15 years of blogging, FB and what’s next

by Lilia Efimova on 12 November 2017

Ton’s post on 15 Years of Blogging made me realise that I had reached similar milestone all the way back in June.

From all my online experiences blogging has given me the most. A habit to write regularly, a space to look back at my own progress, a network of people that I feel connected to even if we don’t interact much right now. It has also given me a benchmark of what I’d like to experience in an online social space.

That brings me to more blogging, less Facebook again. It’s not an easy target, given the addictive nature of social networks in general and easyness, access rights control and instant gratification of sharing little moments on FB. What also doesn’t help is that FB managed to get different groups of my social contacts in one place.

  • It helps to reach parts of our family in different countries in a way I didn’t managed to reach with photos on Flickr.
  • It gives me access to my friends that were previously locked in Russian social networks.
  • It slowly takes the best out of my Russian-language network on Livejournal, which is understandable, but so hard to see given the selective algorithms and lack of proper access to older posts on FB.
  • It has a lot of people from my “old times” blogging and professional network, that are hard to reach via blogs now since my RSS reading habits broke and lots of people are hardly blogging anyway.
  • And it is the primary communication space for my homeschooling networks. In a way it is my work instrument now, where lots of learning and sharing happens (behind the closed doors of Dutch homeschooling groups), where appointments and events are made, details are discussed in a chat and photos are shared without all the effort that shooting and sharing publicly accessible photo with many kids require.

A lot of it comes back to the broad reach of FB that I haven’t seen in any other platform I used so far and the easiness of having everyone accessible from one place while controlling visibility of a particular piece of content. Ton also has lots of good points on the last one:

To me FB, while certainly exploiting my data, is a ‘safer’ space for that (or at least succeeds in pretending to be), to the extent it allows me to limit the visibility of my postings. The ability to determine who can see my FB postings (friends, friends of friends, public) is something I intensively use (although I don’t have my FB contacts grouped into different layers, as I could do). Now I could post tumblerlike on my own blog, but would not be able to limit visibility of that material (other than by the virtue of no-one bothering to visit my site). That my own blog content is often abstract is partly because it is all publicly available. To share other things I do, I would want to be able to determine its initial social distribution.

So, is there a way out? I don’t know yet, but there are several things that make sense to work on and Ton’s post makes me thinking deeper on those.

  • Just blogging. Sharing something here gives me presence outside of FB, as well as reliable archives.
  • Sharing small personal things as a separate category with the possibilities of configuring visibility of it. Examples of Elmine, Ton and tech details from Ton.
  • Rebuilding blog reading habits and creating conditions that help others to stay updated with my own weblog (lots of tips from Peter Rukavina).
  • Exploring alternatives to FB such as Diaspora and Mastodon.
  • Building a semi-closed sharing space for the kids in our homeschooling network (which would have a bunch of education-related benefits) to see if we can reach momentum with that.

See also (how ironic): discussion on FB.

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Shadow puppet theater, April 2016Our shadow puppets workshop in Wowlab in April 2016 was very much focused on a puppet itself, its character and different ways to make it. This time we wanted to have a different focus, so the emphasis moved from making puppets to using them to tell a story. We tried to give opportunities to everyone to play with inventing and making own puppet, but also asked the participants to work in groups to think of a story and to show it at the end of the workshop. We also gave a theme, Verhalen van de zee (Stories of the sea) to narrow down the choice and made a poster to talk about elements of a story.

Verhalen van de zeeNext to the learning about shadow theater and storytelling there were other learning opportunities.

Structure

We noticed with the previous workshop that the creative nature of what we do and flexibility that we want to have given the attention span of different ages results in blurring the lines between socialising and working together. While the workshops provide space to meet and play with each other, we also want to make sure that it’s clear where the workshop itself begins and ends. So this time we structured the process a bit more than usual, decoupling free play and play work from each other by establishing a legitimate play moments before, during and after the workshop and adjusting the timing of those given the energy in the group.

Performance at the end of the workshop also helped to establish a moment to finish preparations, to clean and reorganise the space and to have a festive closure with the performances. All those little changes helped a lot to keep everyone on track, while still leaving a lot of space for the flexibility, personal freedom and creativity content-wise.

Own project

During the workshops kids often have their own play theme or project that goes parallel to the workshop flow, providing ample opportunities for self-organisation and doing something without adults. Several 5 years old have a running theme with treasure maps and pirates that come into play as soon as their attention wanders away from the workshop topic. Older kids also invent something to do when they are done, often involving everyone in the game.

This time playing outside before the workshop they found a traffic pawn (I had to google the word :) in a pond across and tried to get it out. This project continued during the break, when I saw two boys coming inside to saw and hummer a tool to get it out, and at the end, when they finally managed to get it. All pretty much by themselves, so I don’t have any photo of it. What I do have is the pawn, broken and dirty, standing in our garden, where it was transported on the back of Alexander’s bike.

Helping without overpowering

While the parents participate in the workshop by design, this time I wasn’t allowed to help in a group where my kids were: I was too assertive in trying to show them a good way to make waves, while they wanted to discover it by themselves. It was a good (and a bit painful :) feedback for me and an opportunity to see them taking care of drawing boundaries.

It also provided a good learning point yesterday, when Emily was unhappy of not having enough decision space and independence while our three kids were building superhero ships from Duplo. I asked the children about their feelings during the workshop, when I was taking their freedom to explore while trying to help. We talked about the parallels in their game and solutions to make sure that everyone could participate in a way that fits their abilities and still leaves enough space for autonomy and growth.

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I am glad that we have those workshops and other formats of doing things together in our homeschooling network. They provide a complex social space, with many opportunities to find out where structuring adds value (and where not), to mix different types of projects together, and to practice autonomy and cooperation in a group with different abilities and mixed levels of authority.

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What parents don’t see

November 3, 2017

Homeschoolers hear often that their kids are always supervised by the parents, that they lack time to be outside of the family to learn about other ways of doing things. Today, collecting photos of Sofia from Olaf Ondekt for her parents I realised how much they don’t see when she stays with us. We got […]

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Learning highlights: October 2017

October 31, 2017

Learning in all sorts and shapes in October 2017.

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Black cape

October 27, 2017
Black cape

It was fun to teach him the art of ironing seams. And, with a little advice here and there, he could do the rest. But what I admire the most is the determination.

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Convergence and unschooling

October 26, 2017

Unschooling, as a way to support your children interests feels for me as a very divergent practice. There is a lot of informal learning, exploration, following one’s curiosity and seizing the moment. Lots of bits pieces and sometimes even a big part of a puzzle. What worries me the most is convergence, creating conditions for […]

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Schat van Dalfsen

October 20, 2017
Thumbnail image for Schat van Dalfsen

Although we missed public archeological excavation at Dalfsen with our homeschooling friends, there was another chance to do it. A couple of years ago we had a guided tour at an excavation in Velikiy Novgorod. In Dalfsen kids could not only look, but participate guided by archeologists. I always appreciate those opportunities to get close […]

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Legitimate peripheral participation and having fun

October 13, 2017

This is the essence of Wowlab workshops for me, next to making: creating conditions for legitimate peripheral participation and having fun.

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Intuitive ‘instruction design’

October 12, 2017

It’s third season of the workshops for homeschoolers that we organise together with Wout Zweers, who works at an intersection of art, design and making. Today is another workshop and, being up early, I started to think about my role in the process. The first part is logistical. I sort out the dates, write announcements, […]

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Making flexible structures

October 4, 2017
Making flexible structures

What happens if you design and build stuff for your kids’ rooms? They play a family where the parents design and build a room for their kid.

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Life goes on

October 3, 2017

It is always difficult to start writing again after a long period of silence. Like this time.

My mother passed away last year. Next to the emotions there were lots of other things to work out and no desire to write in an open space. But life doesn’t stay still and I’m ready to write again.

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My elephant in the dark

October 23, 2016

A visit from Gabriela, bringing back memories of the golden era of blogging and triggering an exploration of optics uses in medieval paintings, also brings something else. I look back at my own path and wonder how all of my experiences of work and blogging are useful now and what I’m going to do in […]

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What a week

October 16, 2016

When the cold season comes some homeschooling weeks are relatively normal, structured around regular activities in and outside the house. Others, like this one, are getting filled in with all kinds of extras, enough to make me want to crawl under the blanked and hide. A couple of sessions of working on a boat book […]

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Household activities as a part of the curriculum

October 6, 2016

I often say that household work is an important ingredient of our kids’ education. In this post I explain why it is so and how we approach this in practice.

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