Some of most jaw-dropping breath-stealing moments are when I see/hear how someone has used a tool, medium I have had in my hands many times, and completely does something I never even imagined possible.

Creating within constraints is some of the best stuff you can try.

The other day, Bryan Alexander tweeted a link to something from Barbara Ganley.

That means I have to stop whatever I thought was important and see it. Before I say more, do the same, click the link in Bryan’s tweet…

I must of scroll-read it 10 times. And still… wowzers.

Because Barbara does such lovely work in Cowbird, my first wrong path thought was how did she do this in Cowbird? I’ve been away a while, and maybe they added new display modes. Most of what Cowbird does is photos and pages of text, not this dynamic, animated text over photos.

Then I sipped more coffee.

Her Envy poem is published on Medium.

The platform most people seem to use to get seen and up-voted and hip and … this is so different.

Medium has a lovely editing interface, and does those clean, white space rich, page wide image layouts. I’ve done a few pieces there and enjoy the creation experience in a different, maybe more thoughtful way than blogging (hey Sandy, maybe I check my spelling more there?).

On Medium many people just write text. Others use the full page image with text over for a single header, or a pull quote.

But Barbara… so… cleverly… stacked the kind of layouts most of us use for just the header, to be the entire content, so the poem has a– bird-like? sense of motion as you scroll.

And there it is. A walking path you have walked every day. A route you have driven all the time. And someone comes along in yellow convertible driving backwards blaring Stravinsky, gracefully. Well maybe that’s the wrong analogy.

The thing is… Barbara’s photos alone are gorgeous (I hope she publishes the amazing bobcats, please?), and the poem itself would stand on its own as a provocative piece. I’ve had the luck to look at the same window in her house.

Yet together, in and this way published, is a completely different path in the Medium forest.

So many of us see through windows and night see some birds out there. Barbara looks deeper and takes what most of us might look at a few moments and move on — to such a stunning place. To gaze at ourselves.


I think the proper British word is “gobsmacked.”

As much by her poem, as the whole appreciation of how she creatively subverted a platform I’ve stood on in a way I never envisioned, a path I’ve walked on. A path I thought I knew.

It’s like that dude who lived in the woods not far from Barbara’s Vermont home, and pondered which way to walk.

It makes all the difference, indeed.

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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. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so)


  1. Wow, Alan, what a sweet post! Although I am okay with the fact that my little experiments and forays into digital storytelling will reach a mere handful of viewers/readers (same pretty much goes for my text-only short stories), it sure does my heart a world of good when someone not only appreciates and understands what I am trying to do but actually says so out here in the world.

    You inspire me to continue with my art, to keep trying to find a way to express my stories using image and text, and to do a better job writing about art that moves me. So thank you, thank you.

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