awarm.spacenewsletter | fast | slow

Internet Learning Homesteading

We're two and a half weeks into Internet Homesteading. It's one of the first courses we're running, but it's special to me for a couple other reasons. One, it's the one I'm actually facilitating 😅 but it also happens to fall close to the original vision for the site.

It's interesting to look back at that retrospective I wrote and see that around 6 months in we've built basically all the things I would've done different.

But, the core element of hyperlink v1, that's missing in v2 and reflected in Internet Homesteading is the idea of a personal website as a tool for learning.

So why websites for learning?

I (and many others) have espoused the benefits of a website of your very own, but the pitch often defaults to practicalities like getting a job (or the more fun version, finding friends).

While websites are really good for giving you a "presence" on the internet, I think they're really powerful as tools not just to broadcast your identity, but to help you develop it, i.e learn.

A studio journal is an incredible valuable tool for any practice. It lets you keep track of where you've been and what you've been doing, and to set up structures that support your work.

The things that we're all learning today are rich, multimedia, and hyperlinked. You need to be working in the appropriate medium to try and keep up with that.

For a longwinded example, this week I got an electric drum kit. I haven't played drums properly in many years but I have had a lot of fun messing around with different drum machines. My hope for this electric kit was that I could hook it up to one of them, the Elektron Model: Cycles, to be able to sequence wierd synthesized drum sounds with my whole body.

This turned out to be a not so simple endeavor as the drum kit controller had a fixed midi implementation (different notes on one channel for each drum) that didn't work with the drum machine ( different channels for each "drum" ).

Luckily I have a norns, an incredible little device, that can process and output MIDI. I wrote a bit about it many newsletters ago, as an powerful learning environment in it's own right. With the norns I could quickly whip up a script that took in midi outputted by the drum kit, and sent out midi the drum machine could understand.

Anyways, all this to say, that the things I was learning as I was setting up this drum kit, were extremely diverse yet interconnected. I was deepening my knowledge of Lua, the language the norns is programmed in as well as drumming (at least a little bit). Going forward, having the norns as a midi intermediary (inter-midi-ary?) seems like a really powerful tool I'd want to take advantage of for my drum practice in general.

But learning isn't just distributed through subjects but through location. I could participate in a course on hyperlink on electronic music making, and then take drum lessons with a teacher, and learn lua for the norns on it's community forum. A place that let's me capture all those learning contexts in a space that I control, is immensely valuable.

And finally of course, learning is never a solo endeavor, and so while broadcasting isn't the primary purpose, it's still useful to have the ability to share what you're learning with others, and have them be able to connect to it.

Could we bring it back?

Well, that's one of the outcomes I'm hoping for out of this course! A still nascent idea for hyperlink is a notion of courses providing capabilities to other courses. If the Internet Homesteading course exists, and is equipping people with the tools to run their own internet homes, perhaps other courses can build on top of that and use those homes in a learning context.

Also, I'm really interested in exploring social feedreaders. The Recurse Center community has the Blaggerator, a RSS aggregator that creates topics in Zulip, that's a really useful piece of community infrastructure. It basically gives you an audience for your writing that you know cares about the subject matter and shares your values (to an extent of course). What if we could have a similar tool but for connecting your blog to specific courses?

Of course people would still need to set up an RSS feed, but maybe we could have a course for that!

Thanks for reading! I'll talk to you next week :)

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