Being a graffiti artist in your neighborhood

I want to share some things that I learned today with the Federated Wiki Happening. Because now I know not to blog in my wiki. But first, I really wish Jack White and John Doe would leave me alone. Two songs are looping in my head, and I can’t shake them. I even forced myself out in the wind and rain to go for a run. The suffering usually clears my head, but Jack and John still haven’t gone away.

Perhaps if I use some of their lyrics to describe what I learned today, these lovely ditties will let me be. Or I’ll make it worse.

Mind you, there are worse songs to have stuck on a loop in your head this time of year. Indulge me:

1. “We clean up and now it’s time to learn.”

As I mentioned on Twitter and on Alan Levine’s Federated Wiki in Motion Like a Bent Fork, I think I’m getting it. He called my post a “think through.” In my reply, I was trying to share my thoughts that we may need new verbs to help newbies (c’est moi) understand the actions they are trying to perform in the federated wiki. That’s why “the factory” is so useful instead of whatever else we usually use html textbook or wsywyg or whatever. And honestly I haven’t messed with the icons at the bottom of the page yet other than to hover over the colored squares, to post, and to (hopefully) fork. Alan and I may be confused about different things. I’ve used them to read through the history of the post–and that’s cool. Seeing folks that I’ve followed for years struggle through this makes me feel better (I need to stop saying this, I’m starting to annoy myself).

One thing I have noticed is how Mike is cleaning up some of the external links and some of the formatting. I watched him do it yesterday and I think it’s a good approach. My massive bloggy post from Day 1 is good example. I was trying “bust something out” while I had a break at work, and I was a lame student. But I think I’m getting there. My wiki writing has been really limited, so I don’t really know what I’m doing. At least I’ve got the thinking part right or I’ve finally find an outlet for “when silly thoughts go through my head about the bugs and alphabet.”

2. “We don’t notice any time pass/we don’t notice anything.”

I took the assignment for today very seriously and I tried to care about what others had done. A friend had recommended that I read a New Yorker article, and the only reason I paused on it today is that Ivan Brunetti did the cover. I love his work, and I use this cover when I work with adults who are freaked out about technology. It’s a wonderful way to help people relax–everyone sees themselves in this classroom.

Once I had some thoughts, I wrote my first post, and I mirrored what Mike had demonstrated in his tutorial with Miss Spaztastic here.

And wow, it was so enjoyable. So unlike any other writing experience I’ve ever had. I made some coffee, lit a fire, and made the dog lay in his little nest at my feet. And I really tried to add ideas and I even took an invite from Kate Bowles to work with her words.

I spend an incredible amount of my time preaching the word of open education, and yet, I haven’t had the experience of creating collaboratively. Sure, I have a few projects going right now with very interesting people, but they have their part and I have mine. The fed wiki felt differently and about an hour into it, I lost all sense of caring that it was somebody else’s worse. I had page after page of ideas to see. Then I got the fear that I was being a charlatan or some sort of graffiti artist. And well, I made the most edits to Kate’s work. So if I made a mistake, I feel like I can say to Kate, “I can tell that we are gonna friends.”

Oh, if I could sing, I’d love to sound like Exene Cervenka. Their high-lonesome duet is so sweet. Indulge yourself:

Two points for consideration any of wiki happeners:

1. I dig not having an avatar, but I’ll accept that’s what other people want. Despite my ridiculous comments about the avatar in my butterfly environment (what I’ve nicknamed my site) yesterday with Mike, I like the colored squares. Perhaps it helps silence my inner critic. Maybe I’m too new to sharing online for it to bother me. Maybe I’m not seeing the point. I wrote my first blog post two years ago, and I just revisited my second post and I’m still on the cycling and learning thing. Somebody Should Write Her Book: A Memoir

2. I need advice on how to see what I’ve done. When I click on Recent Changes, it brings up everyone. That’s cool most of the time. Today I linked something in the wrong place, and I didn’t think about it until 15 minutes later. By then, I had no idea where I had been. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe that’s part of the process.

All in all, I really think this is an amazing way to write and think. It’s not something to bust out. It’s not something you want to do quickly. In the video on Idea Mining, Mike mentioned that this style of thinking is making him sharper. I see it. I can dig it.

About Alyson Indrunas

Always learning about instructional design, educational technology, professional development, adult education, and writing.
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4 Responses to Being a graffiti artist in your neighborhood

  1. Kate Bowles says:

    I was so delighted to see your edits on the page I’d made as it took me a while to see them and then they just shimmered into view. Like you I love that we don’t really know who does what except by suddenly hearing a subtle change in tone or syntax and thinking: hello, that’s new. So then I went and found something you or someone else wrote that seemed to me really to fit the whole question of why we become attracted to the presence of strangers in our neighbourhoods, even if we just wake up in the morning to see the evidence of the trace they left overnight while we were sleeping.

    For me SFW induces a really calm sense of delight and today I realised it’s because I think in circles. I joined a Google Hangout last night and noticed (not for the first time) that when I was asked a simple, direct question I began somewhere else completely, circled around it, never answered it, found some other thoughts. For a long time it has felt to me like this way of thinking is a career liability, but I through blogging and now through this way of looping around I think it might be just how some of us navigate.

    This morning I pulled over by the of the road with two of my kids to watch a small flock of pelicans circling high, high up on a summer thermal. We were all just entranced at watching them climb. “Why do they do it?” my daughter asked. And I realised I have no idea. So maybe that’s what we here to learn.

    So lovely to meet you.


    • Kate, you are such a talented writer! Lovely to meet you as well, and yes, yes, yes! The words “shimmered into view” what a beautiful way to put it. How refreshing to have that child-like wonder both with your children and with this fed wiki. I’ll save my search for your shimmering words over my coffee tomorrow morning:)


  2. jennymackness says:

    Hi Alyson – you are a talented writer too. I’m enjoying your posts. Just to say that I also felt no need for an avatar and was, like you, enjoying the focus on ideas rather than on people.

    I have also had the same problem with recent changes. What I have discovered – and I’m not sure if this is idiosyncratic – but when I first log in, if I immediately click on Recent changes, then it bring up just my own recent changes. If I go to Happening Folks and then on Recent Changes it will bring up everyone’s recent changes. Strange thing is that I have found that I have to log out and back in again to only see my own recent changes. I have asked Mike about this and this is the reply I got:

    “If you want to clear your neighborhood, double click on your welcome page avatar, and that should do the trick.
    If you want to get fancy, you can actually double click on any avatar (as long as it is you) and it will clear your neighborhood.
    If you want happening folks again, just go to that page and they are back!”

    Yesterday I wasn’t able to find Office Hours anywhere, so I missed the Hangout, but today it seems to be back. I don’t understand the reasons for most of what is happening, but I’m enjoying it for the same reason as you 🙂


    • Thanks for the compliment, Jenny. Glad to hear we share in the avatar, but I will admit hearing Mike say in the most earnest tone that I need to “wait for my spinning head to stop”–I giggled! Watching them spin at the bottom of the screen is fun. Thanks for the tip. I finally got through my spinning head today;)


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