A map is not a tracing

Today’s inspiration for #Mapvember comes from Deleuze and Guattari’s writings on the rhizome. This is one of the passages in A Thousand Plateaus (ATP) that I return to again and again:

Make a map, not a tracing … What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real … The map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. It can be torn, reversed, adapted to any kind of mounting, reworked by an individual, group, or social formation. It can be drawn on a wall, conceived of as a work of art, constructed as a political action or as a meditation … A map has multiple entryways, as opposed to the tracing, which always comes back “to the same.” The map has to do with performance, whereas the tracing always involves an alleged “competence”. (D&G ATP pp 12-13)

To me this is the essence of #CLMooc, #DS106 and the whole participatory HOMAGO culture. Don’t copy (trace), but remix. Ignore instruction. Flout, subvert. Pirate, appropriate, make it your own. Refuse to acknowledge plagiarism as a problem. Honour the artists, writers, poets and musicians you admire by making your own versions of their work. Inspire, and be inspired.

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A new month, a new challenge. This was one suggested by Wendy Taleo and developed by her and others in the CLMooc collective. Inspired by Miska Fredman’s mapvember challenge during November we in CLMooc will be making some maps together. Our blog has lots of suggestions about how folk might approach this but ultimately it’s up to each of us to decide what we all do.

I began today by talking Miska’s first word of the day – goblin – and sketching a quick map:

I don’t know where I’ll go with this challenge this month, but I’m aiming to have a bit of fun and practice my drawing … and maybe learn some fingerpicking tunes on my uke as well.

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Why I write

I write because I’m happy

I write because I’m angry

I write because I’m sad

I write because I care

I write because I can

I write because I can’t not

I write because I’m human

I write because I write

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From Scotland with love

This week hurricane Ophelia hit the UK. Well, I say hit, but it was really more of a tickle in Glasgow – wet and windy, but no worse than the usual Autumn storms. And as I reflected on today’s Daily Create challenge today I realised, yet again, just how lucky I am to live in this beautiful country and to work at such a magnificent University. Look at Pearce Lodge, for example – elements of 17th century buildings reconstructed into a new structure when the campus moved in the 1880s, the chimney heads damaged and repaired after WW2 – I love this building for it’s shape and for its history. That’s build to last.

pearce lodge gate glasgow university

By contrast consider the Universidad del Sagrado Corazon in Puerto Rico – ravaged by hurricane Maria but determined to carry on teaching – I have no words to express my admiration for these people. I’ve sent a card – prompted by Alan’s blog post at the weekend – and I tweeted them a photo today (featured at the top of this post – it’s a wreck of a boat on my favourite island of Mull, with a tree tenaciously growing out of its deck) as requested by the Daily Create  – and I will be following Antonio and finding out what his students do next.

I take my hat off to all of you, and hope you will let me know if I can be of any help to you.


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Pepper pot

If Niall was designing a pepper grinder for the first time, he’s make it BIIIIIG! Niall likes food with his pepper 😉

Here’s a representation of the size he’d likely choose, with the Dalek representing Niall.

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Fractal music

Fractals fascinate me – the mesmerising beauty of their evolving, expanding symmetry never fails to draw me in and remind me how beautiful maths can be.  Mandelbrot, of course – such mathematical cleverness, but also the numerous examples that can be found in the natural world. Romanesco broccoli, pine cones, snowflakes – even trees. Surely Deleuze would not have been tired of trees had be noticed this facet of their nature.


So as I was googling this week I was delighted to find that fractal music is an existing genre. I read about the musical motif called an ostinato (which I think is a fancy name for a riff, actually), and wondered if we could use this to create some CLMooc fractal music.

For me it’s the act of zooming in and finding macro patterns copied in micro that fascinates me, so I wondered how to emulate that in musical form. A simple way of doing this, at least in my mind, would be to find a passage of music (the ostinato), and then mimic this zooming in and zooming out that visual representations do. Here’s my initial thoughts:

  1. Play the phrase at normal volume. Play it again very quietly and keep playing it over and over, louder each time, till it gets back to the original volume. Repeat.
  2. Play the phrase right down at the left hand end of the keyboard. Play it again a few notes up, then up again, right to the top of the keyboard. Repeat.
  3. El (a musical friend) suggested starting with breves (long notes) and repeating with shorter and shorter notes.
  4. Niall and I thought about layering the phrases in (3), so for each time we played it through as breves we’d play it through twice as semi-breves etc. (Hard to explain this one without doing it, but maybe this makes sense?) I think this would also work for (1) and (2), and we could possibly combine 1-3 and make one fractally magical noise.
  5. El suggested changing the note order to represent the branching.
  6. Other things that Wendy and I discussed were using different instruments, and using rounds (like “row your boat”).

And, just as I dash off to have my Saturday night pizza, I realise that we could use Fibonnaci numbers, and that seems so beautifully easy. At least on paper. 🙂

Mandelbrot Monday” flickr photo by kevin dooley  shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license.

Romanesco” flickr photo by tuppus shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license.

Posted in #CLMOOC, Music, Online learning, Peer interaction | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments


I’m always looking at the sky – my camera is full of pictures of sunshine and sunsets – so Kim’s weekly photo challenge is right up my street this week. The pic above is of Bridge Street subway early one morning a few months ago – I love this image.

Last November we travelled south for mum’s 80th birthday, and walked along a local beach as the day was closing in. I always love being near the sea, and the sunset was stunning:

Beach scene

Sunset over the sea

Back in Glasgow we get spectacular evenings as well – here’s a couple of the beautiful Uni tower:

Glasgow University sky

This next one was taken through the car window:

Glasgow University sky

Who doesn’t love a rainbow? Here’s one over Loch Ness, where my brother and his family rented a boat this Easter:

Loch Ness rainbow

and here’s a doubler outside our house recently:


I could go on, and on – but I’ll end with one of naughty little Cagney – who escaped from Niall’s loft study and got stuck on the roof – it took a while to coax her back in:

Bad cat

What’s the sky like where you live?





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Researcher Journal: follow up lurker research


Last summer, Aras, AK, Len and I did some exploratory research into “lurking” behaviour in #CLMooc.  I wrote about a presentation I gave, and we recently had a paper published in EURODL. “Lurking” is a loaded term, with negative connotations, and we tried to find a more positive word. The best we could do was  to suggest “legitimate peripheral participants” (LPPs), which is term from Lave and Wenger’s Situated Learning, which rings true for us as it looks at communities of practice and fits well with the ethos of CLMooc.

We concluded that this was a complex issue, that there was no one motive for being an LPP – that although time was mentioned many time as a reason, we suspect that there is more to be spelled out here – and we knew that we wanted to delve deeper into the questions.

It’s that time of year again, and with #CLMOOC in full swing again for the summer, we are planning some follow up research to see if we can probe deeper into online behaviour including lurker intentions. So we’ve created a Google form to capture responses – please do feel free to fill it out. I’ve embedded it on this page, but the link is also here.

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I’ve just discovered a new resource and I am loving it. Check out Sketchfab (account is free) and see how you can search all of the uploads there. I grabbed the embed code and dropped this straight into my blog post – it does all of the attribution for me.

Hobbes 3d Character
by simons
on Sketchfab

There’s also lots of tutorials … I could be gone for sometime!

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Independence Day

Last year the place I work was restructured and my post as a learning technologist was made redundant. However, there was a post in the new structure with more responsibility and more money, which I applied for. So since January 4th of this year, I’ve been working as a Good Practice Adviser  – a brand new post and one I’ve been able to make my own.

As it was a new post, that meant that after all these years working for the UofG I was back on probation for six months, and my director noted that this would end on July 4th – how apt. This week he told me that he’d signed the forms to confirm to HR that I’d passed my probation, so that’s me now with my L plates off and ready for our official service launch on July 12th as the Learning Enhancement & Academic Development Service (LEADS) when we’ll be running drop in sessions throughout the day. All UofG staff and students are very welcome to come along.

So here’s my submission for today’s Daily Create – a milestone I have just passed.

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