The Gasta is now passed-ah.. Oi that does not exactly work, but here I am on the return trip from the OER24 conference, out my window pink light over Greenland, trying to write a blog post, offline.

Because, after all the AI tremors have stilled or knocked down all the castles, the blog, the act of blogging, remains for me, the reason detre.

Writing of the experience at OER24 is its own topic, here is my still riding the adrenaline wave of doing something so far out of my wheelhouse, there’s not a shred of the box left. And as I expect the blogging will get long paragraphed, I will start with the thing I did, then talk about it in excruciatingly droll detail.

Two days ago, for the very last day of OER24 I did this a speaking format I’ve never done before:

So crossed off my conference bucket list is doing a Gasta presentation. Even if you read the explanation, watch the videos, I’m not sure you can feel the electricity when the raw energy of Tom Farrelly lists out a call to countdown (learn to cp\ount in Irish) with a wee bit of H5P.

I have to admit that in hindsight, I had a similar experience maybe first in 2004 at the old NMC conferences Five Minutes of Fame.

My idea came the weekend before the conference proposal deadline, when Cori and I were on a 3 day holiday in a cabin in the West Cypress Hills. My OEGlobal colleagues weee urged to submit presentations as plans were made to hold in person meetings for our staff there in Cork, Ireland, a few days before the OER24 conference.

I could have conjured something related to my projects but I did not feel anything really of importance to package as a talk.

But I have been long musing on the stream of educator lamenting over the sewage spiral of twitter and questions like “Where will everyone go?” To me, that notion of Twitter as a “town hall” was an illusion— don’t get me wrong, I hade so many valuable and fun and zany things that came from there, but it did not seem like it was the place itself. What happened to the idea of us building so called personal learning networks that were a multitude of platforms, with a blog rather central.

Yes Twitter had X-Ed the building of intenest to me (much because of how many of my small project forays were built to interconnect with bird space. And I have been tuning into the writings of Cory Doctorow on the enshittification of the web we are living in.

In May or June 2021 (check) I found myself reinvigorated with Mastodon (I had an account since 2016) and more broadly, the fleet of other apps that could connect or syndicate from Mastodon. I thought my organization could get out in front of this by setting up our own instance/server as maybe a member offering or just another open educator community space. Being the fediverse, natch, means it does not matter where you set up, but a common space had appeal to me.

However my colleagues, who frankly do not really do much personal use of twitter, were not interested. The expression in the response im got was that we should take “a measured approach.”

No matter, a server/instance was not necessary to rally interest, and thanks to my colleagues Wayne Mackintosh and Dave Lane of the OERu, they let me and others set up on their social.fossdle.org home Again, the concept of the fediverse means it does not matter where you hang up your toots , as you can follow and communicate with any Mastodon user.

So I launched other blobs of intertest with posts in our OEG Connect discourse community. I added a profile feed for users to add their mastodon handle and pitched a Fediverse Directory for the communityl

Thus I felt compelled to concoct an OER24 session as some kind of call to be part of the fediverse. Its been a while since I have done an audience presentation and the idea of talking over slides felt dull. I had seen Gasta done online from other OER conferences. The format seemed to be calling for something outrageous and, well maybe loud or disruptive.

I then thought of the spoken poetry and poetry slams I have gotten to see my wife’s high school students do. Cori has an exceptional instinct for word choice, arrangement, and delivery. As the kind of person she is and I love, when I brought it up on the drive to our weekend getaway, Cori has not only supportive but eager to coach me through the process.

Given that, I said that I should write my proposal as a poem too. Cori said to write my ideas as a few paragraphs, and in no time she whipped it into poetic form. Thus the proposal:

References

AmplifyFE (2023, September 5), AmplifyFT Communities of Practice Sector Audit Reports 2023, #ALTC23 Annual Conference 5-7 September 2023, Retrieved Nov 9, 2023, from https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mbIkhYInWEx8Djrn4u4jyPsIAe1_YBLx/view 

Koebler, Jason (2023, October 20), Mastodon Is the Good One, 404 Media blog,  Retrieved Nov 12, 2023 from https://www.404media.co/mastodon-is-the-good-one/

Get Federated OER24 Gasta session proposal

It was submitted literally an hour before the deadline. I kept my expectations in the range that any review committee would look at this and laugh it into the reject pile. But of course, the OER conferences are not your best laced conference formats.

Weeks passed and Hahahahagastaha they accepted my proposal. Now all I needed to do was write the full poem, which I successfully procrastinated to the week before I would jump on a plane to Cork.

Well actually I did do something earlier— the T shirt! Months ago I had made a PhotoShop mashup image in response to something Stephen Downes posted in Mastodon about “getting Federated”. My associative trails brain went to the opening scenes of the original Get Smart TV show when Don Adams ax Maxwell Smart entered the CONTROL building through that series of cl as aging secret doors.

Get Federated!
Get Federated! flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

I made an image from a frame of the opening scened, clone brushed out the “SMART” text and replace with closest match I could find, Georgia. Because I had the Federarex text created already, I simply deleted the car layer and recreate the “Get” in the same Georgia font size.

Get Federated T-shirt by me, CC BY– Text in Georgia Font Fediverse logo proposal by Eukombos (CC0)

The t-shirt was printed locally maybe 2 weeks before I headed to Ireland, what else would I need? Hmmm!! Oh I had to write the poem I would read.

Cori suggested 5 minutes was long for a slam poem so I came up with the idea of the opening sequence being something like the WWII era MovieTone news reels where I talked like a radio announcer about the going from the glory days of academic twitter to the state of the internet now. But even broader.

And as good fortune goes, after having Anne-Marie Scott in a live stream OEWeek session, she messaged and asked me if I knew what I had gotten myself into. I thought so, an energetic, unconventional format for a talk. What Anne-Marie carefully described was two approaches for Gasta, to finish just in time and avoid Tom Farelly getting the crowd to count me down. “that’s all fine, you will get polite applause.”

The other path to take was to design to get Tom trying to countdown, and try sometime to rouse the crowd and disrupt him.Anne Marie shared a clip of Jim Groom doing this at OER23 where they laughingly were shouting at each other and crushing the audience.

Need I tell you which route spoke to me?

For quote/unquote slides, I went for an animated GIF for the news part, and then just the fediverse logo over one of those internet maps.

I did not want to tie it to a specific series of slides, so the poem would be with just one image.

The poetry writing came together like the abstract, I wrote a few paragraphs, and Cori broke up into chunks and a rhythmic structure, It was thus written, but that’s hardly done! I had to read it through many times, where Cori patiently guided me on how to speak it, where to keep my voice low, where to go bam bam bam.

(see the Get Federated poem in a Google Doc)

I read the script several to many times, and trying to gauge the timing to get the desired effect. On Thursday my stomach was a bit churned as I questioned myself if (a) people would say WTF and not understand or (b) the call to get Federated would sound outlandish.

Well… it was damned fun. And if you do not know it, I am a card carrying Meyers Brigg IMTP introvert.

Thanks OER24 for putting me in stage, thanks everyone for getting in the spirit, and thank you my darling Cori for believing in me so much.

It was fun, but also, I am serious about getting g more people on the federated train. My real goal is to organize something like a 2 week series of posts in our OEG Connect space where anyone interested could do a daily 20 minute activity (or do it all in one sitting) all aimed at getting a group up to speed in creating a Mastodon account. setting up profile, finding and following others, and maybe, just maybe building a networked connective body of educators.

But that’s enough blathering about the making of– the moment of doing it was pure fun, even if people had no ides what I was ranting about.

Rousing up the Gasta, photo by Cori Saas who was watching live from Moose Jaw.

If you even have an opportunity to do a Gasta, and I was honoured to be among a group of 9 others who braved the count down, I say seize the chance, and also, push your self to so something that will make Tom Farelly’s eyes twinkle.


Featured Image: The best I could do working from my iphone on a plane, a combination of my Gasta Badges and the get Federated logo created with the diptic app

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An early 90s builder of web stuff 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. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca

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