s Eyes: Thinklinking with Thinglink

I have been creating a series of mashup responses to Nick Sousanis’ grand vision of the world, his graphic dissertation, Unflattening.  He and Kevin Hodgson and I have been tweeting back and forth about some of his other illustration and writing including a marvelous collection called Possibilities, some of which you can see here.

One of his pages has a panel full of rabbit-ish allusions that serve as an object lesson in what comix have to teach us ‘too busy’ adults.  A lot.  In fact I have included a public, shareable, editable ‘Thinglink’ annotated image below so that you can follow his trail or my trail or blaze your own trail.

I find that the benefit of annotation is very similar to reading a poem out loud–it allows the reader to haunt the poet.  In this case it allows me to slowly (and that is the damned key, slow down as a reader) consider what Sousanis has written and drawn. Part of that reconsideration is commenting upon, adding to (and I hope not distracting and subtracting from) and translating his work into my heart.  Or to use the poetry analogy above–I am breathing exactly the same breaths the poet wants me to breathe as I speak the words aloud.  Only in this case I am ‘breathing ‘ through his eyes, seeing and considering as he has.

This is not just close reading: this is macro reading. And we can think this together with Thinglink.  What I am discovering is old nodes and new and the connective sparks between.  For example, I hadn’t thought about how common the rabbit trope is and that makes me wonder why.  Nor had I thought about a comix page as a game board to be played which I immediately connect one of my favorite thinkers, James Carse, and the idea of infinite games.  So play the infinite game of connecting and linking and sharing with us here or on Thinglink.  Or start your own and invite me over.

Bonus Question:  can you see the Fibonacci sequence on the page?  I didn’t at first and had to have it pointed out to me.


  1. // Reply

    Thanks for helping me find Thinglink. Never noticed it before. WOOT – but do you recommend the free personal or free edu version for starters?
    And now I’ve discovered Nick Sousanis as well – I feel roots pushing into new territory

  2. // Reply

    Start with the free version to see whether it suits you. I moved on to the edu premium version ($35/year) because I wanted to others to be able to edit and share my thinglinks and wanted to be able to use it for classes. The EDU version has the new video annotation tool which I still haven’t used but will today.

  3. // Reply

    Love Thinglink and used it for a group project term 1 this year, but still working on how to make it more effective with our kids.

    Terry, I always appreciate how you close read others’ work, including mine. I need your reminders to SLOW down, because you truly savor what people write, and there is no greater gift to a writer. I appreciate your close reading, and what you yourself write – it is so considered, so appreciative, so validating.

    1. // Reply

      I love the validation here. Anybody who says they don’t need it is either a liar or the Buddha (who I am sworn to kill if I meet him on the road). Going slow seems to have been a part of the zeitgeist for awhile (slow food, slow thinking, slow reading) and I seem to be growing slower and slower (this is not all good). I find that only by deliberating can I ‘get it’. It was one of the most frustrating aspects of #rhizo15–all of our tweeting/FBing/G+ing/etc-ing militated against my natural slowness. And the more I did, the worse I felt. Annotating with text, gifs, video, photos seems to be where I need to be. That’s one of the reasons that the loss of zeega and popcornmaker have really hit me hard. I was just hitting my stride with them.

      I lose so much in the fast translation we call ‘reading’. Too much especially if it is work from friends who we know deserve better. As a teacher of writing I owe it to those I read to savor, to get all macro, to slide sideways and then underneath and down an alt-universe.

      I am really digging the Unflattening work we are doing and I really hope you get your book back soon. Page 45 is so rich and having Sousanis’ looking over our shoulders is sweet even though I will be the first to tell him that he is the expert on tap on not on top 😉 (I think his ego is strong enough to acknowledge that.)

      Again, thanks for the validation and as always here is a little video I always send along even if you have already seen it:

  4. // Reply

    I was getting my ducks in a row for the upcoming clmooc 2015 and stumbled on this. Thinglink rocks! Great image to explore (and add to as well).

    1. // Reply

      Working on a little post about my current focus on thinglink. Keep coming back.

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