Week One: Bootcamp


All work is due by midnight on Friday, 9/2/2016

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.

  1.     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: http://docs.umwdtlt.org/umw-domains/signing-up-on-domain-of-ones-own/ 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.

  1.     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 ds106.myawesomedomains.com. Find 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 wordpress.com. 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).

  1.     Install Hypothes.is

This is another channel for interaction that we will be using throughout the semester. There are three parts to this:

  1. Go to hypothes.is and create an account.
  2. Download and install the browser plugin (Chrome or Firefox, or both if you like).
  3. Install the Hypothesis plugin on your WordPress site

The Hypothesis browser plugin lets you highlight and annotate web pages. The plugin for WordPress makes it possible for visitors to your site to highlight and annotate your pages. This is a way of interacting with the web and with your classmates, which you will hear more about next week. There is a Quick Start Guide for using Hypothesis, which you may find helpful

  1.     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 #7 if you don’t already have a Twitter account.

  1.     Get an Avatar

You will need to select an “avatar” for yourself. This is an icon or image that can represent you online (it need not be your face). This should preferably be a square image. Create a “gravatar” for yourself at http://gravatar.com using the email address you most likely will use for course work (and keep in mind you can associate your gravatar with several email accounts). Many sites (such as our class site) will automatically use this image as your avatar.

  1.     Set up Your Social Media

Create accounts and fill out profiles for yourself (if any of these let you set an avatar, use the same icon as you set up on Gravatar) on:

○      Flickr (photo sharing) http://flickr.com

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) http://soundcloud.com/

Set up an account if you don’t already have one.

○      Google / Youtube (video sharing) http://www.google.com/accounts/

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) http://vimeo.com

Alternatively, if you don’t want to get a YouTube account, feel free to use Vimeo for your videos.

○      Twitter http://twitter.com

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.

  1.     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 end of the week to do your all work you will be crushed!

  1. 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. What do you think of his message? Which of his ten points seem most significant to you? Use Hypothesis to make annotations on the post. I set up a group for this purpose. You could pick two of his points, highlight meaningful sections and include your thoughts as annotations. Tag your annotations ds106. Blog your thoughts about this experience, as well as your thoughts on the post as a whole. Tag this post ShowYourWork. UMW students have online access to Kleon’s book through the Simpson Library, but only one person at a time can view it. It’s worth a look, both for what he has to say and the creative presentation of his message.

  1.  The Internet

We’re using The Internet as a theme for our semester. In addition to this course being on the web and of the web, it will also be, to an extent, about the web. This does not mean that the web is the only thing we will be talking about. The purpose of the theme is to give us some common ground for interaction. 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, you have a few of tasks.
1. Read and respond to any one of these:
A Domain of One’s Own in a Post-Ownership Society
The true promise of Interactive Computing: Leveraging our Collective IQ
How To Break Open The Web
2. What do the Internet and the web mean to you? Not in a technical or definitional sense, but rather in a philosophical one. The emphasis is on “to you.” There is no right or wrong answer. This is not a test or essay question. It is meant to get you thinking.
3. I’m looking for some broad, open-ended questions about the web/Internet. Come up with at least two, but more is okay. The plan is to use these as potential springboards for ideas in the coming weeks. Put your thoughts in a blog post and tag it TheInternet.

11. 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. We 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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Why the Internet?

Why are we using the Internet as a theme? I started thinking about this idea a few months ago, when I came across the article “The true promise of Interactive Computing: Leveraging our Collective IQ.” I started thinking about how the people who built the Internet and the web had a vision of what it could be and what it could mean for human society, and how we’ve gotten away from that, how we’ve changed course. How it was designed to be open and how we’ve bought into closed spaces. How we can still make of it what we want. I think there are many stories in there, and much we could say about it. But that’s what interests me, and I’m only one part of the group. There are eight billion stories on the open web, and that’s just one of them.


What does the rest of the class want to make of this? The Internet offers endless possibilities…

One of the things we do in this class is take control of our own pieces of the web. We get to be who we want, and make of our domains what we want. It’s on the web and of the web, so why not make it about the web as well? And since there have been so many articles about the 25th anniversary of the web, it’s a timely theme.

But do we truly own anything in the digital realm? Maha Bali and Audrey Watters have been exploring that question this very week. I think we can have varying degrees of control, but mostly we lease rather than own. Even if I kept my site on a server in my closet, I would still have to lease access through an ISP to technically have a domain on the web. How much control would I have? How much ownership would the ISP have? The post ownership society idea that Watters writes about reminds me of the extractive democracy idea that Bryan Alexander  wrote about last year. This goes back to that tension between what the web is and what it could be. What do we want to make of it?

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“Blackbird fly…”

For today’s Daily Create we had to “Remix the Twitter Bird into an unusual location.” The bird led to The Birds, naturally, and no doubt inspired by gifmaster Michael Branson Smith’s Hitchcock effort. When I googled the Twitter logo and found a black PNG of the bird, the deal was sealed. I looked for The Birds gifs, and found the one I used on Giphy. It had twelve frames, so I didn’t think it would be too bad to work with. I selected the first frame and pasted in the logo, which created a new layer between the first and second. I scaled the bird down to a small size and moved it back by the house. Then I duplicated the layer, moved the duplicate above the second layer, scaled the bird up a little and changed its position slightly. I repeated this process ten more times, so I had a bird for each layer, and together they create the illusion of the bird flying forward. I ended up with a Layers palette like this:


Then I merged each Layer 13 copy with the layer below it, and Saved for Web as a gif. Apparently when I scaled the bird down in the first place, it lost the original pixel information, so each time I enlarged it, it became more and more fuzzy. I didn’t expect that, but I think it works. If it was sharp and in focus, it wouldn’t fit in as well with the other birds.


And as I was writing this, my Daily Create inspired the inspirer:

And that’s the magic of ds106!

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ds106 Fall 2016

ds106 on the web1The syllabus for the Fall 2016 ds106 course is now online.

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Drawing pedagogy lab

On the first day of the Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute, we were challenged to draw our ideal classroom. Some random thoughts:


This group used an explorer metaphor. We see builders, travelers, a thinker, Dora, Sherlock… the figure at the bottom represents students as world-makers. So the whole world is a classroom, and may things, or anything, we do can be learning activities, if we’re open to it and use our imaginations.


This is built from a simple network visualization – I’ll take credit for the lack of imagination there – but with several things built onto it. The different colored lines connecting the nodes represent a change over time – new connections among each other, and more connections to the outside world. That dotted line on the right connects to the world in the drawing above. We started out with a question mark on each node, since we all have something to learn, but we changed that since not everyone comes to class with questions, and we experience different states as well – sometimes we connect, condense, exclaim, equate – there are lots of ways to read that. The teacher is part of the group. It’s a community of learners.


This diagram brings together ideas from Dr. Who, Mr. Rogers and Mario. The classroom is a collection of portals, a Tardis, or Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood Trolley


This class is built on cell metaphor from biology. I don’t remember the whole story, but it was detailed and well thought out. There appears to be a lot of activity inside, replication and transformation and growth. It’s wrapped in a semi-permeable membrane, and it’s pulling the world in, but it’s also feeding out to systems of higher education, in order to transform its environment. My favorite of the drawings. One person was pleased that they used a biological cell rather than “an actual cell,” referring to prison. I wondered what that said about our society, that an actual cell is viewed as jail, rather than the foundational building block of life on this planet. I mentioned that to the biology professor in the group and he told me of the etymology of the word, that the person who originally discovered the cell thought it looked like prison.


Here is another one that shows nodes on network as the class. the squiggly lines show that it’s flexible, changing, evolving. There’s no hierarchy – teachers as students, students as teachers, and they want to do away with grading. The pros and cons of that became a class discussion, with thoughtful points on both sides. Grading was brought up in the keynote as well – Tressie Macmillan Cottom said that shortly after the A-F grading scheme was invented in education, it was adopted by the meat packing industry, and that the grading of meat is far more detailed and nuanced than anything schools do. Does that mean we value carcasses more than students? Or is it because the complexity of human learning is so great that we use a reductive system of grading out of necessity?

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Of bus drivers and cartographers

cc 2012 Cesar Ojeda 007-América Meridional. Mapas generales. 1775-detalle

cc 2012 Cesar Ojeda 007-América Meridional. Mapas generales. 1775-detalle

coreOne of our first activities was to write down our core teaching values. I believe we were asked for three statements. This came fairly easily to me, and I imagine it was even easier for many of the others in the Praxis track. Being a librarian, I am very service-focused – it’s all about the students. Unfortunately, in my role I get very little time with them, if any, so I rarely get to know them, their goals and their needs. My second statement is something that drives a lot of what I try to do: We are all in charge of our own learning. I feel like I didn’t really figure that out until grad school, so I try to push students to get the message as early as possible. I think it paid off for the True Crimers. We had some of those students in subsequent classes, and they all took leadership roles. The feedback we got at the end of the course also indicated that they learned leadership and accountability. The third statement comes from my problematic relationship with assessment and instructional design. As teachers, often, we define outcomes and objectives, and we decide how they will be achieved and demonstrated. But our students may have different goals. They start at different points. I don’t want to be a bus driver, taking them from point A to point B. I’d rather be a cartographer, helping them figure out the lay of the land so they can find their way.

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“All the pieces matter”

allthepiecesmatterIn Sidney Lumet’s great book, Making Movies, there’s a section on art direction, part of the design of film, where he points out that every little detail we see or hear in a scene is deliberate and planned, right down to the hangers in a closet. As Freamon said, “All the pieces matter.”

So when I was re-listening to parts of Limetown the other day, this line caught my attention:

I liked Tuesdays because they played older films at the theater. The Little Foxes, City Lights, Double Indemnity.

 from https://m.reddit.com/r/limetown/wiki/episodes/winona

I thought there must be a reason why those three films were mentioned. This was in the second episode, “Winona.” The title character was talking about her life in Limetown – what she did there, what she liked about the town… Double Indemnity I knew of course, a noir film about cold-blooded murder for profit. City Lights was a Chaplin film from the silent movie days. I’m sure I saw it as a child, but I didn’t remember anything about it. According to Wikipedia, it’s about the rich and the poor, and a life-changing operation that lets a blind girl see. The Little Foxes was a new one to me. It touches on similar themes – the haves and have-nots, the idea of blindness (the daughter’s naivete), and murder for profit, as the mother drives her husband to a heart attack. In the context of the Limetown story, the three films are relevant and meaningful, much more than just a passing detail.


Bette Davis and Herbert Marshall in The Little Foxes

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What I’ve been reading

I know I’ll never be a Martin Weller, but I managed to get myself into a number of books at once.

eternautFirst was The Eternaut by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano López. I ordered this for my library, or tried to, but it’s out of stock at the publisher. That surprised me, since it only came out last year. I tried to get a copy through our regional library consortium, but the request was refused, which made me more determined, so I went through interlibrary loan. To me, it reads like a 50s sci-fi story with people fighting off an invading alien army that includes giant bugs, monsters and zombies. We never actually see who or what is in charge of the aliens though – it’s an army of pawns under remote control of some middlemen, who themselves are in a “follow orders or die” position, all under the command of an invisible hand. The people who fight are mostly ordinary civilians who surprise each other with their ingenuity and initiative and rise above a seemingly hopeless situation.

Then I had an audiobook, Too Big to Know by David Weinberger. This had been on my to-read list for a while. Audio is not the way to go with this one. Part of the reason is that I mainly listen as I’m commuting, so I’m engaging in distracted listening, and the content deserves better. The other thing that bothers me is the narrator. He reads in a newsreader sort of a voice, which gives the prose a flatness that I don’t think it would have if I read the text.

I heard about Jason Reynolds speech and poem in acceptance of a Coretta Scott King award for his novel, All American Boys, so I had to read that as well. Topical.

AIMG_1654nd then there was The Water Knife, by Paolo Bacigalupi, which I wrote a little about already. So that’s a graphic novel, and audiobook, a YA novel, and a SF book. Not heavy reading, but it’s something. Can I keep the run going? I have The Peripheral on deck, but it’s been on my to-read shelf for a long time.

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Internet 106

ds106 is right around the corner, so I better start blogging about it again. I had a bunch of ideas about what to do this semester. I thought of using a superhero theme, something I still might run with at some point in the future. They’re a thing in pop culture these days, but there’s a history to them, and one could even talk about them as modern mythology. We could also play with the idea of multiple identities. So there are a lot of different paths it could take, a lot of storytelling possibilities. I thought of playing with the election and starting our own ds106 party, so we could play with propaganda again. That could be risky though, due to the potential for conflict, and we’d have to figure out what to do post-election. Scott Lo brought up the secret agent angle, which I really like because it plays off my name. I may run with that in the spring semester. I wonder about it though, because the genre tends to be sexist. Some people took issue with the western theme for that very reason. Everyone is free to critique and deconstruction and subvert the themes we use, but most people don’t. They seem to prefer to play it straight. Maybe I need to take the lead on that.

But I’ve been thinking back to The Internet Course, and bringing that into ds106 loosely as a theme, so it’s not only on the web and of the web, but also about the web, in whatever way the class wants to take it. That makes it less about genre and more about what we make as a class. I like the idea of exploring questions like: What is this thing we call the Internet? What was it meant to be? What do we want it to be? We can look at Vannevar Bush’s vision, where Englebart took it, what’s happened to it… We can look at how we can make it our own, our web. It’s not supposed to be about what I want though, so I’m hoping to get questions to explore from the class, so that they take part in setting the direction of the course.

One thing I’m adding to the course is Hypothes.is. I want to use it as an additional communication/connection channel, using annotating as commenting. It feels like it could be more conversational to me. It may be totally new to the students. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m also bringing Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work! to the course. Amy Burvall recommended it on Twitter some time ago, as the best book about education that’s not about education, or something like that. What Kleon talks about is a lot of what the course is trying to do – show your work, experiment in the open, talk about what you’re doing.

I was also playing with sounds and temporal incongruity a little. I don’t know if the sounds will mean much to people who aren’t of the proper vintage, but there’s a kind of progression from rotary phone to modem to Netflix which is supposed to symbolize how things change. Or something.

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“You want it one way”


Sometimes there’s a tension between the way it is and the way we want it to be. Marlo pointed that out to the security guard in The Wire, and Maria brought it up in The Water Knife. Sometimes people see how it is, and sometimes people see how they want it to be. There was a quote earlier in the book that suggested we can be blind to the obvious:


I remember watching a talk by futurist Glen Hiemstra many years ago, where he said it is important to envision the future we want to see. I took that to mean that if we look for dystopia, that is what we will find. But if we imagine a better world, we will figure out how to get there. That can be so hard to do though, when the world gets darker and darker. Maybe the trick is to be aware of what could go wrong, and envision how to avoid it. “Take a sad song and make it better,” as the song goes.

When I saw the cover blurb, “Chinatown meets Mad Max,” I knew I had to read The Water Knife. It’s brutal, backstabbing fun, a vision of a near future where there’s not enough water to go around. In his blog post about the book, Bryan Alexander linked to a National Geographic article on water wars, which isn’t quite as apocalyptic as the novel. The issue of water rights came up in the Canadian TV series Intelligence as well, about a decade ago. To some people it’s a big deal; others are “blithely oblivious.” Could it take a near-apocalyptic event to get people to take water and climate seriously? Will it be too late then? Or will we find ways to adapt? I think we can. It’s what we’re good at.

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