The Nag is On! Seeking (again) True Stories of Open Sharing

Yes, I am doing this again. It’s been a whole year! On April 16 I am doing True Stories of Open Sharing for the eLearning Consortium of Colorado (eLCC) conference; it is their 25th one, they are just a month younger then the web itself.

That’s pretty amazing. The web. I collect stories of its amazingness.

This is the evolution of what started in 2008 as Amazing True Stories of Openness for the Open Education Conference. I collect videos of anyone telling a story of how something unexpected, wonderful, connective happen as a direct or indirect result of sharing something on the open web.

All I ask is for a short video, which you upload to YouTube or vimeo, and just send me a link. This is the deposit box

With great irony, as much as people tweet nice things about the site… it’s really hard to get people to send them to me. Usually I resort to nagging, teasing, or just showing up at their house with a video camera. When I present this, I typically ask for members of the audience to tell em one on the spot (I grab a video with my mobile).

I’m keen to get a new fresh supply, and so here I am begging for stories.

cc licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by Christian O. Harris


Behind a Cowbird

My being inspired to write a story on cowbird is a likely correlation with spending last week visiting Barbara Ganley. Because I urge my students to share the story behind a story, the one I wrote last night A Stranger Rummaged Through My Suitcase came from my unpacking experience.

It was hardly the first time I found the TSA paper in my suitcase

cc licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Like usually I shrugged it off, tossed the paper, and put the pile of dirty clothes in the basket to be washed. That’s when “it” happened- that diffifult to describe itch when an idea bubbles up.

Part of it is how normal this seems, how matter of fact. We just accept the fact that when traveling by airplane, our checked baggage is inspected for Things That Do Not Belong in the Air. Less then that odd realization that someone opened and looked around my bag of dirty clothes– was more that a person was doing this. A person I would never know, nor would I know what their story is.

So I decided to make a character, so I tried to cast what the experience might be like on the side of someone who has taken on this kind of work. What its like to spend all day inspecting the inner secrets of luggage.

I ended up actually putting the clothes back in the suitcase, finding the note in my recycle bin, and reconstructing so I could get the photo.

Not that it is anything of critical acclaim, for me it is the practice of looking at a situation from perhaps a slightly different angle. THAT is what we can do with story, not always find out how the world really works, but imagine alternatives. To write a world, not necessarily right a world.

Anyhow, the story is below, but is always better tasted on the full cowbird. I enjoy the cowbird way, yet as I hear people rave about medium, I always come back to the idea that I could cast my story almost anywhere. The tools are interesting, and they can shape some of the story, but never all of it.

That’s mine.

You Can’t Keep this Dog Down! A new flickr cc Attribution Helper

cc licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

A few days ago I bemoaned, whinged, the changes at flickr that rendered my flickr cc attribution helper tool DOA.

At the mercy of third party providers who take a great service and just yank it away (ahem Google– Reader; ahem Twitter– posterous; the list goes on), one can just take the lumps like a victim. But I like to find the ways around it. I got code on my side.

Do you see that image above? I generated it with my brand new, mostly untested, flickr cc attribution helper as a browser bookmarklet.

The way my old scripts work had a weakness; the browser scripts depended on knowing the underlying structure of the flickr photo page, and then did some gyrations with XPATH/Javascript to decipher the photo information. So when the layout CSS changed, there went the scripts. I tried to make it work with the new flickr, but the code is more dynamic.

The thing about flickr is that while many people get lathered up abut the web interface, is power is that the underlying architecture is there for use via its API. That does not change, and it gives one access to the information in flickr. What it means is that you can make flickr do almost whatever you want, imagine, or can manage to bang out via code.

I use PHP libraries with pechaflickr and 5card flickr stories

I knew there are methods to access flickr information via a javascript only (calling for data in JSON format), meaning that I might be able to rig something that worked in the browser only, not via a web server. I spent a few hours just doing a basic info request with a hard wired flickr URL, and managed to get something that worked- pass it a flickr URL and I could get all the info to generate the attribution code, including which creative commons license a photo has attached to it.

It did it by putting the info in a pop up window, even got fancy by putting the image as a background on the window.

I tried to get it all working inside a bookmarklet, but could not get the jQuery to cooperate. So I had a new idea. The bookmark’s function is simply to get the ID for the flickr image; that is the part of a URL such as

which is 13455811934 — that is all I need to pass to the flickr photos.getInfo API. So my clever idea was to put all the code that does the work in an HTML/jquery page, and I could pass the flickr ID to it via a query parameter, e.g.


And that’s what I have working now. But I did not want to depend on hanging this on my domain, and shoulder the traffic for everybody– I figured out how to get the code running on a github site associated with the code.

But creating the bookmarklet is also something I could make easier. So here it is… (drumroll) the flickr cc attribution helper maker

new helper

With this tool you create your own browser bookmarklet. Something I could add are some options, for the HTML code, so you can have other sizes than the 500px width image used (that’s what fits this blog, and I make tools for me first).

But all you need to do is drag the link on the blue button to your browser bookmarks bar. When viewing a flickr image, it will toss open a new small window with the one click attribution (pop up windows, bad, I know. Maybe I can figure out how to put a lightbox on the flickr page)


And there you go! Attribute away.

But wait, there is more! Maybe you do not like the way my code does attribution. Maybe you want the licenses spelled out. Maybe you want to put your own CSS classes on things. Just grab the cc-attributor source from the github repo.

You can modify it any way, and put on your own web site (heck I tested on my MacBookPro in the localhost web directory). And then you can still use my Bookmark Maker to generate the tool, just put your URL in the field instead of mine.

Now go attribute your flickr photos! Don’t be tool of flickr, make it a tool for you.

I should say that this is barely tested. Mileage will vary. I also got very confused with github’s tools for making pages, and tripped up 20 times in the branches.

A New Web House for the Randall House

Just to show that not every one of my recent web design projects relied on the Treble template, here is another site I made recently for my friend’s restaurant in Pine Arizona, The Randall House


The owner had been left in a bind by the last person who promised a site; for maybe a year the URL went to “Database Connection Error”. As a small business owner who not only manages the whole operation but does the cooking, Barb wanted a nice site that would not need much in terms of updates. I provided links to maybe 5-8 different responsive HTML5 web templates, and she picked the one I liked, the Barnelli Theme.

It features an image rich front page slider, and an info page with a lot of options to use images and links to other parts of the site, for example the restaurant information page

rh rest

There are plenty of rollover goodies, like the hours that pop up as an overlay, and the top right image area is a rotating slider set of images. The part we both liked was the design of the menu pages, that features a chalkboard font and background

th menu

That matches the beverage board in the restaurant. The menu has three sections, the main is the breakfast menu, then there is a lunch one, and a third beverage one.

The menus took a while to design, working from a PDF version of the print menu, but we are pleased with how it turned out.

The template has for a third section an online reservation form that we did not need (they do not take reservations online), so I reconfigured a copy of the restaurant page layout to show off the local arts and gifts they sell (I am still doing some tweaking on these pages)

rh art

Since Barb mainly uses her Facebook page to provide updates, I added in widgets to places such as the location/contact page (the contact form took some tweaking too)

rh map

This is not as much a one page theme as Treble; this theme has both a static HTML and a version that is all PHP, which afforded some ways to template re-used content sections as includes, and to be able to generate even other tertuiary pages, such as the info about the restaurant

rh about

This is actually what the template provides as a blog template, but with some cleanup, I just have it as another page; the three content blocks on the right are reused chunks via PHP includes.

I ended up visiting a few times to take more photos, which is not a bad thing at all since the food there is so good! If you are touring north/central Arizona, or are looking for a great place to eat on a road trip from Phoenix of Flagstaff… check out the Randall House!

Welcome to the Randall House

Table Time at the Randall House

Randall House Ham Croissant

New Flickr Trashes Creative Commons Attribution Helper

Before yesterday, I could give proper creative commons attribution to the image I used here in one copy/paste action. Today it take 8 clicks and I canot copy the owner's name's name to attribute  cc licensed flickr photo by by some guy named Steve

Before yesterday, I could give proper creative commons attribution to the image I used here in one copy/paste action. Today it take 6.. 7.. 8 clicks and still I cannot copy the owner’s name’s name to attribute! Here gies cc licensed (take a wold guess at the license) flickr photo by by some guy named Steve

Since 2009 I have maintained what was once just a greasemonkey script, but later a chrome extension that was designed primarily to help me blog with flickr creative commons attribution photos (it provided a string of text with proper attribution, license, and the img tag to embed the image). As of yesterday, when apparently yahoo flicked the switch, my cc attribution helper is in the trash; inert, dead, and with no hopes of coming back.

In the trash.

I spent about 3 hours today trying to parse the new code underneath the new Yahoo look, and felt I could parse most of the info like before with Xpath, but something in the new architecture renders the script dead, even for simple alert debugging checks. Yahoo is serving up some complex Javascripted dynamic content. Besides the ASCII bicycle in the HTML source (candy), you find fun trickery like:

<div class="facade-of-protection-neue ">&amp;nbsp;</div>

Yahoo’s class is a facade of protection… neue! Charming.

The helper may not be totally impossible to fix, but I trotted out beyond the limits of my browser scripting, the XPATH code I had used was already on those fringes. I doubt I have the chops to raise it from the dead.

I think only Yahoo can enable this, so if this was useful, you can toss in a few votes for my suggestion as a feature.

The creative commons licensing in the new groovy flickr is down below one of the three “charm” tabs; on your own images you actually see the license, but on anyone else’s page you see either All Rights Reserved or Some Rights Reserved — to know the license you have to hover or click.

More clicks to attribute correlates with what is already a low level of attribution going down the tubes.

Some Rights Hidden.. what is the license on a flickr image??

Some Rights Hidden.. what is the license on a flickr image??

To give attribution to the owner of this image… I cannot even copy/paste Steve’s name. Sorry Steve.

no copy

The funny thing about the flickr interface is where its veneer thins, and the old flickr look pokes through. If you go to your own photo stream, and click “Edit” (I’ve never even done this before)- look, beneath! It’s old flickr!

Old flickr lurks beneath the new

Old flickr lurks beneath the new

And even more ironically, the flickr collection for creative commons? It’s the same old page it was in 2011. It’s old flickr with a new headband!

flickr cc old

The de-valuation of creative commons shows too- nowhere in the source code of a flickr creative commons image can you find any meta data or rdf triples or any shred of machine code ti indicate creative commons content. It’s undiscoverable.

Now I now many of you will tell me how bad flickr is, and how you have moved on to 500px or self hosted or … I am going to go out on a wobbly limb; I kind of like the new design, It’s modern.

new flickr

I just want to be able to more cleanly and efficiently do attribution.

I believe in attribution.

I still love flickr, this being my 10th year hoisting my photos there.

Stupid romantic am I.


So back to the drawing board. The rights info and everything else is in there via the flickr API, so probably a better approach is some sort of bookmarklet tool that can provide the cut and past code in a pop up window. Rewriting the content into the flickr page was nice while it worked, but was always dependent on the structure of their pages having certain divs and ids and classes. That was always dicey.

UPDATE Mar 27, 2014 No, I did not get a personal call of apology from Marissa Meyer.

I have been seeking some images, and found a bit of a shorter step process to find attribution.

I do my searches with the creative commons options at compfight. They actually have a decent attribution string you can copy, and then download the size you need. But I follow the link to the flickr image, this case one of the great collection of numbers by LEOL30. Under the 3 Dot menu, then to Download/All Sizes. From here is a decent attribution license string and the name of the photo owner you can actually copy with a mouse. One more click to copy the page URL.

Getting to the new and less improved flickr attribution text

Getting to the new and less improved flickr attribution text

cc-method-new so at least I have

"15" by LEOL30 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

I can get some HTML in my 500px size via the arrow coming out of the box icon so I can get


some cut and paste image code for a blog post

“15″ by LEOL30 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

It’s interesting that flickr puts an attribution to the photo owner in its own generated HTML tag, for the title attribute:

Hyperlink code generated from flickr share button

Hyperlink code generated from flickr share button


title="15 by LEOL30, on Flickr"

How much extra effort would it take for them to modify that to read:

title="15 by LEOL30, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 
License photo on Flickr"

They can do this, if they wanted to.

50+ Web Ways to Tell a Story Done One New Way

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

My second day at Skidmore College this week was set to do a workshop; I offered to do a version of 50 Web Ways to Tell a Story planning to tap into for the first time the new collection of mobile apps I am working on with help from Darren Kuropatwa.

The idea for the workshop came right from the semi-weekly video chats I have with Darren– the material bits are at

About 20 showed up, faculty and staff not only from Skidmore College, but also from the “New York 6“, Union College and Hamilton College, and Colgate University I believe were represented. As I prefer to start with an activity, I relied on the trusty pechaflickr but for a very good reason. I set it up for a round where each person would go once. The tag choice is the fun part, and we had one that generated perhaps some of the best (meaning outlandish) images

Following the story and overview of the site, I introduced was a first time activity that I cam super pleased with (starting with (c) at

They formed 4 groups of 4-5 people. Each group was tasked to watch a round of pechflickr with 5 images, up for 30 seconds each- the room agreed on the tag “Creativity” for every one to use. The first round was for people individually to write the outline of a story that is based on the 5 images. Then as a group, they shared and were asked to come up with a group story that they would work on. The plan was to put their idea in shared Google doc, do some searches on media to add, and then ask people to on their open create a story with different tools.

That grand plan was to see what happened when people tell the same story in different tools.

It did not quite go that way… and i ma glad. The groups really got into the discussion of the story idea, they used the story spine in the doc to make a shape of the story

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

And they preferred to collaborate as a group on doing stories together. I cannot argue with that. In fact, they spent just about all the time on the story process, and did not even get to the tools. Here’s a bit of the sound of the room:

One group did go that far, and even did somerging I never thought off; the used Balabberize for one part, exported it as a movie, and imported that into an animoto – two tools in one story.

Argh Animoto only gives you embed code for your own movie? Sigh. Go watch Group 3′s production

That is a win in my book- spending the time on developing the story over tool fiddling.

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

Making/Telling Stories That Matter (except for the Skidmore lacrosse fans)

On Tuesday, everything was lined up smooth for my invited talk at Skidmore College, Making/Telling Stories That Matter (ironically I submitted that as a title before I knew that the Skidmore motto was “CTM” aka Creative Thought Matters) (honestly).

Except that when the a/v crew went to turn on the livestream broadcast, they found it was already broadcasting… a lacrosse game. With 30 fans watching. A bit of scrambling, huddling in the presentation hall because the stream had been reserved. Someone had to call in to pull the hook.

The fans were not happy (a big thanks to Rowan Peter, tuned in from Melbourne Australia who captured the whole scene via screen shots)


Jeff: What happened to the lacrosse game?
Rob: Some clown put this on

Lacrosse fans are a tough crowd. Even worse for them was how badly they gotten beaten by Hamilton.

I loved the whole story playing out. Maybe they could have broadcast my talk over the video action of the game. Mashed up.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Giulia Forsythe

Anyhow, this was a talk in response to one on digital storytelling in light of Skidmore plan to create a cross disciplinary center as a Documentary Studies Collaborative. The talk’s description was

Maybe it goes back to cave paintings, maybe as humans we are wired for it, and maybe some of the magic of stories is that we cannot quantify them inside a neat definition. Our bodies react to a powerful story, a surprising story, a story that resonates with our own experiences. We can make better use of stories when we also practice listening, observing, retelling, experimenting, and practicing and practicing. Recipes do not work to make good stories, but I can share much of my own experience in creating and teaching what we call web-based storytelling. Through examples, experiences, and activities, I hope you can walk away from this session with new ideas to use in your own narrative and creative acts. Storytelling is about performance; Storymaking is what goes into creating a story to be told. We need both. And did you notice the lack of any mention of technology? It will be there!

The slides are shared though it’s hardly the talk but all links listed are available at

I revamped all my previous material for something new. I tried to open with a bit of acting to demonstrate the idea of storytelling doing the unexpected, and how the character is important- I pretended when my image of a campfire did not show up on slide 3 to call up on the phone and be be irate to a fictional assistant named “Tom” — e.g. that as a character, I was turning out maybe not to be one to root for. I hears laughter, so the acting was not so convincing. Maybe that was the lacrosse fans.

Next I talked about the power of “Once upon a time” as an opening time/place indicator, and the ways that things like the short story Knock (example lifted from Bryan Alexander) accomplished the scene/character setting in the first sentence, and then the unexpected twist, ending in the second sentence.

I tried to contrast the element of surprise and story development of stories that we enjoy in books and film, to the “give away everything you will say” approach of bullet point presentations (I believe I referred to the screen shot of one as “an abomination of creativity”).

I also put my animated GIF chops to work to poke some fun at the adage from Aristotle “Tell them what you are going to say. Tell them. Tell them what you said.” If you have to repeat it that often, is the message memorable? what does it say about “then”, which is you, if you need to be banged over the head three times with it? And, as my GIF tried to suggest, what if that was the films style of Hitchcock (The GIF is a bit heavy at 1.5 Mb, but you can watch it yourself)

Wanting to break up the expectation of a talk being me talking, I put them trough a short activity, a version of the Keychain stories we’ve done in ds106 and also that worked well last year in a workshop I did with Barbara Ganley. They certainly go into the activity

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

The hook in this activity is after they swapped stories (they were advised to listen closely), they were asked to combine groups where one person was to tell a story.. then I told them, that the storyteller is not telling their own story, but the one they heard. That’s because when we create a lot of stories, we are often telling someone else’s story. The idea is not to tell it exactly like the original, but to find our own way into the importance of the story, the “so what?”

I did some GIF work again to make a countdown timer


Then it was onto the stuff about what works in stories- the character, the hook, the shape, suspension of disbelief (using the Troy Library Book Burning as example), the unexpected, showing over telling (power of the silent dinner scene in Jaws)… I also did less about the “pyramid” as the structure of a story and more on the story spine (thanks Darren Kuropatwa for connecting me to that).

I shifted to being talking about documentaries; my hunch was most people think of them as I do, the kids of TV shows we saw as a kid– as a reference to the form, I used the Mockumentary, the Majestic Plastic Bag and the current poster child of the form, the guy who is so good, his name is part of Apple software

The thing that turned most of what I was planning on its head (nicely) was a link I found via a tweet from Barbara Ganley to Inside the Magazine by Adam Westbrook, which was well worth the $20 for its 4 issues, because it was really some of the freshest writing and ideas on storytelling free from the cave painting cliches. It also linked to quite a few amazing pieces of web creative form I have seen in a long time, a genre as I clicked deeper and deeper, is called “interactive documentaries”. Instead of making these slides, I ended up putting a lot of time into turning it into a separate web resource:

Examples of Web Documentaries

Examples of Web Documentaries

but also going into examples of what web video can be (e.g. TouchCast). It’s really a small sampling of what is out there- mainly for what it is showing that an experience on the web can be something other than “pages” loaded with links and sidebars.

And in the last 7 minutes I tried to explain ds106. At least give them a few things to look at.

I don;t know about the lacrosse fans, but I had fun. A big shoutout to Ben Harwood and his boss Beth DuPont for brining me yo Skidmore (thia was just day one, left for another blog post is the workshop from the next day).

And then, the next day, this thing was hurled at my from an unknown admirer

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

Students Review DS106: Constructivist or Bust!


This internet can be so recursive on itself. Nada Dabbagh, Professor & Director Division of Learning Technologies at George Mason University (she is the person who invited me to teach a DS106 class for GMU starting now) emailed about an ironic event in one of her classes. She has an assignment where her students are asked to compare a constructivist learning environment and compare it to an objectivist learning environment. Without her prompting, one of the student groups had found and selected on their own, DS106 as the former.

I asked if they would share their project and was curious how they discovered DS106; she got this response:

I’m fine with sharing it with anyone who is interested.

I came across it largely by dumb luck. I had been trying to research MOOC’s as a possible option and came across the idea of a Connectivist MOOC. Then I came across a reference to ds106 as a constructivist MOOC on pinterest of all things (, which led me right to their site.

Apparently Brenda Boyd, Director of Professional Development & Consulting for Quality Matters Program maintains a pinterest MOOC. And look where DS106 sits, right next to our pal, St Sebastian of the Thruns (not a suggestion that DS106 emerged from his head)

pinned moocs

You can listen to the student’s project as a screencast at I was impressed with how well they were able to encapsulate the characteristics of DS106 just from what they found on the web site.

And now form the irony department. Apparently the objectivist course the students looked at, something called Skillport, would not allow the students to use screen captures of their site in the screencast.


There’s open and then there’s _________________________

Vectoring The #Thoughtvectors

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Harry Scheihing

I have no idea if this image has any meaning here. It’s fun. Or scary. Or just wrong. In which Alan finds that searching flickr for creative commons licensed images tagged “vector: gets alot of people’s efforts at graphic design with Illustrator, et al.

Yeah, the #thougtvectors hash tag will be long. Be more briefer tweeters? Or heck, it might change. #thoughtvectors connects to a summer 2014 cMOOCish type course out of Virginia Commonwealth that bears the aura of Gardner Campbell.

Tom Woodward shared the first semi unofficial word on this course, long titled “Living the Dreams: Digital Investigation and Unfettered Minds”. The actual course is UNIV 200 “Inquiry and the Craft of Argument”. T

The email description that Tom posted actually came from something Gardner wrote when I introduced him to my former Maricopa colleague and friend Shelley Rodrigo (official prof page, where’s yer blog, Shelley? and I hope you latch on to this train) who is now down the road from him at Old Dominion University.

Gardner invited me to join him, Tom, and Jon Becker into the planning for this just this month, so I’m a new kid on the block; I get the sense they have been power brainstorming this for a while. It’s going to be super emergent, meaning it is still pretty much a protozoa stage of development. Bus the cells will be dividing madly in April.

The plan calls for a lot of distributed activity, so I’m on deck for putting together a new iteration of an aggregator, but one on steroids. What it will be is still cooking. But in our first discussion we agreed we ought to be saving the stuff from this “making of stage”.

So here is the early pre-alpha bit of a “reader” more or less something I dabbled with for a day as a WordPress based feed reader. This is my taking of Martin Hawksey’s (m)oocinabox code he did for the ALT-C site and set it up on a new install.

I have as feeds my blog and Tom’s, a flickr feed on the thoughtvectors tag (me jut retagging a fe wold photos), and a feed on the twitter hash tag (run through the labnol script that turns the jSON feed into RSS). Not much.

The thing I can see doing is an ability to use categories or tags to do what Google took when it shuttered Google Reader (/me shakes fist at Google)- to group feeds into “bundles” to re-feed them back out. I’ve not seen any of the new kid readers offering this.

Okay, I’ve dodged and danced around. This is far from the final deal, but I figure what comes is theming and adding functionality; if we start collecting the raw data now, we can change how it appears later. This baby is sitting now at

vcu reader

The main reader with Tom’s blog post toggled open. The brilliance of Martin’s code is something more browse-able than a flow of blog posts. I *think* it tracks read posts by coloring them white. I added the plugin for favoriting posts; the way Martin used it, people could log in and their act of favoriting created an upvote type system, along with tracking who even viewed items.

This will not again be the end product. Martin is coding a new version for a course he is setting up for May, and has offered to let me peek over the code shoulder. His newer iterations are using BuddyPress for managing the user profiles and activity streams, something we may be doing as well for #thoughtvectors and/or using Commons in a Box (my research plate).

If you plan to perhaps be part of this experience and what to add your blog feed now, let me know (I need to know Jon and Gardner where you plant to blog and what tag/category- that was a nudge). We also need to sort out where people might do some social bookmarking to add to the pile– diigo is looking most likely (oh delicious what do the tags not work beyond my account?)

The big question is how to represent and organize, recast the community activity? That ism what are “thought vectors”? ideas with force and direction, right? I know Tom is interested always in timeline interfaces. And that is the unifying piece of data, when we aggregate we get a time where something was written, tagged, tweeted etc. And we should have the “who” as well, plus extra info like additional tags to connect the activity in hopefully useful ways.

To be seen…

Oh, and of course am automatic thing was setting up a Hawkseyian Twitter Tags worksheet to archive #thoughtvector tweets. Right now, its mostly Tim and Jon saying “#thoughtvectors” — but it just works so well to provide different windows and doors into twittering.

Twitter Activity Summary for #thoughtvectors

Twitter Activity Summary for #thoughtvectors

The most fertile for exploration is of course the tag explorer, to try and understand the relationships between participants:

Tags Explorer for #thoughtvectors

Tags Explorer for #thoughtvectors

We can even peek into one node (hello Jon!)

vcu twitter stats

Again, this is just me putting out the ideas in the early state (and adding another feed log to the fire)… it shall be narrated!

Three Years on the Lam

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Andy Wright

My calendar has a reminder for my own life event; three years ago in 2011 was my last day of employment at NMC, the day after I set out into the Great Wide Open. Like most people, I have the decisions I deeply regret.

That one is not on the list.

This is not a dig at the place I spent 5 fantastic years; they still are doing good stuff without me. No one is that important in an organization. But I have not been into three years of freedom, of what might be called a mid-life sabbatical. At a conference in 2008, Stefan Sagmeister planted a seed; its the message in his Power of Time off TED talk.

Year Zero. This was my odyssey, 6 months, 15,000 miles traveling around the US and Canada, visiting the people I had first gotten to know via the web. That really was the dream plan, and while it had many losses and finds not anticipated, that’s what the trip is all about. I still ponder about the bits I captured in the Storybox, some of which I retold via Cowbird. I may never do much more, but that experience was all mine.

Year One. In 2012, I was actually going back on the salary life at UMW where I had no firm plan, but for my own reasons decided to jump back off 6 months later. No regrets there either. I got to live and hang with DTLT, work with those great faculty at UMW, and teach my first ds106 classes. I did some more traveling in the Northeast to visit people I did not see on the Odyssey, but I ran out of steam before I could trek out to the Canadian Maritimes, and returned home to rest in November.

Year Two. This time last year, I marked the date while in Singapore, part of a trip that included conferences and workshops in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and also teaching an online ds106 class for UMW. I had a burst of travel in the Spring, and then enjoyed June to September at home in Strawberry doing important work… in my garden. And then another swing of conferences and such from Alaska to Virginia to Puerto Rico to the UK.

Year Three. It begins now. I’ve pretty much been based at home since November, but hardly sitting around. I’ve had a few web site gigs, and am working on a few projects with other colleagues, and am about to start up another travel spree with a keynote and talk at Skidmore College next week, starting next week an online ds106 course for GMU, another in April in Breckinridge, CO, attending the OER14 conference in the UK and doing a week of work at the Open University in May, a talk at a conference mid May in Manitoba, and possible swings to New York City, Virginia, and a long shot at Sydney in June. After one more keynote in Tucson in July, I hope to slow down, maybe do another road trip.

I still question if I can do this for the long haul. Getting closer to or slipping through the safety net is ongoing background static, and managing self paid health care is a not so fun game.

It’s not really time off as much as time that is mine. It’s afforded by the facts that I do not support anyone else, my little house does not cost much to maintain, and I have no driving needs for expensive toys, fancy cars, jet planes. I have also benefitted by the financial cushion given sadly my the loss of my godmother and my own mother.

Ya got something I might be able to do? Try the contact form at http:?/ (especially if you would like that kind of site).

But still going after three years feels pretty good to me.