Digiwrimo storyjumpers 6: What does it mean?

This is part 6 of a story jumping activity for Digital Writing MonthBruno started it, followed by Kevin, Maha, Sarah and Ron Sign up in the Google Doc if you’d like to join in.

*****

Kevin plopped onto his bed, exhausted. What a night. What the hell had happened? How did things get so out of hand? He never knew Sandy had one machine gun, let alone two. And, to take them to the pub with her? And fire them? What was she thinking?! The whole incident really got him wondering whether he knew her at all, and whether they had a future together. And how Sarah got involved in that fight, he wasn’t sure.  At least he’d managed to fix her uke – that was about the only thing that had gone right that night. Meanwhile, that odd woman across the road was watching his house again. It no longer freaked him out, but he did often wonder why she was so interested in the house. Maybe she wanted to buy it.

Kevin took the Bruno note out of his pocket and turned it over in his hands. He hadn’t been able to get it out of his mind since finding it in that old laptop case. He peered at the map again and tried to make out the words…

After a while, things started to get blurry, and all of a sudden the words seemed to dissolve into a garden and he found himself face to face with a spider.

spider door

He looked around, confused. Where was he? And was that a door? What happened to his bed? He had no idea where he was, but he decided to investigate what was behind his door…it occurred to him that perhaps this was all just a strange dream and he would wake up and find himself back home, in his room if he walked through that door.

Instead, he found himself in a whole other world. There was a sign in front of him:

sign

No swimming? Where was the water? Curious, he walked past the sign, towards the large trees, looking for the body of water the sign was  referring to.

But instead of water, there was a clearing. And to his surprise there was a giant chessboard, with a mysterious, small hooded boy considering his next move.

chessboard

He tried to get the small boy’s attention to ask where the water way, but the boy only seemed to speak French. Kevin  kept walking.

As he walked through a small forest, and past a strange cluster of large rocks, he finally saw a lake.

rocks

He could see an amazing glowing island full of flowers in the middle. He somehow knew he had to get there. But the water was murky and he remembered the sign warning of no swimming. He looked around – and saw there was a rowboat behind some bushes. He grabbed it and jumped in, rowing quickly toward the island. He didn’t know why but he had a gut feeling it was important he get there. As he approached, the words Blossom Island kept playing over and over in his head. He knew this was the name of the island. On the island were hundreds of beautiful red and white rose bushes.

blossomisland

After walking through blossom island for a few minutes he came across an arch with beautiful flowers all around it.  Walking through it,, enchanted, he notices in amongst the flowers, lots of yummy looking cookies. Kevin suddenly realises how hungry he is – he’d done so much walking and couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten. He grabbed a cookie greedily. But just as he was about to bite into it, he paused. Sudden flashbacks of childhood fairy tales played in his mind: Hansel and Gretel, and the candy covered cottage; Alice in Wonderland and the ‘Eat Me’ cake. The flashbacks were surely a warning. Who put these cookies here? What was in them? Why were they here? And…where WAS HE? The sound of his rumbling stomach interrupted his thoughts. In that instant, he threw caution to the wind, and took a huge bite.

*****

To be continued….by Kay….

[Footnote: this story contains images and ideas from my day out today with my 5 year old]

Agree//disagree: a poem and its inspirations.

..or hidden musings on conversation, community & making stuff up.

On Saturday morning, I was sitting with my 3 year old at a cafe having breakfast, and a few moments of silence passed between us.  As my mind wandered vaguely to some of the things I’d read the previous night, these lines came into my head:

Agree, disagree
Debate
Abate…

I looked  for a pen. I didn’t have one. So as a small child ate raisin toast, I typed the lines into Evernote on my phone and some more came tumbling out. I paused a little in between, thinking about discrete things I’d mulled over, mostly during the previous evening. This is the poem (which I later put into notegraphy – thanks Mariana), and some of the thoughts and influences behind it.

agree-disagree, a poem

Agree//Disagree
Debate.
Abate.
The norms we
Storm
Thru
Conversation

The seeds of inspiration for these lines – and much of this poem – came from Mariana’s Storify ‘The interpersonal contract in cMoocs’ , which I’d actually come across from Jeff Merrell’s post ‘Teaching Uncertainly #rhizo14’. Here, Jeff talks about an open blogging assignment/experiment he’s running – and how one of his student’s blog posts (Andee Weinfurner @andeew38) was picked up and woven into this storify ^ by Mariana. I was intrigued (and actually a bit surprised) that he and Mariana hadn’t known of each other prior to this, and touched by the depth and thoughtfulness of their exchange in the comments on Jeff’s post. It reminded me, again, what catalysts blog posts can be in developing deeper connections with people – when you take the time to listen, reflect and respond thoughtfully. I love that I found both Jeff and Mariana in precisely this way – and I guess it’s no coincidence that they found each other this way too. Perhaps this is something of the human connection that Jeff’s student blogger Andee asks about in her post.

I was intrigued enough to click on the link to Mariana’s storify and was blown away by all that it said. It’s about the way we’re relating to each other in #rhizo14 (and cMOOCs generally) and the impact that the lack of explicit norms might have in shaping the rhizo14 dialogue and experience. Mariana’s storify was what I was thinking about on that Saturday morning. In particular, this:

As I read this again some days after, I’m struck by how much of this passage I internalised – its influence unmistakably present in those first few lines that came into my head that Saturday morning. So once again, Mariana has challenged me to think and reflect about my own behaviour (‘Is this something I do?’ ‘What impact might it have on the tenor of the dialogue?’). We tend to be brought up to value debate, logic, to take a strong position on something and defend it – argue to the death. Conceding to another is often perceived as a sign of mental weakness. What impact does this have on our ability to see the grey, the nuances in complexity? How does this impact our willingness to listen – really listen – to what someone else is saying? How often are we already thinking about how we’ll respond – and cutting in – before the other person has even had a chance to speak? I guess that is what this is about:

Communication?
Or
Obsfucation
Sublimation

As I wrote this that morning, I was also thinking about Nick Kearney (@nickkearney)’s post ‘Marram Grass’, and Mariana’s comment on that, which I’d also seen the previous evening. Is conversation the community in #rhizo14? (the precise thought I’d had a couple of weeks ago). If so, where are these conversations occurring? And what do we even mean when we talk of ‘conversation’ online? It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot throughout rhizo14, and also as a result of concurrently helping coordinate a new L&D twitter chat (#OzLearn), plus the Sydney Third Place social/networking meetups – how is conversation taking place within these various spaces, what does it look like, what does it ‘feel’ like, similarities? differences? Is there ‘conversation’? Is there (emergent) ‘community’? It’s something I’ll be writing a more focused post on but this was all in my subconscious as I wrote these lines.

When trying to define something unknown online, you inevitably try to relate it to what’s familiar offline, in real life. And so it was on that Saturday morning. Thoughts of community conjured up visuals of church > nationalism > patriotism.

Congregation
Of a nation
Community
And unity – ?

Then, of course, there’s contrast:

Or distribution
And divergence
Individuals
Do
Convergence.
On their blogs

This ^ is actually a reference to divergent vs convergent thinking, raised by Maureen Crawford in a comment on my previous post, as well as in her own post ‘Networks are expanding our ignorance’. I recall distinctly this having a big impact on me as the realisation dawned that both ‘divergent browsing’ (e.g. rampant blog hopping…?!) and ‘convergent thinking’ (e.g. thoughtful reflection) are important and necessary, essential parts of the creative process.

And, as I started thinking about the process of blogging, what it feels like when you write a post (well, to me, anyway):

Moments of clarity

…simultaneously littered with uncertainty and self doubt, comparisons with others…the wondering of whether what you’re writing even makes sense, the feeling that you’re just  making it up as you go – and hoping that nobody notices (or that at least they don’t call you out too badly for it…)

Parity
Sparity
Sparcity
and farcity

(And yes, I made up those words…cos there aren’t that many words that rhyme with ‘clarity’  or ‘parity’, and once I started, it was hard to stop. Too much fun. And it kinda fits with the theme.)

Embryonic thoughts put out to sea
Posting letters
up in a tree
planting rhizomes
weeds that spread
messages in bottles
we set them free

The sea references ^ are again Maureen-Crawford-inspired, with a little bit of Ryan Tracey serendipity added into the mix. Here’s the story: a few days ago, Maureen tweeted me this:

@jmca3ualberta_machado

Initially I was just going to respond a simple (normal) reply of thanks…but decided that would be boring and responded by poem instead (harder in 140 chars than you might imagine! But it was Friday, I was feeling playful):

@jmca3ualberta_machado_reply

Just after I sent that I went and had a look at a link which Ryan Tracey (@ryantracey) had posted on my previous post…and was amazed to find it led to this:

Wow. How’s that for serendipty?! (We both agreed it was a little creepy….but as it turned out there were more serendipitous moments to be had….).

The bit about trees and rhizomes was, I’m sure, my mind casting itself back to this bit of Mariana’s Storify:

***

Postscript:

And then, later that night, well after I’d written it, I also took at look at another of Mariana’s storifies ‘Help stamp out nouns’, the ending of which communicates exactly the feeling  I was trying to convey with those made up words in the poem.

None of us really know what we’re on about: we’re just all fumbling around in the dark together. And maybe that’s (at least in part) what ‘community as curriculum’ really means. Making sense of what we’re making up. Together.