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My quick thoughts, back stage, and rants as I try to Teach kids about the Web while learning how to help others build a better Web.


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Greg McVerry

Playing on the Ridgeline #poetryport #smallpoems

1 min read

Rocks scattered
  speckled grey
among our brown blanket
of forest aching for snow
plopped on a rock,
logs a defrosted mess
the dog plays, such joy
in limitless discovery
chasing sents and rodents
leaves rustle with relentless
No turkey or deer today
Just wispy clouds painting
the sun's whiskers
that rap upon
Dead giants  who creak their
 funeral dirge
Brisk air, a break  from
Winter's sojourn
Wind howls from the valley
 below, stirring memories; carrying
them away
Rushing a reality
past my face
  As I sit
   in bliss
Not too long the moon
will rise to my back
Our sun will wrap
itself on the
other side of the hill
I will get cold
the journal will close
   not yet
I'm not done

Also on IndieWeb Poetry Also on CLMOOC Planet

Greg McVerry

A peek behind the poetry: The Making of Color of Boogie #clmooc #poetryport #literacies #elachat #nctevillage

3 min read

How I composed Color of Boogie

Most of my free verse poetry I write off the cuff. I might have scribbled a verse on some random scrap of paper but most thoughts bleed through the vapor. Yet when ever I rhyme, my capers of verse require strategy and planning.

Takes effort to write bad poetry, and even more to make bad poetry rhyme with no evident scheme.

So like the majority of my writing I preplan. Paper is a poet's best friend.

At many concerts we attended over the years we often joke (sometimes serious) about seeing color come from the speakers....Explains much of the ringing and selective hearing....

So as I rushed the kids out the door this morning, an idea around color, the theme for the CLMOOC Poetry port on 2020-02-07 hit me hard,  I knew I had to bring it back to circus. So I dashed an idea

a post it note with ideas for a poem jotted downThen as I commuted for an hour I kept coming back to the idea of the colors in a nebula. That is music to me. Both the graveyard and nursery of stars, and the colors, God's water paintings.....Plus I do wonder if I wanted a subconcious h/t to Dark Star....I mean lyrics don't get much better

Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes
Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis
Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion
Shall we go, you and I while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

Truth doesn't get much clearer.

So I decided to try to meld in three things: color, music, and nebula. Thus I made a three column chart to capture words that danced in my head.

three column chart with color, music and nebula at the top

I did some research on color theory, basic music vocabulary, and nebula. Once I discovered that Newton came up with the first color wheel, and I already wanted to try to describe the color of sound as Nebula I had a direction for the poem. Might not gravitate with the masses but it carries weight in my inkwell.

It took a bit of rhyming dictionary work specifically, based on web history for, mission and wavelength...I need to invest in a paperback rhyming dictionary, pocket size.

In the thesaurus I just searched for color...where chromatism came from.

Then I fired up my blog and drafted the poem. After it was finished I recorded the poem. Unfortunately I am helping my brother-in law out and dogsitting and forgot my good mic.

As I wrote this backstage post I realized I forgot the most important line on the back of my sticky, the phrase that started it all "Spin with Us/On this nebulus." It isn't needed anymore.

Also on IndieWeb Poetry Also on CLMOOC Planet

Greg McVerry

Finding a Refuge for #ds106 and #clmooc

6 min read

Educators loved Google+ networks. Early on the network created a close simulation to what an open web of writers could look like.Heck before Google Apps for Education was a thing we created a Google+ group "Using Google as a Free LMS."

Then as teachers, all being on boarded to Google's domination in the k12 market, turned to Blogger and Google+, and fell in love.

Everything worked, with one identity. You had a blog and when you published a post it syndicated to Google+ and when people commented on Google+ the comment was backfed to as a reply to your blog post. Coolest thing I ever saw (until webmentions). Then when people tried out WordPress a comment plugin did the same.

Our blogs became part of network. Not just link syndication with link bait titles but integration into the community.

Then you had the one button push for documents, the photographers, the voice chat, the video chat, Hangouts on Air. Everything that teachers wanted for online learning finally existed.

Until it didn't.

The unrolling started in 2015 but yesterday Google+ died....

Except for some educators. The networks on Google+  for teachers were (are?) massive. Google decided anyone with a GAFE account could stay, except many of us joined distributed communities from our private emails.

Places like and . The Google+ groups are dead but They will live on. is for life and transverses physical spaces all the time.

But where to go?

Fantasy of the Frictionless Fiend

Owning your house takes work, but you know your landlord won't kick you out. Websites ain't much different. It does take work, and like hoiuse ownership is fraught with systemic racism and bias that we must overcome.

Yet you will hear people on social media wailing how the masses will never build for themselves.People who spend too much time talking and not building.

Show me a time when that is true in history.

Honestly I read comments like these and I feel sad for folks who have that little faith in humanity. Has to stink walking around the world and thinking majority of people you see aren't willing to do the work to make the world better.

I won't accept that.

Not on the street and not on the web. A thirst for knowledge makes us humans and just becuase corporations control the taps doesn't mean we can't dig our own wells.

So yes shoveling takes work, but it beats being knee deep in the shit of social media.

An alternative to Google+ one button push and everything works isn't quite possible and I am okay with this fact.

Define success not by creating the plumbing for the world but sitting down with a friend after a days work and dipping your cup into a cool stream you two redirected together.

Easiest Approaches

Use a Splot. Alan's WordPress themes could work for a wonderful community creation tools. Nobody would have to do much but visit this site.

Install a multiuser Known instance (or any open source network). This would require people to create a username and someone would be storing the data.

Create an RSS Planet. These are easy but they are read only.

Use a social reader like This allows us to create a shared reader where can add feeds and reply to post. It would work best with blogs (see below) but handles RSS fine.

Moderate Approaches

Get a shared Mastodon host. Some work to set up and I would rather have things drive from our blogs.

Encourage people to use tools. We don't need to "build" anything. It already exists. If people have websites with microformats, the metadata of the modern social web, everything would just work.

I mean just like Google+ work...well not video streaming for obvious reasons (though getting close with jitsi). Private posting isn't 100% solved yet but the stuff, the way it works is awesome

This would take a lot of work though for WordPress users. There are currently only a handful of themes that work with all the IndieWeb plugins and only one theme in the repository. You use a 2016 you could install iwc16 (avaiilable on GitHub).

Networked Approaches

We could go a step further and create a network of sites. Honestly the way works once you have a blog properly set up 95% of the stuff works but we can add more.

  • I am working with the on creating an network. We could do a simlar approach. They all get a blog (everyone in clmooc already has one...or we can help).
  • We create a wiki as a shared knowledge base, long term place to file away makes and lesson plans.
  • We add a chatroom using which is a matrix client and can connect to other chat rooms.

This realy is not that difficult to spin up. The hard part is making sure your website is optomized for the modern social web. is turnkey everything just works for $5.00 a month. We have created tutorials for Blogger and There are tutorials for installing WordPress and Known on Reclaim Hosting. Check out the getting started page to learn more.

Remember the Vision Jim Stole from Gardner

I follow the "Law of Groom." If Gardner Campbell had an idea good enough for Jim Groom to steal and bake into the DNA of and   reason stands that I should do the same.

While I also love it because it sounds so cheesily  dated the idea of a "personal cyberinfastructure" was always the point.

We never thought we had to build tools so our "lazy, stupid, uninterested, or too busy" level four students could use them with a press of the button. No.

The lesson was always the work is worth it.

So let's learn our lesson on the death of Google+ and not head to another silo.

Honestly even if we do nothing now if we keep blogging and just using RSS we will be fine but if we want to grab the shovels we could easily divert away from social media and carve out a cool stream.

Also on Indie News

Greg McVerry

I broke one of the most important promises I heve made to myself

1 min read

Not one minute. Not one dime. I made that promise May 19th, 1999 when I woke my brother Perez up from his slumber at the midngith release of Phantom Menace.

I would never watch the first prequeln or give George Lucas any of my money for the movie.

For sixteen years I kept that promise. Last night the credo blew up as predictably as some planet size laser.

My boys really wanted to watch Phantom Menace. I had avoided this day knowing it would come. We had watched every other movie and some of the Clone Wars. 

My kids are not nuts on Star Wars. Still haven't seen the Force Awakens with them.

Yet they asked. I could not say no. And yet somehow they like the Full House meets CSPAN and F-Zero. I mean really liked it.

I now understand why it is pointless to argue with a millenial on how bad this movie turly is.

Greg McVerry

Reflections as a Participant Leader at #mozfest

8 min read

Amira opened up the Mozilla Foundation comparing the MozFest journey to a magical carpet ride. What a journey. So many of us took flight and explored a confernece built on making, hacking, and playing.

flickr photo shared by ChristosBacharakis under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Yet in almost all instances magic is an illusion.

flickr photo shared by Mozillafestival under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license


The woven threads wisping through the air of Ravensbourne College do not just stay afloat like some kind of strange indoor blimp.

flickr photo shared by Mozillafestival under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Instead the efforts of hundreds of contributors breathing life into MozFest lift us into the air. They hold up the values of the Manifesto and their voices will unleash the next wave of Open.

flickr photo shared by Mozillafestival under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Developers, designers, analytics folks, artists, activists, and even the misiter of fun made sure magic enveloped everyone at Mozfest.

flickr photo shared by Mozillafestival under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

That's how I see our role as participation leaders. We spread the wizadry so the burdens and joys of a magic carpet ride on the  Open Web will not be an illusion. The Participation Leaders (read more on our Planet) are members of the newly formed Participation Team. Our goal is to increase community involvement across all of the channels of Mozilla.

As a Participant Leader I attended my first mozfest. So I wanted to take some time and reflect on what I thought we could do to help spread a little more magic. These reflections cut across MozFest and the Participation team.

Getting Remote Right

A huge hat tip to the team behind and the remote challenges. Fuzzy nailed the live stuff, Hannah and Natalie did awesome design work, and Andre worked hard on localization. I have attended the last Mozfest as a remote attendee. In terms of Participation remote is huge.

The challenges were awesome. Everyone did a great job on the design. What remote attendees don't want, however, is  to sit alone and hack at something. We do that every other day for Mozilla. Make us feel special as remote attendees.

We want to be there. Stream all plenary addresses. Encourage crowdsourced streaming. I periscoped and live blogged many sessions. I got personal thanks from many remote attendees. As remotees we want to see as much live as possible.

Have online and synchronous remote challenges. One idea, and I steal this from Maha Bali and the Virtually Connecting Crew, is to team up an on the ground participant and a remote participant. They can then host an open session that anyone around the world can join.


We got pathways wrong. Having fifty pathways isn't choice it is a maze. Designing your own direction is at the heart of Teaching Like Mozilla... but if I need an atlas and a tour guide it is too difficult.

I should be able to count the pathways on one or two hands.

People also come to with their destination in mind. If you are into , or , or Mozilla Learning Networks you want to hang out there. Over the past year or two as a participant you have been getting help from, reading about, or building with the facilitators in that space. maybe the only time to work face to face.

I understand we do need to get people out of their spaces. I love having the hackspaces in each Space at mozfest. I would just suggest that if VPs, project managers, or community leaders are going to hack away at something you head to a different space.

Many of the spaces alternated from looking like lounges or board rooms. Neither are inviting if we want to increase participation

Maybe the answer is to fool around with the session types. You have your Mothership activities, like plenaries where everyone gathers, orbit sessions centered around spaces, and exploration sessions that get people out of their spaces and checking out other teams.

This can be done by changing up the session times. Have one hour, two hour, and four hour sessions. This will lead to a reduced number of sessions, but it seemed many people wanted to keep working long past the end. There would be a call to head to a hackspace but with coffee that good along the way few would make it.

If session time varied 1 hour sessions in a space would be limited and people would check out other places. In other words if a Space as three avilable rooms butif  rooms are doing two hour and four sessions then by default many participants will head to another space.

Participation Team Notes

  • Onboarding is vastly different across the Globe. In North America and in Western Europe most people come to Mozilla through an existing partner. Across the rest of the globe people come to Mozilla through Mozilla. We need to think about and plan for these pathways.
  • The Tech Speaker series is critically important. Many people on the Participation Team noted how the opportunity made them more confident and want to get involved in Mozilla. The tech speaker series was standing room only. We should double down on story telling in every modality.
  • Everyone is trying to figure out GitHub. I am seeing curriculum development occur both on the MoFo side and and the MoCo side. We want to lift the same carpet but may be blowing in different directions. This is my first time working on another team. The workflow is vastly different then what I was used to in old webmaker/Mozilla Learning Networks. Lets build the same system. The Participation Leaders can help be that bridge.

    Maybe the idea of simplifying git hub for community contribution is the wrong problem to solve. For many teachers and activist curriculum and lesson plans might be the first contribution they make. Some of the best lessons I have ever written were on the back of cocktail napkins. We need to have as many channels open for people to share curriculum.

    Our job as Participant Leaders should be to curate this material and recognize future contributors who might need a little cultivation (such as learning Git).

    I see having someone get to a point where they are actively contributing to Git as a key indicator of leadership growth. Anyone willing to fight their way through that pain in the ass process is pretty committed. If you can get Git simplifed awesome. Just make sure the curriculum writing process is the same across all of Mozilla

  • Maybe the Participation Space should be a distributed space. The Participation Leaders talked about this a lot. Many of us had teams we are already committed to. Some wanted to hang with the FirefoxOS teams, others were involved in Mozilla Reps, some like me wanted to hang with Mozilla Learning Networks.

    Many of our sessions overlapped or sounded very similar to sessions in other spaces. The goals of the Participation Team are the same for every team. We want greater contribution and leadership in each space

    What if Participation Leaders were embedded in their space? This would allow us to greater track the contributions and recognize future leaders. We could even offer similar sessions simultaneously across all the spaces. Then in the afternoon in the Participation space we could gather for training.

    We could even offer an exclusive "golden ticket" session for other people. So if we noticed in our embedded space that there was someone going the extra mile we can say, "Hey there is this super duper double top secret sessions to thank leaders in each space. You should go."

  • The Gear Store matters. Its hard, as a New Englander full of false bravado and  self-import it to admit, but the swag matters. I have never been one for branding. Like many of my "too cool for school New York city types" the labels did not matter to me. They matter for the rest of the world.

    I saw people trading all kinds of weird stuff for hard to get stickers or t-shirts. While it takes staff and commitment I think an effort should be made to beef up the Gear Store. I wonder though if it can't be community driven.

    What if there was a site where community artists could submit designs that could be added to stickers, t-shirts, and mugs? Mozilla just takes a 30% cutoff of gross proceeds.

  • The Museum Matters. We tried to build a Museum in the Participation space. There were some awesome older artifacts. These were cannibalized at the end of the conference. Recognizing how much people care about gear also means preserving this history. Build a traveling museum exhibit that can be easily shipped.

Greg McVerry

Quick Thoughts on the #teachtheweb "Club Call"

3 min read

I enjoy the club calls as much as the web literacy calls. Whereas the web lit calls invogorate my mind the club calls spark my passion for teaching. Today was no different. We had a lot of fun taking stock of where the curriculum has come.

The Mozilla Learning team does fantastic work at a tough pace. It helps when you draw on the experience of MOUSE and other great partners and have such wonderful minds.

I was most fascinated by the discussion of the new "hub" or space that was mentioned in the  webmaker club roll out plan and the discussions of tools we use to tell our stories.

We turned to reactionary gifs as the current currency of meaning and this discussion (d)evovles of course into a gif showdown in order to drop the mic on the way out the door.

The Tools

Email sign on remains a contant barrier for many clubs, especially younger clubs and those in formal educational settings. 

I wonder if a system could be set up where a verified "club leader" could receive X number of authorization codes via SMS. Then club members could use these codes to set up profiles.

I have no idea what that means in terms of security or complying with laws like COPA but  email registration is a constant struggle for educators.

I played with the webmaker mobile tool. I really like it. When I think about a broswer experienced on making and remixing I salivate. 

The Hub

Follow the  and model. Build the hub on a backbone of RSS. Every strategic plan I have read mentions stories as a unique component to Mozilla Learning. Make the hub the home of these stories. Provide links to the materials folks need to start telling and writing their own stories.

I remember something about wanting to see a map of all the clubs. What if the map was animated so circles grew as new items cames into the feed? There could be a curated set of posts by regional coordinators and other staff. 

Then you have the links to the curriculum, the tools, and the discourse forum.

If the team of crack coders and designers could build and encouraged the use of a common RSS reader among clubs that might be pretty cool. 

I just read the draft of the Clubs Best Practices and we are suggesting mentors blog, and set up websites. I know I put in a small  grant for my clubs. Going to spend it on hosting if funded, but we list plenty of existing tools folks can use.

We just need a decent RSS reader. I really like the Planet Webmaker feed and design. Can we bake similar features into the overall hub and provide an RSS reader to club leaders and members? It must be hard. The options are limited. I use Feedly others have great success with inoreader. If some crack squad could develop an RSS reader that could go from the hub>country>state province>city>club name it would be awesome. 

You combine that with Discourse, the new tools coming out, and we would have a cool hub.


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