summer’s over

Yesteday was the first day of school for FWA (4th) and RJP (1st). Summer’s over. It was a great one. For the past few years, I’ve done the bulk of my blog writing during the summer, when I’m not teaching. This year, I wrote some in the summer, but I spent a lot more time experimenting with TUMBLR, pixelmator and Vimeo. I took a lot of pictures with my iPhone camera and converted them into Problematizers. I created two digital videos documenting the 3 year anniversary of this blog and my 1 year anniversary of running. And, for the past month, I’ve been working on a digital story project in which I’m using footage that STA and I shot over ten years ago at my family’s farm (some of which was used in the 2 farm films we created) and crafting them into stories about and from my dad.

I have really enjoyed working on this farm digital video project. While I have grander plans for the stories and the other footage (a web-based project, perhaps?), for now I’ve been posting them on Vimeo and trying to figure out the best way to gather them together on a Dvd for my dad’s 71st birthday. So far, I’ve noticed that any attempts to create an iDvd project and then burn it on a disc results in a serious degrading of the footage. My conclusion: Streaming video seems like a better option for future versions of this project.

Here’s what I’ve prepared for the liner notes in the Dvd:

During the early 2000s, Scott and I visited the Puotinen family farm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and recorded dozens of hours of video. A small portion of this video was used in two 25 minute documentaries about the farm and the Puotinen women. Even as we were editing the footage down, I had plans for a third film, one that would give voice to the stories and experiences of the Puotinen men, most notably my dad, Arthur Puotinen.

Now, over ten years later, and after losing the farm (sold in 2004) and my mom (died from pancreatic cancer in 2009), I have finally been able to return to the footage.

It’s powerful to revisit the footage so many years later. And it’s wonderful to remember the stories that I grew up on but haven’t heard since the farm was sold. I’ve included some (but not all) of my favorites. I’ve also included a few digital moments that document some of my parent’s loving and playful interactions on (and near) the farm.

The process of crafting/documenting some of my Dad’s classic stories has been amazing. After my parents sold the farm and my mom died, I lost (some of) my interest in these stories and the connections to my Puotinen heritage that they helped to reinforce. But revisiting this footage and remembering the farm and its inhabitants (and my mom as healthy and happy…for the longest time I could only remember her as sick) has reminded me that those connections are important, especially the connections that link me to the rich tradition of storytelling that exists within my family.

hacking as troublemaking

For some time, I’ve been thinking about the ways in which hacking is a form of troublemaking. While I’m still not ready to explore what this might mean (I’m currently deeply immersed in a project with digital stories), I do want to make note of a brief all tech considered story that links my own understanding of troublemaking as asking questions and challenging authorities with hacking and, even more importantly, a hacking ethos: At this Camp, Kids Learn to Question Authority (and Hack It).

This camp isn’t just about learning how to hack, but about developing a larger ethos of challenging systems and questioning authority. Here’s what the founder of the camp says:

And unlike most technology camps that have sprung up around the country, DefCon Kids is as much about questioning authority as taking apart computers.

Hoff wants his own kids — all kids — to ask more questions.

“Every time you see an end-user license agreement on a screen, you just hit accept,” he says. “You don’t know what it means, what you are giving away, what you are doing.”

The camp’s goal is to teach kids how the technologies and systems that surround them work.

Hoff wants kids to think about it and figure out exactly what it means when they hit that button marked “accept.”


memories of mom

For the past six months or so, I’ve been reviewing old video footage that STA and I took between 1999 and 2004. Most of it is from our various trips to the Farm (and some of it ended up in our farm films). I’m hoping to use it in a bunch of different video projects. For my first project, I decided to capture some memories of my mom as they relate to my sister. It’s a present for my sister on her birthday. The video represents a few of my clearest memories of my sister at the farm and some haunting images of my mom hiking through the back 40 of our farm and at a park near Crystal Falls, Michigan (Bewabic State Park). I’m not sure if I like haunting as a description here. Maybe reverent instead?

It’s not a very long video, but I really enjoyed the process of creating it. I think it might be part of a larger project about my mom, the Puotinen family, the Farm and the UP.