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When starting off these newsletters, sometimes it's a delicate matter to strike the right tone. As we hurtle towards the end of another eventful year living through interesting times, I reckon I'll start us off here...
Meanwhile, we have been taking refuge in the joyful task of making a home fit for grokkists, and I have a few brief updates for you.
Firstly, we have recently reupholstered the main Grokkist website with a fresh new look. I hope you'll agree the updated format has at least 30% more spiff, and does a better job of communicating what we're about. It also lays the back-end foundations for what we want to focus on next.
I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed for the Life as a.. podcast, where I spoke about my professional and personal journey with Grokkist and what life is like as a social entrepreneur. It was my first time being a podcast guest rather than a host – lots of fun and felt good to reflect out loud on where we're going and how far we've already come.
Finally, we have soft-launched Grokkist Memberships, with new tiers and a completely refreshed page on how we plan to make money while insisting on giving away nearly everything we do for free.
Your thoughts, questions, feedback, hot takes, reactions, praise, concerns, streams of consciousness, and howlings into the void are welcome and encouraged. Reply anytime.
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From the Grokkist Press
Articles, videos, podcasts and other creations
Thanksgiving week is traditionally not the best time to publish your best new material. Since 60% of you reading this are based in the US, here are a couple of bangers from the archives for you to enjoy that you may have missed 😉
Reflections on Educational Content Creation: a Video Essay
Educate with the baggage of the institutional framework, or with the baggage of the algorithm? The stuffy mansion, or the Wild West? How to choose; how to escape from the double-bind?
by Nathan Dufour
🎙 From Player to Educator: Embracing Games in Education - James Birt | S2E5
James Birt is an Associate Professor of Computer Games in the Faculty of Society and Design at Bond University, Australia. We discuss how gaming shaped James’ career in education, and the value of games in learning and fostering innovation.
- The tensions and interplay between formal and informal modes of learning, the value of games in education, and the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of education.
- James' personal experiences with gaming and how it helped him acquire important life skills.
- The benefits of game jams and hackathons in fostering creativity, collaboration, and real-world application of knowledge.
- The use of virtual reality in education, the parallels between e-sports and traditional sports, and the importance of standards and governance in the field of education.
From the Grokkist Network
Events, courses and news from our community
Community updates and highlights
We've been working on growing our events program, and we're pleased to be adding some new types of events into the mix alongside our monthly Grok Cafe meetups and the occasional Symposium.
Lunch and Learn – there's a great deal of diverse and intergenerational knowledge and experience within the grokkist community. Lunch and Learns are an opportunity for members and those taking our courses to present on a topic they are knowledgeable out, with questions and discussion afterwards. We are a global community, so whether or not it's actually lunchtime is purely optional!
Course Cafes – a relaxed and informal social space for current and past participants of our courses to discuss and connect over shared interests relating to that course. Course cafes are facilitated by a volunteer from the community, who gets to set a loose theme for the discussion.
Member-Only Events – Paid members on our Indie Grokker tier or above are able to attend our member-only events. These are practical workshops based around specific problems or needs that our members have, aimed at producing tangible results while creating a community of practice and shared support.
See below for specific upcoming events across all these categories.
Upcoming events and meetups
We are a global community – events listed below are shown in the host's timezone.
Lunch and Learn | Strategies for a Circular Economy
🗓️ Wed 29 November | 7–8pm ET (view in your timezone)
🆓 Open to all
💬 Lunch and Learn sessions are a 20-30 minute talk followed by informal questions and discussion. Bring something to eat or drink!
😎 Guest Speaker: Vincent Ayotte.
The Circular Economy is a well-known concept that is raising a lot of attention around the globe. May it be to reduce our environmental footprint and/or to increase our competitiveness on the market, numerous proofs have be made that the circular model can support a win-win-win system for the economy, our communities and the environment. In the absence of an international consensus definition, multiple actors in Quebec (Canada) have co-constructed definitions and strategies to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy. To share the work done in my province and to inspire/reinforce your own ideas on Circular Economy, this presentation will explore all twelve strategies through real examples of organisations that make a difference in their respective fields.
🗓️ Tue 12 December | 10.30am–12.30pm PT (view in your timezone)
🆓 Open to all
Come along and chill out to share a heart space, info-dump each other's passions, or simply discuss whatever you want.
Welcome to Ecosophy Café – a relaxed and informal social space for current and past participants of the Intro to Philosophy for Ecological Action course to discuss and connect over shared ecosophical interests.
😎 Facilitated by Jasmine Samra
Let's grok on hierarchies! We'll let the conversation flow where it wills, but some guiding questions are below to spark some ideas:
- What is hierarchy? How does it differ from other forms of organization?
- What notions of hierarchy are implicit in the way we discuss ecology and the role of human beings with respect to other beings in the environment? Do these notions clarify or muddy our ecosophical understanding?
- Can hierarchies be just?
- What does an ecocentric, as opposed to an anthropocentric, society look like?
- Where in our lives are hierarchies present? What are our experiences within them?
Every grokkist who has their own thing going on is familiar with navigating the pain, perils and pitfalls of promoting their work.
Maybe time spent promoting takes away from time spent creating. Maybe you are tired of being buffeted by the howling and ever-changing winds of social media. Maybe you're overwhelmed by the technological and logistical practicalities of putting your stuff out there. Maybe you've built it but they haven't yet come. Maybe the whole thing simply gives you the ick.
Our Further Together workshop series designed for grokkists who want to experience the joy of pursuing their own quest in the company of a community of practice who are all doing the same.
Bring your frustrations, confusions, pet peeves, wish-it-weren’t-so’s, fears, and musings about marketing and promoting your work. Give them a good airing among friends, then release them to the winds as we help each other move forward in a loving circle of shared support.
Danu and Nathan will present practical wisdom on promotion and content strategy for the creator economy, and everyone is encouraged to bring a potluck resource (e.g. a book, article, video) or a piece of practical wisdom to impart so we all leave feeling richer and lighter than when we arrived.
Assorted awesome links, just because.
#1 - The Truth is Always Made of Details
"The Information Age is clearly pushing us towards low-res conclusions on questions that warrant deep, long, high-res consideration." A beautifully extended metaphor and welcome reminder that "real things exist in essentially infinite resolution" and "looking closer always reveals more, and it’s often not what you’d expect."
#2 - How to citizen
Writer, activist, and comedian Baratunde Thurston reimagines the word 'citizen' as a verb with the 'How to Citizen' podcast, bringing new perspectives and practices from people working to make us all more hopeful, connected, and moved to act in ways that leverage our collective power. Why not start with this episode on Crafting a Citizen Story with Jon Alexander, where a reformed advertising exec reflects on moving from a consumer-based story of society to a citizen-based one. And if that sounds good but you don't do podcasts, here's an article about the same idea.
#3 - A musician plays four instruments at once
Something fun and joyful. Leonhard Paul of Mnozil Brass (an absurdist Austrian brass band and performance ensemble) maintains a completely deadpan expression while somehow playing two trombones and two trumpets from a sitting position. I saw Mnozil Brass live once in Melbourne years ago. It was one of the weirdest and most wonderful things I've ever witnessed.
#4 - The best outdoor trails of the world
Wikiloc is a place to discover and share the best outdoor trails for hiking, cycling and many other activities. It has a database of over 45 million outdoor trails, contributed by some 13 million members. Here's an example of a scenic walking trail not far from where I live in Auckland. There's an app for making lists, navigating with offline maps, and sharing with friends, and it shows elevation among other things.
#5 - Enter a website URL to see how it's tracking you
Blacklight is a real-time website privacy inspector. Enter a URL and it will scan for ad trackers, third-party cookies, session monitoring scripts, and the dreaded Facebook Pixel, and then give you a report on its findings. A scan of the Coursera website found 13 ad trackers and 3 third-party cookies, while the New York Times website has a whopping 46 ad trackers and 102 third-party cookies. You are of course welcome to scan our very own Grokkist website 😉
The tool is developed by The Markup, a nonprofit newsroom that investigates how powerful institutions are using technology to change our society. You can find their methodology here.
The Markup publishes the underlying datasets and code that they use in their investigations, as well as a detailed methodology describing the data, its provenance and the statistical techniques used in their analysis. For an example of their data journalism, check out this investigation into the rates of Uber drivers and other gig workers who have been carjacked or killed.
A parting thought...
I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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