Blog Pile

Back Out in the Great Wide Open

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Tomorrow I am headed to Washington DC and catching a flight form there to Toronto to participate in Unplug’d 2012. I was during my road trip last year I met with so many wide-eyed Canadians who were there for the first version of this unique gathering, so I was pleased when Rod Lucier told me they were opening up the gates for some folks South of Their Border (and West, as there are some Aussies coming too).

But it is with a bit of bittersweetness I am leaving the location of that lone chair above; today I am unplugged from my position at the University of Mary Washington. I came out here in January to start teaching a section of ds106 and also started a full time position here at the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies with the most amazing team fo Jim Groom, Tim Owens, Martha Burtis, and Andy Rush. Plus the chance to work with faculty like Jeff McClurken and Steve Greenlaw?

I cannot thank them enough for opening this opportunity for me, especially Jim who did all kinds of things to set me up here (including letting me live in his basement). The Bava not only abides, he provides.

There is nothing wrong at UMW or driving me away; I could not think of a better place at this time to be in the middle of edtech innovation, and its why I came here. It’s more of a bit of me being unsettled with where I am and what I am doing. And if I cannot find my strong ed tech mojo at UMW, then I am not going to feel it anywhere right now.

I underestimated myself a bit at the end of last year, which started in March 2011 with my first foray into the Great Wide Open. In late November 2011 I returned home to Strawberry AZ from the 5 month, 15,000 mile Odyseey, then dashed off to Australia for two weeks, came home 5 days, went to Canada 3 weeks over the Christmas/New Year holidays, and in about 10 days was driving in my truck to Fredericksburg.

I never stopped.

It was ridiculous to not slow down and decompress from all the travel last year, not to mention deal with the grief of losing my Mom in August.

And now I have some compelling reasons for wanting to be a bit north of here.

On many fronts I hate leaving here abruptly, but given it looked like my itch was going to make me want to go within a year, it did not seem to make sense to start working with faculty here and then go. There is an incredible special relationship, something I have not seen at a trust and respect level, between the people in DTLT and the UMW faculty. I will miss finding out what that feels like, but I also know it is better to move on if your gut is telling you so.

What’s the plan?

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

I am playing it loose. I am not jumping to another job. I have savings to live off of for quite some time if I need to. I have a few options to do some freelance work. I am still on tap to teach the fall (online) section of ds106. I don;t want to commit to a lot, as I want to start looking at what kind of future I can configure my life around- maybe it is working, teaching online, maybe it is trying to find work elsewhere (north).

There are things I want to get done- I am way overdue for a massive update of 50 Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story. I am way behind on doing my Cowbird project of retelling the story of last year’s trip. I’ve yet to figure out what to create out of the stuff I collected in the Storybox. I want to take many many many more photographs.

I really want to go out on the road again and pick up some key places I missed on the last circuit, Barbar Ganley and Bryan Alexander in Vermont, a colleague in Boston, a high school friend in Maine, and who knows? I want to spend more time with my sisters and remaining family in Baltimore. And more loops into a special place in Canada. More.

But one thing I am doing that I learned the last time is not to make myself so fixed to a firm schedule, that really drove me to much by having made promises to be at people’s places on certain dates. That was all me, not them. So I want to play it loose.

What I know is after I return Monday, I will be a few days in Fredericksburg loading up Red Dog. I am headed to Norfolk to hang out a few days with my friend Shelley Rodrigo and then I will go to Blacksburg to visit more with Gardner Campbell, and from there? Keeping it open.

I’m very fortunate to have this freedom to spend a bit more time reflecting and hopefully moving forward into more new territory (thanks Mom, again). I’m trying to stop feeling like I let folks down at UMW; I learned a lot in my short time, but I really was just getting started to understand the culture and people here.

But if you don’t listen to your gut, it will let you know it is unheard.

This dog is back on the road.

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by Nick Harris1

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at 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.


  1. Alan, you’re an inspiration. I really admire you for the way you give your all to projects, but also have the guts to be true to yourself and move on when you feel the need. I was lucky enough to meet some of the #ds106 crew f2f for the first time back in June, and can imagine that it’s not the easiest decision to move on to pastures new – they’re awesome. Really looking forward to following your adventures, and I sincerely hope we get to meet f2f and possibly collaborate on some kind of project/thing, at some point (vague yes, but that’s the whole point yeah? Serendipity :)

  2. Alan… So you are ‘on the road again’! Godspeed and share your peace … When in Indy… You’ve got a friend!

  3. Alan – Sometimes those things “we want to get done” weigh us down emotionally and physically. Every couple years I assess my gazillion projects in various stages of completion and realize that some just aren’t that important anymore – then I delete or pitch them. It is a great feeling to lighten your load!!

    So sorry about your mom, Alan. Losing a parent impacts us all greatly. And speaking as a mom, I would say “Hit the road Jack and don’t look back!”

    Save travels!! Debbie

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