Inspiring Webs

I have been following John Naughton’s blog Memex (the title being a link in itself to the mother of all hypertext machines) for a while, for his recommendations and acute, to-the-point observations, his articles on The Observer, and so on. Compelling, but this is not all. Every day for a while he has been sharing some “Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news”. Since, you see,

Recently, I became so fed up with the morning radio news programmes […] that I decided it would be better for my sanity just to listen to music at breakfast and read the news in papers and on the Web. Hence the ‘Musical alternative’ at the top of each day’s blog.

John Naughton

That, when I read it, did rang a bell. I have had, in fact, a similar reaction to the radio news programs as well as the tv news ones. Suddenly, I got fed up with their little muzaks, noise, frills and pompousness. I got fed of the US tv news outlets, the Puerto Rico ones, the European, and so on & so forth. And I got fed of the so-called analysts.

It helped that for similar reasons, in my home we decided to also get rid of cable TV. We were paying a lot for tv we weren’t watching. And we weren’t watching tv for the above-mentioned reasons. And because, let’s face it, tv is pretty poor today. Even considering the golden age of tv series, which I love (some of them, at least), it was worth the while to save a little and focus instead of internet-driven content, with Netflix et al.

Also, practically since the Web age’s dawn, circa 1992, I began a practice of reading Newspapers on the Web. And yes, one of the very first on the Web was Italy’s visionary and left-wing Il Manifesto, a paper I recommend, even though today I don’t read it often any longer. Motivated in part by the need I felt to read news in Italian and of Italy, I began thus a daily practice to read newspapers on the Web. Not on social networks, but straight from a browser. Not any browser, mind you, but Firefox. I started with Il Manifesto, then went mainstream with La Repubblica. I added soon the major Puerto Rican papers too, typically El Nuevo Día. Then, others piled up, such as Spain’s El País, The New York Times (the only paper I actually pay 4 dollars a month), the Guardian and some others.

So, I felt at home with that expression:

I decided it would be better for my sanity just to listen to music at breakfast and read the news in papers and on the Web

I love that practice, and I love the space it affords, to relax, sit down and enjoy the readings of different newspapers, in the original way they are thought of, compiled and published. And I love some other human actually prefers like me to read the news on newspapers rather than having them on tv.

Many bloggers publish link recommendations, some with comments. John’s own are lucid and he always points to very good English-language articles. He also recommends books (I love that part too), music and sometimes, a photo. Example comment on a news piece:

Facebook Braces Itself for Trump to Cast Doubt on Election Results

Zuckerberg & Co are — according to the New York Times — working out what steps to take should Trump use its platform to dispute the vote. Well, well. Could this be the moment that reality dawns on these geniuses?

I have already written about the people and Webs that inspire me, and certainly this one is one of the best. It’s very refreshing to read such great reading recommendations and analyses.

This is marvelous. Ceiliuradh = Celebration, pronounce = kell-oor-ah

And this is too, also recommended by Memex.

But, wait!! This song triggered a memory… A scene from a movie where some kid in the wild plays Dueling banjos with another guy. What film was that? Oh yes (thanks Google),

Deliverance, 1972

[Featured image: “linked data” by elcovs is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0]

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#inf115 wrapping up the New Media COVID class

Wrapping up a nice semester split in two with a great groups of students. New Media (inf115) is a course of Sagrado, set up with a connected an open strategy, which borrows from the syndicated content model as well as from other social and connectivist learning approaches.

But I am not here to philosophize on theory, but on this particular semester’s practice. We got ourselves into this COVID mess and had literally to evacuate the University on one nice day of March. Just one tiny week after (to transition and learn Zoom) we (almost synchronously with thousand other institutions) did the now-famous pivot thing.

So we found ourselves online, zooming and lecturing at full speed. On Whatsapp my colleagues were sharing their successes and difficult moments. On Zoom my students (I had so many students, this semester, omg) and I ventilated in a very gentle and elegant way how we were feeling. Students did not understand their faculty’s shyness (and their own illiteracy) with technology and with remote methodology. All shifted to Zoom, and suddenly everybody was doing sync classes online, and recording them for the absent. And that provoked more anxiety in many cases and somehow a bit of cognitive overload.

I took a just and correct decision, namely to not translate our twice-a-week meetings into twice-a-week Zoom sessions, afraid as I was of losing my students before even pivoting. Instead we did a range of async activities coupled with some lectures (more like introductory lessons). We worked a lot online in the digital world, which we connected to the atomic one with crossing assignments. We did a podcast, personal curation that distilled onto group meta-curation (curation of the already curated if you will). We were lucky since our course lent itself very well to the digital spin others were forced to take with little prep.

Students enjoyed the time of discovery and production of GIF’s, Instagrams and memes. They participated massively into the “Una foto cada día”, the daily photo challenge prepared by Alan Levine (one of his famous SPLOTs). They did quite some storytelling throughout all the course, and finished with a nice work with Google Arts & Culture, when they assembled a story told with works of art from collections throughout the world. They also created a website each to host and share their creations. I think that most of them can actually use their personal website as a portfolio beyond the class. Their websites can be accessed from the sidebar of inf115.com.

In the end, I believe students finished off with a good idea of the Web creative and publishing affordances and mastering its expressive language.

Let’s begin with a couple of such galleries as mounted by this semester’s students. This is a Nature-inspired Gooogle gallery — by Andrea.

And this one was by Penélope on Urban Art.

A poster elaboration of the quarantine meme, by Angelo Parks made us laugh with some romanticism.

While this next, done by Marieliz, made everyone feel… well, avenged!

Last, two Spotify playlists, born out of a master playlist begun by yours truly and finished off by students (here…). Students in the end decided to curate two smaller and better focused playlist. The first is a varied (language, music styles, etc) list from many paths of music. Play it along!!

The second is made of  only Puerto Rican musicians.