Week’s photo: Head, DeYoung Museum

Head, DeYoung Museum
San Francisco & Berkeley 2017
Taken 2017-12-21T17:13:24+00:00

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The abyss and the abyss invoked by the abyss

Sometimes (often, really) we find little gems of text within an already great work of literature. I stumbled in this terrific segment by Writer Gianfranco Garofiglio:


Le cose non esistono se non abbiamo le parole per chiamarle.

Things do not exist if we have no words to call them.

Which can’t but remind of this blog’s lemma,

I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” –Flannery O’Connor

Indeed, day in and out I am reminded that thoughts are not just abstract entities wandering in the mind, but objects that materialize in a concrete shape only when written down.

In Garofiglio’s novel Le perfezioni provvisorie (Temporary Perfections in English; Las perfecciones provisionales in Spanish), there is this wonderful quote that literally left me breathless:

«Chi è costei che sorge come l’aurora,
bella come la luna, fulgida come il sole,
terribile come schiere a vessilli spiegati?».
–Cantico dei Cantici 6, 10

Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?
–Song of Solomon 6:10 (Canticle of Canticles)

¿Quién es ésta que se muestra como el alba,
Hermosa como la luna,
Esclarecida como el sol,
Imponente como ejércitos en orden?
–Cantar de los Cantares de Salomón

So, I discovered that the same verses were quoted in Umberto Eco’s The Name of The Rose.

Ma chi era costei, che sorgeva davanta a me come l’aurora, bella come la luna, fulgida come il sole, terribile come un esercito schierato in battaglia.
Temevo di essere preda del demonio, il quale sa bene come afferrarti l’anima e illudere il corpo. E poi, capii l’abisso e l’abisso invocato dall’abisso. Mi resi conto che avevo peccato.

(Google Translate does a nice job): I was afraid of being prey to the devil, who knows how to grab your soul and delude your body. And then, I understood the abyss and the abyss invoked by the abyss. I realized that I had sinned.

I understood the abyss and the abyss invoked by the abyss. Wow, the use of metatext.

Flickr photo: Abyss, by lucyroo.

[Featured and above image: Flickr photo – Abyss, by lucyroo. CC-Licensed, BY-NC]

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PR Connection Podcast: Episode Four

Now that Alan and friends (see bottom of post…) are very busy in Guadalajara doing murals and tacos and working breathlessly with the faculty at UdG, I think I can really take the chance to publish our latest (fourth) episode of the Puerto Rico Connection podcast before he does!!

{Elaboration from the poster of the film “Twenty Feet From Stardom”}

Of course it was a pleasure to spend half an hour with him talking about the stuff we like to talk about and then to set up a TapeWrite episode. As always with TapeWrite you have to edit a series of cards that are attached to single moments of time of the recorded audio. Then you search for media, tweets, photos etc. to complement the audio. It’s some work but a lot of fun also. So Alan set up the recording: he included in fact the usual starting and ending music for our podcast and then I uploaded it onto TapeWrite and then did the work that you can see embedded here and hear through the platform.

I’m not going to repeat here the fun things we discussed in the episode. But, like immediately apparent from the episode poster, some thing must be said on the self-imposed 20-minute limit we are trying to stick to. It’s difficult, and at the same time hopefully will allow for some little more control on the episodes.

Alan and I discussed the opportunity to continue doing the podcast with a simpler work schedule. I mean, using TapeWrite is certainly a great thing in that you complement the audio with open Web media; still this editing may add delays in the publishing time. Also in order to be enjoyed, a TapeWrite podcast needs be listened to as well as watched, thus limiting access to it. I mean, I couldn’t view it while driving, could I.

I would like personally to explore the audio-only media affordances, and I think Alan agrees to play along, so we may end up using simply Soundcloud or other tools to publish our future episodes. Like Anchor, which I just came to notice, a nice tool to record episodes directly from a smartphone and push them straight to the distributing channels like Soundcloud or iTunes.

One way or the other I love the idea of periodically get together over the air with Alan and talk about things we enjoy and I’m really thankful for the opportunity to explore the podcast medium with him!

I am closing this by pointing already to our fifth episode which we recorded from Guadalajara itself (a spirited conversation with Alan, Brian Lamb and Grant Potter), and which will be published soon.

[Featured Image: Puerto Rico Connection, by Alan Levine]

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Talking about Learning Spaces with #edu646

I love my graduate class #edu646 (Design of Learning Environments), which I’m doing with a small number of great students. Yesterday’s class was intriguing since we had one student on a Hangout from NY, while the other two and myself  stayed here in front a big screen.

They all managed to do quite some interesting interviews on the subject at hand, namely: What consideration do architects and educators place on the design of learning spaces (both physical and digital)? So we watched the videos (look at the class website).

First, I liked the way the videos were organized and the interviews done. There is a subtle art in doing interviews to catch the savvy of people/experts and we do not pretend students to manage it nonchalantly from the beginning. But they did a very good job.

Then we summarized the main points made by the interviewees of the evening.

  • Impact of the tools that will be used
  • Concept of walled garden
  • AI & Chatbots and their influence
  • Tools transform us
  • Efficiency of the designed space (economy, resources, speed of connections, etc.)
  • Flexibility (and modularity)
  • Interactivity (let space help produce interactions)

Last we discussed about one particularly interesting concept:

“Space designed to invite people to lower their voice.”

In what ways can we design a space which invites people, for instance, to turn off a device, instead of imposing and order to do so?I’m sure that Jorge (who has the task of resuming the class) will talk about some of those in his post.

Then we made the only mistake. We bid goodbye to Yoselyn in NY thinking the class was over. But it actually wasn’t and we stayed 15 minutes longer thinking about stuff and about plans. Let me write a bit on those plans.

First, we’re doing an informal review of the main point “experts” look at when designing spaces and learning spaces in particular. At the same time we are collecting a number of resources (literature readings, Twitter profiles, blogs) we will be filtering and discussing later.

Secondly, we’ll study the literature (which includes a few canonical readings offered by me) and then look and see what of the above mentiones points are reflected in the readings and for what reasons.

The goal, by the end of the course is to come up with a super list (a manifesto, if you will) of features one should consider when designing a learning space. Of course, we will have to compile that list under the basis of some cognitive/learning theory. In the end, we should have something like this table:

|| Theoretical framework | Feature of design | Must-do to obtain||

Example: In the Constructivist Framework, if we want to achieve a liberally occurring process of knowledge construction, we must do so and so.


[Image: 1167, by  carolinespromiseblog. CC-Licensed]

[Image shows a very common classroom arrangement from elementary to graduate school. Under which framework has it been designed? Of course, this–as Audreay Watters would say, is edtech.]

In our case, we’re doing this under the roof of the(sort-of) open & connected framework of this course, which is being used by students, even though we haven’t discussed (yet) the paradigm–but certainly will.

Also, I proposed my students to begin (later) a little research on the similarities (and what theories such similarities respond to) between the following concepts:

A Campus || A shopping Mall

Facebook || A Moodle Course

The first two are designed with intentions other than pedagogical, but all produce an enchanted, enclosed garden. What appears so good about enclosed spaces that we end up loving them so much?

[Featured image: Cozy classroom, by Loozrboy. CC-Licensed]

The image carries this interesting note:

Inside Inglebrook Community High School, where the students apparently attend class on old sofas. The whole place had a very laid-back vibe that looked like it’d be great for kids who hate regular school, and bad for ministry-generated funding formulas.

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To Ashes, to Dust: Decadent Berlin, late 1920’s

Like Weimar’s Berlin, the world is crumbling around us. And I can’t help watching this video again and again. How can I say this… I have spent part of the night watching the segment from Babylon Berlin (the TV series on Netflix) where actress Severija Janušauskait? sings Zu Asche zu Staub at the historic club Moka Efti in pre-Hitler Berlin.

It’s a wonderful song, first of all, sung by her character, a woman playing a man on the stage. The choreography is so good, with all the people dancing in synch and singing too. The decadence of 20’s Berlin comes alive here, contrasted at the same time by the fresh look of the protagonist Charlotte, played by wunderbar Liv Lisa Fries.

Zu Asche, zu Staub
dem Licht geraubt
doch noch nicht jetzt

Wunder warten bis zuletzt
Ozean der Zeit
ewiges Gesetz
zu Asche, zu Staub
zu Asche
doch noch nicht jetzt

To ashes, to dust
robbed of the light
but not now

Miracles wait until the last
Ocean of time
eternal law
to ashes, to dust
to ashes
but not now

–Google Translation

Have a look!

Says The Guardian:

Babylon Berlin review: political maelstrom, a populist right on the march – sound familiar?

This big budget, Weimar-era German police drama has plenty of contemporary resonance. And even more debauchery …

A critic from Italy’s La Stampa says

Non capita spesso, ma capita, che si guardi un film o una puntata di una serie tv e ci si innamori totalmente, pazzamente di un brano.

It does not happen often, but it happens, that you watch a movie or an episode of a TV series and you fall in love totally, madly of a song.

The audience that identifies with the singer / dancer and the notes of a piece that evolve on the beats of a drums masterfully played become second to second almost hypnotic. The singer then, this Severija Janušauskaité, is simply fantastic. Wonderful.

[Featured image from the TV Show. Severija: Zu Asches Zu Staub]

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