BlogWalker

Muddling through the blogosphere

February 19, 2019
by blogwalker
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Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066

Today marks the 77th Anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of over 120,000 people of Japanese descent, many of them citizens, from the West Coast.

I work in a school district that was once home to a hard-working community of Japanese-American farmers, who transformed the region into beautiful, productive strawberry fields. Following the signing of Executive Order 9066, the history of the Elk Grove-Florin region was abruptly and forever changed. The forced removal and incarceration of over 120,000 citizens marked a chapter in our nation’s history when justice failed an entire group of people. To document their stories, colleague Kathleen Watt and I developed and maintain the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project.

At a time when media literacy is at the forefront of our district Digital Citizenship workshops, lessons, and resources, we appreciated that a Facebook post from @DayOfRemembrance, and the accompanying Never Forget poster (by #StopReapeatingHistory), led us to the Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066 website and documentary trailer. This one-hour film, directed by Jon Osaki, confronts the false information and political influence which led to the World War II removal and incarceration of Japanese-Americans:

“The film exposes the lies used to justify the decision and the cover-up that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.  ALTERNATIVE FACTS will also examine the parallels to the current climate of fear, targeting of immigrant communities, and similar attempts to abuse the powers of the government.” AlternativeFacts.com

Alternative Facts Social Media Trailer from Jon Osaki on Vimeo.

We look forward to an upcoming screening of the Alternative Facts documentary. As always, when new resources surface, we revisit our current lessons and resources to decide where they can best extend teaching and learning on issues of social justice.

Alternative facts are not new…but today they are difficult to spot, easier to spread, and harder to control. We are always looking for curriculum ties that will make history relevant to our students. Students would be hard pressed to go a single day without hearing the terms “fake news” or “alternative facts” on social media or in the news. Additionally, they often view history as something that happens in history books, not in their communities. We are predicting that the above resource will connect our Executive Order 9066 lesson to media literacy, and in the process, help students make the connection between what was “then and there” to “here and now.”

With much appreciation to my district’s Board of Education for annually recognizing February 19 as a Day of Remembrance: Resolution #42 – Day of Remembrance.

February 16, 2019
by blogwalker
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Navigating Digital Information: John Green’s Fantastic Crash Course

I am a huge fan of author John Green. I’m currently reading Looking for Alaskaand The Fault in Our Stars has a permanent space in my bookcase. So I don’t know why it even surprised me that John Green would also focus his creative talents on developing a fantastic media literacy resource: Navigating Digital Information. This 10-episode Crash Course series was developed in partnership with the Poynter Institute MediaWise project:

MediaWise is part of the Google News Initiative, funded by Google.org, and aims to teach 1 million teenagers how to spot fake news on the internet by 2020, with at least half of them coming from undeserved or low-income communities.

The centerpiece of the project is a new curriculum being written by grant partner Stanford History Education Group that will be available to schools across the country in the fall of 2019. Stanford is writing this curriculum after studying how professional fact-checkers, college students and historians navigate digital information. The foundation of the Stanford lessons is built on skills that professional fact-checkers use after Stanford discovered that fact-checkers and journalists are more critical and think very differently about what they read on the internet and how they sort through misleading or flat-out false information.”

If you have colleagues who ban the use of Wikipedia, be sure to share with them Using Wikipedia: Crash Course Navigating Digital Information:

A year ago, after reading Mike Caulfield’s What Reading Laterally Means and watching this Common Sense video, my colleague Kathleen Watt (co-director of our district’s Digital Citizenship program) and I wanted to include a lesson on lateral reading in our Media Literacy Resources. We could not find one. So we created Flex Your Fact-Checking Muscles – Lateral Reading. In the Media Literacy Vocabulary section, we included a video for each term – except for lateral reading because, again, we could not find one. Yesterday I revisited our lesson/hyperdoc and added  John Green’s Check Yourself with Lateral Reading:

If you visit our Flex Your Fact-Checking Muscles lesson, be sure to scroll to the bottom, where you will find an invitation to your students:

Students-teaching-students is a powerful teaching model. We have included a video in the Explore section of a teacher talking to other teachers about fact-checking and lateral reading. We would love to replace this video with a student-created video, slideshow and/or infographic to show what lateral reading looks like from the perspective and experience of a student fact-checker. Go for it!”

We extend the above invitation to students across the globe.

Media Literacy / Digital Citizenship 4 Themes by Elk Grove Unified School District is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

December 30, 2018
by blogwalker
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A Few Lingering Media Literacy Thoughts from 2018

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on.”

Mark Twain 

Nope, the above quote is not from Mark Twain, despite being commonly attributed to him … and I admit – until just recently – to being one of the misquoters. For insight on how quotes become misquotes, I recommend Niraj Chokshi’s New York Times article That Wasn’t Mark Twain: How a Misquotation Is Born.

Misquotes are just a small slice of an enormous bank of online misinformation (Dictionary.com’s 2018 word of the year). For educators, I think the year has brought a greater awareness that we all need to be media literacy teachers, no matter what grade levels or subject areas we teach.


I started the year by organizing resources in my Media Literacy in a Post-Truth Era site. (Note: post truth was the 2016 Oxford Dictionary word of the year.) Several months ago, I began gathering resources on a possible misinformation trend that emerged in 2017 and continued to spread throughout 2018: deepfakes. Like any technology, deepfakes can be used for good or for ill. Computer scientist Supasorn Suwajanakorn explains in the TED Talk below how a deepfake is created — “and the steps being taken to fight against its misuse.”

We all need to get into the habit of “putting on our skepticals” (and a few other tips from BrainPop’s Tim and Moby) and recognize when to check if a person really said the words we’re hearing in a video.


I’m ending the year with the realization that actually “a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on.”  Jonathan Swift (sort of)

Over a holiday meal, I listened to an example of a low-tech misinformation story. Last summer, my daughter traveled to Fergus Falls, Minnesota, with her boyfriend to attend his cousin’s wedding. Two weeks ago, the cousin, Michele Anderson, made national and international news: The Relotius Scandal Reaches a Small Town in America. Michele and fellow Fergus Falls resident John Krohn fact checked Claas Relotius, the DER SPIEGEL journalist who published a “tendentious, malicious portrait of the small, rural town. The reporting contained so many falsehoods that Anderson and Krohn limited themselves to citing just the ‘”top 11 most absurd lies.”‘

We all need to be fact checkers, willing to challenge and confront the spread of misinformation.

High on my list of 2019 resolutions is a commitment to curate, create and share innovative media literacy resources, best practices, and lessons. I hope you will join me.

Flex Your Fact-Checking Muscles – bit.ly/LateralReading

April 3, 2018
by blogwalker
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Why We Need to Teach Media Literacy

“Media literacy is a constellation of life skills that are necessary for full participation in our media-saturated, information-rich society.” Renee Hobbs, Center for Media Literacy

In the eight years I have been co-directing my district’s digital citizenship program, new challenges and new resources have called for regular updates to our Digital Citizenship website, which is organized around four main themes: cyberbullying, digital footprint, intellectual property, online privacy.

EGUSD #DigCit logo

EGUSD #DigCit logo

This school year, in recognition that we are living and teaching in a “post-truth” era, my co-director Kathleen Watt and I been gathering and curating resources to prepare students – and teachers – to deal with the escalating onslaught of fake news and disinformation. It was definitely time to integrate “media literacy” into our digital citizenship program and workshops.

So we were rather surprised – and disturbed – by social media scholar danah boyd’s recent SXSWEDU talk: What Hath We Wrought? We were not expecting her negative views on the value of teaching media literacy, even though she begins with a warning that the content may be provocative.

It has been validating to learn that other educators who are passionate about the need to teach media literacy have also found boyd’s message a bit off and are speaking out on where boyd is mistaken. A shout out to the three educators listed below for stepping up to a global microphone. I’ve included a snippet from each of their posts, along with the link, so you can read each post in its entirety, which I highly recommend doing. Each posts succinctly counters boyd’s points.

Jonathan RogersTeaching Media Literacy With A Cape After SXSWEdu

“boyd’s speech has unsettled me, but it has also made me believe more in the ways I have found to teach media literacy. Now back in my classroom, I see students grappling with bias, publishing important stories, reading the news on their phones through a variety of sources, and taking pride in the rising power of student voices. The complexity of the screen world doesn’t look so complex to me when I see real students working in a journalism classroom.”

 

Faith RogowWhat a Media Literacy Educator Hears When danah boyd Talks About Media Literacy

“Oddly, boyd reduces media literacy to a superficial version of fact-checking and describes it as “fundamentally, a form of critical thinking that asks people to doubt what they see.” That makes her “nervous.” It would make me nervous, too – if that was what we actually did. It’s not.

Media literacy education doesn’t teach students to “doubt” what they see; it teaches students to interrogate what they see, and to do it routinely. We call it “inquiry.” That isn’t the same as doubting. And it’s not just a matter of semantics.”

 

Renee Hobbs (always my first and foremost go-to mentor for media literacy questions!) – Freedom to Choose: An Existential Crisis – A Response to boyd’s “What Hath We Wrought?”

“Media literacy education is a pedagogical approach that aims to be continually responsive to the ever-changing media, technology and cultural environment. A visit to the annual National Council of Teachers of English conference would enable boyd to recognize the amazing work of middle school and high school English teachers who explore media literacy through film analysis, analysis of social media, making media with a smartphone, digital storytelling, the study of memes, fandom, reality TV, celebrity culture and more. Media literacy competencies are embedded in the Common Core Standards and they promote academic achievement….

…Whether students are analyzing and creating hip-hop, examining propaganda, creating public service announcements, composing Scratch animation, or studying the patterns of representation in Disney films, they’re engaged in a learning process that creates opportunities for dialogue and reflection on the choices we make as creators and consumers.”

 

Eight years later, the four themes still remain at the heart of our digital citizenship program. In thinking through a program update, we realized that media literacy was not a separate 5th focus, but rather the overarching framework for digital/global citizenship. Media literacy is the key to unlocking the critical thinking skills needed to confront online bullying, to build and maintain a positive digital footprint, to respect and create/remix intellectual property, and to protect online privacy.

Our Digital Citizenship website now has a Media Literacy page and a new logo.

If you have media literacy resources you recommend we add, please leave a comment.

February 8, 2018
by blogwalker
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Digital Citizenship – It’s not just for students

In recognition that we are living in a “post-truth” era, rampant with “fake news,” and that we all need media literacy skills, I’ve been gathering resources, collaborating with colleagues, and creating presentations geared to both students and staff. I’m adding to my Media Literacy site almost daily, with a weekly featured resource.

For the past 10 years, I’ve been co-directing my district’s digital citizenship program with my colleague Kathleen Watt. We’ve recently been discussing ideas for merging media literacy into our digital citizenship resources, with possibly a new logo coming soon.

A recent article by Keegan Korf, Embracing Our Digital Footprints and Guiding Students to Curate and Reshape Their Own, has us rethinking how we’ve been rolling out our program. Until now, our focus has been solely on students. While we provide a wide range of resources for teachers and parents to use with their students and their children, Keegan’s infographic (below) serves as a timely reminder that we should also be providing resources to help adults be aware of the need to be role models and to build and maintain positive digital footprints.

digital citizenship infographic by Keegan Korf

Infographic created by Keegan Korf

It’s not difficult to find excellent videos for students, such as Netsmartz’ 2 Kinds of Stupid, on how quickly your online reputation can destroy future job opportunities, scholarship options, and more.

But what about digital footprint videos for adults? I’m wondering how many talented, young teachers applying for positions in school districts across the nation will not even make it to the first interview due to something they’ve posted on social media. TED Talks such as Megan’s You Posted What?! could help “xennials” or anyone just entering the job market to stop and think before posting, retweeting, etc.

I appreciate the stellar work ISTE has done in developing (digital) citizenship standards for educators.

Over the next few months, I would like to gather examples of the many ways educators are modeling Standard 3 – with a special focus on 3a. If you have stories, infographics, TED Talks, lessons, articles, etc., to illustrate how an educator is actively making “positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibiting empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community,” please share by leaving a comment.

#BeInternetSafe curriculum

August 26, 2017
by blogwalker
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Teaching Digital Citizenship in 2017

Digital citizenship is often cited as the fastest changing subject in the K-12 curriculum. Thinking back 10 years to 2007, when I first began rolling out a digital citizenship program for my district, we were using iSafe, a curriculum that focused on keeping students safe from others. “Stranger danger” was a big concern, with much media coverage – and a bit of hype.

By 2008, we were concerned not only with keeping students safe from others, but also with keeping them safe from each other and from themselves. By now both the federal government and our state government had started issuing legal mandates, including the federal E-Rate/CIPA requirements. Through a district task force (which had morphed from the Internet Safety Task Force to the Digital Citizenship Task Force), we made a commitment that all students would be firmly grounded in what it means to be active, contributing (digital) citizens in all the communities to which they belong, within and beyond the school day. The Task Force agreed that out of multiple topics related to digital citizenship, we would focus on four themes: Taking a stand against cyberbullying, building a positive digital footprint, protecting privacy, and respecting intellectual property.

Elk Grove Unified's digital citizenship logo

We encouraged – and then required – that all schools teach digital citizenship, using whatever resources and teaching practices worked best for their school community and culture. For those who preferred having ready-to-go lessons at their fingertips, we recommended Common Sense Media’s k-12 curriculum. We even provided a suggested scope-and-sequence – which, to avoid an overload of content, did not include Common Sense Media’s media literacy lessons.

Times have changed.  In an age of “fake news,” media literacy should be embedded across the curriculum.

Fortunately, excellent FREE resources are available. In addition to Common Sense Media’s robust curriculum, Google, in partnership with iKeepSafe, Family Online Safety Institute, and ConnectSafely, has just released Be Internet Awesome, an interactive curriculum for grades 3-5, which includes Don’t Fall for Fake as one of five core topics.

Google's Interland Graphic

I had the good fortune to be invited to Google last Monday to join a team of Googlers and Google Certified Innovators to explore the Be Internet Awesome package and to participate in highly interactive panel and group discussions on the critical need to be teaching digital citizenship skills in the 2017-2018 school year and, as you can see from the video below, the importance of including parents in the conversations.

At the heart of the Be Internet Awesome curriculum is Interland, a “playful browser-based game that makes learning about digital safety interactive and fun.” Award-winning YA author John Green, has even joined the Google team and recorded messages for the Be Internet Awesome Challenge, a video series aimed at igniting conversations in the classroom and at home too on what it means to be smart, alert, strong, kind, and brave online; in other words, how to “BeInternetAwesome.”

As we head into the 2017-2018 school year, I want to acknowledge my appreciation for Common Sense Media, the Google team, and other national organizations, including:

for scrambling to find much needed resources for teaching digital citizenship in a “post-truth” era.

 

December 4, 2016
by blogwalker
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Media Literacy: Defining and Teaching a Must-Have Skill

It would be difficult to read a newspaper, listen to a news broadcast, or open any social media site without seeing some reference to “fake news.” NPR NewsHour’s  recent interview How online hoaxes and fake news played a role in the election highlights this growing concern. There is definitely a need to bring media literacy into classrooms.

The Common Core State Standards call for media literacy:

“To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new.”  Common Core ELA Standards

However, since the standards do not come wrapped in a curriculum package, it is up to each district to provide some clarity on what media literacy looks like in our K-12 classrooms. Thankfully, the list of resources for teaching media literacy is growing (see resource list at end of post).

I’ve been an advocate for media literacy even before the Common Core. As long-time fans of Renee Hobbs, I’ve been incorporating her research (e.g., Aspen Institute paper) and resources (e.g., Media Education website & downloadable Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education) into our digital citizenship and copyright/fair use workshops for many years.

But what exactly is “media literacy”?

Educator Bill Bass shared several definitions in his recent Google Education on Air session, Media Education in a Digital Age:

  •  From Renee Hobb’s Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan for Action (1992 Aspen paper): “Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, interpret, and create media (communication)  in a variety of forms.”
  • From the Partnership for 21st Century Learning: “Media literacy requires the ability to analyze and create media.”
  • From NAMLE (National Association for Media Literacy Education): “Media literacy is the ability to ACCESS, ANALYZE, EVALUATE, CREATE, and ACT using all forms of communication.”

In addition to Bill’s resources, I’d like to add the voices of students speaking out on the role of media literacy, via Canada’s Media Literacy Now site:

Similar to the above-listed definitions, the Ontario Ministry of Education defines media literacy as

“…helping students develop an informed and critical understanding of the nature of mass media, the techniques used by them, and the impact of these techniques. More specifically, it is education that aims to increase the students’ understanding and enjoyment of how the-media work, how they produce meaning, how they are organized, and how they construct reality. Media Literacy also aims to provide students with the ability to create media products.”

 

How about some resources for teaching media literacy?

Here are some sites to get you started:

Media literacy chart from Huffington post.

Media literacy chart from Huffington post.

How about some recommended sites for fact checking?

I’ll defer again to Joyce Valenza, who includes fact-checking sites under the Resources for building a news literacy toolkit section of her Truth, Truthiness, Triangulation post.

I hope these resources will be useful to you and your students, especially following an extremely contentious election year. As always, if you have resources to add or classroom practices to share, please contribute to the conversation by leaving a comment.

January 1, 2012
by blogwalker
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Tips and Tools for Making an Award-Winning PSA

“To fulfill the promise of digital citizenship, Americans must acquire multimedia communication skills that include the ability to compose messages using language, graphic design, images, and sound, and know how to use these skills to engage in the civic life of their communities.” ~Renee Hobbs

As we head into the New Year, it is exciting to see a number of great video competitions open to students.  From our regional spring SEVAs competition to NextVista’s national and international events, students can hone their 21st century skill set (critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, (digital) citizenship) – as they build their ePortfolios and digital footprints.

It is also exciting to see a growing number of free online tools and tips to help student filmmakers through the process of taking a message and transforming it into a media gem. For example:

Pre-production:

Storyboards – From printable storyboards to Mathew Needleman’s more organic approach to storyboarding, storyboarding is a starting point for creating a powerful PSA.

Script writingPSA Scripting Template – Thank you, Bill Ferriter, for this excellent resource!

Production:

Camera shots:

  • Rule of Thirds – This basic camera rule/practice will rock your world – and your students – if you’re not already familiar with it.  Here’s a great video by Kids in Action on everything you need to know about the rule of thirds. Once you’re aware of the rule of thirds, it will change how you view videos – such as this trailer from High School Musical (thanks again to Mathew Needleman for sharing this one).

  • Wide-Medium-Tight Shots – I had another big ah ha moment, right up there with learning about the rule of thirds, when I attended SECC’s SEVA Training session with News 10’s multimedia journalist Nick Monacelli.  I recommend watching the entire 40-minute session on Building a News Story. But if you’re short on time, move the play head  about 15 minutes into the presentation and watch Nick explain the importance of taking B-roll footage. It’s B-roll tight shots – not transitions – that “professionals” use to quickly and smoothly move a story along.

And the big ah ha?  Hey, until hearing Nick’s presentation, I had not considered that almost never in a news story will you see transitions used.  Aside from the rare dissolve transition, used to show a flashback or change in time, transitions are  not part of an award-winning newscast. But, oh my, do students, especially elementary students, love to use transitions! Nick’s presentation could be just the tip students need to rethink the use of star wipes, for instance, in transitioning their viewers from one scene to the next.

Post-production:

Audio/Music:

  • UJam – I am no longer envious of Mac users’ access to Garageband (I teach in a PC district), thanks to UJam, a free, web-based program for creating music – even if you (like me) are music-challenged. UJam was one of my favorite take-aways from last summer’s Merit program.
  • ccMixter – ccMixter is a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with music in whatever way you want.  I learned about CCMixter in Silvia Tolisano’s wonderful Digital Storytelling How to Guide for Educators.
  • Jamendo – A rapidly-growing community of free, legal and unlimited music published under Creative Commons licenses.
  •  Audacity –  A free, cross-platform program for creating and editing audio. Here’s a link to my favorite Audacity tutorial: Audacity Basics

Video editing – Although I’m still grieving the loss of cloud-based JayCut, such an awesome freebie that even included green screen options – and allowed editing from both Mac and PC, eliminating all kinds of school-to-home/home-to-school issues – I continue to be grateful for iMovie, Movie Maker, and PhotoStory3 (one of my favorite digital storytelling tools!).  And I look forward in the New Year to exploring free smartphone apps for filmmaking.

I think one of the most important things we can do for students is to support and promote their efforts at becoming effective multimedia writers. Providing tools and tips is one way – along with providing authentic audiences.  Over the next month, I’d like to gather a comprehensive list of student video competitions.  If you know of any, please jump in and leave a comment.

The great films have not been made yet. The ones who will make them are out there, though, riding a skateboard.” ~Robert Altman

October 23, 2010
by blogwalker
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Building a News Story = Building 21st Century Literacies

News 10’s Nick Monacelli’s September SECC session on Building a News Story was outstanding! And the good news for teachers – across grade levels and subject areas – who were not able to join us live at Channel 10 is that you and your students now have access to the entire presentation:

SEVA-nick

As I’m writing this post, I’m also re-listening to Nick’s talk – and thinking that the samples, tips, and discussion all help  to make visible NCTE’s Definition for 21st century literacy:

Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of particular groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the twenty-first century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies. These literacies—from reading online newspapers to participating in virtual classrooms—are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Twenty-first century readers and writers need to

  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments”

Many thanks to SECC and cameraman Doug Niva for hosting this wonderful resource.

June 29, 2009
by blogwalker
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Live from NECC – Media Literacy with Jamie McKenzie

I’m joining Jamie McKenzie‘s last session of the day: teaching media literacy. We’re looking at the of wikilobbying (coined by Stephen Colbert – whose video we’re watching, which has unfortunately been removed from YouTube). So the question is “how do we alert our students to how Wikipedia works?

Phtoshopping Reality – Activity: Show Evolution video from Dove. What question of import would we ask students when sharing this video? Well then, checkout the slob evolution version. How about comparing these two versions to the Green Peace version Dove Onslaught(er).

“Media literacy deserves a prominent placement in district curriculum documents, especially in English/language arts classes” – http://questioning.org/june09/video.html. Jamie is following up this statement with Dove Onslaught video with discussion on deconstructing video and ads. Question: how does “crescendo” (which is a film technique) play a part in this video? Music gets louder, pictures get increasingly horrifying.

More Media Literacy Resources:

It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at Jamie McKenzie’s work. Even at a glance, I can see that the websites he has shared are rich with content and thought-provoking ideas.

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