Percolating Projects, April 2018

Here’s a complete list of everything I’ve got going on right now. And by “going on,” I mean a level of intensity ranging from “thinking about maybe doing it” to “seriously working on it.” (Categories come from the Integrative Nutrition Circle of Life exercise.)

Spirituality

  • Daily tarot card pull as a means of connecting with my intuition

Creativity

  • Things of Bronze podcast
  • Compiling a YouTube playlist of comedy sketches that epitomize my comedic sensibility
  • Developing a concept for a geeky variety show
  • A memoir about adolescence/early adulthood in the early days of the World Wide Web
  • Something for the 10th anniversary of Doctor Horrible
  • Daily blogging
  • Indiewebifying kimberlyhirsh.com

Finances

  • Reducing grocery spending via using my Soda Stream, freezing leftovers, and eating out of the pantry/fridge/freezer

Career

  • Writing culturally sustaining pedagogy online curriculum module for Project READY.
  • Steeping myself in the world of YA librarianship

Education

  • Working on the Makerspaces section of my comprehensive literature review

Health, Home Cooking

Physical Activity

Home Environment

  • Putting together a list of tasks for the handyman
  • Cleaning out the upstairs linen closet as part of packing and purging in anticipation of putting our house on the market

Relationships

  • Treating Will to a birthday surprise
  • All the parenting: deciding how and when to potty train, buying springtime clothes, selecting toddler tableware

Social Life

  • Figuring out when to schedule game nights
  • Planning Google Hangouts

Joy

  • Continuing to have a super cute kid with an excellent giggle

To Somebody, You Are an Expert

This morning, I popped M. in the stroller and walked him the three quarters of a mile to the doula offices for their Movers & Shakers meeting. As the first babies they ushered into the world became toddlers, the community of parents who had worked with them wanted to continue meeting with each other beyond the New Parents hangout, and even some of the babes who had not technically aged out of the New Parents Hangout group got so mobile and handsy that the parents of said babes (mine included) started to wonder how safe it was for the little ones to be exposed to our friendly acrobats. So the doulas started a group for older, more mobile babies up to age two. Michael and I make it out about once every three weeks. This is a much better attendance rate than we had for the New Parents Hangout, probably because as he’s gotten older and more mobile I’ve lost any illusions I had about being able to get work done as he played, so we might as well go play with other families.

So, as I said – this morning, I popped him in the stroller – and when I say “popped” I mean that I strapped him in his five-point harness, ensured he had plenty of pretzels in the cupholder, realized that I had left his water bottle on the floor, picked up his water bottle, put that in the grown-up’s cupholder (because again, M’s was full of pretzels) and headed out to the doula office.

Michael was the only toddler in attendance, but he had the time of his life playing with the seven-year-old son of one of the owners. As the Movers and Shakers time ended and time for the New Parents Hangout approached, other families started to arrive, including one family with a very new baby.

I told Michael it was almost time to leave. I sang him the relevant Daniel Tiger song. (There is a relevant Daniel Tiger song for almost every toddler/preschooler parenting moment. A mom used the same “It’s almost time to stop” one on a playground recently and when I said, “Hey, M! We know that song!” she replied, “Daniel Tiger is my co-parent.”) I re-filled his cupholder, this time with veggie straws. I strapped him into the stroller and asked him to wave goodbye to everybody.

As I was strapping him in the stroller, I remembered my earliest New Parents Hangout, sitting with this tiny, fragile, incoherent, precious person in his huge carrier, not knowing how to do anything yet. I imagined what that version of myself would think watching me go through this process of getting Michael in the stroller, settling him in, getting him out the door.

I decided she would think, “Wow. That lady can parent a toddler so effortlessly. That’s amazing.”

And it was beautiful to have that dual perspective, to remember myself as a newbie and be able to look upon my expert self, shepherding this relatively giant creature, having him say goodbye to the doulas.

Then getting to the door and realizing I’d left my backpack in the classroom, then going back and getting it and truly heading out, then not realizing my phone had fallen out of the stroller in the parking lot until I’d walked a couple hundred feet past where it happened, then running back to find it while praying a car hadn’t run over it, then sighing with relief after finding it lying on the ground unharmed, then continuing the walk home.

These things keep us humble in the moments when we would be proud. I think it’s nice to be able to feel both at once.

And, of course, observing this moment is a nice reminder that whomever I’m looking at and thinking, “Wow, she really has it together!” is probably struggling in some way I can’t see, and that potentially any time I’m struggling, there’s somebody looking at me who thinks I’m doing a great job.

This is basically what I’m doing on my own website. I ask myself, “How did I use the Internet in 2001?” because the Internet of 2001 is definitely the Internet for which I’m most nostalgic.

In 2001, I owned my own domain name. I blogged in a hand-coded html file. I made friends with other people through the Buffy the Vampire Slayer posting board. I made other friends through those friends visiting their blogs and commenting on their posts. We had link lists, blog rolls, fan Listings, and web rings, and that’s how we found new sites to visit. We made fan art and wrote fan fiction.

Some of this is still happening, most especially the fan works part. And some innovations have definitely made the Internet better – I switched to automated blogging software in 2002 and I haven’t regretted it once since. Other pieces inspired by other people working on the IndieWeb, I’m bringing back: my following page is basically a blog roll and I’ve started reading blogs again.

Tata to Twitter, Too (Again, Kind of)

Yesterday I posted about how I’m done posting directly to Facebook. Today, I’m announcing the same thing about Twitter. As with Facebook, I’m not disappearing entirely. Instead, I’m syndicating out to Twitter from my own website, kimberlyhirsh.com. I will be able to receive Twitter replies, likes, retweets, etc on the original post at my website. I can also send all of those things from my own site.

As for Twitter’s other functionality… I have, in the past, declared Twitter bankruptcy, unfollowing everyone and then refollowing. It’s harder than it used to be in the past, and I don’t necessarily want to lose track of anyone I’m following right now. So for the time being, I’m noticing when I do browse Twitter which accounts I am finding most valuable. Then I’m using TwitRSS.me to create RSS feeds of those accounts and subscribing to them in Feedly.

If you want to know who I’m following, I’ve got a page for that on my website.

The other key functionality that Twitter has for me is the use of hashtags to aggregate posts about conferences or on Twitter chats. For those purposes, I’m using Tweetdeck and creating a column for each relevant hashtag. My likes and retweets will be posted from my website and then syndicated back out to Twitter.

If you mention me on Twitter without replying directly to a tweet of mine, it should still ping me on my website. I’ve got a special page for Mentions. It’s not linked where anyone but me can see it without typing the URL in directly, but you can trust that I will see it.

Our beliefs grow out of our experiences.

I’m working on writing a statement of educational philosophy and yesterday I was stumped. I sat down to write and opened with “I believe…” Everything I wrote after that felt simultaneously true and hollow. My writing process, which wasn’t going great anyway, was disrupted by some family medical issues. (Everyone is fine.) I couldn’t wrap my head around what I was trying to do.

I texted two friends to complain/reach out. Each of them offered some really good ideas that I’m pocketing for later. They weren’t what I needed yesterday. What I was struggling with yesterday was the why. I knew what I believed about learning and teaching but I couldn’t figure out how to articulate why I believe those things.

I was very tired.

I emailed W. He was out of town for the day. I told him that I needed to talk my ideas through, that for whatever reason, I couldn’t get this done via freewrite (which is what I normally do). I said, “Tomorrow, let’s talk about it and then you spend some time with the baby and I’ll write.” (When do I need to call him something besides the baby? I mean, I use his name, obviously. But he’s 18 months old. The toddler doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

W. got home from his travels late at night. As he got in bed, I asked him if my plan was okay. He said, “Maybe we can talk about it when we go for a walk tomorrow.”

“Good idea,” I said.

I highly recommend finding a walking partner and talking about stuff as you walk. It’s so good. So we went for a walk this morning. W. wrote a teaching statement recently and I asked him to tell me about it. As he spoke, I realized that the piece that was missing, the why, comes from my own experiences as a learner and teacher. And that I needed to work that into my statement.

It felt blindingly obvious. I don’t know why I couldn’t make this connection without the conversation with W., but I have it now.

Farewell to Facebook, Kind Of

I won’t be posting directly to my Facebook timeline anymore. In keeping with my move to embrace the IndieWeb, any posts I make to Facebook will be syndicated there from my own website, kimberlyhirsh.com. Each Facebook post will include a link to the original post on my website. Through the magic of the IndieWeb, my original post will receive likes and comments that my friends post on the syndicated copy.

At my own website, I’m replicating most of Facebook’s features. I can post status updates, long posts, photos, and videos. I can share links. I can RSVP to Facebook events. I can create my own events and make copies of them on Facebook, and have Facebook RSVPs show up on the event post at my site. I use WordPress and I found a plugin that replicates Facebook’s On This Day feature. I can manually mark myself safe in an emergency and create a Year in Review post.

To make things super interactive, I’ve also created an old school Guestbook and a page where you can ask me anything. These two features aren’t entirely in keeping with the IndieWeb philosophy, which would have you create a post or page on your own site and then let me know about it. But as I don’t expect most of the people who want to communicate with me will be IndieWeb-ready, I’m trying to make it as easy as possible for you to get in touch with me still.

The one Facebook feature I’m not attempting to replace with my own site is Groups. My current plan is to check in each Friday to participate in my groups. That will also be when I check on my event invitations. I also can’t reply via Facebook comments directly from my site. If you want a prompt response or extended conversation, I recommend clicking through and commenting directly on my site. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until my next Facebook log in.

None of this is way out of left field. I’ve had websites since 1996, and personally-owned websites since 2001. In many ways, I’m just going back to using the web like I did in 2002.

Information literacy needs to include creation and ownership.

This is just the beginning of an idea, but as I dig deep into the IndieWeb and think about social media, Silicon Valley’s entry into education, critical technical practice, and other words that I will try to come back and find good links for later, I’m having a little brainstorm.

Information literacy curricula tend to focus, from what I’ve seen, on consuming information and evaluating the information other people produce: is this a reliable source? What’s the purpose and audience of this communication?

But as libraries transition from having consumption as their central purpose to places where creation takes centerstage and consumption primarily serves creation, we need to teach youth to think about other things. Who is going to own the content they create? Who can see it? What rights do they have as creators and artists? What benefits accrue to them from the different possible ways they might share their work? If we’re looking to create a generation that makes stuff, we need to ask them to think about the impact of the stuff they’re making as well as the amount of control they have over that impact.

Again, it’s a little brainstorm that I wanted to just jot down, but I hope to come back with more thoughts on this later.

Filter by post type

I use this blog as my home on the web, so in addition to traditional blog posts, you’ll find here all the types of things you might find on social media. I know that can be overwhelming, so feel free to only look at long posts, short notes, shared links, photos, social media interactions, or what I’m reading/listening to/watching/playing.

If you want the very best I have to offer, read How to Learn Anything.

Starting a Podcast: Process

Here’s a quick write-up of the stages I go through when working on an episode of my podcast.

1. Prep. This includes scheduling guests, watching the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that we’re going to talk about and taking notes, analyzing my notes for themes, listening to other BtVS podcasts to see if they bring up anything new that I want to be sure to talk about, and doing some basic research on things like who wrote and directed the episode. [Tools: email, calendar, TV, Hulu, pen and paper, podcast app]

2. Recording. This is when I sit down and actually record with my guests. I bring in my notes, but it’s pretty freewheeling. [Tools: Audacity, microphone, earbuds.]

3. Editing. I go back and listen to the recording. I cut out basic stuff like “ums” and “ahs,” but also big tangents that don’t really tie into the episode discussion much. [Tools: Audacity, earbuds]

4. Processing. I clean up the sound during this stage. [Tools: Audacity, earbuds]

5. Finalizing. I add the intro and outro music and compress the whole thing into a tidy little MP3. [Tools: Audacity, earbuds]

6. Writing up show notes. I listen one more time and make a note of anything I want to be sure to link to when the episode goes up. [Tools: Audacity, earbuds, notepad app]

Again, I’m not actually releasing the show yet, so I don’t have any information yet on that part of the process. When I do, I’ll try to document the process of releasing and marketing episodes.

Starting a podcast: Resources, part 1

Yesterday I mixed and mastered the first episode of my upcoming Buffy the Vampire Slayer podcast, Things of Bronze. This is a great example of a personal project that is helping me gain skills I can use professionally. Connected learning in action! Here are action steps and resources that have helped me along the way.

Finding podcasts

I’ve been listening to podcasts for… a while. I don’t know how long, but at least four or five years. Maybe more. I really got into them for a bit when they were experiencing their renaissance around the release of Serial‘s first season. Back then I heavily favored Gimlet productions. I also dipped into The Indoor Kids from time to time and listened to the first thirty or so episodes of Kumail Nanjiani’s X-Files Files, watching along before listening to each episode. That was the show that made me want to start my own podcast; as I listened, especially during the segments where Kumail would dig up old posts from Usenet, I started developing the idea for a Buffy the Vampire Slayer podcast that would, alongside rewatching, draw on my experience as a poster at the official BtVS posting board. So this podcast I’m just starting has actually been in development for four years. More on that later.

You can certainly listen to whatever podcast is trendy at the moment. (In the past year: Missing Richard Simmons, S-Town, Dirty John, The Daily.) Or venerable standbys (This American Life, Radiolab). You’ll definitely learn a lot. But I think you’ll do better with something that you’ll really love. That may be one of those podcasts I already mentioned. But it may be something else. People have written a lot about how there’s a discovery gap in podcasting, and I think that’s right. Until listener’s advisory in libraries expands beyond audibooks and music and starts to include podcasts, you’re going to have to do some legwork. Here’s how I’ve done that.

1. Get recommendations from friends and loved ones. My husband, Will, recommended Pop Culture Happy Hour to me forever before I finally listened to it and loved it. It was a lot like that Modern Family episode about wedge salad. (Sorry, Will.) It kind of seems like everyone I know adores Welcome to Night Vale. Podcasts have a viral-like spread through my community of comedy friends, which is how many folks I know got turned onto The Dollop and Hello from the Magic Tavern. And a recommendation from a friend is how I learned about Buffering the Vampire Slayer, which directly influences some of the topics I choose for Things of Bronze.

2. Let the internet tell you how to start. tl;dr: check out your favorite websites and other media sources to see if they have podcasts, ask your friends (see above), Google a topic plus the word “podcast,” use in-app lists of top or new or trending podcasts, find podcast directories. Or, what I’ve really enjoyed, check out this handy list of podcast newsletters from Bello Collective (more on that later, too). I used the in-app lists to find my current favorite podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression, as well as the super fun bomBARDed.

3. Pay attention to people you like – authors, comedians, actors, whomever – and check out podcasts that feature them as guests and podcasts they recommend. I’ve been dabbling in woo-woo as sort of an emotional antidote to the rigorous intellectual standards of empirical research, spending time especially in the Tarot end of the pool, and through following Bakara Wintner I found her guest appearance on Tarot for the Wild Soul, and via the website The Numinous I learned about Self-Service.

Keeping up with podcasting news and trends

Again, that Bello Collective piece is really handy. The top resources I’ve enjoyed for news are Hot Pod and podnews. They’ve kept me up to date on valuable projects like Preserve This Podcast and debates about recording loudness standards.

Advice on doing a good job

This piece from my podcast boyfriend Glen Weldon (look, the fact that he will never reciprocate my love is irrelevant as we’re both married and unlikely to ever spend much time together) is my favorite.

Developing, recording, editing, mixing, and mastering your podcast

This book, in spite of being ten years old, walked me through this every step of the way. I used Audacity for recording, editing, mixing, and mastering. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on equipment, so I just used the same laptop I use for everything else and this cheapie mic – perfect because I wanted to be able to travel with it and record both solo stuff and group stuff.

In the future: hosting and marketing! Since I’m not ready to do those things, I don’t have a lot of advice on them, but I’ll be back when I do.