There is nothing special about me, or my abilities online. The digital natives label…don’t even go there. I prefer to act like I’m 7 1/2, but I’m 40.
I have been labeled a guru, (angrily) a technogeek, a geek, and many other labels about my supposed expertise in the use of digital texts and tools. I thoroughly believe that there is nothing special that separates me from you. I blog, and tweet, and use online tools, and I think you should as well.
So how did I build up the digital identity that I’ve been constructing? It’s actually pretty simple. 🙂
I’ve been at this for awhile
First of all, I’ve gained a lot of experience building and breaking things online. As a child, I would routinely build and break things. This would be taking apart toys, tools, etc. Gradually this continued as my parents bought me an Apple IIe. This computer was the gateway drug for me.
I couldn’t believe that there was information on those floppy discs and that I could make the computer do whatever I wanted. I primarily would write and ultimately play games on the computer…loved Karateka. After some time, I started to tinker and messing around with the DOS writing language. Somehow, someway a DOS writing language book came along with the computer…and I wanted to figure out how it worked.
Sadly…the Commodore 64, gaming console after gaming console…and tons of homebuilt PCs took my attention. Games took my attention away from learning how to code.
I constantly play, tinker, and research
I’m a homegrown hacker. I’m constantly trying to figure out a better way.
I once built a watering bowl for my dog that refreshed the water through an old fishtank filter. I run my own video and music server because I was tired of possibly scratching CDs/DVDs. I’ve rebuilt computers, like to fix my own car, and get stuff done at home. I recently installed my own hot water heater, retiled the kitchen, and now moving on to installing wood floors. I like to brew my own beer. I’ve recently gotten really into canning and jarring vegetables, and making my own pepper jelly or mustards.
I learn how to do all of this online. YouTube is my friend. I search online for things I want to learn. I save webpages in Evernote and favorite YouTube videos. I watch the videos over and over and think through the process before I get started. If I get stuck, I bring the iPad out to the car and replay the video while I have my brakes in pieces all over the driveway. The iPad is in the kitchen walking me through exactly what ingredients are supposed to go into Kimchi.
When I’m done, everything is archived and saved in Evernote in case I need it later. I’ve considered blogging about this as a way to document what I’m doing and “pay it forward…but I’ve only got so much time in the day. 🙂
Finally, I’m reading and learning all of the time online. I set up Feedly to keep track of all of my online reading. If I see something that I want to read or spend more time investigating later…I save it to Evernote and process later.
I build and break things online
Some of my students look at this blog, or my other online spaces and think that it happens overnight. It definitely is still a work in progress/process. I spent years wanting to blog, and then years considering myself a failed blogger. Now, I think I’m getting better as a blogger…but it’s still in transition. I can easily point out the next three things I’d like to do differently about this blog in particular. I’m constantly tweaking. As I tweak, I’m first thinking about how my audience (if I have an audience 🙂 ) will receive these changes. I then think about my workflow and design aesthetics.
This isn’t my first blog. I tried earlier, but I can’t even access my first blog. The earliest I can go back is to the New Literacies Research blog I tried to start up with Greg McVerry and Lisa Zawilinski while we were at UConn. In looking at the posts I shared there, you can see some of the same voice and self-deprecating style.
I then moved the early versions of this blog over to Blogger as a way to start to build my own digital identity. The Digitally Literate blog started over there and slowly helped me start to build up this brand. The biggest challenge that I had in both of these spaces is figuring out what to write…and finding time to write. I spent a lot of time trying to identify exactly the audience I was writing for…and what was the purpose. After many years, I’ve decided that I’m writing for the educator and student that is trying to think through literacy and technology instruction in their classroom. I’m also writing for myself. I’m writing to think through things…and document my thinking over time. If others read it and find it valuable…awesome.
The above section primarily applies to this blog, but the example extends to most other places online. I’ve got dozens of Google Sites and Wikispaces sites that I’ve built up and left to decay online.My Evernote ARCHIVE notebook is chock full of hacks and projects and snippets of ideas that never made it to the light of day. My YouTube is full of great content…and a lot of “what was he thinking.” My Webmaker profile details my badges and makes over the years. An example is the 6 word memoir I created.
As I continue to play, make, hack, and learn online…I’ll continue to document this work on this blog. Now I’m entering a new phase of my life. I’ve got a five year old (and one on the way) that needs to learn what it means to hack, tinker and play using digital texts and tools. Last year we learned how to do some basic stop motion animation.
Now it’s time to figure out coding, or Minecraft, or build a rocket, or play with augmented reality, or…
Cover image CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 LaughingSquid
Apple image CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikipedia