Stephen, thank you for the reminder of what I have missed this year after taking a step back from things. I felt that so much of my online life had become stale, repeatable and templated, I wondered if it ‘sparked joy‘ anymore. I had wondered if I was doing things out of habit, rather than with purpose. Sporadically, diving back into my feed, I added a few posts to my site, one on the AI bubble and the other on educational communities, only to discover your responses:

Let’s allow that AI is a bubble (this saves us an exercise in semantics). Is it true that all bubbles pop? Yes, we can name many bubbles that have popped, but let’s consider some other technologies that experienced rapid growth, so much so that any ‘pop’ of the bubble was merely a rounding error. Like, say, the telephone. Cars. Aircraft. Microwave ovens. Computers. I could go on, but you get the idea. We tend to forget the bubbles that didn’t pop, because they became fixtures of everyday life.

Source: Pluralistic: What kind of bubble is AI? by Stephen Downes

And …

Twitter was only ever a subset of the larger educational community, and it always felt to me a bit like a high school clique. It was pretty easy to find yourself on the outside or the subject of Twitter disapprobation; I experienced it a few times (but to nowhere near the extent of some others). If Twitter was the best we could hope for, we weren’t hoping for much.

Source: Communities and Conversations of the Past by Stephen Downes

They were like seeds sprouting in the garden. As always, you added perspective that spurred me to think more, a reminder of the interactions I had missed diving into the world of books.

I had no intent of buying anothersynthesiser, but I changed my mind when listening Mark Ronson, in an interview with Jamie Lidell. He explained how he likes to start off sessions with a few toys, including an MPC, a Moog and a Juno. My latest addition is the Roland JX-08, a Boutique combination of the JX-8P and the PG-800. I really like my MC-101 and know that there is still a lot that I am yet to master. However, I really wanted something I could manipulate.

I once borrowed a PG-200 that was attached to a GR-700. I would play a note on the guitar, click hold on the foot pedal and spend time just looking for sounds. Although the JX-08 does not have the same solid feel as the PG-200, it has so much more functionality, including an arpeggiator, two channels and a sequencer. In addition to this, the sequencer has a random generator and random playback function. Together with built-in speaker, I like just sitting with it and poking it every now and then.

In Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, Taylor Swift talks about how Aaron Dessner gave her Silvertone guitar with a rubber bridge and how playing some instruments write their own songs. I had a similar experience with the JX-8P. I am yet to properly dig into the various pattern, but for me it provides a piece of randomness that was missing with the groovebox.

For a few years I have been exploring various software solutions associated with music. A part of my interest was about access, it is a lot cheaper to by a Model D from the app store, than it is to buy an actual Model D. However, this was also about space. The problem though with the iPad was that it was always somewhat temperamental in regards to connect up a keyboard and having an iPad mini made the screen finicky.

Of late, I have come upon the realisation that sometimes there is power in the contraint of working with what you have at hand. Although this can be limiting in regards to options, it can also provide freedom from seemingly unlimited choice of apps and application. In some ways I was inspired by James Blake who shared his preference for physical synthesisers and samplers, rather than trusting a laptop. Therefore, in addition to our Roland F140R and my Korg Volca Modular, I recently got a Roland MC-101 and a Behringer MS-1-RD. I liked the idea that the Roland can do a lot of things and provides a rich set of sounds not available with the F140R. While in regards to the MS, having tried out a few different synths last year, I am glad that I did not get the slim keys that comes with the Korg Minilogue XD.

The next purchase will probably be a small mixer and speakers now that there are so many audio channels.

Lately, I have been balancing my time between the piano and the guitar. I have come a decision, that the guitar can be a lonely instrument. Growing up, I often played with others. However, these days I thrash about with headphones on. I accept that there are some styles which are more conducive to playing alone, but more often than not, strumming a few chords feels a bit bare.
I sometimes wonder if my strength of just diving in and getting it done is sometimes a weakness. Today I was given a spreadsheet with roughly 40000 rows to review. I started out adding in a few conditional formulas to use colour to break up the data. However, I soon realised what 40000 rows actually meant. I therefore decided to take a step back and think about how I could clean up the data. I spent sometime trying a number of approaches. After a few hours, I managed to hone the data down to roughly 4000 rows. This was a lot easier to review. It was all a reminder that time spent in reconnaissance is well spent.
I was asked to call a school today who explained we had made a mistake. It was an honest mistake, a case of misinterpretation, but a mistake none the less. I negotiated with the person that I would put together a list of errors I found and fix them. I think they were a little taken aback, they were fearing that they would have to do the laborious task of clearing things up. It made me think that although you cannot always prevent issues and errors, you can appease anxiety by being humble and saying sorry.
I was listening to someone reflect upon the perils of outsourcing compared to just doing something yourself. I had a similar experience today. As a part of my work in improving processes, I had created a spreadsheet template, which provided feedback as you went. I had someone email to say how useful it was, except it seemed to be broken. On further investigation, I realised that I had not implemented a recent update throughout the whole spreadsheet. I managed to put together a fix quickly. However, the issue was that the template had been copied 150 times and to apply the fix, I had to open upon each spreadsheet and past in the updated set of formulas. I thought for a minute whether I needed to rope somebody else in to help me. But I decided that it was my problem and best to make sure it is fixed properly, so I put my head down and hammered it out.
Reflecting on the practice of archaeology, Gabriel D. Wrobel and Stacey Camp talk about staring at a site and you will start noticing things:

I brought my father to a site where workers had removed the thick foliage so archaeologists could thoroughly map the site. Another archaeologist and I excitedly discussed the visible architectural features – patios, terraces, the stubs of walls. Finally, my dad threw his hands up in the air and said “All I see are rocks!”
But our trained eyes recognized that the piles of stones or earthen mounds we saw were suspiciously aligned. Stare at archaeological sites long enough and you’ll notice them too.

Mark Binelli talks about the way in which Frederick Wiseman makes documentaries from found objects.

He sees himself, he told me, like an artist who makes work from found objects, except in his case, the art is assembled from found events.

Sometimes such a practice involves instilling constraints as Matthew Herbert outlines in his ‘found sounds’ manifesto.

This reminds me of what Alan Levine calls a noticing pattern and being open to the space you are in

Continuing on from my discussion of space and music, I am always apprehensive about playing new music out loud. I feel there is a strange assumption that when you play something out loud you know what is coming. For example, I recently played The Avalanches’ We Will Always Love You and I was asked about the bleeps at the end:

The last song, “Weightless”, contains the sound of morse code, the original 1974 broadcasted message beamed into space, written by Frank Drake with assistance from Carl Sagan among others. It included encoded information about human DNA and other indications of intelligent life to anyone in the cosmic vastness who might be listening.

Although I had an inkling what it was, I was a little lost for words.

I often have the same issue when putting on playlists too.

Today I spent some time in the backyard. A part of this was listening to music. I somehow ended up down a rabbit starting with Empress Of, I then listened to BANKS and, after realising the BJ Burton connection, then moved onto Sylvan Esso. Before jumping ship, going back to Matthew Herbert. Although I did all this in my own physical space, one thing that I often forget about is the shared space of sound.

This reminded me of my next door neighbour growing up. He and his band were in some sort of band and they would play I Shot the Sheriff again and again. (I am going to assume that it was just their song or maybe my poor memory.) This would often be late at night, with little consideration for world around.

In the end, a fence may designate where my property may stop and start, however there is very little to separate sounds, even more so when living in an apartment. As my father once quipped, bass is not designed to be heard in the room you are in, but in the next room over.

I have been reading Fiona Hardy’s How to Write the Soundtrack to Your Life with Ms 9 and am really intrigued by the space created. There is a part of me which keeps on questioning various actions and activities, wondering if they would really happen. Would kids write songs so quick? Would they really have access to a video camera … at lunchtime? However, I also wonder if the problem is me? Maybe, I am not the intended audience? Maybe such books are not about being true, but instead about dreaming in an alternative universe?
I went into Global2 today and cleared out my data before it closes down at the end of this month. I exported the various sites and deleted them. I can understand the decision to move on from Edublogs, however I think that this is (still) a very under-utilised platform. A Google Site is not a blog and it has many limitations.

As we talk about Social Networking 2.0, I wonder what safe spaces we are providing students to experiment and explore?

Kevin Parker reflected on his choice to cover A Girl Like You for Triple J’s Like a Version. He explained the restrictions currently place with the fact that half of the band are not in Perth. These constraints have forced the band to rethink how he performs. It is for this reason that he has started tinkering with a 90s house music setup, built upon programmed loops.

In some ways, this reminds me of the Moog series where artists use the just Moog equipment to reproduce their songs:

I have been watching the Seal Team. One of the key phrases used by the team leader, Jason Hayes, is ‘work the problem’. This relates to going beyond intuition to focus on the situation at hand.

Leaders must “work the problem” through proper and thorough procedures. Specifically, they should:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Determine goals/objectives
  3. Generate an array of alternative solutions
  4. Evaluate the possible consequences of each solution
  5. Use this analysis to choose one or more courses of action
  6. Plan the implementation
  7. Implement with full commitment
  8. Adapt as needed based on incoming data

It is interesting to watch the show and think about the problems that can be broken down and those outside of the sphere of control. Makes me wonder about whether working the problem relates to the space at hand or the space created.

I ate out at a restaurant for the first time today since the start of COVID. It was strange knowing what was appropriate practices in the new normal. There was the line for in and out, the sanitising stations (one of which was empty) and the pre-booking to balance numbers. At the end of it all though, it was easy to look around and find examples of humans and average practices. More than confidence, it felt about faith.
This month, my feeds have been full of Trump. Here is a selection:

Although this is a significant decision for everybody in the world, I wonder if a part of the post-election actions have been as much about Trump’s effort to garner attention. I am reminded here of Doug Belshaw’s post from a few years ago, Curate or be Curated and the challenge that we face in regards to managing our feeds and thinking about who or what is filling our mental space.

After listening to a recent episode on corruption in politics on The Minefield podcast.

During this conversation Waleed Aly, Scott Stevens and Bruce Buchan discuss the current situation at home and abroad, I am left thinking whether people have simply become jaded by such discussions and how this all plays out.

In Tom Barrett’s newsletter, he asked the question, who owns the learning?

This left me thinking about ownership and instead wondering about assemblages and systems.

A desiring machine is an assemblage “always in relation to the big social machines and technological machines” (Deleuze, 2004, p. 243). Language, media, literature, education and capitalism for example always orient a body towards a particular way of expressing desire, to produce a desiring subject so to speak. Desire always precedes subjectivity; subjectivity is the codification of ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ desires within a given body.

From that perspective, it feels like learning becomes about components rather than ownership. Maybe it is technology, maybe teachers, maybe heutagogy or maybe space? Maybe it is about the shock?

Learning, for Deleuze, is an experience which cannot be planned or organised, but that all learning is an event that shocks, causing some form of transformation within the body and mind of the learner.

I have been recording a number of tutorials lately for work. One of the challenges I have is remembering to include every piece of the process. This is easy enough in print form as you can add after the fact, but when you are clicking, talking and checking the script, things become a bit more complicated. To me, it is like texting while driving, it just doesn’t work.