japan

Blog Pile

Recap Week 1/3 in Asia: Japan (part a!)


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I’m back almost a week from an incredible and intense and fantastic three week trip to Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong — all pretty much enabled by network connections among nice people.

So much happened I had to make a spreadsheet to help me organize the sessions I did at least 30 workshops, presentations, consultations, and class visits. Beyond the snafus of US Failways on the trip over, catching and somehow warding off the Cog Dog Cough Wog in week 1, keeping tabs on my ds106 class– the blogging fell off the table.

I’m not sure I am ready to be the Roving Presentation Dude. I’m worn flat.

A number of sessions were re-purposed, but never carbon copies, and most of them evolved along the way- many variations of Web Storytelling sessions from 20 minutes to 3 hour workshops, morphing into one on Elements of Storytelling (what works), the tools stuff (50 Ways, Five Card Flickr Stories, pechaflickr, ds106); another one where the code name was “The Web is a Groovy Place” with flavors to include the True Stories of Openness or the value of Sharing in a Networked Environment; a new one on visual metaphors and strategies for finding photos, and a string of brand new workshops / class activities.

For a fresh change of environment, I did more stuff with k-12 on this trip than usual, everything from doing a storytelling activity with 2nd graders to a 6th grade math activity to discussing internet culture with 10th graders, not to mention the interaction with the 130+ international students and teachers who were part of the Flat Classroom Conference.

Blog Pile

Slow Blogging on the Fast Train

In person, in reading, I’ve long been enamored ofBarbara Ganley‘s concept of “slow blogging” — rather than dashing off quarter-baked, unstructured stream of consciousness blogging, she suggests taking time to reflect, to actually re-read and revise in the blogging process. Barbara’s own lyrical writings, flowing like one of her tranquil Vermont creeks through red maple trees, thoughtfully illustrated with her own metaphorically rich photos, have long been inspirational to me and was capped even more by the chance to meet her in person at the May 2007 UMW Faculty Academy.

I love the concept.

I have never done such a crazy thing.

My method might be termed “fast sloppy” blogging, writing at one end and not sure always where the end goes. I blog often directly from flickr based on a relevant (or not) photo. I do not spell well nor use words like “epistemology” without snickering at myself. No, I never use that word.

Yet as one great philosopher said, “Never say never” (was that Babe Ruth? I am sans Google to check my sources).

At this moment I am sitting on the Shinkansen, the Japanese “Bullet” train, riding smoothly, like floating, at more than a 100 miles per hour, headed to Tokyo. The cities, hills, houses, rice paddies, factories, green draped mountains, gold laced temples of Japan are flying by like a never ending film strip.

I lack internet on the train. Yet, like often it does, a blog post idea germinates somewhere inside the grey matter, and festers there, yearning to get out.

This is the third leg of the CogDogBlog three week tour of Asia. Being my first trip to the continent, I had the cracked notion to see as much of it is as possible, by combining the reason I got here (to present at Learning 2.008 in Shanghai), with taking the opportunity to visit and see countries in the companies of long time friends/colleagues, people I have gotten to know firstly via the internet, and secondly at professional meetings, and now thirdly by crashing on their homes. Leg 2 was a week in Honk Kong with Nick Noakes, and the third leg tour in Japan is by the grace of Bert Kimura.

So this slow blogging on the fast train ought to lend itself to some high level waxing about the impact of this trip and the grand sweeping conclusions I return home with. Or some profound conclusion on the future of technology.

Not likely.


I have more of a mashup of scenes, places, events (and like 1500 photos on flickr), but these do not seem to “capture” the experience. I cannot say I know China for a week in Shanghai; I can not even say I know Shanghai. I have these collections of “micro-experiences” and wish to avoid the all too common human act (ahh, this is another festering blog post) of extending our singular experiences to much wider conclusions. It’s not even acknowledging a touch of an elephant part; it is more a sampling of a small number of skin cells from multiple elephants.

Do I make it a mosaic? A connected series of dots? A test pattern? A rainbow of molecules? I am stuck on the metaphor.

But there is something else, a parallel of some of my talks where I try to say the internet is on a scale larger than humans can really grasp beyond the obvious statement that “the internet is big” — the real world itself, as I sample but only morsels, is so vast, complex, and multi-faceted it calls for something other than generalizations. And it is this world beyond my microcosm of a world in the USA that is peeling my persepectives just open a bit mroe. Yes I know the world is full of different people and cultures and customs and beliefs and ways of being, yet I am fixed with my own western set of eyes to observe it. I find it embarassing to be in world full of languages yet only speak one, and am thinking more about the implications of my own country being a place where the norm for young people is NOT going out and exploring the world… while they can and are free.

And so the norms I know may be crumbling (or not) under economic morass, the consequences of being a primary influencer of the planet, a primary consumer of the planet, and a primary source of ignorance about what lies outside the USA… has me worried.

But what can I do?

I don’t know.

So instead, I ruminate, and letting this experience of just being in a place where I am a minority, an almost useless alien unable to speak or read, to just linger with me.

So in no particular order, some samplings from this trip (which is not even over yet)…