Tick, tick, tick, hours before the Y in date functions goes up by one. There are no year end summaries here, no glorifying the air miles clocked (not many anyhow), no forecasts for 2024, and FFS absolutely no resolutions.

The week of time away held promise for catching up on writing here, where the drafts are merely browser tabs left open. Oh and the backlog of daily photos taken but not edited nor uploaded to flickr have me at an all time low of 43%.

All is for naught there when just coming back from an evening stroll worth Cori on our acreage and being able to take in a view like this.

Evening winter sky image by me, Alan Levine, made possible by stars, ambient glowing light and the the iPhone night mode exposure. Eventually it will end up in my flickr streamed, and will be licensed and shared into the public domain right now (no 75 year mickey mousing with copyright extensions), free to steal, borrow, and make gobs of money off of,

Even if you could bang the AI prompt box to generate something like this, it has nothing of it being a lived experience moment. And as my good friend and photography Yoda, Jonathan Worth makes a case for the difference between a digital image and a photograph, for me on this ending day of 2023, I add in the element of it representing a lived moment of mine (and shared so lovingly with Cori). No one can take that from me.

Ah, but back on focus here, I waxed down a different path as this blog thing does,

WTF, and Holy Portmanteauism Batman, is Hopetimism?

Being There, Back in the Day

There was a time I did talks and presentations, which was much about new internet technologies like 2007 for Faculty Academy at University of Mary Washington. Yes, all the rise of social media, personal learning networks, web 2.0, blogs, wikis, folksonomy, what I was trying to generate is excitement and seeing potential, while it seemed like many were fearing how much was new, different, and overwhelming.

I honestly felt this positive and energized, and yet see some of my stuff being naive or even just a bit of shtick… no, it was genuine as I was part of many being immersed in his spirit of seemingly new, limitless opportunity, So I had this thing where I would put up this image, and ask of people felt overwhelmed by this wave (not Wave) of change.

Presentaion slide with title Faviving the future and photo of a large metal sculpture of a crying giant figure in front of an office building
Facing the Future presentation slide by me using the flickr photo Crying Giant by Eisenvater now listed as copyrighted but was licensed CC BY-NC-ND when I used it in 2007 (flickr license history nicely confirms this)– even licensing is more complex than it was before, what kind of license can I use?

It’s such a powerful image now to represent this feeling of being paralyzed by worry, fear. The idea I so cheerfully tried to say and fitting the Chance the Gardner theme was, what if we looked at that very same future with a sense of wide eyed, child like wonder? It is the same future, but…

Presentation slide with title "Or Facing the Future" and image of adorable infant perring through back of a metal chair, his eyes wide open.
Or Facing the Future presentation slide by me. There is a funny license story, I had found and wanted to use this photo, but mixed up my notes, and on making the slide found a mistake, and it was copyrighted. To demonsrate that there are always ways, I contacted the owner and got permission to use in my slides, but again, I cannot just slap a CC license on my version.

In a later iteration of this talk, I tossed on the fun fire a bit of Churchilliamism:

Slide70
Slide70 flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license featuring Winston Churchill quote, “I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.”

Oh so clever, how does this taste now?

Then and Now

Yeah, it looks like just slick presenter BS now. Oh it flows out smoothly in 2007, how does it fare in 2023… err 2024? I could say in thinking about AI I feel often more Crying Giant than Wide Eyed Cute Child.

I can make a case for carving out differences, but that’s another tangent. My larger wonder is how/if I can tap into some of tha old energy. Or maybe it is just best left in the past. Accept the oft expressed fatigue of the times, the practical reality of Things Being Truly Fubar.

A few weeks ago I felt this stirring when shared via Mastodon, the place that I relish but keep hearing the cries “It’s too complicated” (my rebuttal is another draft in an open tab of my brain). This Vox story was 2018, but resonates now (well for me), Hopepunk, the latest storytelling trend, is all about weaponized optimism.

I’m not going to pull quotes and certainly the concept can be thrashed by mor literary minds than mine, but that phrase “weaponized optimism” made a brain arc for me with the newly published Higher Education for Good edited by Laura Czerniewicz and Catherine Cronin, where in the introduction they invoked the idea of radical hope.

“There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”1 This book is about the light in higher education, a sector that was already fragmenting and fragile before the pandemic began, and since then has been addressing and resisting foundational challenges. Rare are the academics and professionals who are not dispirited, even demoralised. In the face of such despair, it feels hard to know what to do, to believe that it is possible to do anything at all, or even to find the energy to act. Yet change is possible, both change responding to flaws in the sector and proactive change aiming to prioritise values that are just, humane, and globally sustainable.

https://books.openbookpublishers.com/10.11647/obp.0363/introduction.xhtml#_idTextAnchor013

I was sparked by this connection that struck my own chord. It’s more refined, more deep, more human than my old naive shtick.

So 2024, not for naive hope nor just gleeful optimism, but I will aim for shards or bits of both, certainly still better than being a crying statue.

That’s my light on the horizon for 2024, hopetimism, radically if possible.

Bring it in.


Featured Image: 2019/365/250 Strands of Hope flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0) but you have to appreciate the larger image, this is a detail of an art work by one of my wife, Cori Saas’s sudents, the word “Hope” written out in barbed wire (see here).

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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.

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