Tag Archives: Connections

No Budget

Hello friends and strangers and readers of all sorts. it has been a while, so I feel a more gentle start is in order. It’s Sunday night and the sky just went from cotton candy, to dolphin belly,  to slate. I am feeling….how about a full stop. I am feeling. Weeks have passed since I allowed myself the luxury of tussling with words, and so tonight, feeling at best a tinge of flirtation, but really a more lingering weariness and fatigue, I have decided to take a break and carve a chunk of time from the ongoing present and future to speak to (with) you.

I had a strange morning. One of those days when the randomness of sharing and the thrill of living open and honest online collide, leaving tasty treats in their wake. Fun nuggets of camaraderie and inspiration- reassurance that when we share our thoughts and lives and passions with the world, the world will often talk back, returning our ideas and work back in a myriad of songs and echoes.

It started with this email:

Hi Jabiz,

My name is Adriana and I’m an artist.  I long time ago I found in one of your blogs this picture I loved.
and it spired me to make a series of paintings in my Pop Surrealism Style. here’s a link to my website so you can see the pictures I have of it.
The other paintings aren’t up yet.. too much work to do still but I wanted to share it with you and if you want I could link it to the page where the picture is.

That’s it for the moment and thank you for sharing all those beautiful pic!

Does this exchange mean anything? Is it important? I don’t know. Who am I to say, but it does feel right. Something about looking to the world to find inspiration, to make those human artistic connections resonates with me. More importantly, giving of my life in a way that might connect to other passions matters to me.

So many people are terrified of posting and sharing and over doing it, but time after time- for me at least- cool things happen. You can check out Adriana’s website here and the picture from above here. I am looking forward to exploring more of her work and hopefully getting to know her a bit more online. I have already asked if I can buy that print.

The second story, which also happened this morning, which is not usual is as follows:


I just came across your image of the Azadi Freedom stencil on FB and would like permission to use it in a book I am finishing up on street art.

My name is KET and I am an author and graffiti writer. I have been writing books on graffiti, street art, and tattoos and publishing magazines for over 15 years. My books include: Graffiti Planet, Rocking It Suckers, Street Art, Graffiti Tattoo, New York City Blackbook Masters and many more (link here)

I appreciate what you did and would like to include the image and a quote in the book.

Please let me know if you are interested. There is no budget just my desire to share the image to the world thru the book.

There is no budget, just my desire to share. I love it. You can read more about that photo here. It is great to see that project move onto its next incarnation and live in a book. After years of living online and sharing my life with the Internet, I am more often than not pleasantly surprised by what comes back to me. There were but just two examples from this morning.

What do you think? Do things like this happened to you? Am I too naive? Too trusting? Or is this the karmic state of global art we should be striving for?


Sunday Night Ramblings

Technology need not be some abstract construct. It need not be some terrifying futuristic robotic dystopia. Technology and the tools it enables: Internet, digital media, social networks can be and should be reflections. Not mere reflections of what we do, but who we are. The sooner we begin to understand that technology is a bridge that links minds-to-minds, thoughts-to-thoughts dreams-to-dreams the sooner we can stop being so afraid of it and begin to harness the power it affords us to be collectively human.

For so long humanity has demanded voices for us all, and not withstanding the digital divide, we now (at least those of us living in the first world)  all have that voice. Perhaps the understanding that we can now connect our fears and insecurities as well as our passions and talents to others is what is so frightening for people. Perhaps the realization that students can now voice their disinterest in what we do, is why so many people are fearful of jumping into the digital age.

I feel like a broken record, a blogger who simply writes the same posts over and over. I don’t know what more to say than what I feel to be true. I get this sense of excitement every time I open the ole WordPress editor, or Youtube upload page, or send a photo out to Instagram. Every time I participate in this upload culture, I feel lighter and more free than I did before I shared a piece of my brain, my soul with some vague fluctuating audience that may or may not be there.

There was no point to this post other than to say- it is not the quest for perfection in some finite permanent cypespace that should guide how we act online but rather the ephemeral, fleeting, sharing of random tidbits of who we are into the impermanent flux of of the Internet. If even one person connects to, relates to and/or understanding the essence of what I have said here, something magical has happened. Something organically and authentically human. The technology has become moot and the only thing left is you and me.



The Art of Creation

I have written several post lately about how happy I am, and how the events of my life are fluidly flowing in some strange spiral direction, but for the last few days I have been weighed down by a nagging angst brought about Google +. I am pretty sure it is not this new social network that is causing me anxiety– that my apprehension is caused by this new digital social arena where we sometimes find ourselves battling for existence as unwilling gladiators.

Who am I? Where am I? What am I sharing? Likeablity versus authenticity. My brain has been buzzing for the last forty eight hours; I just need to shut it down and focus on what matters. For me the main thing has always been creating content I can be proud of. Writing post, creating videos, singing songs, taking photographs that touch people and make them think. Feel. I have only ever wanted to explore my sense of self; if a group of people find what I do, who I am, worthwhile than that is a plus. I cannot concern myself too much, however, with the splintering of this body of work. This self. I am who I am everywhere, all the time. The internet is just a reflection of that.

Networks will come and go, ebbing and flowing within various tools and online spaces. This is our modern consciousness. The trick is to learn how to construct a viable self within the flux. I know the connections that matter to me, and they will find me when I need to be found, the rest is grandstanding. I am trying not to concern myself with circles or groups or lists. I have set roots in these blogs. I have stretched my branches as far as my constitutions allows. I will now focus my energies on keeping my leaves as green as possible and producing fruits that others enjoy.  If nothing else fruits that will help me regenerate.

I find value in the act of sharing. The art of giving with no expectation for value returned is a holy act. In an age where commerce rules, I see sharing as an act of transgression, one I have to which I have committed my life. Even as I write this post, I see the paradox of my point: I want to share, but cannot be bothered with worrying about the avenues with which to do so.

One can advertise and use competing networks to connect with as wide an audience as possible, but at some point you have to have faith in your content. You have to believe that what you put out into the world will attract the necessary attention. In the past, artists simply created– unconcerned with feedback or connection; we have lost that somehow. So concern are we with statistics and comments that the art of creation has been replaced with likes, +1s and Re-Tweets.

There is no anxiety about sitting quietly and smearing your thoughts into the blank void. The fear is that no one is listening. No one cares. You don’t exist. I am here to say that I do exist. In the body of my work. In my ideas. In my art. In my body. In my life. If you are seeing this right now, than somehow what I am saying has worked. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or some other nameless avenue has brought you here. For that I am thankful, but what has rid me of my unease is the very act of creation itself.


Learning 2.011 Are You Coming?

The first tech conference I ever attended was Learning 2.008. I was working in Qatar and felt very disconnected from any kind of network. But wait, I am getting ahead of myself- I am using the language of the present to talk about the past. Back in 2008, not only did I not have a network, I barely knew what one was. I had just parted ways with Kim Cofino with whom I had worked in Malaysia.  Back then Kim was my only mentor in all things connected. I barely understood Twitter. I did not have a professional blog and I felt like I was working in a bit of a vacuum.

Back in Malaysia, Kim had arranged a project with Clarence Fischer, which had “succeeded” to some degree. I put succeeded in quotes because I am not sure what we had actually done, but The International Teen Life Project was my first taste of connecting with another teacher and classroom and I liked it. We experimented. We learned. We created. I remember doing a Podcast over Skype one day and feeling so…what is the word? Proud? Important? Connected? Not sure what I felt, but I knew that we were doing good work. I felt like I was on the cutting edge. I was hooked. I knew that is where I always wanted to be. I didn’t want to wait for someone to tell me what the latest thing was. I wanted to find it and use it and share it myself.

It was great to work with Clarence because I respected him tremendously. He was one of the many bloggers who Kim had recommended I read in my new RSS feed. So when Kim emailed me, informing me that there was a conference in Shanghai created by teachers for teacher, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. I paid my own way, because I wanted to meet people like Clarence.

Feels strange now, thinking back to how “star struck” I was. There I was having breakfast with Alan Levine, or talking about the echo chamber with Clarence and Brian Crosby. At the time it all felt so important and in a sense maybe it was. I remember sitting in on sessions and meeting people I had only read and respected. But the most important part for me was solidifying relationships with people i had just started to know online like Brian Lockwood and Jenny Luca among others. I still remember our dinner, just the three of us and that strange feeling of seeing someone you have only “known” online. I have had that feeling many times since and it never  loses its appeal. I have written at length about the value of these relationships, so I will just say that these meals and breakout sessins with people you only know online are priceless.

The most important thing I took away from Learning 2.008 was that the only thing that separated the teachers I read about and me, was that they were writing and sharing and connected and I was not. I knew after that conference that things needed to change for me professionally. After all, I had ideas. I could write. I could be leading workshops and presenting keynotes.

Before I continue, let me say that I have no intention of becoming a globe-trotting-traveling consultant Ed-tech celebrity. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) I am too anchored in the classroom to give it up.  But I am currently, dealing with my changing role in schools. You can only rant and rave about transforming learning environments long enough before a school calls you on it. So next year, I will be working with teachers at my current school to move our school forward as a technology facilitator. I am nervou and excited, but will write about that soon.  We are in the process of defining what my role will be and what it means to creating a workable vision, but I am proud to say that I am playing an intrical part in our transformation.

So why am I telling you all this? What’s the point? The point is that in just three short years a lot has changed for me.  But not just for me personally, but also the network, education, and conferences in general. I have taken what I learned back in 2008 and I have applied it to my career. I blog, I tweet, I share, and I build relationships. I have learned that the people I was so impressed by are just regular people like me. Yes, they are amazing educators who are doing everything they can to change education, but they are just like you and me. They are open, supportive and interested in what I (we) have to say.

This brings me to 2011 and Learning 2.011. Through a stroke of luck, hard work, or relentless self-promotion I seem to have fallen on the other side of the conference wall. I am so proud and honored to be leading the ESL cohort at this year’s conference and hopefully presenting a mini- keynote. I am stoked to be so unbelievably connected to hundreds of educators from around the world and now it is my turn to inspire.

I have some advice for anyone considering coming to this conference. If you are new to “it” “this” whatever it is we want to call it- this world of networked educators who blog and tweet and Skype and help each other out– this conference is invaluable. Bring your passion, your ideas, your classroom and let’s find other educators who can help you bring your ideas to life. As most people will tell you, conferences are about connections, and there is no better place than this conference, especially if you are in Asia, to meet like-minded professionals that will help you build your network and connect your classroom to others in the region. But more importantly, you will find countless people who like you just want to see what everyone else is doing, share ideas, and build a support network.

If you have been to a few conferences and are starting to doubt the usefulness of conferences then I urge you to come too. Learning 2.011 is a conference with few rules and expectations. It is what we make it. So let’s get together and create an unconference about what next? Let’s talk about how we can take what we have created thus far to the next level. I don’t know about you, but the idea of chatting with the Couros brothers (Alec and George) , Kim Cofino, Jeff Utech and others about what the next ten years could look like is pretty damn exciting.

Let me close by saying that I hope to see you in Shanghai in September. Talk to your staff, share this post with your admin and get a team togther to come to Shanghai. Bring your voice, your ideas, and your excitement and let’s create another amazing conference this year.

Would love comments about positive expereinces you have had and drop me a line if you are coming below.


Thoughts from The Nam (An ADE reflection)

The fact that I don’t like corporations comes as no surprise to anyone who has read my work or talked to me for five minutes. They’re big and scary and faceless and subversive and greedy and dictate too much of how things are done in the world for my taste. Because integrity, honesty, passion and art are so important to me I am constantly disappointment by the concept of selling out. Giving in. Joining the dark-side. I mean, is there anything worse than seeing a song you love, being used to hawk a car or a TV?

I came to the Apple Distinguished Educator’s conference with a heavy heart. Was I selling out? Was this ultimate copulation to the very corporate forces I am constantly deriding? Because while Apple is hip and shiny and sexy on the surface, their main goal is still global domination. Of this there is little doubt. So what would a corporate sponsored educational institute look like exactly? How much of my soul would I have to sell? What was in it for me? There is a running joke surrounding the ADE program, likening it to a cult or saying that once there you drink the Kool-Aide you will be never shut up it again.

This post is random scattering of thoughts and ideas of my experience over the last four days in Vietnam.

Every organization, every conference, every school, every company, every story is about the people. Who they are?  Their beliefs and values, and how they work with others are critical aspects of how they function as a bigger group. And so of course, it was the people that really grabbed my attention. From the talented and inspirational speakers like Rebbeca Stokely and Joseph Linaschke, to all advisory member facilitators and sixty plus ADEs, their was a tangible sense of excitement about the future of not only technology but how these tools can be leveraged to a global shift in how our students learn. The wild card group for me was the ADE educational team from Apple. I was excepting a bunch of disconnected suits from the corporate office, but really the Apple team are a dynamic, diverse group of men and women dedicated to the success of this program.Let me throw a quick thank you to Adrian for his dedication and passion to education.

Which brings me to what I think is an important point. What is the point of the ADE program? Here is my take:

To take innovative educators from within a region, who are already using and excited by the Apple brand, connect them to each other, build a tight-knit (almost cult like) community, so that they can work more closely together, have a wider global audience in hopes that they, (we?) can build a critical mass in the institute with which we work, in order to shift the paradigm. Could the cynic argue, he always does in my mind, that Apple created this program in order to have the sales department move in right after and turn whatever schools these ADEs are working in to Mac schools? Of course. But really, I am not here to write about that. Stop it! I can here murmuring , “sell out” under your breath, but really the truth is that I would choose to go to a Mac school over a PC school with or without the ADE program. What I learned this past week was the dedication this company has shown to this program. Hold on….had another cup of Kool-Aide, but really at the level I am working in now, I am proud to be a part of it. Should it ever change or demand more of me, than of course I will reconsider. For now, I feel a part of a healthy and exciting symbiotic relationship. I feel that I have the opportunity to stay honest, keep my integrity and write openly and honestly about my role as ADE. If at any point my views and theirs should diverge than I am sure we will be happy to end the relationship, but in the mean time I am stoked and excited to have met so many other amazingly talented individuals. Many I already knew through the network, but others who are a bit new. They are doing amazing work in their schools, but needed this platform to join the global conversation.To all the new ADEs I met this week, welcome to the conversation. Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts. This is where the remainder of our work together will be done.

My favorite part of this week was the professional development I saw. We were seldom asked to listen or watch. We were asked to do, to create, to reflect, to share. It made me feel like a student and I loved it. It taught me how to work with others and listen. It taught me that you might learn more if it is not done your way, that another person can add to your ideas and together you can sculpt shared ideas. I really hope to incorporate some of the activities and general ethos of the instiute to in-service days at my school for next year.

And of course it reaffirmed my belief that learning is done in process and cannot be assessed by product. The very experience of creation is important not the creation itself. We all know this, but we often need to be reminded of failure and mediocre products, so we can ease the pressure we put in students. The conversations I had with members of my group during our day on the river, or the emotions I felt while talking with locals being pushed off their land and from their homes in the name of globalization and progress, is impossible to document or assess in a four-minute video. I was left thinking of how much learning from our students is lost or forgotten in the search of a grade. There must be so much they are learning that we never see, because we are asking for such specific proof. This experience made me appreciate the role of reflections and student blogs as places of more holistic learning. A sort of expansive landscape, where if done right students as well as teachers can really design a more accurate picture of learning, one that does not require a rubric or standards, but when experienced as a whole over time reflects the journey of its creator. Much more on this soon.

This institute also gave me a chance to really look at my own current landscape and take inventory. Who am I? Am I spread to thin? What are my values? What do I want to promote and share? Am I on the right track? What does my name mean to others? Does any of it matter? Stay tuned for updates. I am working on re-worked, consolidated brand. I still hate that word. Maybe when I can articulate it, it will have a new name.

In the meantime, I am proud and excited by the work I did, the thoughts I had and the people I met. It is always a shocking experience to be thrown into such a crucible. I am sure the effects will be long lasting. I am looking forward to continuing the conversations we had this past week with everyone who was there, as well as all of you who were not. Not sure if I answered any of the questions I had going in, but I don’t feel like a sell-out and that is good. I feel like I am leading a fast moving train headed to great places. Come on! What are you waiting for. Get on. We have work to do.
Of course I would appreciate all my critical thinking, trouble making friends to tell me I am wrong about all of this, because there is nothing more dangerous to growth and learning as complacency