The Versatile Blogger Award is a sort of peer appreciation tag that roams the blogosphere. Its aims to strengthen the connectivity between blogs and gives opportunity to promote fellow bloggers by presenting their blogs to one’s own audience. The nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award is the award, and it comes with a set of tasks:
Versatile Blogger Award rules
- Thank the person who nominated you
- Nominate 15 (!) bloggers, whose blogs you enjoy to read and notify them
- Post the Versatile Blogger Award image in your acceptance post
- Tell seven things about yourself
The 15 nominations
Criteria: I like when people study a corner of the world passionately and systematically and communicate what they find out. I like introspection when it conveys some sort of systematic, useful understanding. I enjoy reading blogs that are analytical and provide a unique perspective; which shows critical thinking, creativity, responsiveness, social responsibility, meaning-seeking and reflect a process of development … but not necessarily all this combined.
Themes: psychology, sociology, culture and social development, female ‘aspie’ life perspectives,virtual communication, evolution and animal behaviour (dogs, mainly).
I enjoy reading more blogs than the 15 nominated here. The number order is not a ranking in any way, it is just a way to count to 15. My nominations are:
I have enjoyed reading Lori’s lovely imaginative writing style for a long time. It is a bit hard to describe the style but poetic, insightful, visual and accurate sounds about right. Lori writes about her life and family as she deals with Asperger’s and the (often hilarious) challenges & themes her autistic son Tyoma’s developmental journey imposes on family life. Like here:
She illustrates her posts with her unique artistic collages:
A Quiet Week in the House has been around since 2005, and I can warmly recommend the archives… there are many verbal & visual pearls to find.
Sample of old post:
Six months after our purchase, new houses began erupting around us at an alarming rate. So much for believing realtors. The bulldozers began clearing the chaparral scrub directly behind us two months ago. I was devastated. From the sunroom, I witnessed the dozers caroming about, belching black smoke and stirring up clouds of opaque dust that left my skin feeling gritty.
Another good starting point: Selected Posts.
Pete is, according to himself, ‘a bearded geek, and audio warlock behind the Squadron of Shame SquadCast’, ‘an English gentleman, social media addict, pogonophile, gamer and blogger’*. His passions are video games, music, Internet stuff and ‘the act of writing itself’, with video games being the core theme.
Pete is a super versatile blogger… He illustrates I Am Not Dr Who with his home made cartoon strips, and you can also hear him play piano or read his fiction project The Wasteland Diaries on his blog. You can even ask him a question about anything. (anything?)
Posts that are not about video games (which are the ones I read) reflect about e.g. technology and social media, Internet history, writing, life organisation and psychological stuff. Whatever Pete writes has integrity and is engaging, well researched and/or based on his extensive personal knowledge.
Many Fandoms, One Love is a funny, philosophical & quirky study of fandom culture. While fandom (such as Legend of the Seeker) is the core theme, it is also a sociological lens for looking into movies, social research, academia, social skills, US politics and other aspects of Western culture.
Gavin has a wild vocabulary and elaborate insight in movies, music, books, epic fantasy worlds (and their heroes), and other cultural creations. She has a background in health research and has studied political economy and system dynamics; and the blog’s tone is a blend of scientific rigour and light-hearted playfulness. My favourite posts include Man vs Nature, Keep’n it real: efficiency after graduation and All for one and one for all.
Erin Thomas of The Underground Railroad writes an honest, intelligent and passionate Christian blog dedicated to the combat of what she refers to as modern slave trade (e.g. human trafficking) and more generally, for social justice and against cultural misconceptions and rigidity she observes outside of and within Christian circles.
She isn’t the kind of Christian who drifts in the wind and uncritically absorb religious traditions and call them Faith; she is inquisitive, truth-seeking and eager to sort through cultural veils & wars to extract core messages. Here is a taste:
- When We Pray Against Each Other… or Do We? Prayers undermined by contrary prayers.
- Not Feeling Like Chikn Tonight A US boycott controversy surrounding a fast food chain with anti-gay affiliations and ‘Epic Christian Fail’
- How Then Shall We Love? Tough love is to have to love unlovables
Erin does presentations, speaking engagements and education to church groups, non-profit groups, students, teachers and other community groups (The Underground railroad: about the author).
Aspects of Aspergers was one of the first ‘female aspie’ blogs I read thoroughly after for some time search engine paths had landed me on aspie forum threads and blogs during my hunt for information about noise sensitivity. The posts A night out in town and Strategies for dealing with sensory overload mirrored my own issues with sensory overload with surprising accuracy and inspired me to write about the issues myself.
I also decided to reorient my blog theme and put my personal context in centre, after I experienced how helpful it can be to read about other’s personal experiences.
Gavin conveys the aspects in an easy and systematic way; she has a passion for language, has studied English literature and writes well. The blog is not so active anymore, but that doesn’t really matter; the archives have many great posts.
Although I have since come across many good blogs about the same theme, I haven’t forgotten how helpful it was to find this one.
AM’s blog is an introspective psychological journey that starts with a quest:
I am on a journey to find out who I really am and what that means to me. Asperger’s may be a part of that, but I am not sure at this point.
The blog follows Rudy Simone’s book Aspergirls as AM reads through the chapters and relates what she reads to her life and history. The journey starts in December 2010 with the ‘Maybe’ answered in November 2011.
AM writes well and insightfully, and her posts are short and easy to read. The blog is still going strong albeit not so active anymore; that doesn’t really matter, because its strength is its journey-format and introspective reflections.
E is a young autistic PhD student who studies her favourite subject (which sounds like it could be something interesting within the fields of natural/environmental sciences, but that is not the point anyway).
She writes about her personal experiences as an autistic woman in academia coping with expectations and situations she encounters, and with her history, and she writes very well. Each of her posts is an insightful, long and well organised essay about one of these aspects.
The name-explaining post The Third Glance is one of my favourites. It beautifully sums up the blog’s mission and E’s fundamental situation.
- The first glance is the one where she passes for normal
- The second glance is the closer look where she does not pass for normal, and some people turn away
- The third glance is the even closer look that reveals that although she doesn’t pass for normal, she is precisely the way she is supposed to be and well worth knowing. The third glance requires acceptance of diversity
The Third Glance
But then there’s the third glance, the one that most people never bother to take, but it is the most important one, the one that captivates you, and turns that fleeting glance into a good long look. I am the person I am today, because there are a few people who took that third glance. And they saw a compassionate, excited, quirky, passionate person. They saw someone who is brutally honest, exceptionally aware of her surroundings, keenly observant, meticulous, interesting and fiercely passionate: someone who is worthwhile, and who will be a loyal friend, if you give her the chance. They saw a person, because they took the time to really truly see.
E on the The Third Glance.
‘Posts I’m most proud of‘ seems like a good place to start, but all her posts are good, and the archives are well worth a full read through.
Andrea presents herself as:
An “insect psychologist” examines human behaviour, science, education, and disability rights, from personal and social theory perspectives and points inbetween.
What I like about her blog is her analytical mindset and keen observation of ‘normal’ (silly) human behaviour, conveyed through good well organised writing.
Many of my favourite posts are about her job in a grocery store, where she, at first glance, puts stuff on shelves, assists customers and earns her wages. What’s great about that job – for her readers, is the funny & insightful posts that come out of the shoppers’ irrational purchasing behaviour when examined by Andrea’s observing & logical mind. Here are a few examples:
Andrea navigates an heavy amount of health issues & neurobiological disorders – such as Auditory Processing Disorder, face blindness, hypermobility and AHDH but holds down several jobs and writes insightfully about how she works around her disabilities at work and other aspects of daily life.
The blog has been around since 2008 and is well organised, and the archives have many good posts and are easy to navigate from the tag cloud.
Janet K. Kwasniak reflects insightfully about consciousness (humans’, animals’) in her bio-philosophical (yes … that is a brand new word) research blog Thoughts on Thoughts. From her background in biology and passionate interest in consciousness, she writes about human brain architecture, sensory perception, animal consciousness, and anthropomorphism, definition of consciousness and other mind-related topics. A handful of my favourite posts:
- Decisions. The brain’s model of the world is not the world.
- Do grandmother cells fly? Biological idea storage capacity of the brain.
- Those doggy-people. How anthropomorphism can be pretty good, after all
- Uniqueness. Why the tireless search for ‘the’ qualitative difference between humans and animals is bad science.
Separating how we think about humans and other animals is like separating how we think about rivers and the Nile. It is not an efficient way to understand the Nile and it robs effort from understanding rivers in general. The only way this sort of thing happens if we start with “the Nile is not a river”, “don’t use concepts that describe the Nile for any other river (nilomorphism to coin a word)” or “it belittles the Great Nile to say it behaves like other rivers”. [...]
We will sink down to playing semantic games – trying to define Nile so other rivers are not included and trying to define river so that it includes them all except for the Nile. In the same way, dividing man from other animals is also artificial – not the way science should be done.
Janet K Kwasniak in Thoughts on Thoughts: Uniqueness
10. Evo Anth
Evo Anth is a thorough, interesting and well illustrated research blog about human evolution and technology, archaic humanoids, science misrepresentation and similar topics. The author is Adam Benton, an undergrad student of Evolutionary Anthropology (~ Evo Anth), who presents the theme as follows:
People often refer to this as “Biological Anthropology” – the study of human biology and associated evolutionary changes – but in reality that is only one aspect of evolutionary anthropology. It also studies our technology, behaviour, beliefs and any other aspect of humanity which has been influenced by our evolutionary heritage.
(The blog is US based I presume, since it appears fairly entangled in self-defence against religious pseudo-science, presumably due to the massive political power of the so called ‘creationist’ ideas over there. I prefer to ignore the controversy).
AnimalWise is a research blog about animal cognition. It is penned by science writer Paul F Norris who I unfortunately not have been able to find much information about (the ‘about’ section is pretty useless). The articles are excellent: thorough, well written, well structured, well referenced, informative and tongue-in-cheek-like cool. Some of my favourites:
- Canine Comprehension of Complex Communication
- Convergine with Canines: Are Humans and Dogs Evolving Together?
- Setting His Own Dinner Table: Spontanous Tool Use by a Dingo
- Rise of the Planet of the Ants
The Unexamined Dog – Unnerving the rainbow of pseudo-science in the dog world is written by Emily Douglas, a teacher and owner of 4 Pit Bull type dogs, who sees a parallel between the competency many people think they automatically have for teaching, and the competency many people think they automatically have for pet ownership.
What I find fascinating about the field of education, specifically the practice of teaching, and that of dog ownership and training, is the degree to which people presume their familiarity and simplicity. I know of no two other arenas in which the average person assumes such complete expertise and authority, grounded in almost zero experience or knowledge.
Emily writes and post photos about her Therapy Dog/s at work, everyday doggy antics at home, breed stereotyping and bad dog training, education, dog behaviour and human projections. Posts I find inspiring:
- Puppy Play Analysis: understanding vocalisation and body language
- Understanding Play: WWE Puppies, Boom-Bam Boxer Brown and Ninja Peach
- We don’t look guilty, you’re just projecting
- Learning to move in the negative space
Data visualisation: I love to understand something in an instant by seeing the logic and follow about 12 data visualisation blogs of different sorts. Cool Infographics is one of the best. Randy Crum, who presents himself as:
President of InfoNewt. Data Visualization, Infographic Design, Visual Thinking, Product Development and Marketing professional fascinated by good infographics. Always looking for better ways to get the point across.
and his team finds and reblogs visually impressive, informative and fascinating infographics such as this one that gives an overview over the effects of ‘the greatest human and digital viruses of all time’:
14. Clarence Ceniza
Clarence writes a smart & informative blog about his experiences with culture and media communication, social media, technology and travelling. He is also a talented hobby photographer, and I’ll link to his photography portfolio when I find it again. His posts are a mix of longer reflective posts, and tumblr-style quick sharing. Posts I’ve found particularly informative (including comment tracks):
- The Culture of Collaboration. ’Collaborative consumption’ and virtual crowd sourcing platforms.
- Community Manager Appreciation Day 2012 Go Community Managers!
- Dabbling in Online Freelancing. Clarence freelancing via O’Desk.
I haven’t read through his archives but I think they’d be interesting because Clarence is culturally curious and has travelled/migrated around the globe. He is originally from the Philippines, has lived in Singapore, travelled in Europe, and now lives in Holland.
Ekostories is Isaac Yuen‘s visually and verbally beautiful collection of thoughts on humanity and our relationship with planet Earth. Isaac’s background is within environmental biology and education, but the blog is about culture – stories, art and sociological change.
Ekostories is intended to look at the many interesting stories, anecdotes, parables, tales, and myths that have influenced my own thinking around the connections humans have with the earth. They come from a diverse range of sources, ranging from novels, films, childrens’ books, and television, to games, biographies, short stories, and documentaries. They could be prominent environmental works, or they could be things that have very little to do with environmental thinking outside of my own mind.
Stories can be grand and epic narratives that guide the thoughts and actions of entire societies and cultures. [...] Stories have the ability to break down walls, to get us to care, to make us think differently, and in so doing, to ignite the fires of change.
The content is mainly review of movies, meanings, books, videogames and other cultural creations that convey an ‘Ekostory’. All this may sound slightly tree-hugging, but the posts are thoughtful, long, consistently well organised essays which are a delight to read. Some of my favourites:
- Here, Home, Us: Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot
- Journey to the Far Side: There’s a Hair in my Dirt!
- Earthsea 1: A Wizard of Earthsea
I haven’t read any of the books the above reviews are about, but they are on my list now. Just hear this quote from ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’:
“Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk’s flight
on the empty sky.”
- The Creation of Ea
by Ursula K. Le Guin, p. 1)
Jörg Müller‘s The Changing Countryside, reblogged from Ekostories
7 things about me:
1. Why I like dogs
My favourite species of animals is dog (I think… haven’t met them all). I find their co-evolution, social abilities and strange position as adoptees in human families intriguing. Also, it improves my quality of life to share my life with dogs. They are calming, friendly and fun to have around, and they get my feet down on the ground, metaphorically… They lure me away from my computer and open my eyes to critical matters such as walks, play, feeding times and squirrels.
2. Experience with pigs, cows and pets
I minded between 300 and 2000 pigs at a time for about 6 – 7 years, and during that time became fairly familiar with pig behaviour and animal welfare management in conventional as well as free range piggeries. So if you are seeking (outdated?) knowledge about pig behaviour and pig production in a Scandinavian context, please feel free to ask me.
I’ve also minded dairy cows, had a variety of pets: guinea pigs (many), cats, rabbit, turtle, budgies, rats; and been a fanatic horse-girl.
3. Overcoming fear of horses
As a kid I used to be afraid of horses, especially the one I rode every Monday evening in the riding school (a murderous, kid-hating spotted pony named ‘Black Eagle’). However, I never occurred to me to quit riding, and eventually horse-fandom beat horse-fear.
Over time I made it my speciality to ride volatile little ponies that no one else wanted to ride in local riding schools, and I developed a taste for riding bare-back. I’ve only ever been injured once despite falling off numerous times.
Unfortunately horse riding is prohibitively expensive, so I’ve rarely been riding as an adult. Also, it seems that bare-back riding is generally not allowed on Australian trail riding schools for insurance reasons.
4. The music in my life
I enjoy to sing, especially in a microphone as part of a small team of singers. I sing in our Church’s worship band, and my husband plays the bass. I can also play guitar and piano at basic level but rarely do (I hope to change that). I love to listen to music and to create rhythm loop collages in my music software app.
My family is quite musically inclined. My oldest little brother was a professional studio guitarist for many years and released his first solo album (instrumental) a few years ago. My mother plays piano in a cafe once a week (if she still does), my dad can play accordion and piano, he says, and my youngest brother plays keyboard in a band. Most of my close relatives can play at least one musical instrument and often play live music at family events such as Christmas Eve (I rarely attend family events, but find the principle charming anyway).
6. Physical recreation
Sports and physical recreational activities I’ve been doing in my life time include horse riding, Judo, modern ballet, classical ballet, belly dancing, acrobatics, kick boxing, aerobics, swimming and snorkelling, running, hang gliding, table tennis, drama, singing and guitar playing. I am not saying that I was good at these things, but I tried. Sometimes briefly.
5. Worst sleeping places
The strangest place I’ve ever slept was in a tree, across three branches over a lake during a fishing trip, in the darkness with dark water under. I slept OK for a few hours, then woke up confused, cold, insect bitten, clumsy of sleepiness and found the situation somewhat shocking (darkness, surrounded by nature-by-night sounds, hanging over black water surface). Can’t recommend.
The second strangest sleep was when I fell asleep floating on my back in the seawater pool during my early morning swims (not really a morning person). I woke up every time my feet sank after max. a minute or so (I think).
To prevent my feet from sinking I crossed my legs in stretched out position to keep them stiff in the surface, but the stiff crossed-leg position dissolved when I fell asleep. Then: feet sank, body tipped to vertical position. Doesn’t work!
7. Pointless global record
I’m the ‘global freak level’ record holder of an obscure little iPhone game named ‘Find Freak’… since 2010. It is a super simple ‘spot the missing details’ picture game with quite many pictures but not infinitely many, so if you play it long enough you’ll see repeat images and have a chance to memorise the errors. It seems no one else is as inanely stubborn as I was the day I decided to see how high up I could climb the ranks and ended as no. 1 with a score of 608,430 points (in one game).
That Was It.
I could easily have nominated 15 more even about the same themes if it didn’t take so damn long time to write the acceptance post. Note to the nominated blog authors: this VBA post is longer and more thorough than the average VBA post (as far as I can see). It isn’t necessary to be this thorough, most write just a few lines about why they nominate each blog. So please don’t panic!