Originally published by me at 2017 – CogDogRoo (see it there)

Were it not for twitter, which apparently is a sewer, and the internet itself, which is broken and even failing it’s founding father, I would not have spent an afternoon making paper arts, playing swivel tennis, with a friend and his family on the other side of the world.

I first knew of Rowan Peter via the legendary (and it was) first round of open DS106 in 2011. It was rather remarkable that an educator from Melbourne Australia had found and jumped into this ragged open community of interestly odd characters. His entry was fueled by the first excitement over DS106 radio very memorably his live transmissions of the sounds of cicadas.

Yep, cicadas.

There was much more, like his DS106 lawn art, his fascination with ice hockey, and the birth of his son Alex around the same time as the start of the crazy live radio era of DS106. If there was a dot from Australia on the live listener map for a radio broadcast, we knew it was Rown. There’s much more to it than the things I remember, if anything it was Rowan’s presence of participation and care for others in the community that is even more memorable.

It was ideal that in December 2011 I had an offer to present at a workshop in Melbourne, that made for the trip over, and I got to spend some time hanging out with Rowan, but even better, to visit his home. I even got to make my own version of lawn art in his backyard

2011/365/338 Making Lawn Art with Rowan Peter

2011/365/338 Making Lawn Art with Rowan Peter flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

and stumbled into the creator of a giant Theremin on the Melbourne water front (Rowan had told me of this)

Robin The Theremin Artist

Robin The Theremin Artist flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

plus some efforts at the StoryBox plus a failed attempt at Skate With George. But maybe the biggest highlight was getting yo meet Rowan’s new son, less than a year old.

Rowan and Son

Rowan and Son flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Thus it was a near certainty (I hoped) to visit Rowan again on this trip, nearly 6 years later. He came into Melbourne to visit my first weekend, where we had a walk about Victoria Market (I had my first borek), laneway wanderings

It's The Eye of GROOM!

It’s The Eye of GROOM! flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

But the treat was my last Sunday in town when Rowan drove in to pick me up, and seeing coming down the street my friend and a happy 7 year-old Alex, who apparently has been practicing with that photo above to do a “Young Me / Now Me” redo

Practicing for the Photo Reshoot

Practicing for the Photo Reshoot flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

And thus achieved:

Alex and Dad, 2011 and Now

Alex and Dad, 2011 and Now flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Yet this was about half of the joyous part of the day, for I got to meet for the first time, Rowan’s daughter, Charly, who came into the world in the time between my visits. She welcomed me with a shower of confetti and we enjoyed a fair bit of time doing paper and chalk art

That Charly Smile

That Charly Smile flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

How can this internet be all terrible if it enables this?

Alex and His Snakes

Alex and His Snakes flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

Ah, but there is more to this friendship connection, maybe more than this post can handle. I also got to hang out twice with Aaron Davis, who is now in the class of friends / colleagues where the trace of connection fades into a blurred range. Aaron joined me for a tour of the ACMI Wallace and Gromit Exhibit

Aaron Balancing

Aaron Balancing flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

as well as a walkabout in the area near his workplace on one of my last free days in town. We talked music and passed the actual Charcoal Lane sung about by Archie Roach

Another important re-connection while in Melbourne was with Michael Coghlan, whom I know the trace of connection goes back to the paleo-web of the last 1990s. We’ve crossed paths on my visits to his town of Adelaide (he took the 10 year photo used on a backdrop for https://cog.dog/roo), for a few Horizon Project meetings here, an the Open Education Conference in Vancouver.

Our most frequent connections, like perhaps weekly in the past few years, has been mutual commenting on photos in flickr. Michael is a keen photographer with an eye for things as weird and falling down as I enjoy. He recently shared a web site that managed to reuse each of our photos

So it was wonderful that when I told him of my trip to Melbourne, Michael made special plans to fly in and visit for a few days, the best being an afternoon photo wander along the Yarra River and than a jaunt up to Fitzroy

Loving Grim Shit

Loving Grim Shit flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)
Michael is Comfy

Michael is Comfy flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

We have much in common in terms of his edtech work in TAFEs paralleling my first long stint in Community Colleges, as well as music and disdain for politics of the now. In fact, I will have to do something about our terrible President to enable it so Michael will come and visit the states again (he’s not doing so while El Orange Chupacabra is in power).

I’m working on it Michael.

Being a long time friend, I gave Michael one of three imported beers I brought from That Brewery, just to give him a reason to visit Arizona when the coast is clear.

Make an Aussie Smile

Make an Aussie Smile flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

These connections, and more, and more made during this trip, happen in the same internet place that people can paint a wide brush on as totally terrible… it cannot be totally terrible if these things can happen.

I’m in it for the webs of friendship. You?


Featured Image: Can You Hear Me Now, Dad? flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)


2017 – CogDogRoo is the primary blog for my 2017 Australia Tour

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. Yes, I am. And, and grateful for your sharing journeys with me online and in person. What a fabulous web you weave when first to travel and then eat cheese. :)

  2. Some spaces do become toxic, even if we did make friends there once. I would argue Twitter has increasingly gone that route, although I agree we should stop short of generalizing about the web/internet. My litmus test for Twitter’s increasingly irrelevance is when I think about how many meaningful relationships I’ve made there over the last two years—which hovers right around 0. A huge part of that is because the platform has, indeed, become a political dumpster fire, and I think many of us are just holding on because of what it once meant to us (and it may even be where some folks find our blog posts :) ). In its hey day it was my second home online, the almost perfect visualization of my network, but I do think those days are gone and they are not coming back. I feel this in my very soul because every time I go to check it, which was once an act filled with joyful expectantcy, I am overcome by an almost mechanical sense of dread. So, while these spaces have given us something, they can take just as much—and for me knowing when to get out is crucial to a certain amount of online health

    1. I cannot say your experience is wrong or inaccurate, I just wonder, even with my own, how valid it is to extrapolate my experience to others. I do acknowledge a good chunk of the vibrant era influences my perspective. I do not go close to the dumpster fires, but I follow people who do. I know they are there. But I don’t spend much time in proximity.

      I can say I have added people of meaningful relationships just this week. One is the woman from Japan who found my tweets about Antonio and the post card project; tomorrow we are doing a Skyoe call for a podcast recording while I am here in Australia. This is not insignificant or an outlier in my routine.

      We have different experiences, as does everyone. So who can say what Twitter is across the board? I am not defending or denying the shit that is there, but it’s also not limited to twitter.

      So I recently came across (and it was not twitter, I think it was Apple News) Melvin Kranzberg’s 6 Laws of technology, the first fits to this discussion:

      Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.

      Technology’s interaction with the social ecology is such that technical developments frequently have environmental, social, and human consequences that go far beyond the immediate purposes of the technical devices and practices themselves, and the same technology can have quite different results when introduced into different contexts or under different circumstances.

      While that feels like it fits I am not sure what it really does for the situation. Twitter as toxic cannot be denied, but is it toxic as a whole? I see a progression of moving away from larger online spaces to maybe overlapping more human scaled ones (as people seem to rediscover blogging? ha ha ha).

      The most important thing is what you have done, knowing that you can do it and knowing when you need to pull the exit cord. To feel like one cannot quit is the worse case scenario. I’ll miss seeing ole Cotton Mather in the streams.

      Bloghicans for life ;-)

      1. I am so sad when I read about folks threatening to quit Twitter. Yes, it’s different. Yes, there’s a whole lot of crap (I learned to detect from Howard Rheingold…on Twitter). But for me, I go back again and again to how the relationships and the PEOPLE I met there changed my thinking, my practice, changed me. I cannot think of another place I would meet Alan Levine, or Gardner Campbell, or Alec Couros, or Dave Cormier, or Bon Stewart, or D’arcy Norman, or Jen Dalby (I sure miss her) or Lawrie Phipps, or Wendy Teleo, or Maha Bali, or just right up the road from me Donna Lanclos (trying to sprinkle my continents) or countless other people whose thinking and work and struggles and victories they shared – on Twitter – for all the world to see. I miss they way the conversations were when I first joined. I’m sorry for the change. But I’m not leaving. Because of people like you Alan. Rock on. And thanks for staying…and for writing.

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