Learning and Discovering: From Paper onto the Web

Inspired on the RanXerox character

I love wandering through the Web. And I have a pretty standard routine reading every day the mainstream press online. It’s basically four titles: El Nuevo Día (elnuevodia.com), Puerto Rico’s main newspaper; La Repubblica (repubblica.it), Italy’s most important (together with Il Corriere della Sera); Spain’s El País (elpais.com, fabulous for its TV Series and Cinema coverage and maths & science); The NYT (nytimes.com, of which I read everything from recipes to films to book reviews); and The Guardian (theguardian.com). So, every week I have completed a pretty indulgent reading of all of them. [There are the RSS feeds too, through the friendly Feedly, and that’s another story.]

But I also love reading paper newspapers and stuff. When in Italy I indulge every Saturday with three fantastic complements to main papers: Robinson with La Repubblica, La Lettura with Corriere della Sera, and Tutto Libri with La Stampa. The former two have Twitter and Instagram accounts, and all have a wonderful paper version (online version comes at a cost and Robinson’s is not the same as the printed one). I love both, and I spend interminable time reading them. I brought with me a couple of issues of each, so this new year’s beginnings has seen a few discoveries started from paper. Which then go to the Web, and sometimes finish up again on paper or some other stuff. The fact is, I have often bits of information I conserve, archive or annotate that stem from the analogue world. This seems also a nice way to discuss and share them.

What Have I Learned So Far? Here come the annotations. Most of all regarding the figurative arts, which is fine, given in one week I’ll begin my stellar New Media course!

Volto di donna (1900). Ritratto di Paolina Biondi
Image: Public Domain
  • The short story The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson is a classic of American Literature. A sort of horror tale it tells a story about a weird lottery, whereby every resident of a village plays and only one gets awarded. But there’s more… When originally published, on the New Yorker in 1948, it received a record number of protest letters. Read it here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1948/06/26/the-lottery?verso=true
  • Then, there is Tanino Liberatore, a cartoonist, illustrator and mad genius. This is what Guillermo del Toro thinks:

Fact is, I have never read his comics. But I appreciate his dark, hard boiled style.

This guy is RanXerox

Last, and certainly not least, Hyperallergic reports that it’s Public Domain time for Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue! By chance I had just named this most beloved music in my previous post on Manhattan (the film). So, starting now, we can remix the Rhap.

[Feat. image: “Ranx & Mast” by Dr Case is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0]

Manhattan (the film) and 2020

Well, it’s a new year. I’ve been watching a few Woody Allen films, lately (on the home screen), and I shot photos at some frames worth remembering. Thanks to subtitles, I got a scene’s context and dialog.

I thought these two sequences were perfect as a new year’s best wishes. Both are from his movie “Manhattan” from 1979, which I enjoyed again very much, albeit perhaps a little less that when I watched it for the first few times. Yes, I’ve seen it a few times, which is a rare thing, in that I usually don’t read things twice nor watch films twice–except a few.

The black-and-white quality of the photography, the opening and closing with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the Hemingway girl, a splendid Meryl Streep and a spectacular Diane Keaton give this film a unique feel.

BTW, I also watched the wonderful Interiors, for the first time, and I loved it. In fact, some scenes (particularly the sisters watching out of the window) seem to correlate with the beautiful Greta Gerwig’s Little Women of today.

Anyhow, the two sequences are self-explanatory, and come without comment.

From “Manhattan” 1979
Happy 2020, explaining stuff!!

And here comes the second sequence. This time, it’s the silhouettes of Woody and Diane Keaton in the Natural Sciences Museum.

From “Manhattan”, 1979.

And with this deep truth I leave you, reader. Happy 2020 to all.

The PR Connection Podcast: Episode 11

Episode 11 PRConnection Podcast

In which Alan & Antonio deal with
strong cellular deficiency

[Originally published at http://prconnection.cogdog.casa/]

And they talk aimlessly about connection (quite rightly) and other high-level stuff.

Hello, planet Earth, do you hear? Instead of raising the bar, we have the lowest possible quality. Zero.

But I love these conversations a little more every time, because it’s nice to talk tech (and other stuff) with Alan. And please listen through the end since he has got a special surprise with the outro.

So this episode seems a weird radio program from the 70’s, with some joker at some place having fun of listeners.

The worst podcast ever.

How can I not worry, Antonio?

Charting our frequency? Seems to be increasing.

[What are we talking about?]

The battery. Welcome back. OMG. Talking disruptions.

And I keep forgetting the English language.

Radio… photography…

Tom Woodward‘s WordPress Timeline JS Plugin useful to visualize an interactive timeline of blogs.

And Fleabag??

I almost watch no tv.


I Am Mine! Says Lucy Van Pelt

Then there’s Lucy. Of course the broken connections means Alan thinks I’m talking about the other Lucy from I Love Lucy. But no, at the time I didn’t know nothin’ about this Lucy #2. For me the one and only is the One From The Peanuts, a memory from my adolescence.

And talking about comics: You want the Italians? Diabolik, Satanik, Alan Ford, Jacovitti…

Max Bunker & Magnus’s Alan Ford: A weird band of detectives.
Image of Diabolik booklet with Jim Groom.
Il Giallo a Fumetti: Diabolik. From @jimgroom’s bavatuesdays.
Satanik comicbook cover
Satanik. Il fumetto dell’orrore. From Amazon.

Yes, Satanik was drawn by the very Max Bunker (Luciano Secchi) of Alan Ford and written by Magnus (Roberto Raviola).

Last, there is Jacovitti, a genius telling Western-style stories, with dumb cigarette-smoking horses, pencils, salami-on-foot and worms on the ground.

I learn that Alan looks at his browser’s cookies (to check privacy etc.)

Usage of facebook. Usefullness? I find myself saying:

No other medium to contact far-away friends besides calling them FTW??

Alan Tweets In ALL CAPS:

Then, there’s Terry Greene‘s podcast Gettin’ Air from VoiceEd.ca, which I (Antonio) will be soon part of, in the company of Terry and other much admired folks.

Not bad for a broken episode 😉

And that’s all, folks.

[Featured image from Flickr: “Broken” by kevin dooley is licensed under CC BY 2.0 ]

Beginning of semester

"New Zealand Media & Entertainment Branding" by Unordinary — is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Yes, it seems like the semester just started.

“New Zealand Media & Entertainment Branding” by Unordinary — is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

We had a suspension of disbelief due to the passage of storm Dorian, which was going to pass through half of Puerto Rico and moved easterly later to miss us, fortunately. Classes were suspended a couple of days, and the semester’s second week was gone. Thus, yesterday felt like a new beginning.

But it was really the kick from Alan Levine’s impulse to record a new episode for The Puerto Rico Connection –our low-frequency podcast– and our doing so two weeks ago, that really put me solidly on the horse’s back. Why? Because Alan asked me about a few key questions about my New Media class and other stuff I’m doing, and so, such things acquired a life independent of me–some importance beyond my classrooms.

Shortly the episode will be available on the website and on Apple Podcasts or other aggregator. I think it came out pretty fine: he is such a kind master issuer of questions!

We’ll discuss in situ the details of the episode, but suffice it to say here that we talked podcasts and about the plan in my New Media class to have students do in small groups a number of episodes of the class’ podcast, La Situación— which they would plan, produce and distribute during the semester.

This class really motivates me and I consider it a privilege to share it with my brilliant students. So many experiences, from Podcasting to Una Foto Cada Día (the daily photo challenges we play with for forty days), from Instagram curation to Twitter class account management, to our curated database of shared Web content. The trip just started, and Winter is Sort of Coming (1).

Anyhow, this course is going to change a bit, since in my Department we’re having a revision. Bottom line, it will morph into a Digital Storytelling course (which of course it is already), but with some new stuff on data and their visualization.

(1) I refer to our hard Puerto Rican winter, of course.

Image: “New Zealand Media & Entertainment Branding” by Unordinary — is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

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Weekly Insta Post


Street art

I’m starting a weekly series of Instagrams, so to connect my photo interests to this blog. The idea is to post just one image per week. Not sure whether I’d post this with the “image” format or as a regular post. Trying out with “image”.

The Instagram comes through the Zapier service, which activates whenever a new photo gets published on Instagram. Zapier then posts on WP (this site) as a Draft. I finally edit each draft and it’s done. I am looking though at a way to **also** get the same image as a Featured Image of the post, without the need of other steps.

Instagram Photo

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delicious Zeitgeist 30 August 2019

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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delicious Zeitgeist 27 August 2019

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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My workshop at EDMEDIA 2019: #booc

Screenshot from inf103.com, sometime ago.
Screenshot from inf103.com, sometime ago.

Screenshot from inf103.com, sometime ago.

How to survive the hurricane and thrive on your course. A practical weather-proof introduction to build one own’s course portal #booc.

This is the title of my fun workshop of today at EDMEDIA 19 + Innovate Learning in Amsterdam. BTW, it’s FREE (as in beer) for conference participants, but you should register beforehand.

Abstract: This workshop focuses on how to build a “weather-proof” class design that is open, connected and (almost) fully controlled by faculty, while promoting active, participatory learning. We will create a web-based open and connected course space using a self-hosted installation of WordPress. The course is built stage by stage, and participants will be able to understand the various design concepts while practicing them. At the end of the workshop, participants will have a functioning open web portal for a class. We will start by understanding how WordPress works and how easily one may publish multimedia content. Special emphasis will be placed on use of images (with appropriate rights license and attribution), and GIFs. Also, we will discuss the importance of open web-based personal publishing in a space that is controlled by the authors. Data ownership will also be overviewed. Web tools, plugins and WordPress themes will be discussed and used throughout the workshop. As an example, refer to two course portals I developed over the years for courses in Computing (inf103.com), and New Media (inf115.com)–where inspiration and vicious copycatting stemmed from Jim Groom and Alan Levine‘s work (see later). Media will be produced and embedded in the site by participants. Finally, we will appreciate how a course designed in such an independent and participatory way, allowed for minimal shutdown time when the Maria storm hit Puerto Rico in 2017, and how students and myself rearranged the course to obtain maximum learning and sharing opportunities.

Topical Outline

1. The (Open) Web

History of the Web
What is the Web?
We are were the Web. Remember?
Blogs, Twitter & the Syndication Bus
Open education and connected learning

2. WordPress publishing & Personal hosting

Overview of WordPress publishing—blogs
The links the Web is made from
Blogging it all

3. Building a course portal

Structure / menus
Themes and User experience
Syndication (the Connected part)
Pages & Widgets
External tools (SPLOT’s?)

Finally, the inspirations from a number of authors and researchers in edtech will be openly placed in our context: namely, Siemens’s Connectivism; the role blogs may have in an educational setting where writing (and generally, media production) is central to the curriculum; Jim Groom’s and Alan Levine’s ds106 course system; Mike Wesch’s ANTH101 (so brilliantly implemented by Tom Woodward) and others.

This is dedicated to those brave students of inf115 who dared to break the bubble and work on the course in the aftermath of the terrible hurricane that struck Puerto Rico and our University in September 2017. This is the video reportage they did.

And this is the photoshoot of the whole cohort of my students in Fall 2017.

Last, this is the initiative taken by Alan Levine for #care4sagrado at the time, which bridged the online and the atom worlds when he asked people to mail postcards to us. Which led us to meet Parisa Mehran and start the Puerto Rico Connection podcast.


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The PR Connection podcast – Preparing for the 9th episode

Sucking Eric Cartman GIF by South Park. Giphy.com

I was talking to Alan, only a few days ago, for our infrequent conversations that get upgraded as episodes of our podcast The Puerto Rico Connection. In this case our conversation took longer than usual, and I was pleasantly immersed in something I don’t usually do on the phone–at least, not since I was in my twenties–talking. The conversation was nice and as you can expect, very friendly. Alan was recording most of it, so he will have to cut the tape short if we want to stay within our self-imposed (but hardly enforced) rule of the twenty-minute episodes (and avoid some idiocy I said for sure).

We were talking first about a scheme to share and store some links that each of us deemed appropriate for episode discussion. He says potahtoes, I say potatoes, you know. We both love social bookmarking (we are archetypes from the long-gone Web era–before people called the Web, Internet) and Alan uses Pinboard while I shifted from del.icio.us to diigo when the need, unfortunately, arose. How to share socially links commonly tagged with the two platforms? [Simple solution, I could switch to pinboard or viceversa, but we don’t like simple solutions]. Well, Alan pushes his own links automagically to diigo with a simple IFTTT recipe (read: algorithm, program). So, we have a number of links on diigo, but we knew diigo would not allow to search for global tags, so the only option seemed to form a group, which would be cumbersome and not really open. Now, for an assignment at a class I teach (New Media, inf115), my students are building a distributed and shared DB and we just discovered that diigo actually supports global shared tags, even though it does not advertise it. So, a link does the trick:

`http://diigo.com/tag/prcon` gives all the links we both publish on diigo. But this is not all: diigo also (again, without advertising it) publishes an RSS feed out of the global tags’ view. Ipso facto, Alan posted a widget with those links on the podcast’s blog prconnection.cogdog.casa. He surely used a widget (or shortcode) to push the links onto the page. But the links carry no description. After trying oput a couple of iterations with IFTTT and other semi-autometed machinery, we sort of settled to simply copy & paste the diigo links with the descriptions. Have to say that with the right add-on in the browser (in this case I used Want My Rss, since  it conserves the links’ descriptions) it works well enough. See the next post for a proof of concept.

Alan also suggested we add annotations (provided by the wonderful Hypothes.is) to the links page, so we (and others) may add feedback and ideas directly connected to a link or text passage. Grand ambitions, aren’t they. But it’s nice to think this way. See the proof of concept in next post for this.

Once this was settled, instead of talking about links that none of us had read beforehand, Alan sort of began talking about the first black hole image that originated from a concerted effort of some 200 scientists from all over the world.

And I got hooked on a quest for singularities. I’m spoiling a little from the episode, but suffice it to say we talked about the black hole:

Image from NASA

The singular question: is this a photo of a black hole? Because in my vocabulary, it ain’t, given the level of information processing from pure data reversed onto pixels. Still, a great image about one of the most unknown object in the world-wide universe. Hahaha, love  silly jokes.

A couple of days earlier I saw an Alan-made animated GIF that is so genius you have to see it now,

So I got an idea: what if we push to the limit our constraint of 20-minute episodes? We’d certainly be able (albeit with some difficulty) to begin and close a 2-minute episode, and (with more difficulty) a 0.2-minute one, or a 0.02 episode. But, could we even think about a 0-total-time episode??

It won’t be a singularity, but a simple zero point. Like a line collapsing, to the limit, to just one point. Some starting point, isn’t it? And, talking about zero, nothing, nada, look at Heidegger:

[Featured image: Sucking Eric Cartman GIF by South Park. Giphy.com]

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