Category Archives: Tools

Work From Anywhere: 25 Cool Apps For Digital Nomads, Corporate Escapists, And Loony Adventurers — Life Learning — Medium

In the past 3 years, I have already run my business from Lebanon, Indonesia, Morocco, Iran, Kenya, and South Africa. Alw…

Source: Work From Anywhere: 25 Cool Apps For Digital Nomads, Corporate Escapists, And Loony Adventurers — Life Learning — Medium

Wow! I only use three of these tools with any kind of regularity. As I am considering some digital nomadism in the near future, then knowing these and knowing a writer who thinks so clearly about this is a nice find. But you don’t have to be a digital nomad in order to use any of these congenial tools.

My favorite one that I hadn’t heard of? Silvrback ( My favorite one that I use all the time? Canva ( #clmooc



Click here for another review of this tool.

I am using this new tool today to work on a reflection project for CLMOOC with Joe Dillon and Karen Fasimpaur. Well, that is, if they go for it.

This is a simple mashup of brainstorming and voting. Lots of possible uses especially in instances where not everyone can come but you still need folks to contribute and vote their preferences. I have a use case for school for folks to provide classroom feedback throughout the semester.

You can take a peek if you want to here.

Candy Blox Versus Pallet Liquidators

I was waiting in line at the Sav-A-Lot yesterday to purchase some bananas and milk. In the ‘impulse’ section next to $1 pregnancy tests was CandyBlox. Charming. Candy you can play with then eat. $2.50 a box. The frugal dude in me said, “Not a good deal. Don’t even think about it,” while part of me screamed like a six year old boy, “Please, please, please!” My frugal self won. The little guy will win another day. Still…such a concept.

Walking out to the car with my groceries, I noted a new store had opened where the Family Dollar had been. There is a continual churn of these stores which consist entirely of the contents of container ships from China and points east. There are no small clothing, hardware, or appliance stores in small town Kentucky anymore. Only these outposts for slave labor goods from around the world. Only this one was obviously an outlier in that group. They called themselves “The Pallet Liquidator Store”. I walked over to view dozens of tall, pallet-sized cardboard boxes filled with the leftover stuff from the contents of container ships from China and points east.

The phenomenon of salvage groceries has become entrenched since the Amish moved into our community over twenty years ago and started them locally. It is a national trend now. This is the natural extension from groceries to big box store leftovers. Commerce has devolved to the point where rural communities are the very tail end of the cloaca of 21st century consumer culture. Below you will find a twisted pair of videos that bespeak this low truth. Useless stuff re-packaged, but still useless. Similar to the Japanese idea of chindogu.

Feel free. Is this what crazy Yeats meant when he ended his apocalyptic poem “The Second Coming” with a question:

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Sometimes the best view of the apocalypse ain’t in some future urban blightscape. No, it is right where the beast hunkers down for the long haul in some small town strip in Kentucky with the nail salons, the tattoo joints, the adult GED centers and the great Sargasso Sea of plastic that is the pallet liquidation biz.



#Twistedpair : Epictetus | Mojo Nixon.

In the spirit of infinite play I am following a recent prompt from Steve Wheeler:

Choose a strange pairing from above (or make up one of your own, the weirder the better). Let your imagination run wild, go very slightly unhinged and dig deep into your knowledge of those characters. Some of the connections may be tenuous. That’s part of the fun.  Come up with an inspirational, satirical or thought provoking blog post about teaching and learning. Share it and include the tag #twistedpair. Don’t forget to also challenge at least three other people. If we get enough responses, I will create a page that links them all together.

My twisted pair are Mojo Nixon and Epictetus, the profane rocker and the profound Stoic.

OK, I am feeling resistance here.  I have had my fill of writing prompts over the years.  They often feel false.  Other times I recognize them for what they are–pump priming fuel that gets burned up in order to start the engine.  In this case we are asked to play.  I like play, but generating inspired, satirical or thought provoking stuff about teaching and learning?  This feels like managing chaos and a little forced. Isn’t the nature of the imagination that you don’t so much as give it permission as it seizes it?

It is true that both of these figures taught me something. I learned from both of them.  It is also true that I could draw many other connections.


So I get to have cake and eat it and save some for later.

Here’s some Mojo to listen to, his only big hit, “Elvis Is Everywhere”

Here’s some Epictetus to listen to, his biggest hit, “The Enchiridon”

I recommend that you play both at the same time.  Twisted, dude, twisted.

A Date with October: A WIP (Work in Progress)


I get a daily poem in my email from Today’s is by a younger Robert Frost before he became the scary old man of American arts and letters. No, really. If you thought that “The Road Not Taken” was truly suitable for commencement addresses, then you need to dig down into its cruft. Not that nice. I know he must have laughed at the thought that others considered it an ‘optimistic’ poem. In truth it is a devastating one about death and despair. But not this poem, not “October”–I don’ think.

I was struck by the heartbeat of the iambics in it-lubDUB, lubDUB, ad heart-finitum. I wanted to read more and connect more with the poem and I wanted to connect the poem to the world it describes, my world on the farm here in Kentucky in October.

I want to have a date with October today starting with Frost’s poem.


So many approaches, many of them redundant, but in the good way that the walnut tree makes more nuts than the squirrels can ever remember to eat.

This post will be a work in progress as I have lots of little micro dates with October the poem, October the month, October the place. I will return as I add links to this post. Consider them as reports from along the edges, the hedgerows, the bramble tangles, the fallen leaves, the wool and warp and weft of October’s loom and shuttle.

For example, I could go the annotation way:


Or invite others to go the Hackpad route? This is a collaborative path that converges or diverges as much as anyone could wish. Create your own adventure, mild or wild.

Or I could go with a Storify slideshow?

Or maybe Z33ga?

Or Pocket? (The mobile version will read it back to you.)

Or Soundcloud? (Perhaps you would like to read the poem to us and I could put it here or on Hackpad or make a playlist there.)

Many stances. Some analytic. Some juxtaposing. Some emotional. Some analogical. So many stances to choose from, but all arising from the passion that arises from getting to know someone or something more closely.

Perhaps a Youtube feldgang and a Vialogue annotation?

What am I hoping for, what do I expect on this date with October? What is my null hypothesis? Where will this take me?

I know not.


that is OK.


Graphics as Public Space

I have been digging into Daniel Bassill’s work with the Tutor/Mentor Institute as a way to question, rethink, adapt and pirate his ideas about systems in organizations. I am essentially using the public spaces he has mapped graphically about his organization. My annotations are an occupation of his public space, a happy pirating for happy purposes.

For example, I used this graphic to ask questions and push our conversation forward, upward, downward, backward, and otherward. Part of the beauty of this work is its public nature, a commons for those who will have it or need it. It is the ultimate ‘potlatch’ and part of the gift culture that is pure Internet to the core.



I used the Commons that Daniel created here as a happy pyracy (pyracy with two “Y”s  is self-defined as white hat skullduggery). Every time I post I assume that it is the creation of a public commons to be shared by as common pasture by all the “flocks” and “herds”.  I took Daniel’s image above as just that, a commons to use but not abuse.


One moment I am a lamb gamboling in fresh white clover and another a serious old ewe stamping the ground in protective warning.  (I am a sheep farmer and you have to allow a certain amount of latitude here in my extending the pasture metaphor.)  I make a point that I am playing in the public commons of Daniel’s graphic as well as its margins, its metes and bounds, its interstices, its fence rows.

Here is a another commons, public and intended to be used by others, an organizational map that sums up the systemic work of Daniel’s organization, the Tutor/Mentor Institute.


I used this commons space to close read with a filter on it–facilitation.  In other words I am interested in creating a large system/organization with facilitation at its core much like what Daniel has done with putting tutor/mentoring at its core.  I pyrated his work by messing about with it in SnagIt–close reading it in SnagIt.  This kind of commons work forces one to be quite a bit more deliberate in considering.  I could have gone slower but I wanted to publish this new public space for him to get his reaction.  And I wanted my peers in #CLMOOC to see what I understand public digital space to mean.


I have moved beyond comprehending Daniel’s work to apprehending it and finally toward appreciating it.  You come, too.


Games as Gateways to the Adjacent Possible


Wise words from wise fellows.  Much of my work during Games Week on #CLMOOC has been trying to make sense of the kinds of games I like to play.  Not board games, not online games, but idea games.  I love idea machines.

I think I created a game that is a machine for seeing.  Here are the breadcrumbs:

#CLMOOC Make Cycle Three newsletter –>Diigo highlighting and extraction–> transfer to Hackpad–>transformation in Hackpad–>game rules devised–>game played (and playing) by applying rules to Susan Watson’s cooler than cool Obscure Sorrows and Joys Museum Game

So…to sum up.  The folks at GlassLab Games who are facilitating this Make Cycle asked us to do an awful lot of stuff for a week.  I tried to make sense of it by creating a game called “The Thoreau Game: Simplify” where I tried to translate their 36 verbal imperatives into a manageble number of commands. I got it down to twelve.  I then did what they asked, “For this Make Cycle, “We invite you to use game design to analyze, remediate, and reflect on complex systems.”

That is what I did.  I did the same thing in the last make cycle, I remediated the cycle newsletter to define remediation.  I think this process can be considered to be an idea machine because you can start with any text as source for game rules and you can make them your own by simplifying and translating.  And then you can play the game by applying them.

In the end, the game functions as a key to open up doors to the adjacent possible.  For me this is ongoing because I keep coming back to Susan’s museum game and applying the principles I cadged and remade from the newsletter.

Like I said, I love idea games and ideation machines and playing the games they can generate.  I am not any good at all coding in any language except this written one.  It is the oldest and I think best code of all.  Flexible, enduring, and sustainable.  That’s more than can be said for the stuff that dies when the electrons stop flowing, but I am super happy that GlassLabs is here to help.

Game the Game: Unflattening and Leveling Up 4 Make Cycle 3


In modern literary criticism, stance is all. The beauty of that ‘stance’ is that it encourages us to do what Nick Sousanis calls ‘unflattening’. Sousanis in his unparalleled graphic comic of the same name defines this term thus,

Unflattening is a simultaneous engagement of multiple vantage points from which to engender new ways of seeing.(32)

In other words unflattening is a seeing machine, a way of generating a new way of seeing.

This week we are looking at a new way of seeing in #CLMOOC ‘s third week.  It’s called gaming.  When you unflatten you have to take one view and add another in order to the get the ‘parallax’ so essential to seeing something anew and with depth. Sousanis devotes a whole chapter to this so I devoutly hope you go buy his book and read more there. Suffice to say, whatever your vantage point you can combine it with ‘gaming’ to “level up”.

I have been trying to figure out how our Make Cycle compadres want us to do this.  There were so many calls to action in the newsletter I felt compelled to tease them all out in order to see with this gaming eye. In fact,  I am making a game of it.  In fact, I am inviting everyone to make a game of it. The Hackpad below has all the particulars which is to say few rules, few boundaries, much openness and an invitation to use the Creative Commons Piratical License (well, not so much a license as a guideline–do what thou wilt.)

I wonder if our facilitators realize that they created a proto-crypto-pseudogame in their own newsletter.  Now that would be a great game:  discover the game within the newsletter about the game.

“Come Watson, come! The game is afoot! Not a word! Into your clothes and come!”

New Canva Treats: a Remediating Machine

One of my favorite cloud image tools is Canva. Along with Pixlr I don’t really feel the need to be a Photoshop King (although I would love to learn that, too.) I was clicking around the other day among the design templates in Canva and discovered that, once again, they had added lots of new stuff.

The first template that surprised me was the stationary. I had never considered this as a next step in the evolution of Canva. I guess I should never be a product developer. This is so useful to me. I do letters of recommendation quite regularly. I hate the templates in MSWord and in Pages. Not sure why, not their fault. I am just really drawn to the ease of Canva. With its capacity to save a file as a pdf, this letter template makes perfect sense.

A letterhead is the heading at the top

The next new item in the templates that struck me was the flyer. Typically, I use smore for flyers because they are flexible and able to handle embedding. Perfect tool, but this is for simple stuff. I realized looking at this that there a huge difference in feel between a flyer and a poster. The message is more focused in a flyer, tending to have a persuasive element. Elegant and beautiful designs on tap, too.


Here is one of the new templates I have already taken advantage of, the gift certificate:

oops credits

The last item is the infographic which I use below to discuss the faux outrage of those who are unable to view words in context, who have a glaring blindspot of their own. There is a story behind this one that I might tell some other time.


Go take Canva for a spin. Use it to remediate something or use it remedy something else.