Sunday, August 12, 2012

Warp 'n Woof

Well, hello there. It's been a while. I've been traveling some, and I've been posting a ton, but not to this blog. I've fallen under the spell of another sort of blog experience, over at my other blog on Tumblr. It's not a new blog, but I've been using it in a new way. For a long time I was just using it as a place to stash links to videos that I liked or thought I might want to return to. But then that changed in a big way.

There were two bits of technology that brought the change on. One was that through my school I was given access to an iPad, which was nice, but it mostly sat on my desk under a pile of other stuff because there wasn't much I could do with it that was that different from what I could do more easily on my laptop. Then I found what turned out for me to be the killer iPad app, which turned out to be Flipboard. Flipboard allows you to aggregate pretty much everything that you do on the internet into one easy-to-use digital magazine format. So instead of going from site to site or program to program, I can access Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, Google reader, Tumblr, Flickr, The New Yorker, the NY Times, basically anything that has a feed, all in one place. What's even better is that I can share back (to Facebook or Twitter or my own blog or even email) whatever I'm looking at simply by tapping one of the icons at the bottom of each page.

So that was cool. Then when I was using the "Explore Tumblr" feature on my dashboard I came across the remarkable Beverley Shiller, who as far as I can tell seems to spend pretty much every waking hour trolling the internet for artwork that sets her on fire. I found that her taste in art was very much like my own, so I signed up to follow her blog, which meant that every day on my tumblr feed in Flipboard I was getting five or ten really good pictures which I could reblog to my own tumblr page just by tapping the reblog button.

Maybe that doesn't seem like a big deal for you. But it was a game changer for me. Because her blog led me to other blogs, and I could follow them as well—I'm up to about 20 now—and pretty soon I was getting really maybe thirty or forty examples of really cool artwork delivered to my iPad for my consideration every single day. From which, using Flipboard to reroute whatever I like to Tumblr, I have been able to more or less become the curator of my own private museum of modern art, with only the pictures that I like in it.

But wait, there's more. It took me a while to figure it out,  but it turns out that tumblr also gives you an archive view (button on the top right of the page) that aggregates thumbnails of all of your posts in one page you can just scroll through if you're looking for one particular work. Like this, only much much much longer, since I now have more than a thousand pictures in my archive.

And eventually I also figure out that you can also tag those posts any way you like and call them up that way. I've gotten dozens of pictures from artists I liked all along but didn't have any way to look at, and I've learned about dozens of others I never heard of before who, although they may never become household names, are doing wonderful work in nooks and crannies I would never have known about. My tastes in art are offbeat. I like a lot of stuff that most people would shake their head at, if they bothered to look at it at all. But I find it really encouraging to know that all across the world there are people who are producing work that speaks to me, and that I now have a way to get to it.

I've been hearing tech people like Will Richardson talking about how universal access to digital media in some sense turns all of us—adults and students alike—into curators, and about the implications of that for our notions about school and our teaching practices. I didn't get it at first. Now I think I do.

So that's how I spent my summer vacation. And, oh yeah, I was in China for two weeks. About which perhaps more some day.