De-cluttering the Twitter Feed

Noise Energy Focus

I often start each year with a rather laborious, but I have found vital task of “de-cluttering my feed”. I imagine this task could apply for any social media platform, but in this case I am just talking about my twitter feed, the sum total tweets of all the accounts I follow, served up in an allegorically charged stream of content via the tweetdeck interface. I have been, and often get overwhelmed by the content in that stream, I have trouble taking it all in, and simultaneously do not look away. I find this de-cluttering practice an essential part of keeping me more focused and efficient with my time using this pervasive platform. I feel my time using twitter in general is limited in any case, but that is a question I will ponder further this month.

Instigated by some,

And inspired by others, I did think it might be valuable to share some of my process. (This is usually where the whole blogging process falters, as the desire to craft the ultimate treatise on social media efficiency spins wildly into the draft pile)

To get things going I thought I would respond to a simple question… how do you de-clutter the twitter feed?

In short Amanada, yes, the entire process is entirely manual. and depending on how many accounts you follow, could take some time. I use the original website interface, and look at my “following” list. It’s a shame you can’t sort this list, because I like to scroll through to the very beginning, (for nostalgia sake) and see who I first followed back in 2006 when this platform held more promise for good, than for ill. My “first five” has changed over the years, for instance I believe the old Darth Vader account was #3, but those closer to the beginning are still some of my fav people.

I think I used to follow over 2000 accounts, but have been slowly whittling that down to today, just over 400. It’s not only the total amount I am trying limit, but also the relevance, and how the feed serves my goals and focus for the coming year. As I scroll up the list I ask myself, a few questions.

  • Is this account still active?
  • Is this account still of interest either personally or professionally?
  • Is this account relevant to my needs?
  • Can this account be “listed”?
  • Can this account be “muted”?

There are likely many others. I try to be ruthless here. I am constantly following new accounts throughout the year, and I want to continue to add new content to keep my feed as useful as possible, but if it takes more energy to read, not pertinent to my focus and ultimately it is not bringing me joy, its got to go. Working at a University, I would like to keep track of what is happening at my institution, but following the dozens of organizational account in my main feed is too much. This is a good eg where a list is sufficient.

In my field of labor, Education, Technology and Media, social media is a valuable tool for making connections, learning and sharing what you have learned. but it can also spin wildly out of control if left unchecked. Unfollow. List. Mute. Out with the old, to make space for the new.

As I suggested in my earlier tweet, this is only the beginning of my digital de-cluttering for 2020. There is surely much more important work to be done, particularly in the areas of security, privacy and sustainability. Thanks to some of my “first five” for sharing a few other resources. Grant has shared a “Digital Detox Kit” which I plan on working my way through. Brians’ latest post shares some more, most importantly an online course coming out of TRU that promises to structure some thoughtful guidance to “detoxify our relationship to the digital”. I am very eager to being the TRU Digital Detox STARTING TODAY.

Comic Co-Creations – stage 1

Nephews drawing of a dinosaur eating a car

So here’s a thing I’ve been thinking about lately, how to use the comic book format to share, teach, learn and co-create with students. With yesterday’s announcement of Lynda Barry as a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, I am inspired (by her always) to share my tale. I’ve been pondering this in the context of my day job (facilitating professors and their students create media), but this past weekend I had an idea to flip into a more personal context.

A few things came together for this project, but the inspiration was wanting to start a pen-pal correspondence with my nephews. At ages 13 and 10, these boys love comics, and I’ve had the pleasure of receiving many gifts from them over the years adorned with their wacky sense of humor and visual storytelling.

Case in point, my Honeymoon gift card. Nephews drawing of a dinosaur eating a car

My idea was to initiate a “comic book conversation”, and create a space we could draw and tell stories together. Not unlike the Tic Tac Toe jam I read about earlier this year, but with more of an age gap between the participants. From an instructors perspective, my workshops have always involved a variety of activities, but central are the ideas of storytelling, synthesizing concepts into image and text, and considering format, whether its a sequence of slides, or map that can be explored, analogue or digital. As an uncle, I was aiming for more conversation and creative discovery, so I ended up mashing some ideas/formats from a couple of creators.

Visual Summary from “Living Documents”: Drawing a 3-Panel Comic from Primary Sources” by Marek Bennet.

First was a recent share from a good buddy of mine, who pointed out an article from Marek Bennet. Published on the Children’s Literary Foundations website, “Living Documents”: Drawing a 3-Panel Comic from Primary Sources” is a great guide on how he synthesizes a complex narrative into a simple visual layout. Breaking down a text ideas into basic elements, faces, setting, action. This is very approachable for novices, but I feel more intuitive for youthful minds. Personally, I like having the roadmap Marek provides!

A couple of copies of the Nelson Gnome Home. by Monica Sylvie

Coincidentally and almost entirely unrelated, I happen to live in the west end of Vancouver. SO LUCKY to be a neighbor to the Nelson Gnome Home. Monica Sylvie has been sharing her “gnome home” series for FREE, distributing the publications from the gnome home itself. (we have the entire collection! ) Not only are these charming and endearing comics, but the format she used can conveniently be printed out on a tabloid sheet of paper, and with a little cutting and folding be made into a perfect ”zine-like” publication. I copied it, by hand!

Comic Co-Creation process

This page design, when folded and strategically cut, gives you 4 inside pages, each is double backed so you can use markers or what have you, and not worry about bleed through to the other side. I drew part of a title, outlined some panels on page 1 and set up the story. To give a bit more direction I added some post-it prompts for the boys to consider. We’ll see what I get back.

For some reason I don’t think I am done with this format. I Am brimming with ideas how to bring this into my workshops, and am eager to share the templates, and other shareable resources, but first I need to make a few things. Future topics will include

  • Super hero landing stick people
  • Lesson plan comics
  • Drawing in Class
  • Visual Note-taking Zines
  • Abstract comics and kids
  • ???

I will keep posting!

Mapping the visual – redux

I was asked to host a “visual mapping” session to support SFU students interested in in the, “Map the System challenge“, a global competition on social and environmental change. Last year was my first dive into this, and was a treat although I felt a bit rushed. This was another great opportunity to reflect on the Going Visual program , and expand it from the what and how of visual communication, to consider the space and layout of the communication itself, the map.

I’m yet to be convinced that a visual “map” is the best way to frame these visual approaches, with most of the 2018 winners seeming to create infographics. IT was fun nonetheless to research some inspirational visuals that may inform, inspire and guide this years contestants. It’s also one of the first times I have put together a formal slide deck for these. Embedded here, including links, Summary and additional resources below.

In encouraged students that a visual map could take many different forms, depending on the data and message they want to convey. It could include forms such as infographics, diagrams/charts, posters, comics, photography, iconography and more. Last years 3rd place winners, has a fantastic infographic that used icons very effectively.

Visual Practice
I have been meaning to move my visual practice portfolio, from flickr to my own site, but for now…

One of the best resources I found to not only describe the many directions that could be taken with this project is How To Think Visually Using Visual Analogies – Infographic

In this article, Anna Vital outlines and illustrates practically all of the visual thinking approaches, in order of complexity and building towards storytelling. The most powerful visual format of all. Her tips on how to find the best visual analogy?

Follow 5 principles:

  1. It looks familiar to most of people
  2. It has a structure
  3. It matches your narrative’s structure
  4. It is visible (something that can be seen)
  5. It is visual (something that is easy to see)

For info visualization I included the following links for exploration.

I also explored some of the language we often take for granted in this work, there are so many disciplines and practices to consider. Especially when googling for eg. The article describing the difference between visual thinking and design thinking I found useful. In it, Matt Morasky offers this high level insight. Many of the students being from Beedie School of business have heard of design thinking as a methodology, but it’s a handy reminder.

Simply put, design thinking is a method for problem solving.
Visual thinking, on the other hand, is a set of tools for making intangible or complex ideas visible.

Matt Morasky from XPLANE

For visual thinking I included the following links for exploration.

For Going Visual resources I included the following links for exploration