The first question of the semester

It’s a fair question. I can’t speak for other classes, but in ds106 it is one of our main group conversation spaces. Since we don’t meet in person, we need a forum where we can all speak to the entire group. There are other ways to do it, of course, but Twitter (so far) has a persistence which has enabled the ds106 community to thrive. If you search the #ds106 hashtag on Twitter, you will find that there is a much larger community, people (and others) from all around the world.


You may find that they interact with you during the run of the course. It’s an added benefit that you get. When we say #ds106 is #4life, part of that life is the group of people who continue to create, making art for art’s sake. You are welcome to be part of that, should you choose to accept it.

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Week One: Bootcamp


All work is due by midnight on Friday, 1/20/17

Welcome to ds106! This first week is dedicated to getting set up: set up your domain and Web hosting; install your WordPress site; and create other social media accounts such as Twitter, Flickr, SoundCloud, YouTube, etc. Complete introductions via posts, twitter, Flickr, video, audio, etc. The sooner you get started, the better. If you run into trouble after looking through the supporting links, the Digital Knowledge Center in the ITCC building is a great place to go for help.

Here is a detailed list of what to do this week:

  1. Review the Syllabus
    You should carefully read through the syllabus. This course is different from most. The syllabus will help you understand the work and activities of the course. If you have any questions on the content, send them to us via Twitter or email.
  2. Get a Domain and Webhosting
    After review the syllabus, first thing you need to do is choose a domain name for yourself. A domain name is a just a fancy name for a URL or Web address. For this class, you will register a domain name (free through UMW’s Domain of One’s Own project) of your own. Check out some advice about choosing a domain name. It really should be about you and not this course. Once you choose your domain name, you need to register it and set up web hosting through Domain of One’s Own (login with your UMW netid/password). Detailed instructions can be found here. If you already have a domain through Domain of One’s Own, then you are one step ahead. For more details on how to navigate your web hosting account, i.e. cPanel (your control panel), creating subdomains, using Installatron, etc., we have extensive documentation here: Shortly after you sign up for your domain and Web hosting, you will receive an email requiring you to verify your domain. This is a legitimate email, and you must follow the instructions in it! If you do not, in two weeks, your domain will go into a state of “limbo” making your site basically unavailable.
  3. Install WordPress
    This tutorial will take you through installing the publishing platform WordPress. Keep in mind if you already have WordPress installed on your UMW Domains, you can use your existing site (and just tag or categorize your ds106 work accordingly) or choose to create a new WordPress site in a separate subdomain, such as out what a subdomain is and how to set up a subdomain on our documentation site. You will be using WordPress A LOT in this class. If you’re not already familiar with it, please keep this set of WordPress resources handy.
    NOTE: Do not use You have to set up your own domain, or use a domain you already have (see Step 2, above), and you have to install WordPress on it (this step).
  4. Register Your Blog at the Main ds106 Web Site
    Once your blog is available on the web (it should be almost immediate) register yourself and your new blog on the DS106 site. You MUST do this in order for everyone to see the posts you’ll be writing for the class. NOTE: In order to register your site, you will need to give us a Twitter userid. You may want to skip ahead to the Twitter portion of #6 if you don’t already have a Twitter account.
  5. Set up Your Social Media
    Create accounts and fill out profiles for yourself on:

    • Flickr (photo sharing)
      If you are new to Flickr or have no images in your account, you MUST post at least 5 images to your flickr account right away (they can be whatever you want); Flickr may not verify and make your account public until there are 5 images there. When you upload your photos, tag them with ds106. Get in the habit of doing this!
    • Soundcloud (audio publishing)
      Set up an account if you don’t already have one.
    • Google / Youtube (video sharing)
      If you have a Gmail account, you are already set with this. If not create a Google account. This is what will allow you to join any synchronous video discussions we have (in Google Hangout) and gives you access to YouTube.
    • Vimeo (video sharing)
      Alternatively, if you don’t want to get a YouTube account, feel free to use Vimeo for your videos.
    • Twitter
      Twitter will be one of the main channels for communication in ds106. If you already have an account for personal purposes, you are welcome to use it or create a new account for communication related to this class. Make sure you customize your profile! Send your first message of greeting and be sure to use #ds106 hashtag in your tweets. Learn how to search on the #ds106 hashtag.
  6. Make some Multimodal Introductions
    Now that you have all your accounts, it’s time to use them to introduce yourself to the class. Use Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube, and Flickr to introduce yourself to the community, be creative. Once you’ve done that you need to embed them all into a WordPress blog post. Here are some tips for embedding media in WordPress.
    Are you exhausted yet? There a lot more still. If you wait until the weekend to do your all work you will be crushed!
  7. Read
    Read Austin Kleon’s post “10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered: Lessons from my book ‘Show Your Work!’” If I didn’t know better, I would think that he wrote the book for this course. Even though he is talking about marketing, most of the points apply directly to what we will be doing in this course: Making art and blogging our processes. What do you think of his message? Which of his ten points seem most significant to you? How do you think you will be able to apply his message in what we do here? Write a blog post about this. Tag the post ShowYourWork.
  8. Mission 106
    We’re using a Secret Agent theme for this semester. We are on a mission to make art on the web (and of the web and about the web). We will get to forge our own roles and identities. Maybe we’ll even get our own jetpacks. The purpose of the theme is to give us some common ground for interaction, but you are welcome to stretch and twist it in any way you like. You will have ample opportunities to personalize the work you do. You, as a group, have as much influence over where the theme goes as you care to take. To that end, I want you to share your thoughts on the theme. It is not necessary to be a fan of the genre because you are not bound by any conventions. You get to make of it what you want.
    If you need more background for the theme, Wikipedia has a pretty good overview and TV Tropes goes into some of the different varieties. There is also a list of fictional secret agents in Wikipedia, which should give you some idea of the breadth we have to play with. There are real secret agents too. Do you like it? Do you have favorites? What do you think we can make out of it? Write your thoughts in a blog post and tag it mission106thoughts.
  9. Write your Weekly Summary
    You’ll be completing these summary posts on your blog every week. This week, write a post that shares your reflections on the first week. Tag this post WeeklySummary. These posts are REALLY important. I use them to grade you every week, so you need to link to other posts you’ve written, embed media you’ve created, and narrate the process of learning that you went through this week. What did you learn? What was harder than you thought it would be? What was easier? What drove you crazy? Why? What did you really enjoy? Why? NO EXCEPTIONS. NO LATE WORK ACCEPTED.
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OpenLearning test feed

Opening line

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Mission 106

We have a new edition of ds106 starting up: Mission 106. We’ll be taking our inspiration from the spy fiction genre in all its mutations, and making of it what we will. Make art, dammit! (TM) Everyone is welcome to join in. This will be a fun project because there are so many different takes on the genre, from serious to fantastic to parody and spoofs, and a long cultural history, from Conrad to SHIELD. So I made a little mash-up:

Who is secret agent 106? And what is this agent up to? Maybe that’s something we should find out.

The idea for this came from our ds106 man in Arabia, @scottlo

While I liked the idea because of my namesake, I also had some concerns about the sexism that runs through it. But it seems like that runs through our entire culture, so it can be something to critique or counteract, or turn on its head. Maybe that can be part of our mission, should we choose to accept it.

My little mash-up did get some positive response:

which gave me an idea: Maybe we should have a license. I looked for a license to kill to adapt, and built upon the work of Funeral-Of-Hearts


Now you can have one of your own.

Our friend Tina wants in on the action too:

so we should all behave. But have fun too.

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“Straight down the line”


For today’s Daily Create, the challenge was to make a movie quote infographic. My initial thought was “We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” but the output would end up being as inelegant as some of the examples from Flowing Data.

One of the presents I got for Christmas was a film noir collection, so “Straight down the line” from Double Indemnity came to mind. We used it as a tag line for Noir106 a few years ago. The quote appears in the script four times, four+ if you count “right down the line” from the protagonists’ initial conversation. The visualization is obvious and simple. I especially like the minimalist aesthetic. I did it in PowerPoint with a couple shapes and saved it as an image. I like it when a plan comes together that easily.

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I cannot be smooth.

Can I plead temporary insanity on this? I’m not sure where the idea came from. I was aware of Nate Dogg and Warren G’s hit “Regulate” from what was one of the epic-est Wikipedia entries of all time. Then people brought Yacht Rock to my attention, which gives the background story to the song (YT). I liked the bass line, and thought it might fall somewhere within the vicinity of my limited abilities.  As I listened to Nate and Warren’s delivery, something about the cadence made me think of the old Rolling Stones song, “Rip This Joint.” So I wondered if I could put them together. Notice how I never wondered if it was a good idea – must be some sort of moral defect. It needs drums of course, just like anything else, and that is beyond my abilities. But lo and behold, there are karaoke tracks! So I took that and looped it, then played over it on the bass, all in Audacity. I did a couple takes and kept one. I also made a couple attempts at vocalizing. I took one of those tracks and changed the pitch up a minor third, just to see what it would sound like. It sounded vaguely Martian to me, so I kept parts of it. Then I pulled one of the Michael McDonald parts from a Regulate remix (YT) and mixed that in. I have no idea how I managed to get that to line up as well as it did – sheer luck. I got some weird distortion when I exported it to mp3. This has happened before and I’m not sure why. So there you go – another recorded disaster. But if I keep trying, I might come up with something.

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Bark at the moon

I had never heard of a MoonTubeShot. Props to @NomadWarMachine for making it a Daily Create. It’s a cool effect, and I especially like the low-tech angle. I think a moon needs context though. And what better than the three wolf moon t-shirt?

So I did a search for an image of the shirt, and just happened to find one that was uploaded to flickr by snakepliskens before he escaped from the USA. I used the elliptical marquee tool in Photoshop to select the moon and then filled it with black. The I copied my MoonTubeShot and pasted it on top and changed the blending mode to lighten, and moved it into place. I didn’t even have to scale it. It was a little too bright, so I lowered the opacity a little. In hindsight, I should have done something about the color cast to make it blend better, but hey, it works well enough.


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There’s more to it…

As I wrote earlier, information literacy has been in the air lately. It’s a good thing from my perspective, as one who advocates for info lit. But it’s frustrating too, because people don’t seem to get what I’m talking about. It’s disturbing as well, when I read things from people I respect and admire that present these extremely narrow views of info lit. It’s one thing to see Pearson equate info lit with CRAAP:
Maybe simple makes for easier sales. But there is more to information literacy than simple evaluation rubrics. And even those evaluation rubrics are not as simple as Pondisco pretends.

Is information literacy CRAAP? As the American Library Association explained it,

To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.

“Evaluate” is in there, but there’s also that bit about recognizing information needs, and the part that says, “use effectively,” both of which contain multitudes. The UNESCO description is a little more verbose:

Information literacy enables people to interpret and make informed judgments as users of information sources, as well as to become producers of information in their own right. Information literate people are able to access information about their health, their environment, their education and work, empowering them to make critical decisions about their lives, e.g. in taking more responsibility for their own health and education.

CRAAP is a tool we use to introduce the evaluation of information. It’s a starting point, just one way of starting a discussion, not an end goal and certainly not anything definitive. To get a better view of info lit, one could look to Bruce’s Six Frames (PDF), which provides a good overview of the multifaceted complexity of the topic. We don’t really approach this complexity in higher education. Andretta, quoted in Whitworth’s Radical Information Literacy, notes that the focus on info lit at its most basic levels “is based on the fact that [they] emphasize, and most importantly assess, types and levels of skills developed by the learners that suit the universities’ requirements for ‘objective’ testing of students’ academic performance.” Our systems place a premium on assessment and measurement, so we end up focusing on things that are easily assessed and measured because we have such limited time. When we say we need more info lit, we don’t mean more CRAAP. Those are training wheels. There’s more to it than that.


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Anatomy of a Daily Create

“What would the name of your band be?” Paul’s rule number 1 for the Daily Create: If you don’t have an idea, ask someone else. Today’s challenge was, “If you were a musician, what would your debut album look like?” My wife suggested The Ionic Bonds. I have a genetic predisposition for punnery, so I countered with The Ironic Bonds. “What would we call our first album?” Again I cheated, and googled the intersection of irony and chemistry. Among 15 Jokes Only Chemists Will Get, I found:

sharing by ryancr

sharing by ryancr

The name’s Bond. Ionic Bond. Taken, not shared.

Taken, not shared is something I could work with. Now I needed an image. I search flickr for taken and didn’t find anything that caught my interest. I tried shared and was similarly unimpressed, but the gerbils would do.

mds00014I wanted to make it look like an album, not a square picture with words on top, so I looked for something to work with. An image search for old album covers found this thing, which would work because there’s lots of visible aging, and lots of blank space. I did a bunch of copying and pasting to take pieces of background to cover up the title and image. The I rather crudely selected around the gerbils and copied them onto the cover. I put in my type, using colors from the image for a little harmony. Photoshop just happened to default to that typeface, but it felt appropriate so I kept it. I probably should have done more with the type, but this will do.


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The good years

Yesterday’s Daily Create challenge was to make an infographic of a song. I had seen people do this before. My personal favorite was the flowchart for Devo’s Whip It.


Unfortunately I don’t know who gets credit for this. I knew there was no way I could come close to that brilliance, but I thought I could tap into someone else’s brilliance:

When it comes to over-acting, few could match Shatner in his prime. The way he mugs for the camera in this video can make people laugh and cringe at the same time. And it has numbers, so it can be graphed. I thought about how to do it, and ended up putting it together in PowerPoint. That way I could hyperlink the datapoints to specific times in the video, and upload it to Google Slides for embedding online. It started as a straight chart, but then I thought it was a little bare so I stuck his face in the background. It’s still pretty lame design-wise, but it’s a quickie. There’s nothing to suggest that you should click on the datapoints – maybe a roll-over behavior would help – but then again I’m not sure the links serve any real purpose.

The concept would make for a good design assignment though. If it’s not in the Assignment Bank already, I may have to put it there.

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