November 9, 2019

Connections and Country II

In the way that Songlines can be used to understand country, the continuing twitter conversations and digital lines have helped connect and coalesce some of my thinking. Earlier this year I hosted this webinar which introduced me to the concept of virtual history. Kevin Lucas presented on his work in this field.

Then this work from Virtual Songlines shows the present structures as 'ghosts' on the land What interests me the most is not this virtual representation of history but the concept that technology can be used to shape us. This is a question of #TheoryEdTechChat 'Q4. Does technology have agency? If so how do ed tech tools such as VLEs shape us?' Check @CEDiR_Group for more on that. Unfortunately noone posted an answer in the Twitter chat, which finds me here.

This article Which Came First, The Technology’s Agency or The Human’s Agency? is perhaps easier on my eyes than the set reading for the #TheoryEdTechChat reading. If 'technology shapes the way we use it', then there is a certain agency in VLE's or Learning Management System (LMS). I see them as walled gardens. While having an eco-system of their own, it never quite cuts it compared to the wild nature or the wild garden. Students are required to act in a certain way when interacting and submitting work in a LMS. I've just finished 3 years of online post-grad study and struggled with the walled garden at times. I would then be guided to the digital world outside of the walled garden, yet I realise that the 'open' is still walled. As we are being prompted at every corner to read Cookie Policies and Privacy Policies, the ever present little tick boxes are just too convenient and our brains just can't take that much information in, in one sitting.

Even the act of writing this blog post comes from my human agency and I use this technology to send it out. But as soon as I hit publish, I don't really know who will look at it or what impact it might have. I started this post thinking about Songlines and dream tracks. Our digital stories and digital connections (in making and connected learning) can create diverse and interesting digital landscapes (ok, I am thinking about lines of flight as well). Some that are hidden and some that are yet to be painted or exposed.

November 8, 2019

Connections and country

Sarah asked about Songlines and Darren talked about 8 ways of learning. A decade ago I would not even know these terms. Since living in Central Australia I have learnt more about the ways we connect with where we live and the way we seek to understand our places.

I think there are many ways to try and understand the country we are in. Different ways of sharing this with others. For example there is the graphic novel called The Long Weekend in Alice Springs which looks at life in this town where I live through the lens of a single weekend. Then there are other that look through the eyes of explorers like the Scottish bloke John McDouall Stuart who has a large bronze statue guarding a patch of green grass on the edge of town. Or women explorers (think Robyn David who wrote Tracks after her desert trek) or the one by the lawyer that sees everything through the eyes of the law or the many travel journals of people deeply touched by their once in a lifetime trip. Right up to the modern day vloggers that worry more about camera batteries, free wifi and good stories than anything else. 

Songlines are another way of understanding this land. Who am I to say whether they exist or not? I’ve never had the privilege of  having them explained or shown to me. This book (more bravely using the Arrente name for Alice Springs) A Town Like Mparntwe talks about the travel of the ancestral beings as they mapped the world. At this point there is a juncture of spirituality and the belief about the physical world as we see it. Each culture comes with its own belief system about these things. At some point in our development we need to chose our own belief system and this may or may not match the one we are brought up with. Even writing this I reveal my own upbringing and the belief that you could separate the 'bringing up' with anything else.
We possibly undervalue our ability to connect with the place where we live. Learning about another culture does not necessarily mean we can connect in the same way or have the ability to see things that others see. As I write this, the wind blow across this vast land and I sense the space around me. Yet I can't sense the space that this blog will travel as soon as I hit publish. The digital landscape is mysterious and has its own connections, criss-crossing the globe. 

October 8, 2019

Music is a constant stream

Music is a moving stream
Running through my ears
With the sounds of nature
Predawn warbles cut
Gentle sound paths.

Music is a flowing stream
Headphones plugged in
Turn the volume up to blot out
Thoughts and dusty memory tracks
Soak in the lyrics and rhythm.

Music is a constant stream
Wind and string instruments
Aligning fingers, eyes and notes
Creating new patterns
Learning jazz progressions.

Music is a silent stream
In words, marked on the page
No stave required
Syllable rhythms appear
Ancient guiding structures.

Music is a connecting stream
Skills formed using notes
Intersect and nourish roots
Experiment with new flows
This stream is a constant song.

Poem by Wendy Taleo

#clmooc #writeout #stream

Photo by Mason B. on Unsplash

September 10, 2019

Why I didn't GovHack this year.

GovHack happened September 6th to 8th 2019. The Northern Territory was represented by events in Darwin and Alice Springs.

I wasn't there.

I participated in the inaugural 2017 GovHack in the Territory, ensuring that Central Australia had a presence in this National event. I wrote about my experience here. In the next iteration I took the position of assistant director for the regional event, securing Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) as an Event Partner. I attended the red carpet awards evening in Sydney and had a great time meeting other competitors, volunteers and sponsors. This year I assisted in hosting the Information Evening and created a mini-series of promo videos discussions on Twitter. See the "What is GovHack" moment. The official 'What is GovHack' video is linked on this About page.

I didn't hack.

I'm never short of ideas and GovHack 2019 was subtitled 'Festival of Ideas'.In the last #GovHackNT interview (see the moment linked above) Shannon Loughton (Director for the NT) said 'this is definitely the best thing to do, in the Territory, on this weekend'. However, for me, that was not the case. Alice Springs is spoilt for choice and maybe overrun with festivals at this time of year. Desert Mob (Indigenous Art), Desert Song (music and singing), Bush Bands (more music) and King of the Mountain (fitness) were four of the events that I knew were running on the same weekend.

There is no flexibility in dates with GovHack as it is an international competition and people are vying for prize money. Prize money was not a motivator for me. It is a team sport and my tentative team members fell away with other commitments and priorities. It is a full weekend commitment and an ideal team has a variety of skills to complete a project and a pitch video. The data available for the challenges is perpetual. The NT Government released the Open Data Portal which is documenting a growing feast of data. I can use that at any time.

The main reason that I didn't participate in the hack-a-thon, is that the ideas I have for a project might take longer than a weekend and not be relevant to a sponsored challenge. Like any hack-a-thon, it is short in time and there is no space to learn new skills. For the project I have in mind, there is a few new skills that I need to acquire, test and review.

I support the ethos of the hack-a-thon to be legal, inclusive, free and open. I'll be supporting those that participated by working with the NT Directory for the Territory awards ceremony with a presence in Alice Springs. I support this free and open format for those that want to give it a go in 2020 and create a project to improve your community!

Projects: (Up for judging)

July 23, 2019

Angry bird


I'm an angry bird

Angry at Google

Google Plus was knocked into the tech bin

All the comments on my blog posts were binned

All the interactions, lost.

Every day

I have a few moments


Why have I spent my whole career staring at a glass screen?

For what?

Where is the profit?

Where is the life?

What have I got to show for that?

Then I find myself

Lifting the net curtains

Blowing away the grime



Responding to others


Learning from others



Is there life beyond the dust soiling our net curtains? Simon asked

Photo by Vivek Doshi on Unsplash