Saturday, August 29, 2015

Another cycle.

I just remembered my second tricycle.

It was the red one which replaced the small blue one that I used to ride around the house dressed as the Lone Ranger, aged three.

I don't have any photos of my second tricycle.

I am fairly satisfied that it looked pretty much like this one on the left.

It had a boot at the back for the trip to the grocers'.

I seem to remember that the boot was big enough for a packet of cornflakes and a bag of potatoes.

I have vague memories of pedaling for miles.

Surely, it wasn't so far?

It was the first time that I was able to leave the confines of the Rectory garden.

Surely, I can't have been alone?

I don't remember anyone being with me, so taken up was I with my new found freedom.

I had quite forgotten about that red tricycle until now.

A few months later, it seemed rather childish, that tricycle.

Another cycle.

I can't remember the colour of the bicycle.

I remember going around the garden shakily, feeling total exhilaration at the speed, at the feeling of being on two wheels...

Then a catastrophe struck.

I remember distinctly crashing into a patch of nettles and brambles.

I was stung by my overconfidence, by my wounded pride.

It was too late.

There was no going back to the tricycle.

I had outgrown it.

It was consigned to memory.

There was nothing for it.

I would have to learn to keep my balance, to steer correctly and to give hand-signals on the open road.

Another cycle.

"So are you bringing your poems to Reclaim Hosting?" 

I was a little surprised that my 'secret' dabbling in WordPress and my 'secret' domain had been uncovered by Jim Groom.

On the other hand, I felt reassured to be messing around in a sandbox with people that I was familiar with.

I was not alone with the buckets and spades.

Another sandbox.

I have been working on a website for the CLAVIER network.

After exhausting all other "solutions" (excuses),  I resigned myself to figuring out how to set up a domain, how to make a blog look like a website and vice versa.

Another tricycle.

I spent a long time trying to avoid it.

Wouldn't a Google site do it?

Wouldn't a Blogger blog do it?

Nope, they wouldn't do it.

Wouldn't someone else do it?

Nope they wouldn't do it.

I tried to find a hosting solution at the university.

Nope, that wouldn't do it.

I tried to find a hosting solution in France.

Nope, I didn't know those guys, that wouldn't do it.

I need real support.

Another cycle.

I blame the people at Connected Courses.

I was so happy with my red tricycle.

It took me as far as the shops.

I am way off my beaten track now...

I tweeted a message to Maha. 


She tweeted a message to Reclaim Hosting.

I tweeted a message to Cogdog.


I tweeted a message to Cogdog.


Another cycle.

I studied the CLMOOC website.
I studied the CCourses website.
I studied the Virtually Connecting Website.
I studied Cogdog's website.
I studied websites...

I know pretty much nothing about bicycle code.

I cheated and found an application: "WordPress Theme Detector"

I started to understand a bit more about Themes and Plug ins.

I read the posts on setting up a blog hub.

I looked again at the posts on setting up an Activity Bank.

I studied the Youshow: Unit 5 found on Cogdog's website.

Another cycle.

I signed up to Reclaim Hosting.

I was so shocked how easy it was to create a domain that I did it three times, just because I could.

The euphoria was short-clicked.

Ugh, CPanel.

Those sounded like nettles and brambles.

I rode shakily around them.

I found a Theme.

I was on familiar territory.

It was rather like Blogger.

I found pages.

It was rather like Google Sites.

I started getting adventurous.


I crashed into the brambles and the nettles.

What TF is a sticky post?
What TF is a sticky header?
What TF is a featured picture?

I was beginning to miss the red tricycle.

I could almost hear my brother laughing at my desperate crash.

Oh the shame...

Another cycle.

I have resigned myself.

It's too late now.

In a few months, I will have forgotten about the trip to the shops for the cornflakes.

I will be going further afield.

I will be roaming new domains.

Now what shall it be?


Another cycle...

Another crash in the brambles and the nettles...

Monday, August 24, 2015

Walk with me a while.

What that I might want to say could I want to write?

A fraught sentence?

I don't know.

It will do for now.

Walk with me a while.

Nothing better to do?

Nothing better to do.

Nothing better to do.

Walk with me a while.

It's harmless enough.

It's aimless enough.

Don't ask.

Don't speak.

Just walk.

Walk with me a while.

I can't say.


It doesn't make it feel any better.

Are we going somewhere?


Nowhere that I might want to go.


This will have to do for now.

I am avoiding saying what I ought.




Forget it.

Just walk with me a while.

I hate writing in the dark.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Road rage

It was that bloody open web ideologist (#blideo) Steve Wheeler who got me going. 

He stole a video I posted on Youtube a few years back.

Others of his ideological bent took up on this #blideo blogging challenge:  

When I saw the pieces posted by some David Hopkins guy here 

and a Sue Beckingham here 

I had a shock, I can tell you!

That was my video of a wildlife security breach they were going on about. 

Well folks, here's the really story of that elk video: 

I was hanging around in my Fence Security truck muttering "bloody herds".

I was filming that video for ages while I waited to see if the fence would withstand a single elk attack.

Nope, not even a single elk on its own was stopped!

Time-travel a few years later...there was my elk video.

Ha ha bloody ha!

Those bloggers were going on about elk emancipation, I thought to myself: 

"Have they no thought for guys like us?"

I have been personally responsible for interstate highway security for the past 15 years.  

Each year well-built American passengers cars are destroyed by invasive wildlife. 

Talk of wildlife protection! 

It's highway maintenance guys like us who need protecting!

Now even puny elk-calves are jumping through our VLE (very large elk) fences. 

Fence maintenance is becoming impossible. 

The trucks and the four by fours won't be  able to tell the highway from the wild. 

There'll be bloody transport chaos!!

Just let them all wander all over the place. 

They'll see! 

They'll regret our VLE's. 

I'm retiring to wander the wild as a bloody bounty hunting cowboy. 

Adios pardners. 

PS. In the wilds elk and hikers and drivers get mauled by mountain lion. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A letter to the editor.

A faithful and very ancient newspaper reader bemoans.

Dear Sir/(Madam/Other)

I am writing to complain about what I consider to be an unfortunate erosion of values under your watch.

I am sending this by (paper plane) airmail for fear that snail-mail will be a dud.

The Royal Mail is a b. disgrace.


Faithful reader of your publication over the last one hundred and fifty years, I have noticed a growing dependence on colour and sensationalism, and news (if that is what one must call it) coming from what appears to be overseas.

Talking of colour, have you started to employ writers from the colonies as some economy  measure or have you dreamed up some new-fangled (ill-considered) scheme to export your (our) daily broadsheet abroad in order to pick up a few cheap readers?

It is a b. disgrace!!

What ever happened to our place in our Commonwealth???

It has become increasingly difficult to find your (our) paper in the diminishing (disappearing) number of reputable newsagents.

More and more people are suggesting that I bite the bullet and go 'digital.'


What must a man do now if he wants to protect his bald pate from the mid-day sun?

Hold up a bloody iPad?

YOU seem to have forgotten the importance of a BROADSHEET for an Englishman's afternoon nap.

Have you never been to a test match!

Have you never spent a day on Frinton-on-sea greensward in mid-July?

I am told that I will be able to buy, nay 'have' a constantly updated version of the publication 'online'!!

What the hell is that about?  

Am I to radiate myself with one of those light boxes that I hear commuters now glue their eyes to?

How am I supposed to hide my proud carriage grimace behind a five-inch rectangle?

How am I supposed to avoid speaking to my better half at breakfast behind a five-inch rectangle?

How am I supposed to light a fire with a bloody piece of aluminium and glass and plastic and various bits of toxic handmedowns?

Have you lost hold of your senses man (woman/other)?

Furthermore, moreover, and what is also the case:


I buy a newspaper to inform me at reasonable intervals of what a trained and trusted group of professional journalists consider to be an essential synthesis of our nation's days events; not to give me a bloody running commentary on some ruddy American football match.

What the hell is American Football???

Quality, a quality broadsheet that is what I deemed to buy.

Quantity, or frequency dear chap (madam/other) is no compensation for weak quality!

Furthermore, moreover, and what is also the case:

What do I care about a horde of shabby migrants vagrants queuing up in Calais to invade the home counties?

What do we have the armed forces for?


The other day, there was even some 'LIVE CHAT' ladida with some obscure FRENCH actress.

Juliet Binwash or something.

What are you thinking of?

What will my better half think when she sees me tapping up some floosy over my kippers?

British standards.

Might I add, I even had the shock and disappointment not to have any reading matter to accompany my cod, chips and mushy peas the other day.

While the meal was wholesome enough (no thanks to you!!), it was wrapped in an offwhite piece of blank paper and with the grease held in some sort of plastic carton.

Whatever happened to the Fleetwood Gazette NEWSPAPER which wrapped it before???

I understand that half the bloody press is now owned by some vulgar pom basher from down under.

Well frankly, is that any wonder if these are your standards.

Yours, frankly

Disgusted from Frinton.

PS. digital like digitalis is toxic!


Disgusted from Frinton unfortunately featured in this week's online obituary column.

He/She/Other will be greatly missed by a few selected mourners.

No flowers please.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tether or not?

Is mobile technology really an agent of 'academic freedom'?

That was the question which crossed my mind on reading Steve Wheeler's recent article entitled: 'At the end of our tether.'

Before continuing, I have to admit that I was an early adopter of smartphone usage in the classroom and have spent a long time discovering the diversity of potential affordances of these tools for language learning. They have become an integral part of how we work in our part of the world.

I don't envisage that changing...

However, there were certain things in Steve's article which made me think.

"We are living at a time in our history where the small device in the hand of the student is able to provide opportunities for any time, any place learning" S.Wheeler

since when, I thought to myself, has there not been opportunities for 'any time, any place learning'?

It is clearly not the presence of the 'small device' itself which necessarily leads to learning. Indeed, I spend a long time enabling students to discover the potential for learning which these devices offer.  

They do offer a number of useful applications for capturing and sharing sound, image, video, text, which can then be usefully shared with our communities via social networks...

We are indeed obliged in our societies to understand the possibilities that these devices offer and to become skilled in their uses.


I still feel, (I must admit) more moved by a student-created scrap-book (admittedly with photos taken with a smartphone).

I still feel more moved by my scribbled drawings on paper than my filtered photos on Instagram.

I still feel that notebooks which are unlimited by the manipulation of bits are somehow precious.

What price Leonardo's scribbles anyone?

I still have scribbled relics of my 'Grand Tour'  interrail trip of Europe.

Wasn't that learning 'any time, any place'?

"Increasingly, people are learning informally through their mobile devices." S.Wheeler

Yes, this is undoubtedly true but don't their mobile devices restrict how and what they learn? 

What is 'informal learning'? Isn't it just learning?

A smartphone interface, its tactile surface (like a shop window is tactile) does that not limit learning?

A web tale...

“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the spider to the fly;
“’Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

Mary Howitt

A web full of information does that paradoxically not limit learning? 

Even if one develops advanced 'crap detection' one is still interacting with a select type of potential documents. 

What of aborigene people or others who will never interact via this 'World Wide Web'?  

Are they not learning 'any time, any place'? 

Actually, not, their learning is centred on their particular ecology of which they are a part.  

Are we not at risk of losing their learning?

Can we really be 'any place'? 

Might the 'World Wide Web' of information not actually take us away from learning what is most essential for our interaction with our local ecology?

Aren't we tethered via these 'mobile devices' to a particular world view?

Aren't we tethered via these 'mobile devices' to a particularly dominant cultural norm?

Aren't we tethered via these 'mobile devices' to commercial data mining of our existence?

Aren't we tethered via these 'mobile devices' to security service tracking of our movements?

To be or not to be?

Don't these mobile devices actually stop people learning?  

Those people who interrupt  Hamlet to take photos of Sherlock or Dr Who are they learning?

Haves and haves not?

Does our 'academic freedom' come at the cost of the slavery of others?  

What do we know of the ecological price of smartphone manufacture?  

Well to be frank, I didn't know much about the ecological price of a smartphone...

I went and looked for information (on the internet - to which we are 'all' tethered now) and found cases of worker exploitation and death in mines, factories, environmental devastation.  150 people die every year in Indonesia mining for raw materials:  , so not much academic freedom for them!

What do we know of the cultural impact of the mobile devices on the education of young people in developing countries?

Clearly, the impact is enormous for better and for worse, depending on how one looks at it. 

A Pew Report from March 2015 illustrates this cultural impact in 'developing countries' (I never understood that term).  


Whether we are tethered or not, whether we are learning or not, whether we like it or not, we are obliged to ask ourselves and our students questions about what sort of 'academic freedom' is desirable.  

S.Wheeler is absolutely right to emphasise that we have no choice but to reflect on these tools:

"The significance of the mobile device cannot be underestimated. In the last decade personal, mobile technology has gained a dramatic purchase on western society. It has driven many social, economic, political and, yes - psychological changes. The relative benefits and limitations of these changes can be debated elsewhere, but fundamentally, educators need to recognise something significant." S.Wheeler

As we become ever more 'hyperconnected', I am far from certain that we are or we will be 'freer'...

Image credits

Tethered Horse by piddix

Leonardo da Vinci 'Foetus in the Womb' 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Expressionism. WTF?

You sit down and you work on eye hand coordination, using the pen as a guide to work out the angles. 

You train yourself to identify geometric forms in 'empty spaces'.

You use the wash brush to apply water-colour in wide sweeps of colour.

I keep coming back to the question of technique, of 'mastery', individual 'mastery'. 

Aside: 'Surely I can find an app called 'individual mastery'?'
Aside 2: 'Do they imagine that the web is a means of mastery of the individual? Fools!!!"

Sorry, I digress.

Nature morte.

However much I school my dexterity to depict 'still life' there still appears something missing.

How much dexterity do you need to express life?

How big a microscope should I find?

To my eyes, this is 'nature morte', still life, stuffed life.

Dead is not my preferred state.

I am happy to find that, naturally, without going to art gym, I evolve...(seriously, I do ;-)

It is only recently, via this space, that I have really begun to work through this conflict. 

Expression versus Illustration.

Much of my work in any space is taken up by an expression of absent presence. 

I shouldn't take responsibility for such work.

No work is much too serious a word for it. 

This is play.
(A play is a political act.)

What is it that I am doing here?
What is it that you are doing here?
What is it that we are making here?

  • There is the act.
  • There is the gesture.
  • There is the feeling.
  • There is the presence.
  • There is the framing.

I am not sure whether one can separate or order any of this.

Improbably, I have been reading up about expressionism, abstract expressionism and started curating artefacts on my iphone home screen. 

(That means its personal...). 

I even did that twice.

(That means its important to me.)


There is one article which is open in another tab in this browser, linked below:

I found these lines which jumped out at me:

1) "Heidegger‟s concepts of Being-in-the-world and Being-with take the individual outside of a psychoanalytic understanding of the self and place him or her in the world with others. For Heidegger, as one of his commentators explained, Dasein—literally Being-there—is not an ego with “a stream of private experiences” but “a moving center of pragmatic activity in the midst of a shared world.”

and these here:

2) "With its emphasis on the awareness of the here and now, Zen echoed the Abstract Expressionists‟ own concerns with spontaneity and awareness, and Zen, too, is invested in the communal. The act of meditation is the attempt to quiet the self so that one‟s relation to otherness is made clear, so that one may perceive the connectedness of all life."

and then this: 

3) “We are in the presence not of a work of art which is a thing but of an action which is implicitly nothing.” John Cage.

and finally this:

 4) “a practice that involves a break with the familiar, the routine ways of seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding things so that the organism may become receptive to the potential forms of a nonaggressive, non-exploitative world.”


Since blogging regularly after #rhizo14, I have been regularly reflecting on this practice (writing/drawing/scribbling et al).

1) Without listing the posts, I have repeatedly spoken of a sensation that much of this writing is not of 'myself'.  (Sorry, like preparatory sketches this is repetitive). 

It really is 'a pragmatic activity' in the 'midst of a shared world'.  

Furthermore, (did I really use that word??) it exudes momentary presence, which could be described as 'stream of consciousness.' 

However, this 'absent presence' is certainly not mine alone. 

There are others scribbling here. 

Is this a 'stream of connected consciousness.' ?

A few observations:

Alone, I would not be reading about 'abstract expressionism'. 

Alone, I would probably not direct my attention towards the work of Nick Sousanis.

Alone, I would not be recognising the name Heidegger.

I am reminded of comments he makes in this hangout about the handicap of templates which prevents one's art from really being 'embodied.'

A lack of gesture, a 'flattening' frame of web media, insidious small print contracts have at times been a source of claustrophobia, or even Kafkaesque paraonoia which comes out in other posts here.

2) The growing links with Zen Buddhism, I have noticed running through my choice of avatar, the importance of 'enso', my experience of 'Ki' via Aikido, the insistence on 'losing oneself' in a gesture. I must admit that such a discovery is still a novelty to me. 

How can I not 'perceive the connectedness' of this act here? 
How can I not 'perceive the connectedness' in the emergence of this act?
How can I not 'perceive the connectedness' in clmooc, rhizo14/14, et al?

3) This is not a finished article, it is a journey, it is a step.  

I am thrown back to fractals. 

What was it that I was looking at? 
What was it that I was looking at?
What was it that I was looking at?

Of course, it comes into focus... 

'Unflattening" of Nick Sousanis.

4) What is this new way of thinking, writing, seeing, understanding that we are experiencing here?

How can I not see that this is not about a post, or a Zeega, or a remix poem, or an adhoc voice?

These are not 'works of art', 'things', they are 'actions', 'voices', 'bits' of something greater and unfamiliar to us all.

These are like assembled elements of a comic page...

They are all and nothing...

Perhaps we should be looking out from all these diversely connected, perspectives?

What is our connected state of flux?

What is this culture which is unfamiliar to us?

Pollock comes back to me:

"There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn't have any beginning or any end. He didn't mean it as a compliment. But it was."


Are we developing:

"a practice that involves a break with the familiar, the routine ways of seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding things so that the organism may become receptive to the potential forms of a nonaggressive, non-exploitative world." ?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Knot crossing lines...

I am struggling here.

I am struggling here to find a way into (or is that out?) of this.

I shall just have to have faith.

I come back, change a bit of punctuation.

I come back again.

I change a word to bold.

I change the order of the words in that line.

I look at it.

I make a bit more space there.

It's taken up with drips of paint.

Drips of paint...

Teettering on the brink.

Post or trash?
Post of trash?
Post or trash?

I hit post.

I enjoy that gesture.

I ignore my better judgement.

I am no judge.

Out in the open, I am at peace.

“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

Andy Warhol

In the meantime...

I have been delving into "Unflattening" by Nick Sousanis and thinking about text and images.
I have been back and thinking about Proust, Kerouac, Joyce and "stream of conscisousness".
I have been back and looked at Jackson Pollock and thinking about intentionality, about gesture.

I cut a line. I don't stop to wonder why.

I was excited to see replies from Kevin Hodgson and Terry Elliott to one of those posts of mine...

A vantage place.

I saw Terry's reply in Zeega form

I was strung out along those lines. 

I am bound and tied.

Lines cross...

Is this what it's about?

I bound here...

Where is this bound?

I shall make a knot.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A vantage place.

There are a hundred and one things...

There are a hundred and one places...

That makes two hundred and two.

This time.

It counts for nout.

There aren't a hundred and one people.

This vantage place.

It is yours.

It is his, alone.

So, Sod it.

So be it.

So will it.

Those flames are lapping around his perch.

Concentrate on his bloody lot.

Retreat is hopeless.

Take solace in this burning heart.

Dry tears. Fix grin. Walk precarious. Breathe, breathe...Falter not. Pace, stride. Sway perilously.

Along line...

Mine that burning heart.

A vantage place.

Let it burn.

Sorry this isn't easy.

Foot note

This incongruous piece willed to be written.

I let it out for a walk.

It said its piece.

It left said and done.


I was taken up with a curious presentation of Bret Victor's shared by Terry Elliot.

I share it here as this is somehow, (or may be later,) I feel, weirdly tied up with it.

There is something here which touches me on a number of intuitive levels.

What is it which attracts us to the tight-rope walker?

Is it pain and joy which draws us out?

Is it pain and joy which beckons us?

I have no idea what that might mean.

I shall leave it here for reflection.

Not sure why.