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During my stay in Pittsburgh, I was privileged to work with 6-12 year olds in conjunction with Braddock’s Carnegie Library activities program. This story is about D (photos of the children and using their real names are not allowed without parental permission).

Rachel, the children’s librarian, introduced this little girl to me – saying she was very creative.

D was a gorgeous child, very shy, and avoided eye contact. There was one other little girl participating, so to start with, we made a magic book. Then I suggested we fill it in- the theme was, ‘My favorite…’ and they could choose whatever topic they wanted. The other little girl, B, was sitting  with her mother, and chose,’My favorite person”, a book dedicated to her mom.

D looked away, deep in thought. I was sitting right next to her and felt it best not to interfere or prompt, I had thrown out a few suggestions at the beginning, and evidently one of these eventually did take. She wrote carefully on the front:

Dsbook1

Then she worked drawing a tiny hand in the middle of the next spread- and I asked her what that was. It was a hand, and she clarified just what type of hand it was by writing this:

Dsbookhand

Since she didn’t offer any other explanations, I said, great, might there also be a home sweet home leg? At this one tiny corner of her mouth twitched a fraction up.  And the ‘Home sweet home ear’ soon followed,  bringing with it a delightful suggestion of a grin.

Dsbook2

She continued further, absorbed on her  own, except for me asking if she wanted a pop- up house. That was affirmative. I also asked her where this house was- in a forest, by the sea, in the clouds?  ‘In the clouds’.

Dsbook3

Here is the rest,

Dsbook4

and finally the topper, the revealing of this wonderful personality just underneath the shy exterior.

Dsbook5

Wow, would I have liked to stay and do more art with her to see what else she had to say!!

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Late yesterday night, not quite ready to turn in,  I came across a talk on TED by Jonathan Harris. An hour later I was still riveted to the screen having followed a link to one of his other projects.

The initial TED talk is about how we are increasingly expressing ourselves through websites, blogs and social media, and thereby leaving behind footprints. ‘Footprints that tell stories of …moments of self-expression’.

Jonathan writes computer programs which collect and study these expressions of feelings on the web, then organises them into dazzling visual displays which are actually complex data bases. It is a brilliant talk and concept, but it is not what brought the instant of insight and recognition to me at 2 AM.

One of Harris’s recent projects was, starting with his 30th birthday, to take a photo a day for a year, write a short story about it, then post it every night before going to bed. Watching the short film about it on his site is an amazing experience, they are great photos and each photo is shown for a second only, compacting a year’s worth of impressions into a few minutes.

It started out straightforward enough, but towards the end Jonathan had some important insights which exactly correspond with some real reservations I’ve been having about living life so publicly on the internet. And which have time and again prevented me from joining Facebook or Twitter. Read the rest of this entry »