East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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New & Overdue

peach-syrup-iced-tea-640I’ve been pretty absent these last few weeks.
Because of various familiar mishaps I had to give less time to my blogs.
The little time I had I devoted to my writing.
And also, I was unable to complete two of the MOOCs I enrolled in earlier this year.
But here’s the good news, sort of: now that the situation stabilized, it’s too damn hot (44°C) to do anything but stare at a screen while enjoying the cold stream from the fan… so why not go back and complete what I started?

I hate leaving matters unfinished.
Which also means I’ll have to write a 1000-words non-genre story… by tomorrow night.

And – as I was getting in gear to pick-up my courses again and see the end of them… well, you know how it happens.
I stumbled upon a big list of very attractive summer courses and I decided that, as soon as the backlog has been removed, I’ll get two more courses – one in academical/non-fiction writing, and one in editing.

Because it’s hot as hell hereabouts, but that’s no excuse to have an idle mind.
Or something.
Now I just need a few hundred liters of ice-cold tea.


A new MOOC and journaling

what_is_moocToday I took the first lesson in a new MOOC I’ve joined – the Futurelearn Start Writing Fiction MOOC presented by the Open University.

I like the idea of learning more about what’s fast becoming my everyday job – and joining an online course is both entertaining and a good way to put some order in the jumble of skills I’ve taught myself through the years. Continue reading

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Fear of the future

I joined a new MOOC last saturday.
For those not in the know, MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course.
I’m an enthusiastic supporter of online education, and I think learning something new is still one of the best things you can invest your time in.
And when you’re stuck in the backwoods of nowhere, it helps feel a little less intellectually isolated.

So starting on the second week of January, I’ll be taking a 12-weeks course called Disasters and Ecosystems: Resilience in a Changing Climate.


This is a pretty tough course, judging from the program, but it’s also very much up my alley – I’m an environmental scientist, and resilience has been one of my pet topics (my first research project proposal – that was obviously refused as “too complicated” – was about using plankton fossils to gauge ecosystem resilience).

It will be fun. Continue reading

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Learning Chinese

chineseThey say the first day of September is the true “New Year’s Day”, when it comes to work and projects.
It might well be.
It’s certainly true for me – autumn is always a highly-charged time of the year, as far as I’m concerned.
Pity it’s not the same for my country – so, while I’m still sending out CVs and running around looking for a new job, I look around and I keep busy.

And that’s the reason why, in two weeks, I’m starting a course of Chinese. Continue reading

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Characters at Large into the Media Landscape

452719337_640I’m taking part in a strange experiment.
As part of my online course on The Future of Storytelling, the 50.000-odd students were asked last week to create a character, give him/her/it a web presence, and let them interact with each other.

So, during this week, some 50.000 imaginary web citizens entered or will enter the net – as Facebook profiles, as blogs, as G+ identities, as tumblrs, as e-mail addresses, as podcasts.
They are out there, or will be soon, interacting with each other, and with… you.
With us.

There will be stories born.
There will be stories, I think, developed across the media landscape – a weird, heady mix of storytelling, multimedia and roleplaying game.

Now, admittedly – setting up a character with a virtual life is no laughing matter.
It takes time, imagination, effort.
Outlining the character was simple and fun – I picked an old character from some stories I wrote 30 years ago.
But then translating it to the web in a believable way… ouch!
It’s a chore – I got bogged down in passwords, nicknames, whistles and bells.
But the results… ah, the results will be fun.
Of that I’m almost certain.


Back to School

Despite my free time becoming more and more scarce as a lot of deadlines loom closer, I went and I enrolled myself in an online university course.
The course is interdisciplinary in nature, and is called The Future of Storytelling.
It was designed by the University of Applied Sciences of Potsdam, and is hosted on the Iversity platform.
This is a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC), and I am one of the 50.000 students worldwide taking part in the course.

The reasons why I am sacrificing my precious free time for this course are many, but basically I am intrigued by the idea of the Future of storytelling, by the interaction of stories and media,  and also, with each passing day, I feel storytelling might after all be my future.
Also, the idea of taking part in an interdisciplinary course with a student population the size of a small town was quite exciting.
So, I went and signed up.
It will not be a painful sacrifice at all.

As part of the course, participants are given weekly creative tasks, to put the contents of each set of lecture into focus.
We are also invited to share these tasks with other students.

I’ll be posting my tasks here on Karavansara – both because it’s a valid option offered by the course designers, and because I believe in the value of growing up in public.

The first work I’ll be doing for the course, goes up tomorrow.

Just wanted to warn you guys out there.