ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

How to Make a Digital Story in Front of 100 People

1 hour. 100 students. Mission? Teach the students how to make a digital story! Challenging for sure. Possible? Here’s Grimeland Merete’s story:

The other day I was asked to teach students studying to become pre-school teachers at The University College of Oslo how to make a digital story. At first I thought it would be a regular workshop with 15 to 20 students and that we would be able to use 1 to 2 days producing digital stories while I would supervise. These types of workshops I really love! I get to talk to people all the time, and help people tell their stories during the time we spend together in the workshop. And this is what I’ve done every time I’ve been teaching it to others – through workshops, and not lectures… So I was kind of surprised when Grete Jamissen said “I’m sorry, Merete. This is not going to be one of those cozy workshops we usually do. We have nearly 100 students, and you have to show them how it works in an hour. That’s all the time we got”. […]

I could have said that this post would be about how to make a digital story in 1 hour, but that wouldn’t have been entirely true, because Grete had spent quite a few hours preparing the raw material for me. Although I put it together, not entirely into a coherent story, I did spend 1 hour demonstrating how it’s done technically, while Grete probably has spent some 10 hours or so preparing the material. And I think she’s still working on it to get it down to a 10-20 min demonstration!

But doing it in front of 100 people, that was the challenge! So if you want to make a digital story live, you should have all your raw material collected and well rehearsed, especially if you’re recording it in front of an audience.

Your raw material should include:

  1. The story written down and/or printed – rehearse the recording 
  2. Selected pictures to compliment the story – numbering the might be a good idea so that you easier know what order you want them in
  3. Recording device or at least mic if you’re recording directly to MovieMaker
  4. Music (with clearance to use)

Read the full post at Sweet Chili of Mine

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Trespassing Flâneuse

Obviously, Trespassing depicts the filmmaker walking various cities in the world and encourages audiences to link the video with the practice of female flânerie, a term from the French masculine word flâneur. Baudelaire’s flâneur depicts a man who walks the city to experience, observe, understand, and portray city life through both of his participation and detached observation. Therefore, flâneur is both an active participant and critical voyeur to portray and examine city life in sociological, anthropological, literary and historical aspects. However, the concept of flâneur excludes women from the spaces of modernity. As Wolff comments, “The influential writing of Baudelaire, Simmel, Benjamin and, more recently, Richard Sennett and Marshall Berman, by equating the modern with the public, thus fail to describe women’s experience of modernity. The central figure of the flâneur in the literature of modernity can only be male” (1985: abstract). It is because sexual differences were expressed through the segregation of space of public and private, and women were often defined in the private sphere. The experience of walks in the city mainly accounts for the experiences of men. The exceptions are the “non-respectable”, the prostitute (D’Souza & McDonough 2006:19).

This excerpt from a critique of flâneuse in “Trespassing world cities”, Linda Lai’s video travelogue mashup, touches on an aspect of flânerie that pops up from time to time upon which I’ve focused very little. Perhaps I find it easier to overlook the gender bias of historic flânerie in favor of a gender-neutral modern conception of the flânuer. What do you think?

Read the full review at Floating Projects Collective.

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Open Source Video? Google Announces WebM!

Can’t see the video? Watch the original at

Game changer? It will be interesting to see how this affects the explosion of web video. Google’s Vic Gundotra unveils a new open-source video format called WebM that it’s rolling out in conjunction with Mozilla and Opera.

Champlain Valley Cream Cheese

Photo: Getty Images

What exactly makes the production of Champlain Valley Creamery’s cream cheese distinct from its industrial counterparts? To start with, the organic milk used to make the cheese comes from Journey’s Hope Farm, a neighboring dairy. Using organic cow’s milk from crossbred Jerseys and Holsteins that yield milk with high butterfat produces a tastier milky flavor in the cheese; a slight tang that can also be enjoyed with the creamery’s other cheeses (try Champlain Valley Triple Cream). 

Since the production of cream cheese is, in fact, medieval, it’s illogical to assume that it must be synonymous with Philadelphia. Champlain Valley Creamery’s cream cheese is proof that this category of cheese can far surpass industrial.

Although Champlain Valley Creamery is located right across Lake Champlain from where I live, it took a Bostonian to set me onto this promising alternative to Philadelphia… Hat tip to Jeremy Krantz (@JeremyKrantz) for his insightful cream cheese twitter postRead the full post at

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Look, Wander and Create

I often describe cities as being like a gigantic maze. However, unlike when I’m in a maze, I love being ‘lost’ in a city, wander about and notice. Albeit, I am not a proper flaneur; I want to do more than just look and wander, I want to create! I want the city I live in to be a great,  just, democratic and an exiting city at the same time.

Nynne Staal Parvang’s “Urban life” guest blog posting got my attention over at Spotted by Locals. (Check out this great site if you’re not familiar with it!) She opens with an evident but infrequently expressed truism, that we never truly understand a city in and of itself — as a whole and complete entity — but only as a collection of fragments. She explains, “bits and pieces give way to a broader understanding.” Certainly this is true, ditto the observation that this broader understanding is ephemeral. Seeking to learn, to know, to understand a city is an infinite process. But rather than feeling anxious, as we might in a maze without a solution, this is a comforting and intriguing aspect of cities.

“I never have to stop exploring, for the ‘thing’ that I am examining is constantly changing; new buildings arise, others are torn down, new shops open and old ones close, people move in and out, tourist comes and goes and so on and so forth.”

Read the full post at Spotted by Locals

Natalie Merchant’s Lyrical Poems

I’m back on The Lyrical Merchant again. After posting “Natalie Merchant sings old poems to life“, I jumped in my jalopy and zoomed off to Plattsburgh where I purchased her new album, “Leave Your Sleep“. I spent the afternoon meandering slowly homeward through the Champlain Valley, up and over Willsboro Mountain and finally into Essex. I took the most roundabout routes, was passed again and again by racier drivers, savored each velvety word Natalie Merchant sang.

Wow! This is a whole new chapter in this highly capable singer/songwriter’s career. Each song, each poem, opens up a new world, a new sound, a new rhythm. Her energy is so fresh and unique. She seems so comfortable in her skin, not straining to deliver something pop and flashy. Frankly this double CD album feels more like swinging by her home on a rainy afternoon and hanging out in sock feet and wool sweater and drinking tea (or an old Burgundy) and musing on life with an old friend. I don’t mean to suggest that the songs are all melancholy or low energy. Some are both. Most are neither. But they are comfortable and accessible. A funny description for a collection of poems since poetry can sometimes feel contrived, self-conscious or inaccessible. In a recent PBS interview Merchant talked about how she tackled the potential ungainliness of poetry in new album. (Watch the video.)

“Poetry comes alive to me through recitation. Even when I was working on this project… I couldn’t comprehend the meaning, and I couldn’t really understand the structure, the internal rhythms and rhymes… I would have to recite it or speak it, hear the words, and feel the words in my mouth.”

This idea of recitation, of speaking, mouthing, tasting poetry to understand it is helpful. I think of wine. To fully appreciate wine — its nuances, structure and narrative — you have to open the bottle, take a swig and slosh it around a little bit. Chew on it. See how it tastes and feels even once you’ve swallowed it. Sometimes the title of a poem or the label on a bottle of wine will mislead us, offer false expectations or undersell the contents. Sometimes a quick read or a swig with a mouthful of steak will get the job done. But why? To what end? Slowing down and biting off a verse of poetry, a mouthful of fermented grapes and letting it roll around in your mouth, slowly is what works best. Natalie Merchant seems to be reminding us of this. “A poet transports you to a place where you can experience what they saw, what they felt, what they smelled, what they touched,” she reminds us in this video and in every single song on “Leave Your Sleep“.

So why the dramatic departure? Well, she had a baby, became a mom, took a half-dozen years reprieve from the pop scene. Or maybe this album is a smaller leap than it initially seems. I’ll leave that judgment up to you.

“I started talking about the plan to age gracefully in this field fifteen years ago… I could see my future: I’m going to be shaking my booty when I’m fifty five. I need to come up with a way, and there’s so much music I’ve wanted to write and that I’m interested in that didn’t really fit into a pop album format. And now’s my time to start exploring that.”

If this is the first chapter of that exploration, then I am optimistic. It promises to be a great journey!

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StoryKit Digital Storytelling Application

StoryKit digital story app (Credit: The Tech Savvy Educator)

I got really really excited about an application I recently downloaded for the iPod Touch, and wanted to share a short preview, nothing too fancy. I’ve been coordinating my buildings efforts to pilot some iPod Touches, leading up to an eventual full classroom trial this fall, but in the meantime, we’re figuring out where these little devices might be useful in the classroom. Lots of people decry the use of the iPod since it’s primarly a consumption device, but there are some decent publication and creation applications as well, including StoryKit, a completely FREE digital story creation application! (The Tech Savvy Educator)

Ben Rimes’ video preview of StoryKit for the iPod Touch is yet another indication that digital storytelling has become mainstream, and that tools will continue to emerge that simplify the creation and sharing of digital stories. Although this app looks pretty basic, it’s user-friendly and free! I suspect that digital storytelling will be the next PowerPoint!

Read the full blog post at The Tech Savvy Educator.

An Ann Arborite in Paris

I often take to wandering the city [Paris] toute-seule and although I do tend to find some really neat things, or things that I really didn’t expect to come across (especially in the 16th) I still think that this a city of meeting up with people, of being headed to somewhere where a group awaits you. I’ve often wondered how a Parisian would survive in Ann Arbor.

Yesterday’s post on La Flânerie was a halting but thoughtful rumination on cultural/social differences between studying abroad in Paris and living in cozier, more familiar Ann Arbor, Michigan. And more too… the differences between solo flânerie and group meandering, between France and Spain, between urban and rural. In closing Emily affirms that she’ll continue trying to understand Paris, but she also leaves us with a more universal and contemplative question: “So how are some people so easily flowing in the hyper-social society while others are perfectly content to have their jobs and come home… and stay there?”

Read the full post at Em Wanders Paris.

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Natalie Merchant Sings Old Poems to Life

Spectacular! Emotion-bending. Destiny changing… Have you watched (listened to) Natalie Merchant’s TED performance? She performed a sampling from her new album, “Leave Your Sleep”, the culmination of six years spent adapting 19th-century children’s poetry — some obsolete and all but forgotten — to music.

Merchant’s seven-year sleep has blossomed into this double album of poems set to music that traverses the whole range of American vernacular, from Bluegrass to Cajon to miniature chamber music, and beyond.”(Financial Times)

Merchant awakens Charles Edward Carryl’s “The Sleepy Giant” observing, “Little boys do not like being chewed.” The album includes poetry from Rachel Field, Robert Graves, Christina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, Ogden Nash and Edward Lear. In the video she performs Nathalia Crane’s “The Janitor’s Boy”, E.E. Cummings’ “maggie and milly and molly and may”, Laurence Alma-Tadema’s “If No One Ever Marries Me” and Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Spring and Fall: to a young child”. Each sung poem is fresh, inviting and peppered with poignant asides. A comment beneath the YouTube video captures Merchant’s beguiling potency:

“Here she goes again! The angel of sound, rewiring more minds. Once she gets in there, you’ll never get her out again. Just shut it out! Don’t listen! If you do, she’ll make you more human! Run!”

Returning to the stage for an encore, Merchant introduced her final rousing performance: “I’d like to thank everybody… everyone that blew my mind this week. Thank you.” Then she launched into a rousing rendition of “Kind & Generous”, so rousing that she actually interrupted the song and asked the audience to sit, to listen, to consider.

“I still have two minutes… That’s innovative, don’t you think? Calming the audience down… I’m supposed to be whipping you into a frenzy and I… that’s enough… Shhh.”(Natalie Merchant)

So, destiny changing? A stretch, maybe, but Merchant is one of so many voices leading me back to poetry recently. I’m following the siren call, wondering where I’m being lead. And maybe I’ll manage to squeeze in a Natalie Merchant concert along the way…

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Do We Need to Kill Social Media?

Unfortunately, today’s “social media” conversation is all too often like the Buddha on the road. Instead of discussing the profound impact the phenomena is having within businesses, society and brands, the conversation is often focused on setting up a Twitter account or the next “viral video” — tempting eye candy that shifts the attention away from the transformative nature of this emerging form of human communication. It can be argued that the term “social media” itself is stunting the potential of the very force it is trying to describe and, hence, has outlived its usefulness.


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