The End is Just the Beginning…..

Dear Wanderer_920 (aka Laura),

So, it’s funny.  You remind me a lot of myself.  You are me-the way I remember myself to be about 20 years ago.  Fearless.  Optimistic.  Powerful.  I’m still those things, ya know…..only now my energy and focus are spread wide and thin.  Thank you for reminding me of the person I am.

I will tell you one thing: this course has become a part of me. It has crept its way into almost every part of my “regular” life.  It was definitely not a “come to class, do the work, forget about it” type of class.  It was transformative and all-encompassing. To be honest, I am still amazed when I think about the past few months.  (And I’m exhausted!) I keep wondering if other people-people outside of this class-have any idea what kinds of mind-blowing magical things have been taking place here.  Does anyone

I keep wondering if other people-people outside of this class-have any idea what kinds of mind-blowing magical things have been taking place here.  Does anyone really know or understand?  I want to scream it to the world: “Look at what we’re doing!!!” & “Do you understand how amazing this is?”  A part of me feels guilty- like I’m getting a Harvard education at a Kean tuition-rate. A part of me doesn’t want to breathe a word for fear they’ll steal my professors away from us, from this school.  Shhhhhh…don’t tell anyone we have the most amazing beings on earth as our mentos.  Please.  Don’t tell.  We need them!

I couldn’t think of a better ending to my official coursework as a graduate student.  I’ve had many people ask me if I was getting my MA “for the money” or a “better position at school.”  My answer was always the same: Uhhh… NO!  To me, that would be silly.  It’s always been about so much more. The decision to return to school (after so much time) was for ME.  For personal growth.  Satisfaction.  A creative and intellectual outlet (of which I’ve been deprived). I’ve been taking my time and trying to get the most out of every experience, rather than rushing through as many courses as I could in order to graduate sooner. Had it not been for a select few professors and colleagues, my journey would likely not have been nearly as meaningful. I am truly privileged to have cross paths with these individuals. Do you have any idea how lucky I am?  I mean really-if you really think about it- without these people, this experience could have been….well I don’t even want to think about what it could have been without them.   Ending this journey here, with this class, is more than I could have hoped for.

I knew right from the beginning that this course was something special.  I can remember driving home after my first class and thinking. Just thinking.  I’ve never told anyone this but for me, this half an hour drive-home ritual became a part of the class.  It was the time where I felt most connected to the content and topics of the past (and following) week.  The times when no one was asking me to help them with their homework or make dinner.  The times when my mind was mine, and mine alone.  I would drive on the parkway and lose myself in such deep thought that I had to snap myself out of it so I wouldn’t miss my exit.  It was these surges of introspective thoughts/moments when everything seemed most clear to me.  I could ponder the issues discussed in class, digest them, and somehow make sense of things. Although some of these thoughts never made it to a blog post or in-person talk, they were there.  This course became part of me.  Forever.

Almost immediately, I was sucked into this new world during any free moment I had.  I was decoding and researching and tweeting and connecting and writing and experimenting with new tools and…..well, you get the idea (I think you were secretly watching me the whole time).  One of the best things about this class was the fact that it seeped into my 6th-grade classroom.  If you met my students tomorrow, they would scream out “Alchemy!!!”  They were “open-participants” in every sense-without even knowing it.  So much of what I learned, they learned…and then I learned from them again. It was (is) a beautiful endless cycle.  My students have read e-poetry, participated in a web chat, made blackout poetry, tinkered with DDA’s, watched studio visits, decoded text with ROT-13, created avatars, engaged with, used soundcloud…..they have taken this course with me, in a way, and have shown me enthusiasm and openness.  I am a better teacher because of this class.  

Never before did I talk about a course with so many people. From my family, to my friends, to my co-workers, everyone I spoke to knew (to an extent) that I was part of something groundbreaking and unusual and that I was in awe of it.  It’s difficult to explain the full concept to others but they knew whatever I was doing was unlike anything they (or I) had experienced before.  So there it was-me and this course walking around my everyday life. Together.  Sometimes it took a backseat to whatever else was occupying my time, but never was it too far out of reach.  Sometimes “it” would make an appearance at a holiday gathering or late-night party.  It eased its way in and out of my daily life-just like a great course should, but rarely does. Yes, I carried this course with me wherever I went no matter what I was doing.  Because of this course, I have changed.  For the better.

How does one show what they’ve learned?  Is it possible?  Sure, one could study some material and spit it back on a test.  Many people could do that with their eyes closed and pass with flying colors.  But does it prove they’ve learned anything? Maybe. Anything that matters? Probably not.  Anything that will make a difference in life?  Not likely.  Anything that matters in the world?  I doubt it.  How do you, then, show someone what you’ve learned?  I think the answer is you show them how you’ve grown. When you have more deeply-inspired questions than you did before, that’s growth. When you look at the world around you through slightly different eyes, that’s growth.  When your creativity soars, that’s growth. When you know yourself a little deeper, that’s growth.  I have grown, my friend.  I have grown in more ways than one. And I have learned.    

Throughout this course, I have given and I have received.  Just for fun, I’ll take you down memory lane with me…….

It all began with a rabbit hole….and ended with a mirrored world.

After revisiting my blog posts and media/makes, I find it nearly impossible to summarize all that we’ve done.  But I’ll try.

I guess I would put the countless tools that I’ve become skilled in using into one category.  Using soundcloud, audacity, various gif/meme makers, and even making bots (I’ll admit I was proud of that accomplishment) is great, but what really matters to me is what you (I) can do with them.  It’s like learning another language or an instrument (neither of which I can do).  All of these tools and many of the DDA’s have empowered me.  They have given me the ability to communicate with the world in another way.  How cool is that?   I truly feel like an alchemist!

The studio visits and bus tours blew my mind!  Just knowing that others were willing to share their time and ideas with us was humbling and inspiring.  Wow! Connecting at its best!  In particular, the netprov and fanfiction talks really stuck with me throughout this journey and still keep me thinking about all this is possible in this discipline. Similarly, the outside participants added an invaluable layer to this course.  Without the likes of brilliant players such as Kevin and Sandra, this course would not have been as impactful. Amazing!

Speaking of connecting….one of the more subtle, yet profound, take-aways from this course was the generously-given comment or ping-back I’d receive on a blog post or tweet.  I think that was what this course was really all about.  If I could start over, I would spend more time giving in this way.  I read as many posts as I could, but would sometimes hesitate to comment on another’s work.  I wish I didn’t hesitate.  I loved so much of what I read and always appreciated any feedback I received.  Future alchemists: it’s not about what you can get from others, it’s about what you can give.

Giving came unexpectedly one class when we shared our writing in class.  I have rarely been as moved as I was that evening.  Those of you present understand.  This was definitely one of the highlights of the semester.  

Surprisingly, two of things I am most proud of are my cooking with anger story and my 5-card flickr story.  It’s not that I think the stories are particularly great but more that I was able to complete the tasks and feel satisfied with the outcomes.  I’ve expressed before how I do not see myself as a fiction writer but more of a non-fiction person.  So, for me, these tasks put me out of my comfort zone. That’s a good thing, sometimes. 

Perhaps the most important outcome of this course is that I just may have concocted the idea for my thesis….and just in the nick of time.  

This is only the beginning…..



A Song Sung Alongside Another


A parody, I would think, cannot exist without humor- whether it be through intent or execution of such comedy. Without humor, parody is reduced to mocking. It’s a relatively thin line, however, as audience interpretations and delivery may be factors in creating “effective” parodies.  So then, what makes parodies effective?  Or better yet, what purpose do they serve, if any, other than to entertain? I suppose that may depend on a parody’s objective but not necessarily.  For example, a parody created with no intention to spark civic activism could, potentially, spur relevant conversations and vice-versa.  

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Some quick research revealed that the parody is nothing new, dating back to the ancient Greeks.  It’s meaning, I found, is derived from the Greek word, parōidía, “a song sung alongside another.”

This is interesting considering one of this week’s DDA’s was to remix a recent youtube video with the 1971 Coca-Cola commercial.  When I did this task, it didn’t register to me as a “parody” per se, but in context, I can better appreciate the relevance of the assignment. Listening to lyrics such as “I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love……white turtle doves….in perfect harmony…” contrasted with disturbing images of violent Walmart shoppers on Black Friday definitely falls under the parodic umbrella.  It’s the kind of thing that makes you shake you head and wonder: “Where did we, as a society (or species?), go wrong?  How did we end up like this? Is it funny?  I’m not sure.  Amusing?  Maybe.  The ironic lyric/image juxtaposition creates a ridiculousness that, perhaps, forces you to chuckle so you don’t cry.  (Maybe.)  Comedic relief or not, parodies such as this, SNL skits, late-night spoofs and the McSweeny’s article, urge you to ponder current issues with either new insights or renewed/new enthusiasm.  Purpose-Intent teeter-totter.

Coincidentally, I watched two stand-up comedy specials on Netflix this weekend: Dave Chappelle and Louis C.K.  Both specials were very funny.  Both tackled hot-button social issues in a way that only comedy can.  Abortion.  Religion. Politics. Sexual identity.  Race relations. Drugs. Rape. Life.  Death. You name it, they talked about it.  Both dialogues were anchored in parody. Prior to our discussion, I would not have identified it as such, but it was clear as I viewed both programs that they were, in fact, parodic.  Again, in addition to the laughs (I realize this type of comedy may not be everyone’s taste), both stand-up routines made me think about these sensitive topics from a slightly different angle.  I’m pretty sure that wasn’t by accident.  

I’ll leave the meme review to Laurus_Vagus’s blog, but let’s just say it’s an art form in which I am not particularly skilled.  In a nutshell, the intentions were not executed effectively and the memes felt insensitive, mean, rude and not funny.  While they didn’t tackle a super-sensitive issue, it fell under the “parking lot” example, the online social media etiquette of my “online sphere” is a growing pet-peeve of mine.


Shifts, Expansion, Change.

Our world, relative to this course, is definitely shifting.  Expanding.  Changing its focus.  

I am blown away by the amount of planning and thought that went into the design of this class.  I remember trying to decode messages from “intercepted” videos before our first official class meeting…always wondering what they meant or how they would fit into the context of our work. The videos and little hints about our eventual mission were a constant but kept at a comfortable background to the other work we were doing.  I realize now that this whole class was a netprov of sorts, existing not only online but in the real world.  Now everyone is “playing the game” and it all makes sense.

Shifting focus….

Last week, Alan asked if anyone has been experiencing an identity crisis yet.  My answer is “yes.”  I find myself gravitating toward my alter-ego, Laurus Vagus Ambigo more and more each day.  I am definitely experiencing some type of split-personality sensations.  On occasion, I would post a tweet from @wanderer_920 that was meant to come from @Laurus_Vagus or vice-versa.  Oh, the horror!  These were immediately deleted.  When I tweet as me, I take on a more serious reserved approach.  Laurus_Vagus, on the other hand, is a bit more creative and bold in her choices of posts.  It’s an interesting idea to reflect upon.


If you asked my sixth-grade students about alchemy, I’m sure they’d have a mouthful to share.  They are, in a way, taking this course without even knowing it.  There are very few activities from this class that I have not been able to recreate for my students.  We have made avatars, used soundcloud, hypothesis, created DDA’s, decoded using rot13, explored the mirror world a little, created recipes-stories inspired by “Cooking with Anger,” created blackout poetry, watched some the studio visits and bus tour videos and have messed around with a lot of the “end of announcements” page bonus apps (they’re obsessed with the littlealchemy site in which they create objects from the elements).  They inspire me with their enthusiasm and willingness to try and explore and share. There are more alchemists than we think….

Changing focus….

In class this week, we were asked to create a digital story for “Cooking with Anger.”  We were asked to expand our thinking and push the limits with regard to the tools and presentation of our story.  My mind went wild.  As a group, we “remixers” brainstormed a number of alternate-style storytelling platforms.  In the end, we choose something that was new to me and interesting from a storytelling perspective.  (You’ll have to wait and read it for yourself.)  This experience had my wheels turning ever since.  This is a “digital storytelling” class, after all.  Questions like “what constitutes storytelling?” and “how can I create a completely new experience for the reader?” are still swirling around in my head.  I am inclined to take some of my ideas for alternate interactive storytelling techniques and try them out this week (Spring Break just might give me the time I need).   It’s all very exciting!!!

Last thoughts….

All semester we have been gently urged to take control of our learning choices and activities and to pay less attention to the “list” of things to do.  I think we are finally there (at least I am, for one).  Finally, I can feel an internal push and pull guiding me toward the things I intend to explore and ponder.  There has never been a shortage of prompts and inspiration each week, but this week, more than any other, I feel no need for external prompting.  There are things that I am compelled to work on and feel empowered to do so.  Stay tuned……


I Have Made….A Twitter Bot!

The feeling I experienced when I saw my twitter bot come to life took me by surprise.  After working on it for close to two hours (a little on and off), I was invested in the process but never expected to feel such satisfaction when it worked for the first time.  I imagine the feeling is similar to what an artist or musician must feel when they create or compose an original piece.  A feeling of great power came over me (in spite of the fact that I did no real coding of my own).  This was, by far, the most exciting moment of the semester for me.

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Thanks to Zach Whalen’s handy dandy guide, the process was pretty straightforward (and fun!).   I experienced a few minor hiccups in the process (pasting codes in the wrong box, adding an extra space here and there, etc.), but overall it went smoothly.  I did, however, make it a little more complicated by deciding to add the contents of one of my fav. sci-fi books into the spreadsheet.  It took me about half an hour of googling variations of “how to paste the contents of a google doc into one column in google sheets.”  (This was after taking the pdf of the book I found online and converting it to a google doc.)  So, I learned that there needs to be a “newline” (like a line break) recognized for where to start a new cell in the column.  Once I figured that out, I searched for a way to do that without hitting enter at the end of each line (I just going to email you, Alan, next time).   In the end, I just hit enter at the end of each line and stopped after about 5 pages of text, which worked out to about 150 or cells of text.  Good enough for me!  I set ti to post every six hours.


So, periodically, my alchemical avatar will be tweeting random lines from Life, the Universe, and Everything for you reading please (and possible confusion).  (But I didn’t really do any of this, of course, it was all Laurus Vagus Ambigo—she’s busier than “I” am these days.)

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In-Class Open Mic (Take 2)

Wow!  I cannot begin to express how moved I was by this week’s impromptu sharing session.  It was an unforgettable experience.  So powerful.  I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by such an amazing group of people.

I loved what Dr. Zamora said about the perception of Kean University and its students as being “diamonds in the rough” so to speak.  I feel the same way about my town, Rahway, and often try to get that message out there to those who may have some negative preconceived notions about the area.  I guess that goes along with this week’s theme of the storied campus.  It’s all about perceptions and how people view things versus what it’s actually like to be a part of something, be it a university or town, etc.  As a former PR gal, this sort of this is always running through my mind.  How do we want the world to see us? How can we change others’ views?  What does it mean when we try to create our own version of reality for others? As mentioned in this week’s unchecklist, today’s world affords us the opportunity to continually create imagined versions of ourselves online.  We are, through the use of social media, constantly pulling out whichever “strings” we deem desirable.  It’s like Howard Rheingold says, we have to use “crap detection” to filter out the….well, you know…crap that’s fed to us every day.  I don’t think there can ever be an accurate “synthesizing” of one’s experience of anything.  For example, my grad experience at Kean has been amazing.  This course, for me, has been life-changing.  Forgive me for sounding sappy here, but I gloat all the time to my friends and family about the quality of education I am receiving here.  And it’s in no doubt because of Dr. Zamora and Alan Levine (and my fellow students, of course).  I feel part of something so revolutionary and inspiring that I often think I will look back on this course one day and be just as equally amazed at how “ahead of its time” it was.  I feel so fortunate to be doing such groundbreaking, experimental work here and now.  I don’t think there are many other schools that offer this kind of coursework.  I mean, wow!  I definitely do not take what we’re doing for granted.  Now, to my point, not all experiences are equal- even at the graduate level.  Last semester, I took an average course related to writing and learned a decent amount and made it through the class unscathed.  But I wanted more.  I wanted THIS.  So, if by chance, a student was not fortunate enough to enroll in equally as inspiring courses throughout his/her graduate (or undergraduate) work, I fear his/her experience would certainly fall short of great. Thus, the multiple versions of reality.

So, as suggested, I did make an audio recording of the readings from class (definitely for the benefit of Alan – we missed you in class!!).

Thanks for being such a supportive audience!!  It was another healing experience for me.


We wash dishes

Take out the trash

Walk the dog

Make coffee

And buy food

But we’re not waiting, anymore

The sun still shines

But you’re not

Coming back

The swelling in my eyes has gone down

My throat has cleared

But I still console Mom

The unthinkable is real

I no longer see

The world through a child’s eyes

Innocence is lost

No more phone calls

No more potluck dishes

Babies have grown and been born

The dreams are gone

Your image faded

Your voice quieted

We have Evolved

                                                                                    Laura Lopez



Fragments remain


Shreds of spirit draped upon her body

Like tinsel on a January tree



Hollow, empty soul


Like an endless well filled with unanswered hopes




Her eyes are muddy trenches





My Mother

                                                                                  Laura Lopez


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Finding my “groove” through sound this week…



Feeling like a “Sound Alchemist Wizard”

First, I appreciated the slight redirection received from Dr. Zamora and Alan regarding feeling empowered to choose what aspects of the “checklist” we focus on.  I found myself lost for hours on things that were not necessarily part of “the list.”  It was freeing and productive.

Friday just happened to be St. Patty’s Day and my family just happened to have a trip of bagpipers converged in my cousin’s living room.  Audio gold!!  Again, after a quick conversion, I used soundcloud to post to twitter.


(did you know soundcloud has a special embedded code to use when posting to wordpress?  cool!)

Coincidentally (and as some of you may have noticed from my rather revealing tweets), my basement bar turned into an impromptu Karaoke lounge this weekend so, naturally, I grabbed my phone and captured the moment. This is where I really tried my hand at editing with audacity.  Again, time-consuming and a somewhat intimidating interface, but doable nonetheless.   In case you missed it…..(pardon my singing voice–haha)

I was able to record my morning wake-up routine and add to the YWP with not too much hassle, although it was rather time-consuming.  I used the recommended app, italk to record, emailed it to myself (I had to make it a little shorter in order to be able to email to myself for free), and then was able to change file into an mp3 using Cloud Convert – super easy and quick.  Next, I uploaded it to the YWP site.  I repeated the process for my commute to work.  The only challenge here was when I tried to record in my car the bluetooth kicked in and was interfering with my recording – I didn’t even think about taking it off bluetooth (duh), so I just cut that part out.  Unfortunately, I honestly forgot to take out my phone when I got to work each day so I was not able to capture any of the fun sounds from my school hallways.  

Next up was to use some sounds to create a little backstory behind someone else’s 3 sounds.  Eeeek!  I hate the sound of my voice.  More audio editing practice here…actually this one, despite it’s short length too the most amount of time this week.  Kinda tricky to get things to overlay…lots of trial and error.  (forgot all my screenshots…ahhh)

Thanks to astrobot314 for her simple, yet powerful sounds.

Next, I was thrilled to be invited on the bus tour to Vermont.  My students were thrilled and it was a great experience.  Almost just as good, Geoffrey Gevalt of YWP created a private area within his site for my students to access.  We’re super excited to get started there!!

Overall, I would say my time this week was spread around and spent thinking and tinkering…oh, and a little DDa and (failed attempts) at code cracking!!  🙂 

I even uncovered some old audio stuff I created a while back….




Seasons Change

Me: Spring Break 1994


Me: Spring  Break 2017




You might not know this about me, but I do not know how to relax.  It’s an issue in my house.  My husband has no problem taking a nap in the middle of the day or vegging out in front of the tv for hours on end, but not me.  When I find myself with “down time” I turn it into “do time.”  I think it’s guilt.  Not sure what it is, but I literally don’t know how to relax.  Is there a prescription for that?  (I had a massage once and it was unbearable…I felt bad for the person massaging…like I was bothering them or something…uggh!)  I’m thinking about this now because of our “assignment” to take a step back and because of today’s snow day from school/work.  I have to force myself to relax.  For me, doing “nothing” takes work.  It makes me uneasy.  Even when I am not physically moving, my mind races.  It’s exhausting.  For these reasons, I made it a conscious decision to “relax” a little more these past couple weeks.  For me, this meant not only scaling back my daily alchemical activity but also paying attention to my many other everyday activities that prevent me from relaxing.  I can’t say that I completely successful in my endeavor, but I dod become more aware of my behavior and thought patterns, which is a good start.

One thought that circled my mind quite often was about this networked community that is the netnarr experience.  I felt like I had abandoned my group.   Would they accept me back? I wondered. Do they even notice I’m gone?  I feared.   Am I the only one whose taken this hiatus literally?  Ironically, perhaps, this temporary, but much-needed break from full immersion in the netnarr realm has reinforced its power and significance for me.  What, then, will happen when this class is over?  Does the netnarrr community live on?  Time will tell…


The Network Effect


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Day 1 of Watching  “The Network Effect”

70 degrees, Friday afternoon.  I’m sitting outside on my deck feeling particularly relaxed.  I decide check out The Network Effect.  Upon clicking, the website opens to full-screen mode on my laptop.  (I decide against the site’s suggestion to use headphones.)  There’s a slight glare from the sun and I can’t decide if that’s why it hard to focus or not, so I shift my seat.  It’s a little better but I still find myself squinting.  Immediately, the clock starts counting down.  I think, “ Seven minutes?  That seems like a pretty long time.”  I can feel my eyes following the endless scroll of pictures up and down.  The pace is too fast for me.  I’m uncomfortable.  A little nauseous.  I find that the sound of the heartbeat coming from the site is slower than the pace of my own.  Everything’s “off.” I try to follow each image. There a note at the bottom saying something like based on my coordinates I have been allotted 7 some-odd minutes based on my life span…etc.   I feel watched.  After about a minute, I move my finger on the mouse pad.  Things happen.  Words appear on the screen.  Things blur.  I stop.   I examine the screen more closely and notice an arrow in the bottom right-hand side.  “Oooh something else to look at.”  I click and realize it’s just a button to share the link to the site with any one of the various social media outlets.  I go back and click on the bottom left corner, a simple “question mark,” which leads me to an informational page.  I read it all.  It feels like a nice break from the pace of the other page. The clock is still going, I notice.  “Oh no.”  I return to the moving montage.   I’m shocked to find that there are only 3 minutes left.  “What have I done?”  I know that I have to wait not only until tomorrow but 24 hours until I can view again. “But tomorrow’s Saturday.”   I have mixed emotions.  I continue watching.  As it nears the end of the counter my heart rate quickens.  I am semi-prepared for the end screen because I’ve read the informational page.  It comes.  Blue sky.  White clouds.  And the words: Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.

-Carl Jung.  I sit and wait for more.   A bell tolls.  It eerily reminds me of my childhood memories of being in church, particularly, that moment when the priest turns the bread into the body of Christ.  It continues…and I am freaked out.  

I have been hypnotized.
If The Network Effect is chaos, then Astronaut is order.   

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I imagined The Network Effect as being some kind of futuristic sci-fi video/brochure made for other life forms to better understand what life on earth is like.  The thought made me cringe.  However, after viewing Astronaut, I had the same odd thought, but with much more positive feeling associated.  It was a glimpse into life on earth.  I was cracking up at each video, even when there was nothing funny was going on.  Every scene (almost) was laced with ordinary, regular, everyday activities.  And just enough of each one was revealed.  I felt the opposite of anxious while watching.  I felt as though at any moment an image of myself cooking dinner was going to appear on the screen.  It would have made perfect sense.  The only eerie thing about it was that it had me thinking about that “eye in the sky,” as though at any moment a picture of me cooking dinner could pop up on the screen.   I mean, after all, do these people realize their videos have been fed into the site by some algorithm?  Could my image pop up on the screen at any moment??!!??

Day 2- Network Effect Experience

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I think I was watching it “wrong.”  This time, I explored and clicked around.  Part of this experienced felt the way I imagine an addict to feel.  I couldn’t look away.  Couldn’t stop clicking around.  The more I clicked the faster things seemed to go.  If you clicked in the middle the words “more…more…more…” would pop up along the center of the screen…Each time I clicked the more of the the words “more” would appear, getting smaller each time.  I didn’t stop.  I wanted to see how little they would become.  Soon they looked like one thin white line across the screen…MORE…MORE…MORE…..Was I the only one doing this?  Was I doing it “wrong” again?  I felt disjointed.  Uncomfortable.  Sad.  The voices were eerie.  It was not entirely different from a horror movie that I was in control of…yet had no control over.  The power to click mixed with the inability to manipulate the images and sound had me confused.  Frustrated.  Time flew.  30 seconds came and I quickly tried to make my way to words I hadn’t clicked on before.   And then, again, the bell tolled and it was done.  But, I pushed the back arrow this time and it let me back in!  A glitch, perhaps?  Or a planned allowance for seekers such as myself?   I was back in but the clock was at 0:00 in the upper right corner.  I pushed the forward arrow and the bell was still tolling.  Back.  Forth.  Back.  Forth.  Back.  Forth.  Finally.  X.  

I was done. (For now.)


Order & Choas, Gif & Meme Style

So it seems as though we had a little jump start in class last week with creating our memes for the week.  I knew right away that I wanted to try La La GIF this week, so I started tinkering early in the week.  I started thinking of how I could relate the order/chaos theme to the school setting (prompted somewhat by Howard Rheingold’s talk about his experience as a child in his mother’s art class and partly by our human graph experience) and I came up with (what I thought to be) an amusing and relevant idea for some contrasting sound gif that explored these ideas of order and chaos in the classroom.

I may be dating myself, but Fast Time at Ridgemont High is one of my all-time fav cult classics.  I was attempting to play off of the idea that Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn) ORDERing pizza in school created chaos (or did he?).  I thought this would be a nice contrast to the scene in Dead Poet’s Society when Robin William’s students stand on their desks in protest of their beloved professor being fired.  This act “chaos,” I thought, was actually a great example of the opposite:  ORDER.  In his role, Wiliams broke all the traditional rules of the conservative prep school (hey, kinda like Netnarr) and, as a result, inspired his students to think for themselves.

So, in essence, I was trying to convey the idea that sometimes order means chaos and chaos means (or leads to) order.

Surprisingly, this week’s tech stuff had me frustrated.  I tried lala-gif multiple time but could not get it to create my sound gifs. I think maybe I had to shorten the video to the right length first?  I tried a couple other sites ass well.  No luck.  I did stumble upon a cool article that says to change any youtube video to a gif just type in gif before the word youtube and presto!  I found that hard to believe.  It works!  So, I had to tweet about it!  So cool (but no sound included).  😦

Finally, I found  It’s super easy…put in any video and it’s like magic!  Too, it can let you put together multiple seconds from the same video with ease.  So, my second one is a little longer than a typical gif but, hey, it’s such a great scene!

And, here they are……

Here’s what I think about “ORDER & CHAOS” (in the classroom):

(oh, the music!!!)

Things aren’t always what they seem…..


Fan Fic Blackout


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Both the fanfiction studio visit with Flourish and Elizabeth and the in-class conversation that followed were highly engaging.  I went into watching the video with what I thought to be a “pretty good” understanding of the basic concept of fanfiction, as a whole.  I left the video realizing that there was a lot I didn’t know and, as a result, many more questions emerged.  (The more you learn, the less you know, right?)  First, I had no idea this was a dominantly female community.  Also, the many unwritten rules of participation were quite interesting (tagging, commenting, creating, etc.).  I was particularly struck by the “yuletide” practice of gift-giving to a sub-group who may be in need of members by way of writing them a story.  It gives a glimpse into the collective values of the group.  My interest was piqued by Flourish’s novel based on band One Direction.  So, as I watched and listened, I googled “novel One Direction” in another tab and found this article from Rolling Stone. I was disappointed to see it was about another author who, apparently, had the same idea and earned a 6-figure book and movie deal as a result.  This is a “first-time” author who posted the story on Wattpad.  The story received over one billion hits.  Apparently, she wrote it on her phone. My marketing brain had my wheels spinning with possibilities.  Personally, and for now, the idea of reading fan fic feels like a betrayal of the original.  Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but I found myself cringing at the thought of reading about a beloved character, knowing it’s not “real.”  Maybe that sounds weird, I dunno.  I totally respect and am kind of jealous of the fan fic community, but I think I would feel like I’m cheating on my book or something.

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Last week’s blackout poetry was fun and challenging.  Coincidentally, I am beginning a mini-poetry unit with my 6th graders this week, so you know I will be doing this with them.  Can’t wait.  The in-class time constraint had me flustered b/c it takes me a while to produce any sort of writing, esp. the creative kind.  There was such an abundance of rich words to choose from that it was kind of difficult to come up with anything “bad.”  I found it more difficult, in fact, to come up with a line (or two) of a larger story rather than a poem, as poems allow for certain grammatical forgiveness, etc.  Sorry to say, I think I abandoned the “time” theme a little in my line (ooops).  It was still sort of there but definitely in the background.

I started experimenting with pics, sound and the lines from classmates, but it’s really rudimentary at this point.  What I actually ended up doing was sort of blackout poetry on a handful of other blackout poetry.  It felt a little less overwhelming, but still collaborative.  I stayed true to the activity by keeping them in order and not moving the parts of the lines around.

In the morning asleep he was visited in his dream by extraordinary portent  (½ from Mia Zamora) Monstrous terror crawling through the slime. The waters a calamitous phenomenon. The splintered wood a facade  (Rissa Candiloro)Incredible beasts still call n the morning but only briefly abandoning scandalous actuality. (Stephanie Jones ) Flesh standing still, prepared to perform a miracle, slammed their gaze and embraced ferociously.(Laura Lopez ) he first monstrous song dreamed in the extraordinary one’s days climbed the splendid panorama of the city at dawn (Masooch) ordinary crawling, eating, abandoning the summits. Only the phenomenon of struggle and splendid knowing the motive to be.(½ from Katherine Marzinsky )

Interested to see where we will go with this….