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Alan Levine has a story box

Alan Levine has a habit of being ahead of the curve on technology and how to use technology for connecting with people. This isn’t terribly surprising, considering his work on NMC’s Horizon Report. Right now, Alan is in the middle of a cross-Canada/US tour, connecting with friends and colleagues, many who he has met online.


Well, I guess because he can. The journey is being chronicled at CogDogBlog.

Alan stopped into Edmonton last week, so I had a chance to catchup with him. After a relaxing Thai dinner, we spent a few moments sitting in an outdoor cafe, watching the peculiar substrates of humanity that gather on Whyte Ave in Edmonton. After watching someone steal a bike, “hey man, I passed out in my back yard last night and someone stole my bike. I’m stealing it back. Tell whoever stole it that I’ll be looking for him on Whyte Ave”, Alan detailed an interesting project he’s involved in: The Story Box (based on the Pirate Box: “a self-contained mobile communication and file sharing device”).

Take a few minutes to wrap your head around this simple idea:
Technical details of the Story Box
Contributing to the Story Box
And an update of what’s currently in Alan’s Story Box

Obviously, collecting stories for the Story Box is a very personal project – somewhere between a time capsule, a portfolio, and a diary. I’m not sure how to apply this to teaching/learning (why is that always the measure of an idea? “Hmm, how can I use this with students”? Why can’t things just be sometimes?). Something like a learning box? I’m grasping here.

I’m interested to see where Alan takes things from here – particularly the final product of his trip (slated to end in November, but because not-working and traveling is so gruelling, he has mercifully built in vacation time in Hawaii to rejuvenate in October before the final stretch :) ).


  1. Jennifer wrote:

    When I was in elementary school, I had an amazing music teacher, Brian Usher. We were studying the history of electronic music. We took turns bringing home a tape recorder and capturing every day sounds. Then we brought our tapes together and created tape loops on the reel-to-reel in the class, to combine our “sounds” into music.
    The storybox reminds me of this. I’d bring it to places where people expect to find open wi-fi, set up an inviting page about the experiment, and encourage people to share something. At the same time, maybe record audio or other media of the environment. Student groups could capture moments, and analyze results, share with each other, combine things. Possibilities are endless. And the whole thing is delightful.

    Monday, August 15, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
  2. gsiemens wrote:

    Hi Jennifer – great example! I suggested to Alan that he consider opening up “the box” after his trip and letting others mess around with the artifacts. Could be an interesting open learning experience.

    Monday, August 15, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Permalink
  3. Alan Levine wrote:

    Thanks for the post, George (and the hospitality in Edmonton) (and the weirdness on the streets we celebrated).

    It is definitely in the works to put online the stuff I am collecting.

    Jen- I am looking to a time when I can do the long time set up in a public place, and once on “the box” I have all the info about it. I am not convinced many people (present company excepted) will on their own join a random wireless network– one suggestion I hope to follow up on is to make some cards that offer enough of a invite for people to try it.

    Monday, August 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Permalink
  4. Jennifer wrote:

    @alan Maybe if you got enough publicity, like

    Monday, August 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Permalink
  5. Jon K. wrote:

    The first thought is really about personal reflection, why couldn’t students use this as a recording of a experience. An educational experience? Maybe, to document their four years in University, or three years at College, one year on the job… lots of possibilities. Of course, then the tough part is at the end looking back and thinking about what it means, not everyone is willing to engage in that.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 5:38 am | Permalink
  6. Rosa A. Ojeda Ayala wrote:

    Alan Levine, this idea is simply great! Hope to see what comes up out of this experience! Jennifer, you made me remember the Italian film “The Postman”… an ordinary man making poetry from natural sounds in his sorroundings, becoming a poet and surprising the great Neruda.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink