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First and foremost, I have to say this: I am not a digitally literate person. I’m more digitally literate than my mom, but I fill in the blanks on someone else’s template when I blog. However, I think this addresses the question asked, “How do we place these hacking tools in the repertoire of a digitally literate person today?”

I hacked my own blog!

Does this enhance or detract from growing writers? Well, we study the why and how of composition, right? And if we agree that craft (ie: non-traditional, unconventional, emergent, pick your buzzword) functions as composition, coding and html are necessary aspects of digital literacy.

What do we have to say to the world about hacking and writing? Did you see the superhero girl on hackasaurus.org? I think I’ve found a new role model for my daughter.

I made a site there (hackasaurus), too, through htmlpad.

http://jsbin.com/eqetow/15

-Chelsea Lonsdale

@parablematernal

nashifeet.blogspot.com

parablematernal.wordpress.com

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A participant’s visualization of hacking from the CVWP Hack Jam on Friday, July 8th, 2011

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A hacker black-out poem from the CVWP Hack Jam on Friday, July 8th, 2011

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I (Chad) wanted to capture a few thoughts about today’s Hack Jam with the Central Virginia Writing Project (CVWP) before I forget them or muddle them.

CVWP site directors Jane Hansen and Kateri Thunder invited me to join the CVWP Summer Institute for a morning of discussion about educational technology. The group expressed interest in a wide variety of topics ranging in scope from game-based learning to specific screen-casting tools. I wasn’t sure how to approach the different interests and needs expressed by the institute’s participants, but I figured that if we started a conversation together, we would be fine.

I also thought that a hack jam might help us talk about approaches to technology, rather than about specific technologies. So I brought along three sets of Monopoly - you know, just in case. Like how Paul Allison never goes anywhere without a microphone.

Given the choice between a conversation about different tech topics or a hack jam, the group chose to hack. I remember one participant expressing some worry - the hack jam “sounded like something you had to have a lot of preparation for.” I brought out Monopoly to set us all at ease and we began to play by imagining new ways to play.

Each group approached hacking Monopoly differently. One group collaboratively decided on an entire rule-set before starting to play. One group started with all the houses and hotels already in play. One group started with all the houses and hotels in the middle of the board. It was great to watch each group, in its own way, move farther and farther from parts of Monopoly. While one player rightly pointed out that this hacking activity could be done with any board game, we agreed that games like Monopoly - those with which many people have a common experience - are best for ice-breaking over a hack.

I’m not sure I gave enough time for us to share out our new games before we moved on to visualizing hackers and hacking. Our group talked a lot about the negative connotations of hacking, but also asserted that digital agency and authorship were missing from - and desperately needed in - most schools and classrooms.

When we tried to come up with synonyms for hacker, we wondered how using those synonyms - like “author” or “digital producer” - sent power and/or positive connotations back into hacking. If a hacker can be called an author, does that mean we should view and treat hackers as authors?

The group consistently named and described the tensions of hacking without being at all defensive about hacking or dismissing it from their work.

We talked about whether or not technology is neutral (consider the biases Rushkoff would cite), but also about how important it is to weigh human intent in using technology, or in choosing to program or not.

Before we played with Hackasaurus and the Web X-Ray Goggles, we talked about access and equity and the role of hacking in teaching. What rules can be bent and broken to give authorship, control, and voice over to those kept out of digital/social programming courses in our schools? How can we hack school in positive ways for students and their learning? I mentioned Greg Hill’s work with the Disruption Department.

You can see some of our hacks below - I will add more as they arrive.

Here are some thoughts from hack jam participants, captured by Jane in her notes:

  • The more you do this, the more you want to do it.
  • This is fun.
  • For some students, they may come into creativity, writing while hacking.
  • I’m going to share this with tech people at our school.
  • This can be a form of authorship.
  • Students can post headlines and articles alongside New York Times pieces and compare them.
  • If kids aren’t allowed to blog, maybe they can change headlines on New York Times instead.

I hope all of today’s hack jam participants will share a reflection here, as well. Please let me know if any of us facilitators can be of service to your schools!

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"The Matrix made me see myself differently as a person; this made me see myself differently as a teacher."

- A Central Virginia Writing Project Summer Institute participant at the CVWP Hack Jam on Friday, July 8th, 2011
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In thinking about hacking the Douglas Rushkoff’s SXSW talk, I remembered the scenes from Akira in which government communications technicians (?) type with prosthetic finger buds shooting out on filaments from each “normal” finger. When will we reach a tipping point at which our technology alters our physiology, not just our behaviors, or are we there already? Do current and emergent interfaces make the need for more fingers obsolete?

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Here hacks from today’s play with the Web X-Ray Goggles from Hackasaurus. I’ll add more as they come in to me via email.

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And, finally, here’s a shot of the last group that ended up with partnered-play and duels involving throwing game pieces into a cup.
This last group said that the game became more and more fun the further they got away from their preconceptions about Monopoly.
I am struck, as I was in Philadelphia, by how different each game was from the other games. In both Hack Jams, at least one group decided to alter the game-board the with Post-Its, while another group has wound up throwing stuff around the room.

Update: here are the rules from this group!


Board face up.

Each player takes 3 Rebel cards and 3 Imperial cards.

Roll the both dice. One dice tells you how much money to take (if you roll a 5 you can take 5, 50, or 500 dollars. The other dice tells you how many spaces to move. Or you can give up one of your car.

If you roll doubles: you must give two of your ships (of either color) to any player of your choice. Or if the game ends and no one has all of the ships, the winner is the person with all of the money.

The object of the game is to collect all of the dark gray ships or all of the light gray ships.

When you have 100 dollars you can buy a ship of your choice from any player.

Roll consecutive numbers, contest against all players to build the highest tower out of small ships. If it falls down you’re out – no rebuilding.

When you land on a “place” space you take the corresponding card. If someone already owns that, your turn is over.

You can form an alliance with another player: combine money, planes etc. Partnerships are fluid.

If you land on the same space as someone else you must duel against the person. Put a cup in the middle of the board. Whoever throws a small gray piece in the cup first gets EVERYTHING the other player owns.

And, finally, here’s a shot of the last group that ended up with partnered-play and duels involving throwing game pieces into a cup.

This last group said that the game became more and more fun the further they got away from their preconceptions about Monopoly.

I am struck, as I was in Philadelphia, by how different each game was from the other games. In both Hack Jams, at least one group decided to alter the game-board the with Post-Its, while another group has wound up throwing stuff around the room.

Update: here are the rules from this group!

Board face up.

Each player takes 3 Rebel cards and 3 Imperial cards.

Roll the both dice. One dice tells you how much money to take (if you roll a 5 you can take 5, 50, or 500 dollars. The other dice tells you how many spaces to move. Or you can give up one of your car.

If you roll doubles: you must give two of your ships (of either color) to any player of your choice. Or if the game ends and no one has all of the ships, the winner is the person with all of the money.

The object of the game is to collect all of the dark gray ships or all of the light gray ships.

When you have 100 dollars you can buy a ship of your choice from any player.

Roll consecutive numbers, contest against all players to build the highest tower out of small ships. If it falls down you’re out – no rebuilding.

When you land on a “place” space you take the corresponding card. If someone already owns that, your turn is over.

You can form an alliance with another player: combine money, planes etc. Partnerships are fluid.

If you land on the same space as someone else you must duel against the person. Put a cup in the middle of the board. Whoever throws a small gray piece in the cup first gets EVERYTHING the other player owns.

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There was another game played in the middle of the room that involved dares. I’m not sure of the rules, but some cheerleading and the chicken dance both came out of this group. I suspect the kid with the purple faux-hawk had something to do with it. Kids.

This group reported that the game was rarely about winning; instead it was about entertaining the other players and being silly.

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While I (Chad) hope that groups will post their rules later in the day, I want to share these photos and impressions of the games we hacked into being at the Central Virginia Writing Project Hack Jam.

Here is The Land of Writers hack. Players moved around the board and constructed a shared narrative by introducing new characters and events according to the spaces on which they landed. From what I caught of the story, Princess Brie set out to woo Monterry Jack. The game could end if a player landed on either the Newberry Award spot (Free Parking) or the Oprah Book Club Spot (Go).

This Land of Writers group collaborated top set up the rules for their game, but then reported feeling somewhat frustrated as group members kept changing rules after that. It felt chaotic to some group members. Creating a new game was fun, but attachment to its original rules got in the way of enjoying new ones.