Tuesday, June 30, 2015

This is freedom.

It started with resistance, resistance:

to Being mediated,
to being Mediated by this blog,
to being mediated by these Digits...

I was touch typing, a linear stream of thought made text. 

I was beginning to feel prisoner.

My matricule: @sensor63

Lines, stay between the invisible lines.

A bird on a wire tweets.

I am dressed in black font, I feel momentary skittishness while italicised, importance while underlined or emboldened.

Is this writing freely?

Is freedom written?

There are times that it feels like freedom...

Words flow easily off my finger tips.

At the outset, I was given a choice of uniform.

Choice of layout
Choice of format, 
Choice of name of blog
Choice of name of post
Choice of font.
Choice of word.
Choice of picture.

That felt like freedom.

And yes it gave me freedom. 

It gave me freedom to stretch out as far as the dialogue box would allow me. 

I am living in another's space. 

Am I a tenant?
Am I a prisoner
Am I a ghost-writer for Google?

Out of the cell, I fled to feel the feel of paper, to feel the scribble of pen, to feel the freedom of scratching up, down, and around, and diagonally, and changing implement, and scribbling, and ripping up the sheet to hear the tear, and crunching up the paper to express my disgust, and throwing the rolled up, beaten up expression of my being into the trash.

feeling trash, feeling trash, feeling trash, feeling...

And then I was engrossed in the paper: journeying out into the depths of the hills to feel the sun on my back, the cold of the breeze, the bodily orientation of my imagination released into an open. 

This felt like freedom.
This felt like freedom.
This felt like freedom.

I gave it a frame, an ironic frame.

It was freedom in irony.

And its irony is here.

It is here in my Shadow Boxing.

Here it is my shadow boxed.

And then it was there in my mind:

to reform it to release it
to revoice it to bring me back to breath...
to bring it back to breath.

And I breathed it slowly and I felt the click and the double click and heard the dog and the traffic which passed behind and then it came back to me here to reinvigorate my anger, my anger to be only touching you by type, touching you by type, type, type.

And I am back, and this is it.

This is it.

Freedom is a word.

A four letter word.

No freedom is wider than a word.

It has panache.
It has a breath
It has a position
It has no meaning without an act

This is an act.

I am @sensor63

Chop wood, carry water.

On reading Kate Bowles', post entitled "Chop wood, carry water", I revisit 'This is freedom' here. 

Kate's work and this act appears appropriate as punctuation to dystopia.

We must forever retrace our steps, until we are no more able, to make meaning.

"bell hooks: Whereas my mother in Kentucky always used to say, “Life is not promised,” in the sense that boredom is a luxury in this world. Where life is always fleeting, each moment has to be seized. For us children, that was a lesson in imagination, because she was always urging us to think of the imagination as that which allows you to crack through that space of ennui and get back going."

I am bored with algorithm, fake news and those who fakely preside, fake money, surveillance et al.

Quel ennui!

To hell with them.

Here, a distinct moment captured, traffic and the dog barking in the background, I seize my breath and muster whimsy. 

I am not alone, struggling here, as ever with this media, these boxes, these blinking cursors.

It is, we are, a marked moment of loss.

Recorded voice marks time.

Voice is not just to speak, it is to reveal, if we let it.

I never found the cassette with my father's voice.

I can hear snatches in my mind.

I can see it in the box in the attic.

I feel melancholy at being apart from those that I love, from those who might discover meaning here.

"The work in network is the water lifting. It’s the labour that the algorithm can’t appropriate, that needs our time and vulnerability to loss. And to restore this vision of the networked self having the capacity to labour cooperatively and effectively, to bring something to the other situation, we first need to imagine other refusals: of the email, of the browsing, of the personal branding, of the suggested-for-you.
There’s still a well. We just need to learn how to make time for it in our lives."
I think of what pleasure networking online has brought me. 
Fellowship, friendship, fun, learning.
May we forever remain grounded in what really counts.
Time passes.
What did we do for our souls?
What did we do for our souls?

"Whatever satisfies the soul is truth." 
Walt Whitman.
We are engaged in drive.
We have no reverse gear.
Despite what technology might tell us...
What did we do for our souls?
Is there any truth in news?
There may be truth in art.

"Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth."
Pablo Picasso
Time passes.
What did we do for our souls?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Climbing trees.

I had watched my brother from afar, clambering up the tree.

However hard I tried, I was simply not big enough to reach...

to reach up far enough, to pull myself up...to be big.

I rather had the impression that I was fated always to look on from below and admire.

Growing up is never fast enough when you are five years old and tree-challenged.

My brother took pity on me, or got bored with tree climbing and gave me a foot up.

That first foot up was all that it took to get me upwardly mobile and free.

Once the hidden hold had been pointed out, there was no stopping me.

The tree became my escape, my playground, my kingdom, my best friend.

Every day, on getting up and finishing breakfast, I would head out and up towards a future adventure.

The tree was an adaptable play partner.

I was a pirate in the rigging, Tarzan, lord of the jungle, a secret agent, a mountaineer...

On Sundays, I would hide and scare the ladies dressed up to the nines for the communion service.

On other days, I would practice walking out as far as I could on the higher branches to see how far they would bend down so that I could jump to the ground and scare my mother.

On one special day, I found that I could climb over a wall into a secret hiding place, protected by dense undergrowth and dangerous nettles and brambles. This would become my headquarters for planning operations.

It may not have spoken much, but I didn't let its mutism prevent me speaking for it as I included it in daily conversation.

I confided to the tree that it was a very special friend.

It was a good listener.

That tree lived on in my memory long after I had grown up and moved on.

Forty years later, I took my kids to see the house where it had been.

I was desperate to show them that tree.

We arrived, it had gone.

They probably wouldn't have understood its importance anyway.

In 2014, I shared my tree in a blog post entitled Suspend Disbelief...

It stood for a sunlit childhood past, just before the darkness of a Dickensian funeral.

If it is coming alive again on this page today it is because of an unlikely impromptu connection.

Please listen to Kevin @dogtrax Hodgson's tree story for #adhocvoices for #clmooc.

I too had imaginary friends...

A child sighs...

As Kevin says, we need those trees to step up and get a wider view of things.

We need our personal vantage points, our refuges from the mass of traffic.

We need time to dream, to tinker, to establish relationships with objects, trees, and people.

I remember my first collaboration with Kevin.

It happened maybe two or three weeks after he asked others to remix one of his poems.

It became Steel my poem.

We can never be late to create.

#CLMOOC may be organised around weekly outputs of prompts.

Don't rush yourselves to keep up with the flood of posts.

We need to take our time.

Don't ever forget to ask for a foot up.

As Kevin says on his blog:


Yes my friends we must live it or not at all.

After my first meeting with Kevin in January 2014 we have intermittently and consistently worked together, moving along the criss-crossing branches of our respective trees.

I realise now that these tree-root systems interconnect even across oceans.

Perhaps my tree really was a pirate ship?

@dogtrax Here is another offshoot to add to your  "Tracking the flow of an impromptu make".

Try listening to the growing number of sounds here, add yours, you never know who you may touch.

Maybe one of these sounds will have resonance for you, for others?

Maybe you will trigger reflection, a story, a picture, a collaboration?

Who knows where I, you, we will venture?

Who knows?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Adhoc voices

One forty nine pm. Saturday.


I am up a ladder folding clothes.

Suddenly it occurs to me that I am listening to the radio. If I am listening, I could also be speaking while folding clothes. 

One fifty two pm.

I prop up the smartphone on a shelf go to Audiocopy app, hit record, then speak.

There was no time for preparation, no time to do other than speak and pause and fold. 

One fifty five pm and seven seconds.

The recording for #clmooc is finished. I upload to Soundcloud and I share on Twitter with four people mentioned in the recording.

I add a hashtag for good measure #adhocvoices. 

I ask the four people to add their voices to mine.

I tweet it out.

Approximately one hour later, my voice is joined by Kevin Hodgson's. 

He speaks not of being up a ladder but being up a tree. 

I make a mental note to create something directly connected to trees. 

I wonder how Kevin knows the crucial importance of tree-climbing in my life. 

I immediately feel myself again brought closer to Kevin.

It seems an untruth to say that we have never met.

Five pm.

Our voices are joined by Susan Watson in Ballenger Creek (where??) who shares a sixty second #clmooc confession. 

She later tells me that last year she wouldn't have dared do this. What is it that makes us so vulnerable sharing our voices??

Hearing a friend's spoken voice for the first time after a year of working closely via blogging, I find moving. 

Five twenty two pm

Our voices are joined by Terry Ellliott's and those of assorted cats and chickens.

I immediately feel at home on Terry's farm. 

These are familiar sounds from our ad hoc #clavpicnics. 

Those few seconds spent in his company  today evoke a mass of imagery, a rich sensory ecology. 

My brain is immediately attempting to orient my body in this space. 

I am blind all the more to see.

Six oh eight.

These voices are met with that of Scott Glass on the road in Arlington. I listen to this late in the day. I hear a local firework display which punctuates and blends with the traffic on the highway which surrounds Scott's voice.

I love the impression of movement in Scott's narrative of his roadtrip and look forward to the next episode. 

Even if our contacts via #clmooc have been brief, his name is one that has marked me, with this recording, I feel a developing friendship.

One twenty six am.

Autumm joins us from her parent's home. I hear someone (her mother?) clattering plates behind. 

She shares her projects, her plans, mentions she is working in her childhood room.  

I feel hesitation in her voice, it's authenticity, its immediacy. There is no performance here. The recording adds to an impression of vulnerabilty. We are sharing with the world. 

It is an act of generosity.

I feel a tinge of sadness. 

I am transported to my parents' home, I hear my mother busying herself in the kitchen. 

My father is sitting reading the sports news. 

He will pause, lower the newspaper and I will share this story with him and he will marvel. 

There will be a gleam in his eye.

I remember the time I spent looking for a cassette of him speaking.  I never find his voice again. I only find the one of my uncle giving a sermon. 

There is no no twinkle in his eye when he speaks. He is a hard man, hiding hard secrets behind his ecclesiastical attire.

One fifty two am

I am transported on waking to a New World. 

Wendy Taleo shares what she sees and hears with us. 

I am immediately met with a profusion of colour, of exotic vegetation, of unheard of birds, of beauty. 

My brain is in overdrive trying to make sense of the sensory stimulation. I begin to understand the wonder of New Worlds. 

I can see nothing but I can see so much.

I am reminded of the films of Terence Malick. 

I am reminded of the peace of human voices which fall silent to hear what is essential.

I have travelled so far today from folding laundry.  

Those three minutes of creative abandon were worth every second. 

Please join our #adhocvoices with yours and let us dream together.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ugly duckling.

You're not going to play with us, you're useless (or words or other signs to that exclusionary effect).

I was rather upset. 

I moved on feeling lonely and unloved.

OMG, they all know each other.
OMG, they are using savant lexus.
OMG, they are so creative.
OMG, they are speaking a language I don't understand.
OMG, and so on ad infinitum.

How do we enable others to see our vulnerability beneath the scary veneer?

How do we enable others to see that we do care?

How do we enable others to dare to take a step towards us?

How do we level the playing field a bit so that we are all in a position of newbies?

On reading Maha's piece here http://blog.mahabali.me/blog/pedagogy/inevitable-exclusion-symbols-hashtags-and-networked-spaces/ on exclusion, I think she is right to direct our attention to a reality.

People don't necessary have to get on to enjoy time in a common space, though it helps, but the tension might also encourage creative explorations...

Ah, that reminds me of a birthday party.


Now I would like to think about how to enable ourselves to differentiate signals of others in our networks on and offline.

I want to be alone.

I am just looking.

I need help.

I don't want to disturb but I want to play.

I want to overcome my own negative labelling of myself. (I am not creative, I am not competent, I am shy and that's bad etc)

I want to play only by nurturing others.

I want to play doing scary stuff but it's to show you it's not as scary as it looks.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


I have found myself in the wings of #clmooc over the past few days.

Last year, I spent much time drawing with Paper by 53 

I can't remember how that happened.

#CLMOOC community opens doors.

It catalysed an escape into one of my favorite past times.

That led into visual mashups.
I gathered stuff together here:

This year, like the year before, I am hanging out in the margins.

I know you're busy making stuff, tweeting at a rate of knots.

I am not pushing it.

Stuff clicks.

I love this type of moment.

I am a bit tired at the end of a very busy year.

I chill out. 

I am getting that urge to play with music apps again.


I am drawn to doodle not so much with images but with sounds, beats, spoken words, sound effects. 

I gave up playing music early.
I felt I was playing for others...

There were so many silent years.
I am beginning to miss listening.
There are so many unexplored avenues. 

Terry Elliott made a brilliant sound companion to a spoken voice piece which featured in Made in Entropy. 

You can listen to it here:


I love how he chucks another log on the fire to stoke up creative dialogue.

Here I am tapping away on a smartphone, while the others sleep, listening to a clock tick.

I open up the laptop to do a couple of embeds and tidy up the formatting.

I wonder if the video has uploaded yet?

23% only...


What object am I?

I am ajar

36% processing...

I am impatient.


I sleep-engaged in a #clmooc Twitter chat. 
Finalizing video on Youtube.

I need to sleep.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Made in entropy.

Unseen, unsaid, is it best left un...understood?

"Make an unintro," my mainly unread #clmooc prompt wrote.

Nothing coming to mind, I let my fingers go for a scroll.

I was feeling eye-weary.

I felt around in the dark.

There was an improbable touch...

It occurred to me.

I opened up the sound tool.
"Entropy,"  I muttered. 

I spelt it out on the page.

I looked it up to put a meaning to its sound.

It sounded fine.

It stayed, uninvited, uncalled for, uncut...

Here present.

A simple sound might make welcome change for me.

I listened to the ensuing unintro.

I was struck by an evidence: such imagination lies in silence.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sowing seeds.


The announcement almost had no effect on me.

Anonymous exams in an anonymous amphitheatre had been dumped. 

That would have been unthinkable even a few months before.

Today, the news seemed sort of a footnote to a forgotten battle.


A few days before I was sitting in Place de la Victoire drinking coffee on a terrace.

An ex-student had face-booked me to meet up with him.

Could I help him out translating for a new thoughtful magazine/periodical for running-enthusiasts aimed at a global niche market.

He spent a long time explaining his work and life values.

Somehow, what he said made me hopeful for the future.


I looked at some photos of #CLAVIER 2014-15 exchange activities. 

They included, in no particular order: 

Students tasting marmite sent to them by their correspondants in the UK.

Teachers of different nationalities drinking beer together in a pub.

French students dancing to Polish folk music in Poland.

Polish students teaching French students in France.

Librarian, librarians...

I met a librarian in the UK. 

In the time it takes to write this blog, we had made contact via email and Twitter and made contact with French librarians to organise meetings. 

Maybe librarians in Australia or the USA would like to join in the conversations?

Crossing lines...

A hangout organised by Maha at a conference had been blogged about by

The same hangout had been introduced to two more colleagues in France, sparking a discussion about social presence, gifting, hashtags, Instagram, memes and Strip Designer. 

A ensuing photo was tweeted to the UK.

The tweet was retweeted within three seconds by @warwicklanguage in the UK , favourited by @clarissamfb in Brazil and resulted in a Twitter exchange between three teachers, @mcrustan, @warwicklanguage and @DELChristine, one of whom usually avoids Twitter :-)

Active participation of friends at #dml2015 met through cmoocs - in particular #ccourses resulted in me being drawn to the conference ignite sessions archived on Youtube.

One ignite presentation of RoadTrip Nation http://roadtripnation.com/explore/interests resulted in an email exchange with 20 teachers in France. 

One teacher immediately responded: "Thanks for sharing! It seems quite exciting. I'm sure my students will love it!"

This post was inspired by reading a blog post written by Tania in Australia and by comments written by Maha in Egypt. In the post http://taniasheko.com/social-learning/pln-unconference-virtual-learning/ Tania writes:

"How do I show this kind of learning and praxis to my colleagues, to the teachers at my school? It still feels like I’m living a secret life or at least that it’s the invisible alternative life. How do I show others – without being intrusive or condescending (this is great, I know what I’m talking about) that it’s easy to connect to people and events online and that this world is just as real as the external world of work? In fact, in many cases I know more about  people I’m connected to  online than I do of staff at my own school.
How do we change our behaviours in a system that doesn’t change?"
A few years ago, I asked myself similar questions. 
I think my answer is this:
Joyfully sow seeds narrowly and widely, nurture saplings, tell stories, share fruit...have a laugh. 
Evangelical zeal makes me feel sick. 
Unfortunately, this bloody hymn came to my mind. 
"We plough the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land;
But it is fed and watered by God's almighty hand:
He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain."
I don't believe in God, I hated that hymn. 
I like sun, snow, soft-refreshing rain (but not every day). 
Breezes, spontaneous conversation and social media, even conferences help to carry seed further.
We can share, ideas, faith, hope, love, tears, joy, laughter, beer, football results...
We can even do that with people we see face to face. 

Friday, June 12, 2015


"This is not magic." 

"Technology is just a tool."

Yes, yes, I agree...

Up to a point.

I am writing this on a small connected digital device.

I was just watching some of my friends chatting together from different parts of the globe via Maha on Twitter
on Youtube 
via a wifi connected smartphone...
on the sofa...

[For those of you reading in 1984, I will explain later. It's a bit complicated. Please bear with me.]

There was Maha in Cairo, Mia in California, Terry in Kentucky, Scott in Canada, Rebecca somewhere,  Howard in California, Autumm (remind me to check spelling) er in the USA? and other guys who I am still trying to place.

They were talking about stuff I find really interesting. 

They said something about magic.
I can't remember what.
It doesn't really matter now.

They were just hanging out.

Click here for hangout http://youtu.be/uZqT9AcCvNI

[I will explain]

I had just got back from a few days of meetings in the UK with Teresa Mackinnon and the teaching team at Warwick University.

We were planning stuff for 2015-16 and 2015-20. 

We work as a team - yes teachers in France and in the UK and then there are others from all over the place. 

Funny that,  that never used to happen before.

[I met Teresa on a blog]
[I will explain.]


We spent a fair amount of time speaking French. 

I still have the impression that the fact that I speak French is magical.

I shouldn't be able to master that francotool. 

Pfff, language is just a technology, just a tool. 

I suppose it's all that time working and playing with French speakers that's rubbed off on me.

It's all explainable. (He coughs.)

No magic there.

Technology is not the answer to all our problems, it rained in English and il pleuvait ce soir en francais. 

We still fight each other and get sad.


Technology does change and has always changed societies.

Just imagine education with no writing.

That wonderful barman in a Warwick pub made me taste HPA, IPA, dark IPA, IPA (beer). 

I decided I preferred IPA.

It is marvellous how useful language and hand-pulled pumps (just tools) are when you are thirsty.

Technology is being used to change our relationships to ourselves and to others.

It is changing our discussions about education.

It is changing who we are speaking with, who we are listening to, how we are communicating.  

It is just a tool.

These are just my friends and colleagues.

They help me to make meaning.

That is magic.

Monday, June 8, 2015


You'll have to take my word for it. 

I am that shadowy presence there; so barely discernable that I can only appear annotated.

This is insignificant I grant you.

Nobody else would remark it. 

My attention drifts around the tables.


"I have scaled these city walls, 
Only to be with you..."

All is interrupted by a clatter of plates in the scullery.

We are criss-crossing sound-traces of vitality.

We are incidentally thus.

A table number?
A beer?
A steak?
A sticky-toffee pudding?

The IPA tasted good.

There is a folded napkin.

It is next to an empty glass.

"I still haven't found what I'm looking for."

There is no life here but marginalia.