Week 5: It’s all by design

9/23/16 – 9/30/16

All work is due by midnight on 9/30/16

Week 5 will be focused on design. For this week you will be ramping up your command of image editing as well as closely considering design elements such as color, font, iconography, etc.

We’ve put together a page that includes lots of great design resources. You should take a look at it. Two things you should look at to get you thinking about design:

Title Design: The Making of Movie Titles

Read: Stranger Things: meet the design genius behind TV’s most talked about title font

  1. Read and Reflect: A design resource that’s worth looking at is The Vignelli Canon. It’s a short booklet by Massimo Vignelli, who was a superstar in the world of graphic design. The booklet is light on text and heavy on space and imagery, so it’s a quick read. His purpose in writing it was to share his knowledge for the benefit of other designers. As he says, “Creativity needs the support of knowledge to be able to perform at its best.” Vignelli did most of his work in the pre-Internet era, when graphic design meant ink on paper, so some of the information is not so relevant to our online environment, but the principles still stand. So take a look at it and the two items above, and let us know what you think. Categorize your reflection post under Thoughts/Ideas and tag it designthoughts.
  2. Complete a DesignBlitz: To reinforce your understanding of design principles, you need to undertake a “Design Blitz.” Carry your camera with you this week and take photos of objects, ads, signs, etc. that illustrate at least four of the ten concepts listed below (one photo per concept). Refer to the DesignBlitz resources on the Design Resource page for more information about each of the concepts.
    • color
    • typography
    • metaphors/symbols
    • minimalism & use of space
    • form/function/message
    • balance
    • rhythm
    • proportion
    • dominance
    • unity
    • Share all your photos on Flickr and tag them designblitz; also make sure you write up a blog post sharing what you found and tag it designblitz.
    • When you have completed your Blitz, write a blog post that includes (THAT MEANS EMBED!) the photos and your analysis of the design elements and what makes them effective or not. (You should do this in one single post.)
    • PRO TIP: Sometimes we can learn just as much from badly designed things as we can from well-designed things!
  3. Earlier we looked at a blog post on Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work!  This week, look at two chapters in particular:
    2. Think Process, Not Product.
    3. Share Something Small Everyday.
    There are two purposes for this. One is that Kleon’s message applies to what we should be doing in this class. We should blog about our processes, the thoughts and decisions that go into the assignments, and we should do a little each day, as much as possible. The other is that Kleon’s book is very interesting from a design standpoint. How do these chapters display some of the concepts from the DesignBlitz? Put your thoughts in a blog post and tag it kleon.
    Note: The publisher only lets one person view the book at a time. Hopefully this won’t be too much of an inconvenience.
  4. Do your DailyCreates: We are doing 3 TDCs again this week.
  5. Complete at least 12 stars of other design assignments:
 Complete at least 10 stars of Design assignments from the Design category of the Assignment Bank. A couple of design assignments we recommend are the Four Icons/ One Story and the Minimalist Movie/TV Poster assignments, though neither is required. Each design assignment must be blogged and narrated with your process and thinking! Don’t forget to review Alan’s tips of how to write-up assignments like a pro – it’s all in the write-up.
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Listen to the Limetown, part III

In listening to Limetown over the past few evenings, I’m struck by the references to other works. I wrote about three movies earlier. Off the top of my head, I remember these:mothernightvonnegut

The Little Foxes
City Lights
Double Indemnity
Animal Farm
Mother Night
Player Piano
The Wizard of Oz
Planet of the Apes

There’s nothing coincidental about any of these, of course. It’s all by design. But what are they telling us? I see a theme of things not being what they seem. The Planet was really Earth. Charlton Heston was seeing the future. Dorothy was having a dream. Chaplin is a Tramp, not a millionaire. Just like with the sound editing, all these little details come together to create something rich and multi-layered. I should dig into it more, but it’s late and I’m tired.

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Limetown listen-along, part II

We’ve been listening to Limetown during our ds106radio tweet-alongs. So far, we’ve heard:

The show is very cinematic. This makes sense, since the creators are two film school grads. Making a movie takes major money, but making a podcast is much more manageable. So that’s what they did, and they got themselves noticed and made names for themselves.

And it’s the kind of thing that could only have happened through the Internet. They didn’t need anyone’s permission, they didn’t have to follow anyone’s rules or adhere to anyone’s schedule but their own. They just Made Art and put it out there. And people dug it. We had many great observations on the sound:

We also met a pig named Napoleon, although the name was meant as a joke.

He enjoyed listening to Mother Night, which I’m sure has some significance. But it’s been so long since I read it that I’m not sure what to make of it.

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“You put the lime in the coconut…”

We had a great first night of live-tweeting #ds106radio on Monday, with 13 listeners at one point.

What we saw, so to speak, over and over again, was the power of sound to make the story. Not just the words, although the writing is very effective, or the voice acting, which was also exceptional, but the use of sound effects to create a sense of place and of space, and to define the action.

The background music also worked brilliantly, both to indicate transitions and to enhance the mood.

And Katie brought the memes:

All the little details are important too. At one point Winona Crazypants mentions three films she saw in the Limetown theater. It was just a passing thing, but the titles weren’t chosen at random, I’m sure.

I’m sure the next three days will be just as good. I’m looking forward to it.

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Week 4: Audio

Just a little audio experiment I did a while ago, thinking about the changing sounds of the web.

9/16/16 – 9/23/16

All work is due by midnight on 9/23/16

This week we will dig into audio storytelling. That goes beyond the words and tone of voice to include sound effects, background noise and music. We will be asking you to consider how these subliminal elements impact the story. We are also introducing ds106 radio (an open, Web-based, community radio station) this week, where we will be broadcasting stories Monday – Thursday from 9-10PM. We will also begin experimenting with audio production. We strongly recommend Audacity, a free and open source audio-editing program, further details below. If you have access to and experience with a different audio editing system, you are free to use it instead. Along with Audacity, you will need to download and install the LAME mp3 Encoder.

NOTE: This week, we’ve put together an Audio Resources page which includes lots of information and resource to help you complete the week’s assignments. We strongly recommend you read it and refer to it during the week.

Download and Experiment with Audacity: Unless you have a lot of previous experience with audio editing, you should plan on spending some time this week getting comfortable with Audacity. It is recommended that you do this right away, because you will find that audio editing can be quite time-consuming. If you have another audio editing platform that you’re familiar with, you can skip this step. But everyone needs to get their hands dirty with audio editing. If you’re overwhelmed by Audacity, make an appointment with at the Digital Knowledge Center for help: http://dkc.umw.edu.

Think about Audio Storytelling: Review the following readings and examples, as well as the various links/information on the Audio Resources page. Write a blog post (tag: audioreflection) discussing audio in storytelling, the way audio is used in film/video, and the use of audio in horror. Consider what we watched, read and listened to this week and in the previous weeks. How does sound drive stories? How does it impact mood and create atmosphere? Use specific examples and embed them in your post. Make sure you complete the ds106 Radio listening exercise below and discuss your impressions of what you heard in your post, as well. (There is a lot to potentially reflect upon here; if you wish to divide it into a series of posts, using the “audioreflection” tag, that would be a good idea.)

Listen: “ Moon Graffiti” This is an excellent example of audio storytelling. Think about how the sounds, both the sound effects and the changes in sound, tell you what is going on, how they create a sense of place, a sense of space and a sense of atmosphere.

Listen: Participate in a live “tweet-along” with ds106 radio this week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 9:00-10:00 PM. Use #ds106 hashtag in your tweet responses in order to get credit.

Complete 3 Daily Creates: You must complete and correctly tag at least three daily creates this week. Make sure you also blog your TDCs.

Create a Radio Bumper: Once you’ve familiarized yourself with ds106 radio, try your hand at making your first radio “ bumper ” – a 10-30 second short audio that announces a radio station that is played between songs to remind listeners what they are tuned in to. This should be saved as an MP3 file, and then upload it to SoundCloud. Make sure in Soundcloud that you enable to option to allow downloads (so we can add it to ds106 radio!) Your audio must be embedded in your blog post summary of this assignment. You can embed Soundcloud audio just like you have done for YouTube and flickr, put the plain text URL on its own line, and when you publish, WordPress will create a player to allow visitors to listen. The radio bumper is an assignment in the Assignment Bank (so you should tag your blog post correctly when you’re done), but it won’t count to your star total this week. Sorry!

Complete 12 Stars of Audio Assignments: This week you must complete at least 12 stars of assignments from the Audio category in the Assignment Bank.

 Involve the course theme in at least one of the assignments in some way. Maybe you could take advantage of the list of questions the class generated. One assignment everyone must do is the sound effects story (3 ½ stars): This is a challenge to tell a short story (no longer than 90 seconds) using nothing but sound effects! We highly recommend using http://freesound.org to find free sound effects for this project.

Make sure all your completed assignments are uploaded to SoundCloud, and write up a post for each assignment in which you embed that audio from SoundCloud.

Brainstorm Radio Show Ideas: In a couple of weeks, you will be forming groups and creating a radio show as pre-recorded audio. In preparation, we want each of you to brainstorm an idea for a 20-30 minute radio show—somehow related to or inspired by the theme of the course —on your blog. This post can just be some random ideas, thoughts, and/or a rough sketch. We want this to be a space where you share your ideas and people start to congeal around a few so we can be prepared to form groups soon! This post should be tagged radioshowideas.

Commenting: Comment, comment, and comment some more. You should all be looking at each others’ work and leaving feedback. We recommend going to the course site every day and leaving feedback on a few posts. That’s the main way we do class participation in this course.

Weekly Summary: You all know what this is.

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Week Three: Photography

Penrose lego by Erik Johansson

Penrose lego CC2007 Erik Johansson


All work is due by midnight on Friday, 9/16

This week we will be exploring visual elements of storytelling.

  1. Think about the Visuals of Storytelling: Review the following materials about photography and using visual elements to create stories. Write a blog post (tag: photoreflection) about your previous/current experience with photography. Do you take a lot of photos now? What of? Do you have a particular approach to taking photos? Do you ever work to capture a particular feeling or meaning in your photos? If so, how successful do you think you are? After reviewing these resources, what tactics can you use to improve your photos or to take a different approach to taking photos?
    •   Becoming a Better Photographer (section from the ds106 Handbook – just the “Becoming” part, not all the assignments contained on the page)
    •   The Internet and photography PHOTO 2.0 — ONLINE PHOTOGRAPHIC THINKING (REVISITED)
    •   Photography and narrative: What is involved in telling a story?
  2. Think about what you read in Becoming Better Photographers and try to find examples of the different points and analyze them. Flickr can be a great resource, but you are welcome to look elsewhere. How many can you find?
    •   selection
    •   contrast
    •   perspective
    •   depth
    •   balance
    •   moment
    •   lighting
    •   foreground/background
  3. 8 stars worth of visual assignments, and involve our theme in one of them in some way. How you go about doing that is completely up to you, but as a challenge, I will suggest looking to the questions the class generated, such as
    •   How would historical figures react to the Internet?
    •   How has the internet come to consume our daily lives?
    •   Are there any limits on what is possible?
    •   Are we really free on the internet?
    •   What can you imagine the Internet will be like in the future?
    although you are not limited to those.
    Be sure to write a post in WordPress for each assignment describing your thinking, your process, and evaluating the results, and be sure to tag it with the assignment tags.
  4. 3 Daily Creates this week.
  5. A 20 minute Photoblitz. Be sure to grab the code and include the seven tasks you were assigned in a blog post, along with the photos you took. Tag this post photoblitz. Thanks John Johnston!
  6. Commenting. Everybody needs to pay attention to the work the rest of the class is doing and offer regular feedback and comments. A good way to go about this is to go to the course blog feed every day and take a few minutes to leave a few comments. You can also use Hypothesis as a commenting system – make sure to use the ds106 tag on your annotations. This should not be difficult or time-consuming. It is rewarding and inspiring though.
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Awesome moments of spontaneous creativity

Sometimes they happen. ds106 is fertile ground for them. This morning I saw this tweet:

I thought that would have been a great idea for a Daily Create – do a simple video of that Star Trek style overacting in response to space turbulence. We could still do it. It just would have been nice to do it on the 50th anniversary of the show.

But what do you know? Bill Genereux, who’s running a ds106 class in parallel with ours at Kansas State, took up the challenge:

and I think it’s brilliant! It’s simple, it looks like everyone had fun, and it’s part of a distributed conversation that only the internet could enable – an example of a new digital storytelling, perhaps? Coupled with some of the things that have started to happen in our section, it tells me we’re in for a great semester.

I’m just going to add a second bit of Start Trek geekery here. I saw this this morning on Tumblr:


I’ve seen that show dozens of times over the years, yet I feel like I never noticed that line. Which I find embarrassing. The fact that she ad-libbed it on the set makes it that much better.

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Now let’s take over the world.

One of the many awesome things about ds106 is the way the community’s creations become a constant source of inspiration. Evan posted a great Inkscape tutorial on making a flag, and added an animation of the flag waving at the end. He used the Online Flag Waver to do this, which was a new tool to me. I thought, we need our own flag. So I grabbed a screenshot from the ds106 home page, adjusted the contrast a bit in photoshop, and uploaded the image to the flag generator. I didn’t see a way to save the output, so I used Quicktime to make a screen recording of it. I looked at the resulting video and decided it needed some patriotic music, so I did a CC search and found the Washington Post March on Soundcloud. Put the two together in iMovie and here you go:

Now let’s take over the world.

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“It’s the logical thing to do”

As I was reading “A Logic Named Joe,” I thought there should a marketing campaign to promote this product. I thought of a commercial jingle:

For anything you need to know
You can ask Joe!

and I can hear it in my head, with the canned music and the chorus of voices that does a million other commercial jingles. I don’t have the talent to sing or to do the right music though. I looked through the Audio Assignments, and found there was an assignment, Make Your Own Radio Commercial! that aligned with what I wanted to do! Saved me the trouble of writing one.

I went to CC Search to find some appropriate Creative Commons licensed music I could work with. After a few false starts, I looked for “happy” and found Morning Sun – Free Happy Background Music from Nicolai Heidlas Music. I thought that would work as background music, and I could do a voice over. So I came up with a script:

Do you have perplexing problems in your life that get you down? Sure. We all do. But help is here. Meet Joe – the next-level logic from the Logic Company. Any ordinary logic can tell you what, but Joe will tell you how. And all your troubles can be solved, just like that – logically. Call the Logic Company today. 1-800-LOGICCO. Get a Joe of your own – it’s the logical thing to do.
Use only as directed. Rules of logic may apply.

I opened up my download of the music in Audacity and recorded the voiceover. I had to play with some levels and amplify my voice a bit, and I applied a fade-out at the end. It’s silly, but it came out okay, I think.

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All the questions…

One of the things we did this week was come up with questions about the Internet. Below I’ve pulled together most, if not all, of them. If people tagged their posts correctly, finding their questions was fairly easy. That’s one of the powers of tagging posts.

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Question_(comics)

It’s quite a list. There are questions of control, dependence, privacy, the future, positive and negative aspects. There are questions that are introspective and those that are speculative. And there is so much we could do with them. That first question has all sorts of storytelling possibilities. Questions about the future are wide open. How much philosophical discourse could the question, “Are we really free on the internet?” generate? We can use this list for ideas and inspiration throughout the semester.  We can go in many different directions, and still find many intersections. I like the possibilities. I like that the class can take it in directions that I may not have considered.

The list starts with a question of history, and contains several about the future. These align with an idea I had to look the development and growth and think about where it will go. The reading I’ve put out there come from this. History, and by extension, the future, interest me, but not everyone cares about it, so I’m glad to have the class’s ideas in the mix. Those who want to steer in different directions can do so, and those who want to go along for ride can hop aboard any bus they choose.

The list:

  • How would historical figures react to the Internet?
  • Does the Internet change how we learn?
  • What is the future of the Internet?
  • Will the Internet ever become obsolete?
  • How much of the internet do we have access to and how does this affect our sharing abilities?
  • How has the internet come to consume our daily lives?
  • Do you think people are too dependent on the internet?
  • In what ways would removing the internet harm our economy?
  • Has the internet taken a negative spin in the past few decades?
  • Will the future of the internet include more restrictions due to the negative connotations it has?
  • When it comes to Google and search in general, how much are we really losing by their control over results? What do we gain?
  • As the web continues to expand over the world, a question comes to mind. If someone has never used the internet before (for example, most of sub-Saharan Africa), what is the best way to introduce them? How do we take someone who has never used this thing we’ve grown so accustomed to and give them an introduction?
  • Is the fact that we can share our thoughts and feeling online a good or bad thing? Has social media ingrain itself into people’s everyday life and is that a good or a bad thing?
  • Question 1: In what ways do you think people are too dependent on the Internet, if at all?
  • Question 2: How has the world changed since all of the upgrades in technology over the past century?
  • Question 1: What are some negative impacts, if any, the internet has had on society?
  • Question 2: What is in store for the future of the web?
  • 1. What is the future of the internet?
  • 2. How do people own parts of the internet?
  • What are the full capabilities of the internet?
  • Why is the world wide web not world wide?
  • As more and more personal data can be found on the internet, how will this affect social interaction (personal and professional) off the web?
  • Will groups with extremist views and positions become more prominent due to how easy the internet makes it for like-minded people to find each other?
  • But what is the next step for the internet? What will be the next “big thing”? Are there any limits on what is possible?
  • How do you think the internet will change in the future? How will it continue to impact society? Do you think the internet will ever become obsolete, or will it evolve and expand into a new form? Some people hypothesize that we will eventually become one with the internet, leaving our physical bodies by uploading our consciousness to web servers. Do you think this is likely or even possible? How do you think the internet has already changed society? Are we better off?
  • 1.Are we really free on the internet?
  • 2.Why do you think people are okay with paying for things on the internet but not really owning it? is it because they are not educated about them not really owning what they think they really own, or do you think they just ignore it because there is nothing that can be done about it?
  • Should there be an organization or body that overlooks and censors the Internet?
  • What can you imagine the Internet will be like in the future?
  • What will we do if the world did not have any Internet? Do you think it would be harder to communicate or not? Why?
  • Is it even possible to de-centralize the Internet?
  • How can the Internet be run in a way that is fair?
  • Has the Internet become so intertwined with our daily lives that without it, we would be lost?
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