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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Soundtracks for suckers

w204A while back, I listened to the audiobook version of George Pelecanos’ novel King Suckerman, as read by Cary Hite. It’s a story of more-or-less ordinary guys who get themselves drawn into violent criminal melodrama. Good fun. Like many of his novels, this one is crawling with pop culture references, to movies and music, popular or not in, the mid-70s, as the book is set in 1976. I thought it might be interesting to make a playlist out of the songs in the book. So I skimmed through it and marked them, and made a spreadsheet out of it. I decided to limit it to songs that were named by titled or identified by lyrics, so even though they discuss Mott the Hoople, also referred to as Mo the Rooster, at a few points in the course of the book, I’m not including them because the text never references a specific song. Here’s my list:

Then I got the idea to use narration from the audiobook as intros to the songs. This was a little tedious. I had to find each point in the narration, then play it through SoundFlower and record into Audacity to get the intros. Then I put each of those together with the respective song from Youtube. There was one track by Edwin Birdsong that I couldn’t find. I left that one out. I strung the others together, into three ~1 hour mixes and put them on Mixcloud.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

At some point I should go back and listen to on of them straight through, to see what sort of impression the playlist give of the story.

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IL in the air


Information literacy has been in the air recently, due to a spate of election-related disinformation programs. That situation does offer plenty of real-life lessons in evaluating information sources, at least in my mind. Some might question my assessment:

I have as much derision for the tree octopus as anyone, but I think this represents a limited view of information literacy – and I hold my profession partly responsible for that limited view. There is much more to it, and that is a much larger discussion.

But evaluating information does occupy a corner of info lit. It is interesting, as Bryan Alexander notes, that the recent Stanford study (PDF) doesn’t even use the term. I’m not sure what to make of that. I don’t think it’s an oversight. And I’m not sure that it’s a lack of awareness, coming from a university.

The spread of disinformation is not just a problem of evaluating information though. It’s also an issue of information ethics. The old ACRL Information Literacy Standards (PDF) had a section for ethics:

The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

While it covers a range of issues, it seemed that the emphasis in practice was on intellectual property and academic integrity, with some nonsense about citation styles thrown in for good measure. The current Framework for Information Literacy include the threshold concept, Information Has Value:

Information possesses several dimensions of value, including as a commodity, as a means of education, as a means to influence, and as a means of negotiating and understanding the world. Legal and socioeconomic interests influence information production and dissemination.

The knowledge practices and dispositions related to this frame align closely with the standard it replaced, highlighting IP and giving credit where credit is due, but they also reach beyond that. Information as a “means to influence, and as a means of negotiating” applies directly to our recent/current situation. “As creators and users of information, experts understand their rights and responsibilities when participating in a community of scholarship,” the Framework says, but these rights and responsibilities are not limited to the scholarly arena. We also have a ethical responsibility to truth, and if we engage in the dissemination of questionable or deceptive information, we are shirking our responsibilities.

Sometimes teachers put false information in Wikipedia to show that it is not a source to be trusted. There is an ethical problem with that, in that it is vandalism, and the ends don’t justify the means. I think we have an ethical responsibility to fix errors in Wikipedia, if we have the means and know-how. The problem of disinformation in social media is much larger though. It is probably not productive to challenge or try to correct the stories people share, as that can backfire. Can we get people into a habit of questioning and verifying though? Can we foster a habit of acknowledging and questioning our own biases? Can we inspire people to be leaders rather than followers and carriers? I see that as part of information literacy

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That’s the idea

noun_683449_ccSo far, only a few people have blogged about their project ideas. It is possible that people are just putting it off, but it could also be that people are struggling for ideas. Nothing is more intimidating than a blank canvas, as the saying goes. If that’s the case, you can look back at what you’ve already done in the class. Is there something you can build upon? You could look back at that list of questions the class generated early on. Do any of them give you inspiration or ideas? These are ways of giving yourself a starting point and setting up some parameters.

The people who have talked about their ideas mostly specified particular media. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that may be a little bit “cart before the horse.” As you plan out your story idea, you will see opportunities to use various media, so you can let it flow from there. And remember, you can use the web as a medium. Something like the remixed web sites from Week 8 might function as a way of connecting various other media and bringing your story together.

All that being said, I really like the ideas and suggestions that have come out so far. We’ve seen a lot of great work come out of this class so far, so we know these projects will live up to the standards you have set.

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ds106 sets the record straight

Someone in my Twitterverse retweeted a Washington Post article on the fake news problem that’s been going around.

I see this as a real-life information literacy issue. People of the librarian ilk, like myself, teach that we should ask questions of information sources, like “Who put this out there, and why?” and try to avoid accepting things as accurate or true just because they’re what we want to believe. Here we have a case where a questionable (at best) source is putting out easily-debunked misinformation, and Google’s algorithms put it up at the top of the heap. So not only should we question 70news, we should question what Google is doing as well.

Mike Caulfield  has been on this issue and has looked at the magnitude of it. It’s interesting that sites with no history or reputation gain so much traction on social media so quickly. The rankings of the amateurs and the professionals has been inverted. I wonder how that brush fire starts. It seems like far more people would be paying attention to NYT than 70news. How does the latter get all the shares?

Scott Leslie pointed out that Facebook is aware of the problem and afraid to address it, although it should be noted that this information comes from unidentified sources.

But my favorite response to all this came from Kevin Hodgson, one of the many stars in the #ds106 constellation, who made a website remix about it.

The people have spoken. ds106 FTW! We could all be doing this – writing our own reality, being our own little Bob Rosses: “It’s your world. Make it what you want.”  Because when times get tough, the tough make art.

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Week 12: The final countdown

Final Project

Due Friday, 12/9, by midnight.

transFor your final project, you are going to tell a story across multiple categories of media. You’ve done writing, photography, audio, video and design. You’ve remixed and mashed up. You’ve done big projects and group projects. You’ve connected different stories. Now we’re going to bring it all together in a transmedia extravaganza.

Audio track clipped from Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium Is The Massage.

Your story has to involve at least four of the categories of media from the Assignment Bank. You can use the assignments for inspiration, but you should not consider yourself limited by them – do what makes sense for your story rather than trying to follow an assignment to the letter. The different media should work together and complement each other to tell the story. For example, part of the story might be told through an audio file, but there could be a series of photographs or animated GIFs that serve as an introduction. Maybe a Google Map would connect different parts of the story. You do not need to follow that example. The point is that it should play out across several different media. That’s what I mean by transmedia here: across various media.

Note: In the past some people have tried to make the case that video counts as audio and writing and photography and video, calling it four media in one. While I can see where that argument comes from, for the purposes of this assignment video is one medium.

You are welcome to collaborate on your final projects. Those who take this option will need to write their individual reflections on the project. You are welcome to build on what you’ve already done. Your story should in some way relate to the theme of the course, but how you do that is entirely up to you. It’s your world. Have fun with it.

How big should this be? How long of a story do you have to write? That’s hard to quantify. This is a major project, so treat it as such. Think about the work that went into your radio shows – it should be comparable to that. Think of the kind of effort that would go into doing about 40-45 stars worth of assignments. Your project should showcase what you have learned about storytelling with online media.

By next Friday, 11/18, at midnight, you need to post a progress report. You would be wise to post work in progress along the way and ask the group for input and feedback. You must regularly monitor the ds106 site and give input and feedback on people’s works in progress. I am not putting a number on how many comments you have to give, but you do have to help each other out. If you post everything at the last minute, you do so at your own peril.

By Friday, 12/2, post a second progress report. The same rules apply as above. The point of these reports is to keep you consistently and conscientiously working on the project, rather than procrastinating into trouble.

Post the project by 12/9. Your final project should be in a blog post. You will submit the URL of that to Canvas. It can link to other posts, if it makes sense to run it in multiple parts. All media – images, audio, video, etc. – must be embedded (not linked) in the post(s). The final project needs to be accompanied by a final weekly summary, in which you discuss and reflect upon the project. This could be the same post as the project, or a separate one, depending on what makes sense for your project.

There will be an additional (easy) assignment in the last week, details to come.

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Week 11: Remix & Mashup

11/4/16 – 11/11/16

Make a Tutorial
This week’s main focus will be on mashups and remixes, but we also need to make tutorials. You may have noticed these in the Assignment Bank. Some assignments have them, some don’t. Was there an assignment that gave you trouble? Something that you had to work to figure out? Something that you found a different way to do? Make a tutorial to help out the next generation of ds106ers. Put together a detailed description of how you did an assignment. It could be a video, or it could be text with images – whatever makes the most sense for the information you need to convey. You can do it for an assignment that took a lot of work, or you can do it for one that was a lot of fun. Put it in a blog post and tag it with the appropriate tags – just like assignments, tutorials need to have two tags. You can see the tags on the right side of each assignment page:


This week we will be focusing on Mashups & Remixes. The terms mashup and remix are often associated with music, but they don’t need to be limited to it. So what is a mashup? What is a remix?

From the ds106 open course:

For this unit you’ll be exploring the culminating ideas of ds106, remixes and mashups, the recasting of existing media into new forms by creative combination and editing. This will build off of your previous work in all media forms. And we will even remix our own assignments. Some will split hairs over the differences/definitions of remix and mashup. Let’s try to say that remix is usually a creative edit of one form of media, such as the recut movie trailer below or the musical remixes of Girl Talk; mashups refer to the mixing of media/content of from disparate places. Both involve the creative act of making something new from previous works. We ask you to try and sort it out and tell us if the difference really matters.

A remix could be as simple as editing a conversation into a monologue:

Garfield Minus Garfield

A mashup might involve adding some new sounds:

Friday 13th Part 3 with Laugh Track

Or editing together a new trailer:

The Shining Recut

Those two examples involve lightening the character of dark movies. There is also the opposite approach:

WILLY WONKA – Recut Horror Trailer

You could say Everything is a Remix. This week everyone gets to join in the fun.

Mashups and Remixes
Mashups – Do 12 stars of mashup assignments. Don’t like the assignments? Make up your own!

Do 2 Remixes – Choose assignments from any category and use the Remix It button on them. For example:

wk11c wk11b

Can I make a mash up or remix from something that has been created for the class already?
Certainly! Not only can you, but you should! Let’s build on what we’ve made. Use something created for the course for at least one of your projects this week.

Same as always.

Daily Creates
Two, please.

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Week 10: Making movies

giphwqeedyWe are doing a second week of video though. We’re bringing it all together in these last few weeks. This is almost entirely taken from the Open ds106 Unit 10:

Video the ds106 Way

Focus on the storytelling aspect of your video making–do not get caught up in the technical points or making the video just for the assignment stars…  Be very sure that your videos tell a story, that it surprises us, that it perhaps jars us, and that when you write up your blog post you are providing full details and context for your videos.

All of your video assignments should include:

  • An opening title sequence and/or closing credits – make sure your video gives credit to all media sources.
  • Make good use of audio– keep in mind the lessons from your audio storytelling work– use of background music, sound effects, and/or foley.
  • Your blog writeup includes the key elements— narrative describing the ideas/inspiration behind the video you created and also details on how it was made (including credits/links to media sources and at least one screen shot of your video editing screen). Think of it as the “extras” on a DVD or a “making of” article about a movie.

The Ins and Outs of Video Editing

We recommend using video editing software that allows you to cut and re-arrange clips on a timeline, and to add, and layer audio tracks. Most typically this is the software that came with your operating system- iMovie on Macs and MovieMaker on Windows PCs (but feel free to look at some of the other options in the ds106 Handbook).

Some of the assignments may require downloading of clips from YouTube (we have a tutorial if you need it). PC users may have challenges in importing the downloaded mp4 video files into MovieMaker (We have been told that the Windows Movie Maker Live can import MP4)- you will either have to install codecs to read mp4 videos, or use a converter to change mp4 into AVI or WMV file formats. See the ds106 Handbook for some video converter options.

Other resources that may help include:

The Rest of Your Video Mission

Those of you who chose the individual option last week should continue with video assignments. Do 12 stars of video assignments, including 6 which connect with the course theme in some way. If you don’t like the ones you find, feel free to create your own and add them to the Assignment Bank.

All your video work should be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo and you ought to write a post for each completed assignment in which you embed your video. We’d like to know the why’s and how’s of your productions. What might you do differently if you did it again? What did you learn, both technically and in creating your story that you might take to the next project?

If you chose the group option last week, finish your video, but still be sure to include opening & closing credits and pay attention to sound production. Be sure to blog your progress throughout the week (tag: videoshowprogress) and to share your final show in your weekly post.

This is tying together some of the things we’ve worked on this semester. Opening and closing credits are a way of incorporating design, and sound is vitally important throughout video.

Daily Creates
Three TDCs this week.

Always. Always Be Commenting.

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Week 9: Reading movies

35610-old-movie-countdown-animated-gif10/21 – 10/28

Reading movies

This week we’re moving from audio to video. We’ve been looking at related aspects – photography, sound, design – all along, but now we’re going to look at cinematic camerawork, and how it all comes together.

For starters, read Roger Ebert’s How the Read a Movie to get some basics of film analysis.

The following are part of Tony Zhou’s great series, Every Frame a Painting in which he analyzes details of film making. The entire series is worth watching and highly recommended, but I’m going to point out these in particular:

Joel & Ethan Coen – Shot | Reverse Shot

Memories of Murder (2003) – Ensemble Staging

Akira Kurosawa – Composing Movement

In Praise of Chairs

An interesting point about all of these is that they are about design. It may not be design in the Vignelli sense, but staging, composition and sets are all carefully and deliberately planned out to achieve particular goals, that is to say, designed.

F for Fake (1973) – How to Structure a Video Essay

The Silence of the Lambs – Who Wins the Scene?

David Fincher – And the Other Way is Wrong

Note that the focus in these is not on plot or acting, or even if the movies are good or not, but rather on the techniques that the directors use to tell stories.

Apply what we’ve learned

Now that we’ve spent some time thinking about how films are made and how we “read” them, let’s apply that new information to a film. Identify some particularly effective scenes from a movie you’ve watched. Pick one of them to analyze in a video essay. Use the critical lens of this week’s reading and resources. This means you are going to make a video, using a scene from a movie, and discuss the scene in voice-over narration. You can upload your video essay to Vimeo or Youtube.

This assignment is a slight variation on the classic ds106 Video Essay assignment in the Assignment Bank. For this class, you need only analyze one scene, although you’re welcome to do more. In particular, your analysis should reflect what you learned by reading Ebert’s essay and watching the Tony Zhou videos.

MPEG Streamclip, iMovie and Windows MovieMaker are good tools for this project. There is a whole page with advice and information that should help with this assignment (although I haven’t updated it recently – if you run in to dead links, let me know). The Digital Knowledge Center is also a great resource. They offer tutoring on video editing, and the Convergence Center has tools and equipment that you can use.

When you’re done, blog your video essay (that means embed the video in your post, and write about the process of making it and what you got out of it.) and tag it videoessay.

And Do More Video Assignments: Two options

Choice One

Complete at least 12 stars of video assignments this week. If you choose this option, you will receive a second set of video assignments to complete next week.

Choice Two

For those of you who really enjoyed creating the radio shows, you have the option of taking a similar approach to video. You’ll divide up into groups of 3-5 (can be the same as your radio group, but don’t have to be) and produce a 15-30 minute video story together. Much like with radio, you can choose the format and story, but you must involve the course theme in some way. Here’s how the work will be divided:

Week One: Organize into your group as quickly as possible and decide on your approach to your video episode. You may use the Video assignments in the Assignment Bank as inspiration for your show, but you don’t have to. In addition to planning this week (deciding on format, choosing a story to tell, writing a script, planning shooting locations, etc.), each group member must produce a short (30-60 seconds)  “trailer” for your show that introduces your concept, story, etc.

Write up all your planning in a series of blog posts tagged videoshowplan and make sure you share your trailer in your weekly post. Each group member needs to blog about their part in the project.

Week Two: Working in your group, produce and edit your video episode. Write up your progress along the way in a second series of videoshowproduce blog posts. Make sure you share your final show in your weekly summary.

Daily Creates

Do two this week


Keep it up! It’s the interaction that makes the class.

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Radio shows – round one

Our first round of ds106 radio shows went very well. We started off with ds106 News Radio, which covered a number of important and highly relevant topics

In all seriousness, the show was well thought-out and well done. Considering the state of modern journalism, it could have easily gone yellow, especially with some of the topics, but they took a serious and thoughtful approach (although some may disagree with that assessment).

The second show, Minuscule Stories, dealt with 6 to 10 word stories. This went exceptionally well. I wondered how it would hold together, but the analysis, sound production and commercials all worked together. Kudos to the group for reaching out to the ds106 community, and to Todd Conaway and Kevin Hodgson for pitching in.

The show addressed the famous six word story attributed to Hemingway, as did the listeners:

which takes us to our third segment, the Meme Show

This is another one I wondered about. Memes are such a visual thing. Would it make good audio? But again, the discussion and analysis made it.

and our ds106 meme-meister Katie got in on the action and contributed examples

So it was a great first listening session, and set a high bar for tonight’s groups, which will include some special guests from Kansas. ‘Cause we’re worldwide and #4life at ds106.

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