Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

April 24, 2017
by Maha Bali

Digital literacies course – update: let them choose

Reading Time: 1 minutes

So a quick brainstorm on my upcoming digital literacies course.. Is that I think after covering certain dimensions of theory/ideas with students, I can ask them to break up into groups of 4 where they do the following (coordinating topic around a theme of their choice to teach it to the rest of the class)

  1. Two students work together to find a suitable article to explore the theme
  2. One student finds a suitable video or other multimedia to include 
  3. One student finds or develops an experiential activity to explain or explore the theme 

And maybe all students submit their plans on their blogs on the same date (for feedback?), then we take 3 or so class sessions for them to present to their colleagues.

Still unsure if I would give them a list of themes, but I think after exploring different dimensions of digital literacies themselves, they may come up with their own list to choose from, and perhaps groups would be formed around themes of interest rather than around personal friendships?

April 21, 2017
by Maha Bali

Curation of Posts on Open Pedagogy #YearOfOpen

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In preparation for Monday’s Open Pedagogy Hangout (see announcement here – includes list of guests and YouTube watch link) I thought it might be useful to roughly curate some relatively recent work on the topic. I am hoping folks will help me fill in the gaps – as some already have! I will basically list authors here and only highlight something small to give an idea of what the posts are about.

  1. The #YearOfOpen website itself has so far posts from 6 different people with a range of Perspectives. If you see mine, it refers to a spectrum of practices that I consider to be open pedagogy and I refer to work by Catherine Cronin, Viv Rolfe, Robin DeRosa, Rajiv Jhangiani and Samantha Veneruso. If you open David Wiley’s (defining it with respect to 5Rs), you will see recommendations to look at previous posts of his on the topic, which provide background on why he defines it this way. He also has a follow-up post (published today) where he reflects on difference between open as in open web and how he was looking at open
  2. Martin Weller who defines this “Open educational practice covers any significant change in educational practice afforded by the open nature of the internet”. I don’t know if this debate Martin refers to between Downes and Wiley tackles this question.
  3. Jim Groom who says “there is an attempt to define it in order to start controlling it” And he says “I am not too concerned if #ds106 is understood as open pedagogy or not, because as soon as it is a choice between awesome and open, I will choose awesome every time” (I agree, but it’s such a privilege to not need a label to give credibility to what you do, eh? Even as most of us do this work on the margins already anyway)
  4. Josie Fraser whose post reflects on many things, but additionally asks why we aren’t using the term “open heutagogy”?
  5. Clint Lalonde who finds student work that isn’t licensed openly to still be part of open pedagogy
  6. Catherine Cronin and Frances Bell blogged about their panels/presentations with others like Laura Czerniewicz, Sheila MacNeill and others) on critical Open Educational Practices at #oer17.
  7. Hot off the press: Sheila MacNeill 
  8. An important article Sheila references and is mentioned in the YearOfOpen article by Robert Schuwer is 8 Attributes of Open Pedagogy by Bronwyn Hegarty
  9. Suzan Koseoglu channels bell hooks and writes a powerful post on the philosophy and spirit of open. #mustread
  10. Tannis Morgan digs into history of the term Open Pedagogy. Also this, after #oer17 which lays out so many different facets of open and questions the centrality of content to pedagogy altogether (agreed!)
  11. A favorite of mine from Jesse Stommel: Open Door Classroom
  12. Rajiv Jhangiani on Definitions vs Foundational Values
  13. Samantha Veneruso connects open pedagogy to complexity (Cynefin framework) and suggests open pedagogy can only be known retrospectively based on how it’s practised.
  14. Karen Cangialosi has more questions than answers
  15. Jim Luke thinks this through and decides “Any production process uses resources, but the resources are not the essence  of the process”
  16. Lorna Campbell reflects on how the use of the term “pedagogy” rather than “practice” distances some of us involved in education who don’t teach (also echoes what Josie Fraser had mentioned). Hearing this several times this week is making me think a lot
  17. Frances Bell on Ground Zero approaches to open and how we could broaden our perspectives, look back and look around, because by excluding work/ppl based on narrow definitions, we lose opportunities to learn from each other. 
  18. Posted by Sukaina Walji for ROER4D,  a post by IDRC Senior Program Officer Dr Matthew Smith from March 2016: Open is as Open Does. He writes “requiring that narrow, technical or legal definitions are used may actually hinder our ability to really understand the important stuff, i.e., the “open practices” — sharing, reuse (5R’s), and collaboration that these legal and technical characteristics are intended to enable. OER by themselves don’t do anything – they don’t have an impact just sitting in the cloud or on someone’s Raspberry Pi. It is only when they are used in particular ways that change can happen – and it is this change that motivates most people interested in “open” in the first place”
  19. Catherine Cronin “Opening Up Open Pedagogy” – great round-up of different ways open ped and OEP have been used 1972-2012. 
  20. Robin DeRosa Quick reflection ahead of the #YearOfOpen hangout
  21. Javiera Atenas on how her trip to Palestine changed her views on OEP
  22. Remi Holden on Marginal Syllabus as OER/OEP “how are everyday digital spaces transformed into open learning environments?”
  23. Let me know if I missed something recent and important or an oldie but goodie that adds a different perspective

Posts After the hangout 

  • Alan Levine (not really about open ped but inspired by hangout to let us know difference between porous and permeable and a really useful post)
  • Sheila MacNeill As we all struggle with increasingly closed political environments we need to fight for open conversations and sharing of ideas and practice.  These are things that don’t need to be openly licensed but form an increasingly important layer around, above, below, alongside licensed OERs.”
  • David Wiley, Wandering through the open pedagogy maze

    Thanks to everyone who has been pointing me to their blogposts and those of others – this list has grown significantly since I first started it. It is notable that many of these posts also have really insightful comments and I’m too overwhelmed to curate those.

    Suzan Koseoglu suggested on Twitter that we have a Google doc for people to curate notable comments, and that sounds like a good idea! So here is the Google doc shortlink: where you can

    • Insert useful links
    • Enter notable quotes/comments
    • Enter questions about open pedagogy (I’m not sure if we will have enough time to go through all of them during the hangout, but the conversation doesn’t have to end at the hangout).

    It’s an open document – feel free to do whatever you like with it and it can live longer than 24 hours if needed 🙂

    April 20, 2017
    by Maha Bali

    What is Open Pedagogy? #YearOfOpen hangout April 24

    Reading Time: 2 minutes

    What is Open Pedagogy? Who gets to define what open pedagogy is, and how does that affect all of us who call what we practice “open pedagogy”?

    I was invited to submit my answer to that question by the OEConsortium for #YearOfOpen a while ago, and I submitted it before my trip to London to OER17. During #OER17, my response, as well as others’, was published here.

    My feeling was that

    1. A discussion among open pedagogy advocates and practitioners was needed beyond these statements
    2. More diversity of voices on the matter are needed
    3. David Wiley’s contribution is controversial imho and I wanted an opportunity to discuss a variety of approaches. Hence the hangout I am announcing here

    I have lots of complicated feelings about this topic, and I have invited a bunch of  (relatively) diverse folks to discuss this topic as part of #YearOfOpen (thanks Sue and Mary Lou for giving their blessing and being part of it)

    The session is scheduled for Monday April 24 at 4pm EDT/8 GMT/9 BST/10 Egypt/South Africa time

    You can watch here and participate via #YearOfOpen hashtag on Twitter (hangout will livestream to this link and be available as recording afterwards).

    Discussion on definition of open pedagogy will involve:

    David Wiley, Catherine Cronin, Robin DeRosa, Sheila MacNeill, Sukaina Walji, Viv Rolfe, David Kernohan, Mike Caulfield and me (Maha Bali). Joined by Sue Higgins and Mary Lou Forward from OEConsortium

    (note that there are a few people I invited who declined for various reasons, and a lot of people I would have liked to invite but the hangout filled up – using a space that allowed larger numbers of people was an option, but any larger and we probably won’t be able to really have a deep discussion – and the livestreaming of GHO allows people to watch and tweet along even if they’re not inside the hangout itself)

    If you have suggestions for activities or questions to do before this session is scheduled, please post them in the comments.

    April 15, 2017
    by Maha Bali

    Possible Class Activity on Empathy 

    Reading Time: 2 minutes

    I’ve never properly studied empathy, though it’s a personal and research interest of mine. I think and write about it a lot, observe it, occasionally read around it, but not properly. I should remedy that.

    In the meantime, this article I heard of through Audrey Watters’ newsletter is haunting me…and inspiring a class activity possible for my digital literacies course next semester inshallah. Possibly an activity across the globe?

    So the tagline for the article is amazing:

    “If you walk in someone else’s shoes, then you’ve taken their shoes”: empathy machines as appropriation machines 

    And it’s about how VR empathy machines are more appropriation than building empathy and also, more importantly, this:

    Do black people want you to feel better about enslaving them, or would they prefer safety and resources and equal treatment in the eyes of the law? Do Syrian refugees want you to appreciate their resilience, or do they want political justice and stability and to return to their homes?
    If we want to empathize, we must always question who really “benefits” from our “””empathy”””. But VR empathy machines, especially slick UN-sponsored empathy productions built to milk donations from millionaires at Davos, definitely do not foster any kind of that critical reflection.


    Here’s the idea of the class activity 

    1. Play some narrative games that foster empathy like I do in my games class. SPENT (poverty), BBC Syrian refugees game, Depression Quest. These can be played openly with students Tweeting or blogging their reactions
    2. Read this article and reflect on it OR watch the TED Talk before reading the article THEN reflect THEN read the article. Not sure. 
    3. Some collaborative annotation maybe?
    4. Students design their own attempted empathy machines (e.g. digital narrative games) OR develop some other digital means of spreading awareness and spurring people to action on a cause they feel strongly about

    I’m particularly haunted by the comments in the article as well, especially a couple of Muslims in there, so students in my context might feel some resonance. Or not, I don’t know. I can’t put my finger on exactly why this article and its comments are haunting me, so I may need further reflection…but noting this brainstorm here.

    Huh. This activity could work for my game design class this semester too, but it’s trickier… 

    April 12, 2017
    by Maha Bali

    Seeking Feedback & Collaborators: Digital Identities & Literacies Syllabus

    Reading Time: 2 minutes

    So here it is – I heard that my pilot course on digital literacies (with an intercultural dimension involving a Soliya component) has been approved to run as a core curriculum (liberal arts option) Fall 2017 inshallah.

    I was going to give a lot of background over here, but I thought it might make more sense to just link to the syllabus itself, where I have posted comments and ask people to look at it and see where they’d like to jump in. I’m particularly interested in the following:

    1. Are there particular dimensions of digital identities or literacies that I’m missing (for some reason looking at the syllabus now it looks like it’s missing a lot – probably because I’m trying to do several different things)
    2. I’m not a very content-centric teacher. But you know what it’s like… committees want reading lists…Are there particular readings you’d recommend? I don’t want to have an exhaustive reading list but the committee wants more readings in the syllabus and I’m willing to put them in (and can come up with a list in no time, but curious what others would recommend or have used in their courses)
    3. Are you willing to collaborate in some way, like have our students work together on an activity or something longer? I’m interested in a variety of things, from Wikipedia editing (especially if #Femedtech will do some of this), to dimensions of privacy (I’m looking at you, Kate Green) but also anything else that fits other people’s courses (I’m looking at you, Alan and Mia). I’m happy to collaborate with undergrads or grads, as long as it makes sense for all of us.
    4. Ideas for activities to promote digital literacies? In-class or online…

    In case you missed it – here is the link to the syllabus itself 🙂 Comment away!! And thank you, by the way 🙂

    April 10, 2017
    by Maha Bali
    1 Comment

    Serendipity and #oer17

    Reading Time: 7 minutes


    That’s my favorite photo of a Virtually Connecting session ever! Thanks Josie Fraser! I could write poetry about it, but this is my reflections on #oer17 post, so I will refrain. Will also refrain from commenting on the horror that is going on in the world and my own country. For now I am speechless on that.

    I wrote most of what’s going to end up in this blogpost on the plane on paper.

    It starts with this. Pauline Ridley, in the Virtually Connecting session with me and Laura Ritchie the first day (watch all of em here)…saying she disagreed with me on the necessity of nurturing our seeds. That there are instances in gardening where people randomly throw seeds and you see what happens. That’s a really interesting counter example. It’s interesting because, often, some of the best that happens in learning is not necessarily intentional (also the worst, but that’s another story). I value spontaneity and serendipity so much, in life, in teaching, online, vconnecting, and even in this particular conference and in my keynote which I had been preparing for many months. The thing i was thinking now, is that even randomly throwing seeds, even if you don’t nurture them,  can be great but can also fail miserably in the wrong environment. So randomly throwing seeds in the desert probably won’t produce anything. Because no soil, no rain. But randomly throwing seeds in a fertile environment can be great. Right?
    Giving a keynote at an event like #oer17 was really special. I felt so at home, knew half the people there and enjoyed lots of hugs before and after and even during the keynote (thanks Sheila!). I thought it was particularly interesting how looking back at tweets and recognizing what I said that resonated with people… And also seeing how people kept repeating certain parts of my keynote – it helped me rethink what was important about what I said, or at least what resonated with this audience, virtual and onsite.

    For example, I shared my slides ahead of time, mainly because my laptop wasn’t with me and I just wanted to check all would be ok before i got there. I polled people and most encouraged me to share. They’re up at + link to video + feedback form. I did this mostly for logistical reasons but folks also liked it. Slides are also commentable, if you like 🙂

    Speaking of serendipity, one metaphor that seemed to resonate with many people was the one related to gift giving. This wasn’t written into my 80+ slides, it was something I read a couple days before my trip, in the intro to the recently published book on Open Edu Co-edited by Rajiv Jhangiani and Robert Biswas-Diener (i still remember the look on Rajiv’s face when I mentioned his name in the keynote haha -i feel bad for not remembering co-editor name…but i was being spontaneous! Sorry Robert. Book is entitled “Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science”). I mean, I took the metaphor and twisted it to focus on what I wanted to say, but still 🙂 I also hadn’t planned to refer to the actual exchange of gifts I had had with several people ahead of my keynote. It was planned, on my side, that certain people would get certain gifts and others would choose. Strangely, the extra special people didn’t get a choice! Which is funny given how I talked about gift-giving in the keynote as something we should be careful of…are we gifting people what they want or what would make us feel better? I could see the apples for toothless person story being repeated a lot in the conference and in blogposts following the conference (thanks to my friend who said it to me).

    My mention of ALT at the beginning of the keynote was rather serendipitous also. I am pretty sure I planned some sort of thank you. But the part about recognizing the impact ALT do despite being such a small organization in terms of full-time staff, I had just learned the night before chatting with Maren.

    The Little Miss Helpful thing worked well. Yay. The interaction with audience worked mostly well 🙂 Yay. Including a couple spontaneous interactions with people I didn’t know beforehand (thanks to Sue and Janice for those) and really added a LOT of value. I hoped to make lots of eye contact during the keynote and I did – including a well-timed thumbs-up from Frances Bell (re-watching the video, I could tell exactly which moment it happened!)

    More serendipity happened throughout the conference, like Autumm being able to make it to OER17 and us managing to basically spend all the days together such that Autumm became part of my family for those days. Also serendipitous that Audrey could be in the UK at the same time and that we managed some social time as well as day 1 of the conference. And serendipitous that I mey Catherine Cronin at the airport on our way back! Not anywhere in the airport, we were actually right in front of her at the security check-in! How cool is that?

    Back to the conference.

    It was amazing staying at the same hotel were most organizers, keynotes and some speakers were staying. We got lots of social time with folks evenings and at breakfast and my kid flitted around like a social butterfly giving love and hugs to so many of them, even those she had never met before. Folks got kinda used to joining my family and me for breakfast, kinda by default 🙂

    Going to the conference the first day with Josie and Alek in the taxi, strangely, we chatted about CC licenses and that conversation relates to the question I was asked in the keynote.

    The slide in my keynote that compares the spirit of openness vs licenses seemed to resonate with many people and it was one of the slides I added pretty late (like a couple days before). Glad I kept it.

    Meeting Diana Arce the night before the conference was a treat and listening to her keynote was amazing. It helped me rethink everything and I am still thinking of how to learn from what she does (and even ask her help) for online and hybrid spaces like vconnecting but also for pedagogy and activism in general. How do we go where the people are and involve them rather than invite them to where we are to be mere spectators? How can I take this to my local activism and my digital activism? Still thinking. And vconnecting. It made me wonder if vconnecting sessions out in the open and noise can be better than in closed rooms. For #oer17 we had a combination of them in different spaces and I think that worked well. Some were in the café downstairs and visible to all. Even from outside as you can see from Josie’s photo. Some were in conference rooms – closed, but sessions would take place immediately afterwards and people would trickle in to watch and occasionally join in. Some were in the main conference hall at end of day. One was the walk-by by the staircase. It was a cool combination to reflect on.

    I attended several sessions that day. My own #trexit panel which I had been worried about (tired, unprepared) but it went wonderfully because the format of provocations from virtual folks (and our choice of awesome virtual folks Robin DeRosa, Nadine Aboulmagd, Chris Gilliard ane David Kernohan) was really quite perfect. Jim Luke posted everything here and Autumm Caines periscoped it here. It was awesome sitting beside Martin Weller and Lorna Campbell for this one – thanks to Jim for bringing us together!

    It was kinda serendipitous that I mentioned my #DoOO post in the keynote and Frances republished it during the conference on #femedtech (direct link to the post here). I enjoyed spending time with some great edtech women over lunch the first day but had to leave early for…

    …my vconnecting session with Laura/Pauline. With Autumm and Christian as onsite buddies. And a great virtual group joining us. We then had our vconnecting presentation which was great but v short, in hindsight. Slides here.

    I found presentations by Tanya Dorey-Elias, Rob Farrow and Muireanne O’Keefe really insightful. I know I attended more stuff but near end of day my mind was mush – I do remember Kate Green’s presentation though (rejuvenated at closing keynote time though).

    The next morning we had a fun ride to the conference with all the people participating in the morning vconnecting session in one car: Diana, Sheila, Alek, Autumm and me. That’s a photo of that session at the top of this blogpost.

    Lucy’s keynote inspired me to finally get on and get my students editing Wikipedia. I hadn’t done it before because i had experienced the trauma of getting work deleted on Wikipedia. But given my mention of different versions of reality on Wikipedia and lack of non-English content, I thought it might be just right to prep students for this with their eyes wide open as to what could happen to their edits. It maybe makes more sense for the particular course I am hoping to teach next semester inshallah.

    I learned a lot from sessions by Rajiv Jhangiani and Sukaina Walji that second day – helped me think of ways one can research open processes and impact. I also had some great private conversations with people I didn’t know beforehand and some nice whispering with friends during some sessions (I didn’t want to be snarky on Twitter this time around – and honestly the sessions were mostly great and I didn’t have too much to snark about anyway…).

    I ended the conference with the #TowardsOpenness session (webpage here) – the format for this was also really good because they again used provocations from some awesome people and asked us to work in groups (mine was Jeffrey Keefer, Suzan Koseoglu, Autumm Caines and me) to rapidly prototype ideas. I had to leave before the reporting out, but all the stuff is on their website here AND we are holding a Missed Conversation on Vconnecting Wednesday April 12 at 8pm GMT if you want to join.

    The closing session (which I watched but couldn’t attend) was really well done, I thought. Every conference should end in group reflections like these. Really well done.

    I’m almost at work now but wanted to make a quick few points

    1. Simon Ensor made me think; he was one of the virtual folks whose presence I felt v strongly at this event. These two blogposts resonated and made me realize that even though #oer17 was a great conference, harmonious people, even critically constructive people, we can always do better still. He deserves a longer response
    2. This by Kate Green  made me smile
    3. This by Sheila MacNeill made my cry (for joy)
    4. This by Frances Bell is her summary of my keynote (thanks Frances!)

    And now I hit publish! Thanks to all who made this an amazing experience

    March 31, 2017
    by Maha Bali

    Coming up at #OER17

    Reading Time: 2 minutes

    With no laptop and a wrapped-up thumb (as if no laptop wasn’t bad enough), I am really excited and looking forward to OER17 next week inshallah!

    So here I’m just trying to put everything together that’s happening:

    You can pre-participate in the “closing plenary” by answering some questions and posting them on Twitter. You can see their questions here.

    First off, my keynote. I created a page that will on the day of the keynote have my Google slides (comments enabled). The page currently has the link to the OER17 page where the keynote should be livestreamed and a link to the feedback form for folks to give me feedback after the keynote is over. Martin Hawksey recommended the hashtag for the keynote be two separate ones: #oer17 #Maha so that people who are using #oer17 only can see things even if folks don’t add the #Maha. Fair enough.

    Second, we have several Virtually Connecting sessions taking place – schedule at We (Autumm and I) also wrote a blogpost for the OER17 blog to introduce people to VC and different ways to participate onsite and virtually. Oh, and we created a fun trailer!


    On the first day after lunch, we (Autumm, Martin, Sue and Mia/Rebecca virtually) are presenting ABOUT Virtually Connecting. We have several plans for interactivity, including this poll which you can respond to starting now (it is open for a week so Fri-Thurs)

    Looking forward to seeing you onsite at OER17 if you’re going to be there – please do come and say hi! I come bearing gifts and I don’t want to go home carrying them again!!!

    If you’re not at OER17, I hope to see you virtually, whether via Twitter or via Virtually Connecting – synchronously or asynchronously (so feel free to watch the keynote later and post comments on the slides – whatever works for you).

    Remember OER17 sessions from the main hall are livestreamed – all options for remote participation available here.


    March 29, 2017
    by Maha Bali

    What’s up with the CC-BY-NC-SA logo

    Reading Time: 1 minutes

    CC-BY-NC-SA google image search

    So I was trying to put the logo for CC-BY-NC-SA logo on a couple of presentations of mine, and I could only find ones that had either Dollar signs or Euro signs.

    These were both presentations to UK audiences and I felt like, given today’s Brexit stuff, Euros would not go down too well… and like, dollars, well those are irrelevant. I tried searching “CC-BY-NC-SA” and adding the words GBP, UK or Sterling and… nothing. I’m sure it’s there somewhere. I’m almost sure I’ve seen it, even.

    But here’s the thing. Why does it have to be any particular currency at all? why isn’t the logo something more generic, like a bag of money or something? or a coin? Or a stack of cash? Not clear enough from a distance? But, well, my currency doesn’t have a fancy ASCII character and… you know… why should I have to pick someone else’s currency to represent money?


    March 29, 2017
    by Maha Bali

    Post #OpenedSIG Webinar, Pre #OER17 #OpenEducationWk

    Reading Time: 3 minutes

    This morning, I had the honor of being a guest with the warm and welcoming Teresa Mackinnon on an #OpenEdSIG webinar that’s part of Open Education Week and also a pre #OER17 session.

    I will embed the slides once I get to a computer, but for now, here’s a link.

    I will post the recording as soon as it’s up also.

    I am so grateful for this session. It was such a useful opportunity for me to meet with a sample of the OER17 conference participants, not to have a fully equitable conversation, but to still get to interact with them a little.

    Teresa’s Introduction made a huge difference. It was very personal and very warm. I wanted to cry because i was so touched. I remember my keynote announcement making me feel like I had been hugged. Teresa’s intro did that today. And it’s a reminder when we introduce someone, how much of a difference it makes if we personalize our intro rather than just read a bio. It automatically affected the atmosphere and I think warmed people towards me also.

    (immediately before we started, btw, I had squeaky voice syndrome related to mic issues – this happens to me occasionally and Martin had helped me troubleshoot it before for hangouts – and today I followed the same steps before figuring out where the audio wizard was on the Bb Collaborate).

    It was lovely to see some people I know well (like Frances Bell and Christian Friedrich) and new friends (like Debbie Baff and Sheila MacNeill) and several folks I am just getting to know on Twitter as well.

    I felt that the impostor syndrome slide resonated a lot. Which is hilarious coz I removed it from my keynote. But I guess it will come out in some form or another as I speak. How could it not, right?

    I talked about my process of thinking about my keynote and how difficult it is for me to give a one-way keynote and all the ways I hope to make it interactive both in the room/live and virtually/asynchronously.

    For example, I will ask some questions of the audience. Some are prepped to participate and some will be surprise questions (not too many). I also plan to have my slides open to comments and to have a link for feedback at the end. All the links are scheduled to go live on my website April 5 just before I start keynoting at this link:

    I also talked quite a bit about Virtually Connecting and shared the link to our signup form: – hopefully some people now know more about it – also we published today a blogpost on the OER17 blog about vconnecting. 

    I loved how Teresa stepped in and talked about how she felt about vconnecting and that it clicked for me that Simon Ensor (who had introduced me to Teresa originally) was doing virtual buddying for OER17 inshallah next week.

    I tried to respond to questions on the slides as I spoke and I occasionally lost my audio while trying to do that 🙂

    One other thing that seemed to resonate a lot with participants was my ending quote from Sarah Ahmed on how we need space outside our institutions to be able to speak about issues we cannot speak about within our institutions. And that’s what open has given me and it seems many others.

    Frances asked a really good question about when sometimes those spaces need to be private rather than open. And that is absolutely the case, of course, and some things are too risky to talk about in the open. Some things are better done privately. And it reminded me of a post of Kate Green’s where she talked about open not being the opposite of private. I don’t remember the details. Will try to link it here later.

    I also like that people seemed to like my ending Oscars type slide where I have photos of all the people I learn from about open (and I am sure I have forgotten someone important).

    Again, this was a really helpful session to me personally because it gave me a warmup that was low-stakes prep for the keynote and gave me a sense of what to expect from the audience f2f inshallah.

    March 24, 2017
    by Maha Bali

    Vanity and the Keynote #oer17

    Reading Time: 3 minutes

    Blame it on Sheila and Lorna and add Donna. They encouraged me to go ahead with this post after a fun discussion about clothes (inspired by my metaphor of an Egyptian expression on spoiling trousers when trying to fix the shirt – Lorna’s post, Sheila’s post).

    I am one of the least vain people I know. I was never notably pretty and for some reason this never bothered me at all. I always knew, then, that people were attracted to my personality (so humble!) which you need to spend a few minutes with me to discover (not long!)

    I don’t wear makeup. Like, I spent maybe 5 years not wearing ANY makeup (except eye pencil) and had to buy some recently for a wedding – i had forgotten what color lipstick I used to wear. Really. I wasn’t sure if I used to wear a pink shade or a dark red shade. Yes. I only used to keep one tube of lipstick and it would last like, a year or more, coz I don’t wear makeup. I actually uhh forgot to put makeup on at my cousin’s wedding when my daughter was around 2 years old. This is pretty weird, most people will think, because I don’t have a great complexion, so not wearing makeup at a wedding (usually at night in a hotel ballroom) is…ridiculous… But soooo me 🙂

    I like wearing simple clothes. I like wearing nice clothes, and occasionally I will buy something fancy…but I don’t go all out on the clothes. I am perfectly happy in a white shirt and nice jeans (I usually have nice jeans with embroidery on them as well as several plain pairs). I love floral prints and nice materials but I like being comfortable most. I love shoes, but I love them as in I love comfortable shoes from Clarks and Skechers and Timberlands and Geox. I don’t wear high heels. Like, almost ever. I’m tall enough as it is (170cm). And why would I want to hurt my feet again?

    Anyway. So what to wear for the keynote? Because you know, it’s livestreamed and stuff. Of course, most of the time while virtually Connecting I am wearing PJs and a headscarf, so uhh most of my YouTube presence is… Really underdressed. A few recent sessions I was wearing a hoodie. 

    I’m not very photogenic, and I hate having my picture taken . That Twitter profile photo was taken JUST for that purpose. And it’s airbrushed. My complexion ain’t that smooth. 

    So… Ignoring my face (do I pack lipstick? I know i can’t take a laptop, so the big L question is lipstick now).

    Do i buy new clothes for the keynote? No one much has seen me below the shoulders, so really, they have not seen my old clothes, right? So no new clothes

    Next question do I:

    1. Wear a floral shirt and a plain headscarf… Or
    2. A plain shirt and a floral headscarf?

     Ha. You weren’t expecting that! Because you don’t wear a headscarf 🙂

    At #altc I wore black jeans and a nice white shirt and sneakers (and a patterned headscarf). I don’t think I will wear jeans and sneakers but I still wanna be comfortable. 

    I looked at my wardrobe and wondered if the way I dress could exoticize me more or less. And what I wanted. I will possibly be the only headscarved person in the room, though I know for sure not the only Arab, Muslim or African. So that’s good to know. 

    Do I wear my headscarf back like my profile photo which looks nicer but can occasionally slide backward, or do I wear it covering my neck like I do on hangouts which is slightly more comfortable/stable but I don’t do it much anymore coz it takes ever so slightly more work to get right? (and looks slightly less nice).

    Funnily my mom recommended a particular top (it’s a dress that i wear as a tunic) and I said “but Jim Groom saw that one in Rome last year!” hahaha

    I need a huge bag with me at the conference coz i am carrying loads of gifts, including two surprise rewards for ppl in the audience who help me with a guess and a story (stay tuned), and most people who matter aren’t at the same hotel. So..that.

    And shoes! I settled on the shoes. They’re comfy but not sneakers. Will take a photo of em just for Donna!

    Anyone have stories to share about dressup decisions for keynotes? I think Laura Czerniewicz lost her luggage on her way to Keynote ALTC in 2015.

    Do men think about these things? I remember Sean and Jesse in DPL Cairo asked whether to be more or less formal, whether or not to show tattoos.

    Do women who keynote a lot continue to think about it?


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