Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cub clothing, conjugation, correction and community.

D'you wanna see my badges?

I loved the outdoors, the idea of camping, the idea of making fires, the idea of climbing.  

I was pretty pissed off with the rigmarole they asked me to go through to do what I loved.

You might imagine that I was born to be a Cub Scout.  

You would have imagined wrong. 

Cub clothing.

Week after week they asked me the same question.

"Have you got your Cub-shirt yet?"

"No, They don't have one my size."

"No, My parents couldn't find one in the shops."

"No, It got lost in the post."

Any excuse was good enough to avoid wearing that rubbish uniform. 

Pledge and Mottos

Then there was the silly Cub salute and pledge.

Then there were the silly Cub badges that the seniors showed off on their sleeves.

Don't ask me to explain to you what the pledge was, I refused to give even lipdub to their stuff.

Now that's got me thinking...

I am curious now. 

I shall have to Google it.

Here it is, in a ghastly blueish typeface,

The Cub Scout Promise:

I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to God and to the Queen
To help other people
And to keep the Cub Scout Law.

The Cub Scout Law:

Cub Scouts always do their best
Think of others before themselves
And do a good turn every day.

The Cub Scout Motto:

Be Prepared

There it is, I was never prepared to accept their wretched promises, laws, caps, badges, shirts, mottos and miscellenaeous mumbo jumbo.


"Sprechen sie deutsch?"

"Not on your Nelly."

There it was, I was a Germanophonephobe. 

There was nothing I could do about it. 

It was a strong allergic reaction to the teacher, the word order, the weird lexical assemblages. 

There was the associated war-time imagery...

A German Teacher
The teacher had a short crop, a black leather jacket, and a BMW motorbike...

At a quick guess, I would say he was the Wehrmacht motorcyclist second from the left.  

No threat of low marks, punishment, or physical torture would break my resistance, it was a question of patriotic pride. 

There would be no collaboration with the enemy.  

I was prepared. 

I had seen the Colditz series on the BBC 

They had no ways to make me speak.

Colditz Model School.


"Speak English."
"Why don't you speak English?"

I have spent hours being paid to say those words. 

There are times when being an English teacher seems like a big waste of time.  
(shhh don't tell anyone)

I had spent hours correcting that student. Nothing seemed to stick. Nothing seemed to stick...ever.


He arrived with his new English friends, with bright eyes, and excitement.

"I have just learnt loads of new expressions, Barry has corrected all of my English."

Well, I suppose that I was in part responsible for finding Barry to make friends with the student... 

It was clear that he was suddenly really keen to learn, he was taking pleasure to learn, he was learning like never before...

early 17th century (in the general sense ‘a legal or moral obligation’): French, fromengager ‘to pledge’ (see engage).

I have been thinking about the problem of learning within institutional settings. 

I suspect that we don't engage in learning, rather we engage with a person, a club, a community or an army. 

We pledge our belonging to a community.

Any learning in the community may be inherent or incidental to one's belonging to that community.

I suspect that the community is always the curriculum.

Do communities really care about learning which does not reinforce the community?


I love camping.
I love learning.
I love learning languages to speak with people that I like or to avoid people I don't like.
I love learning from people that I respect.

I do my best to help other people...

I have no particular longing to belong.

You can keep your badges, your pledges, your marks, your threats, your engagements... 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A pier.

Weathered board. 

Rusted nail.

Corroded iron-wrought solidity.

Tread tentatively my friend.

We are alone.

We are offshore. 

Chatter is swallowed by iodine laced wind.


Come on make steps. 

Lean into the gale.

"Walk the plank mate..."

It beckons you onwards.
Reluctantly you are drawn.

"Keep walking."

"Don't look down."

Don't look through the gaps.

However sure the deck...

The swirl of waves, the rising spray, the barnacle armed struts below, tell a tale.

"Man overboard!"

His skin is sliced by shell as he drowns appalled.

"Don't look down."

Don't look through the gaps.

Don't muse an instant.

Gulls slide windwards, angling down.

Gulls, stare blankly, calling ocean.

Come on make steps. 

Lean into the gale.

A pier takes us only so far.


Hold on fast now.

Gaze out with me a moment.

Blurring in grey water wash...we, sky, & wave are one.


Pier Image TravellerQLD
Shorncliffe Pier Looking Down 

Wave Gif

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Random Eyes

It's Sunday 21st December and I am on my way to the shops.

I have my shopping list, I have a pair of odd socks to wear.

Routine autopilot is on green.

Then something stopped me in my tracks.

A fleeting scroll on an ipad, I fell upon a word which caught my attention: 'Random.'

It was a post of Alan Levine entitled 'Randomly Yours.'

It was enough to impel action, it was the reason for this rush.

I am writing this before the shops close.


I only skimmed it.

I had no time for reflection.

I remember the mention of serendipity.

I love the word serendipity, a concept so embedded, a word unknown to me before quite recently.

Randomise, random eyes, only a fortunate misspelling.

It is enough to start the top spinning.

Spinning Top.

I find an image.

It is an image that I remember.

It is an image that the Zeega master Mr T. Elliott uses.

There is the element of time.

There is a some unknown wilful spinning impulsion.

There is curiosity.

Spinning stopped

It is captured in this page now, spinning but never stopping.

I go back and embolden a few lines which catch my attention.

They are the bones of the piece. They hold it up, they hold it together.

I am not sure why these lines more than others.

I will go back and read closely later.

I pause, I resume typing, typing ever rightwards, ever downwards, on this page.

Where is this leading?

I come to the edge of the page.

Index card.

I scribble a few references on a card.

I open the library index drawers, I look for the title.

'The Edge of hopelessness'

However long I spend looking for the book reference, I come back to the same conclusion.

The 'Edge of hopelessness' doesn't exist here.

It came from a comment on a Facebook rhizo14 stream by Scott Johnson.

It is the title of a piece of work that needs to be written, that is begging for an author to give it a place some place in the 'Thes'.

How do  I punctuate a plural the?

Random Eyes

No matter. I am now looking at this page anew.

It is blank,  crying out for a release from its mutism.

It is a dumb waiter.

I am flying down to a basement.

If only the top will keep spinning.

I will write before it is too late.

Image from Inception.

Gif by Timetravlin

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Christmas Carol.

“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.” 
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol


I arrived at school to a seasonal assault of good will from a group of singers.  

They were belting out a rendition of some French carol.  

They were wide-eyed with joy.

The musical massacre made me feel slightly ill.


Despite it all, I couldn't help but be enthused by their full-hearted humour.  

They ended their song with a rousing hurrah.  

They won me round.  

I smiled in appreciation and no irony. 

Rubbish song, unchallengable human spirit.  

I remember so many Christmases which exemplify human endurance:
  • Neverending Turkey  
  • Christmas sweaters 
  • Christmas church-attending  
  • Christmas squabbling

I wonder if those who perpetrate horrific acts do so with expressions of joy?

Dickens, I wish I believed that the story of Scrooge was universal.

Happy Christmas (War is Over)


Yoko Ono; John Lennon

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The murmur.

Improvising with voice,
I left the mic open. 
The murmur emerged.
Maybe one day it will be heard.

He slowed down his respiration.

A clock ticked noisily in the background.

Out of the silence.

Grew a murmur.

He paused...to listen.

The tick of the clock was deafening.

He tuned out.

Yes there it was:


a murmur.

Who was singing?

He couldn't make out.

His thoughts were drowned out by a clock ticking.


He tuned out.

There it was again:


a murmur.

Who was singing?

He strained his ears to listen.

He couldn't make it out.

He gulped for breath.

Now it was clear.

The murmur.

The murmur.

The murmur.
Was them...

The murmur was...

 The murmur was...

                                                         An experiment in emergent sound.

                                                                               Mist Gif  from Head like an orange 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pinball machine.

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, we have lift off...

We launch ourselves with a high initial velocity, to be thrust into space.

Our trajectory is unpredictable...

Not all of the players will enjoy the ride.

Not all of the players get anywhere.

We strike lucky.

We get past the initial obstacles, we fly around the play space.

We touch unexpected energy sources which send us off in unimaginable directions.

As we rebound off key accelerators, we are dazed by unforeseen illuminations.

We ourselves become accelerators of the machine, driving it, driving others, driving ourselves.

At first, the experience is both destabilising and exhilarating. 

Woah, hang on, help!!

Multimodality of expression: 
  • music, 
  • text
  • poetry
  • comics
  • academic articles
  • sound 
  • video
  • dance
  • electric paper
[the list is long]

reveal unfamiliar juxtapositions of meaning.

Remixing, repurposing, reordering, rebooting, revolution.

Multicultural participants met randomly from across continents reveal unfamiliar interpretations of meaning.

The colour, sound, and whoops of excitement attracts others who gather around. 

They point out new means to play, new ways of seeing things,  they show us expert hacks...

A neon cloud lights up.

Pinball is an image which came to me yesterday.

I was thinking about my experience of connected learning in 2014.

  • Rhizomatic Learning. #rhizo14
  • Digital Storytelling #ds106
  • Connected Learning MOOC #clmooc
  • Connected Courses #ccourses
  • Digital Writing Month #digiwrimo
  • Rhizomatic Learning #rhizo15

So many hashtags, so many people, so many ideas...

I started playing around with a new version of one of my favourite apps #Picplaypost which I use for collages. 

I discovered new features which enabled me to add music, to create slideshows within the collage frame.  

I discovered new integration of Giphy for animated gifs, and Soundcloud.  

I played around with Strip Design to add text layers over the image. 

With each step of the process, a new tool came to the fore.  

With each new tool, a new way of expressing emotion, ideas became possible.

Maybe I should Zeega the pinball idea, I thought. 

I switched to the PC, I generally use it for blogging but not images or sound. 

I put together a Zeega and tweeted it out to friends in #ccourses, #rhizo14 and #clmooc.  

None of this activity would have happened in 2013 before I started #rhizo14. 

I had no idea how to make an animated gif. 
I had never heard of Giphy. 
I had never seen Zeega. 
I had never met a large number of friends that now enrich my life.  
I had no idea about Wordpress. 
I had never played around with Martin Hawksey's Tag Explorer.
I had never organised a Google Hangout on Air. 
I had never studied Deleuze and Guattari.
I had never spent much time studying learning theory. 
I had never written a haiku.
I had never had any feedback for my artwork.
I had never seen a make bank.
I had virtually never spent any time blogging...

I could go on...

Yes of course, you need to have the courage, and desire to launch yourself. 
Yes of course, you need to to choose the type of connected course you are starting with.
Yes of course, you need to have some start up competences to get yourself connected.
Yes of course, it takes time, openness and luck to hit the right combinations.

If somebody were to ask me about the learning outcomes of connected learning, I could provide them with some hard data. 

I could show them quantitative and qualitative data demonstrating an exponential increase in my knowledge and competences, and introduce them to valued members of my personal learning network.  

I could show them traces of this development over a long period. 

I could show them the knock-on effects on my professional work.

  • on the CLAVIER project  
  • on my colleagues
  • on my students
  • on my institution. 

I could also explain in quite a lot of detail, how I learn, how learning is unpredictable, how learning is unlinear, how learning is exponential when we are placed in an environment where we are valued for our difference, encouraged in our experiments, and challenged in our analysis. 

Does connected learning work?

Yes, my conclusions are clear, it works.

Does connected learning work in the same way without the internet without digital tools?

No, my conclusions are clear, learning is accelerated and transformed by the internet and digital tools.

I suppose this will underline what Alan Levine or @cogdog was going on about yesterday on this blog in his comments.  

Learning on and off the web, learning in the company of a network of widely distributed caring, creative, co-learners is learning pinball. 

One, two, three, four...hit it.

Where will I be in a year from now?

Amazing Grace.

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see."

"Hello Keith, Sarah, Maha, Terry, ad infinitum....[abridged list] is that you?" 

"Hello? Hello?"

A sickening silence was the only reply. 

That's it. 

This time he really was lost.  

The joke was running a little thin.  

"You'll love the library...", Dave had said.  

At each row of shelves they had lost another of their band, 

"You go on, I'll catch you up."
"You go on, I'll catch you up."

They had been amputated of their members.

He found himself limbless in liminality.

He picked up the book.  

He leafed through its pages.

Here was the illustration he remembered.

They would be able to meet up somewhere in the middle, he thought to himself.

They were all out there, somewhere in the middle. 

He now understood better the evil grin he had seen on Dave's face. 

No, of course, "it didn't matter."
No, of course  "IT didn't matter."

He defined "matter" in his head.

"What didn't matter?"

"What mattered?"

"Did he matter?"

He closed the book. 

He looked around. 

He hummed an air of a song. 

"Amazing Grace."

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see."

A sound somehow gave this IT a sense.

Post Script.

A Cherokee version of Amazing Grace seemed appropriate to accompany the silence here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The first click.

"To build the house, you have to lay the first brick."

Laura Ritchie

I have been toying with this idea for a few hours now.

I started posing a few lines but then I demolished them and went to the shops.

Provisions made, this post wants to be written.

I was listening again to the Connected Courses #notover webinar.  

I was struck by a reality that I recognised, the difficulty of trying to do anything to change ritual, to convince protectors of entrenched practices embodied in a 'modern edifice', which we term '(higher) education'.

To hear Gardner Campbell talk of his negotiations with colleagues over acronymised units of power, of budget, of time, of space made me feel empathy.

This is a system which I recognise.

I much prefer dealing with real constraints rather than to escape to some alternative reality.


It made me think of settlers to the 'new world'.

What drove the settlers to the 'new world'?
Was it just a question of personal gain?
Was is just speculation?
What were their dreams?

It made me think of  Thanksgiving.

Surely Thanksgiving is more than a Turkey dinner?

There is that idea of sharing, of community, of co-learning perhaps?

The first brick.

Looking down at the plans of Saltaire, an ideal village built in Northern England for those who served the mill master, Titus Salt, there are some signs of moral values in its design.

I am quite sure that life in Saltaire was far form ideal.

Nevertheless the mill owner showed some sense of responsibility to the local community.

Saltaire was not just a monument to profit.

What is education with no moral values?

I agree with Laura, yes of course you do need to put in hours of practice, of graft to be able to master an instrument, to build a community, a life...

I am sure that the knowledge and skilful gestures necessary to be a surgeon require painstaking repetition.

There is no avoiding industry.

Who does our industry serve?

What is education with no moral values?

I come to Howard Rheingold's talk of co-learning, and how he uses his authority to gradually enable independent thought and participation.

I would say that this is education for  learners who will partipate in a community, to build a democracy.

I would say that this is education for freedom.

This is clearly not simply about faddish technology.

Learning to read and write, learning digital literacies...

The first click.

I think of Gardner Campbell's reference to corporate ambition to 'unbundle' education.

I think of the attractive brochures which are designed to appeal to the naive.

There you are, with your terminal (marvellous word) lapping up knowledge, clicking on the box, getting your badge, getting 'an education' on the cheap.

There you are, with your forum (marvellous word) and your hangouts, seeing a 'world' through a screen, getting to 'travel' on the cheap.

I think of Amazon and their drones and I think of the vision of the people behind their desks.

I think of profit margins...

What is education with no moral values?

I am fortunate to have met people in Connected Courses who believe that education is about modeling humility, of offering helping hands to others, of caring for those who are our children, our brothers, our sisters, our elders.

I am sure that Connected Courses is not about technology, it is about freedom, it is about fellowship.

Do we not talk of academics as fellows? Should that only be ironic?

Saltaire Bandstand

What is education without art, music, poetry?

Listening to cello playing via internet is not what I prefer.
Listening to my friends speak via internet is not what I prefer.

Hell, a hangout bandstand lacks deck-chairs and trees.

For better of for worse, the mill-owners are now disconnected from local communities.

I would argue that education can only be connected to local communities, can only be connected to personal dreams and passions, to moral values, to generosity, to an appreciation of personal responsibilty, to a hearty celebration of science, poetry and art.

I would argue that as our local communities are in service to often distant mill-owners so must our education take into account this wider globalised context.

Saltaire is webbed wider.

Is education about serving industry or about safe-guarding some sort of freedom?

What is this community we are building?

Maybe we need ourselves to unbundle what we mean by education?

Units of industry may be remodeled but it is fellowship which must continue.

A bandstand with piped music is an absurd curiosity.

Oom pah pah. Oom pah pah. Second life anyone?

We are connected by more than a few bits and clicks.

A refrain played with heart does not disappear, it resonates.

I am afraid we are in this together chaps.

(The audience claps)

Now for my next number...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Modern Times...

The niceities never go on for very long.

"Hi, how are you?"
"Hi how are you?"

A shared smirk.
A shared coffee.
A short break.

Just look at the time.

"Must go now."
"Must go now."


We go off to our respective priorities.
We go off to our packed routines.
We go off to our immediate concerns.

We are each to our own caught up in our respective Eisensteinesque stream of names, rooms, timetables, instructions, programs, papers, forms, copies, exams, bills, taxes, shops, corrections, plates, petrol and socks.

"Can we stop the shoot? Hello? Hello? Hello?"

No reply.

The alarm goes off.
The alarm goes off.
The alarm goes off again.

Clap the clock.

"Take 666."

Except, now something has changed.

Perturbing elements are appearing.  

"Hi, Massimo, how are you?"
"Hi, Laura, how are you?"
"Hi, Terry, how are you?"
"Hi, Maha, how are you?"
"Hi, Marcin, how are you?"

A short hangout.
A shared smirk.
A shared coffee.

"Just look at the clock."

"Must go now."
"Must go now."


We go off to our respective priorities.
We go off to our packed routines.
We go off to our immediate concerns.

We are each to our own caught up in our respective Eisensteinesque stream of names, rooms, timetables, instructions, programs, papers, forms, copies, exams, bills, taxes, shops, connections, plates, petrol and socks.

Hang on a moment.

There is this student Facebooking a girl in Italy during classes.

There is this student booking tickets to go to a British university.

There is this colleague who is working with people in the USA.

What's going on?

I am about to hang out.

I am connecting with the words of Mimi Ito.

I didn't know her before.

What's going on?

Everything seems like it is the same.

Everything isn't the same.

Mimi is right.

This is just the beginning.

Monday, December 8, 2014


There was nobody else there, just Jazz the dog. 
He looked up at me, questioning, 

"Why had I stopped?" 

There was just a feeling of restlessness.

It hadn't occurred to me how freedom is framed.   

I had never felt such an extreme reaction to the captive eye, to a page.

All means of capture: camera, phone, pen, paper, I had left at home.  

Nobody would be able to walk with me and the dog. 

It was an unmoment.  

I was on dog-time.  

Jazz looked up again, my eye caught his eye.

There he was again, questioning,

"What are we doing?" 
"Is this where will stay?" 
"Will we stay here for ever?"

The way he moved his head to one side seemed to indicate patient impatience.  

"I am fine here."
"Is that it?"

We continued on a while up the path. 

This was it for Jazz, he could snuffle around in leaves anew.

Suddenly he looked up to listen.  

This time, it was him who stopped me in my tracks.

"What was that?"
"What made that noise?"
"Where was it?"
"Is it safe?"

 A few yards on, the clouds were becoming rather menacing.  

I felt a few spots of rain.  

There were gusts of winds rustling the surviving leaves on the trees. 


Along the path, the sky seemed to have fallen onto the path. 

Where there had been a muddy trail, there was a fairly large expanse of cloud.  

We stopped to observe. 

Mud around the sky glistened as if varnished.  

Heavy-booted footprints disappeared only to reappear a few paces further.

Rain drops dissolved the sky's illusion.  

Circles of tiny shockwaves expanded and collided across the sky-mirror's surface.  

I looked up at the sky, I looked down at myself looking up. 

I appeared to be suspended, spirit-like.

Jazz took a closer look, no this sky was undrinkable.

I took a closer look, I was puddlestruck.

We stood there watching the stories span out across the fluid surface.  

There was no plot, only cirles, only ever expanding sometime converging circles.

I was so absorbed that I felt myself slipping deeper. 

I was now looking up, from under the water.

I came up towards the surface.

I saw tree-branches. 

It is only now, that I have realised that I was seeing tree-branches from another country.  

I had been puddle-ported to Kentucky. 

It was an image that comes from Terry Elliott's post: 

This is what I was seeing: the moment when the water-bucket disappears.

Discussions about framing  had clearly emerged in a new space.  

Here is what Terry writes:

"So I went outside.  It’s what I always do when I am drowned by the profusion of the net. I am driven to move into a larger, slower, deeper and more profoundly simultaneous system.  Nature or Gaia or the Mother or the Father.  Name matters not.  I just step into a vision in a rain barrel."

There is something comforting, something animistic in meeting those we have never met outside of a screen in a puddle-journey...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Goodbye Kafka.

I drove my girls to school this morning. 

We looked up at the Puy de Dome, it was covered with snow, there was a pink glint on its whiteness from the rising sun.  

We were together gazing up at its beauty. We laughed, I don't remember why.

I can fully understand how mountains are considered sacred places. 

I can fully understand how words, numbers, pictures can be considered as a trap. 

We talk of technology, I would say that language is a technology. 

We don't need smartphones to distance ourselves from reality.  

We only need words.

What did Terry quote?

The word is not the thing. Alfred Korsybski

Yes, that's right the word is not the thing.

I am happy to escape from the spreadsheet experiment, that I have been playing with here.  

Terry has been playing too, with explain everything.  I loved the colour, the movement. 

On reflection there was something about all this cell formating lark which made me feel claustrophobic.

Last night I played around with zeega. (hidden link)

I found the result, paranoia inducing, dark. 

I have had enough black and white for a while. 

I have had enough of cells, of breaking things down to their bones. 

I think I am fed up with keyboards, glass screens.

I need texture, grass, wind, sunshine, laughter.

I don't need to talk of connection. I don't need a box, a page, a pen. 

Goodbye Kafka.

Kafka is not good company, he gets under your skin, he gives me the creeps.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Gridlock unmasked.

Writing takes me naturally rightwards.  

I wonder in an instant what might go on in a writer's head who habitually writes leftwards, or downwards, once asked to compose in what for me seems a natural direction.

Presented with a page, or at least this blog's page arranged in portrait, I lose myself in landscape, in emotion, in dialogue...

The page becomes an abstraction. It is a lure.  The page has more presence than we can imagine.

Ceci n'est pas une page.

An indication of how a blog page is far from neutral shrieked out at me when when I was invited to write for Edcontexts.

I was writing in unfamiliar surroundings.

It was like playing cello on a borrowed instrument.

Something was wrong.

OK, it was a blog editor pretty much like any other blog editor, but the formating was all wrong.

I was away from home.

The title which emerged can be read on a number of levels: 'Writing to order.'

So all of this is background for my current foregrounded dialogue with Kevin Hodgson which concerns what it is to write in  a digital context.

Exploring this question, a number of blog posts, scribbles and sketches are emerging.

They are a continuation of exploratory work that I have been doing since Rhizo14.

Artistic constraints

I have been lurking on the periphery of #digiwrimo, which I have understood to be an investigation into digital storytelling or writing.

Browsing hashtags (that seems so natural to me now) I came across #25wordstory.

I have to say that Twitter and haiku both appeal to me for their imposed length constraints, so #25wordstory seemed like fun.

The #25wordstory which came out of this challenge was an investigation into the feeling of constraint.  It was the spark for a new story game, based on a Soduku grid sort of affair.

I set up a #25word by #25word Google spreadsheet and wrote my story across the top of the sheet.

The fact of each word being separated in a self-contained cell distorted the flow of the writing.

The movement of the cursor from cell to cell changed the relationship with the story.

Immediately a range of questions and emotions were provoked:

C'est du Kafka

I felt emprisoned by the frame.
I felt crab-like or insect-like in my movement.
Images of Kafkaesque metamorphosis crept out of the page.

“What's happened to me,' he thought. It was no dream.” 

I felt a certain degree of claustrophobia.

I felt a sudden paranoia when I was joined in the page by a number of anonymous animals.

The arrival of Kevin in the sheet, lifted the feeling of paranoia. It is extraordinary how a recognisable avatar can give a feeling of security.

Kevin started playing with the constaints, writing stories diagonally, changing unannounced rules.

Yes, the rules what were the rules?

Caught in the grid, it seemed that we were indeed in a game with implicit rules.

This impression was confirmed to me when Susan Watson, I think it was, asked me whether there were any rules?

Following the explorations of Kevin in real time, I saw steps, moutains, slopes, appear graphically across the sheet.

The grid now had contours. What the hell was/is the story?

The story/ies climbed 'up' the sheet.

This is one of the reasons that when Kevin talked of it being a "view from above" I was not at all sure that I was looking from above or was inside the story, or whether the sheet was struggling to find a third or fourth dimension.  If pushed, I would venture fourth dimension.

Maybe I'm amazed?

Tanya appeared in the Twitter stream, and joined in the fun, and discussion sparked around what on earth we were doing in a spreadsheet.

Well I had not really thought  through the choice of a spreadsheet, it just appealed to me.

It was like trying to walk, write or read, through a maze, she said.

I myself had a similar impression as words appeared to connect vertically down columns, across rows and diagonally up and down yellow hills.

Fragments of stories, unusual combinations of verbs, feelings, prepositions stuck incongrously together hitting up against the frame of grammar, sense, and the spreadsheet enclosure.

I suddenly started seeing how apparently absurd constraints were releasing more creative possibilities.

Always the same questions of convention, language, writing, game-play, puzzle, authorship, presence and freedom rose up out of the cells.

What was/is freedom?

Kevin wrote of considering these stories as landscapes. I feel that these spaces are more than landscapes, they are strange actors in a Greek play, masked, choral, disturbing.

We are haphazard intruders in a strangely unfamiliar land, a narrative land that we take too much and too quickly as read.

I feel we are bumping up against the constraints of our prisons, our homes?

This is perhaps a first and an only step that we can knowingly take towards a relative and unsatisfactory freedom.

Someone, I don't know who, had written a word...

 "C-H-A-O-S "

across five columns.

I suspect the fifth column. [find hidden link]

OMG it is, we are, they are, he/she is the FIFTH COLUMN.

"I had no choice except to write myself out."

William Burroughs.