Let’s not make it 800% slower

I never really liked the Make It 800% Slower assignment. It usually results in a never ending drone, and people give themselves 4 stars for what is little more than a click of a button. However, I thought I might try taking the Monster Magnet song “Hallelujah” (YT) and slow the tempo by half. Maybe then I could try to figure out how to play in on a banjo or something. But then I had the idea to layer the full speed and half speed versions together – by visually lining up the first beat, the others should fall into place. The result is noisy, but not quite as cacophonous as one might expect. Because I used the change tempo function, it didn’t change the pitch, so it sounds in tune and in time. The song has layered voices anyway, so this just added a few more. I delayed the entry of the full speed version by a few measures, so the slow vocals kick in first and then the faster ones over take them after a bit.

It seemed like an interesting experiment, although I’m not sure if I can take it anywhere. I also took a screen recording of it and made it a video, for what it’s worth:

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CeeLo goes for the gold

I have no idea what CeeLo was up to, and I don’t watch the Grammys, but this isn’t the first time he’s channeled a Bond villain. So I had the idea to do a spin on the triple troll quote. The picture comes from US magazine, and was credited to Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, and the quotes came from IMDB.

I wonder… has he been entered by evil?
Is he a mystery?
Or just out of touch?

I wonder if this is something our agents need to look into. Time will tell. But for now, stay gold:

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Week Five: Mission:Audio

Includes a portion of Secret Agent Breakdown by Tony Aldrich, licensed under a Creative Commons License.

2/10/17 – 2/17/17

Get Smart shoe phones

All work is due by midnight on 2/17

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 in order to save audio as .mp3 files.

NOTE: There is an Audio Resources page which includes lots of information and resources 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: Listen to “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. We hear these same techniques used in film and video, where they are vitally important but often unnoticed. 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? Write a blog post on your thoughts on audio storytelling. Use specific examples and embed them in your post. Tag the post audioreflection.

Listen: Participate in a live “tweet-along” with ds106 radio this week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 9:00-10:00 PM. We will be listening to audio drama and tweeting our thoughts on what we hear. Use #ds106 hashtag in your tweet responses in order to get credit. Blog about the experience and tag it ds106radio.

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 character you created in at least one of the assignments in some way. 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! And make it something more interesting than waking up, taking a shower and eating breakfast. 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. Note: If you use copyrighted content in your audio projects, the SoundCloud content police may block them. You can use CC Search to find content that you can safely use.

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 other’s 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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One for the hippie hub

You better think (think)
Think about what you’re trying to do to me
Think (think, think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free

Think by Aretha Franklin and Ted White

Our “flower child hub director, Gardner” sent a nice message reminding me to do some OpenLearning17 blogging, so here goes.

When I went back to look at Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think” a few days ago, I was happy to see a few annotations from some former ds106ers, from when I tried to get them on the annotation train. We also used the article back when we did The Internet Course, and I did a primitive Cmap breakdown of some of my thoughts and reactions to it.

One of the things that struck me about it was Bush’s background. He founded defense contractor behemoth Raytheon, headed the Office of Scientific Research and Development during WWII, and was instrumental in the creation of the National Science Foundation. He was pretty much the embodiment of the military-industrial complex in his day. But as windham notes in annotation, Bush’s “humanitarian optimism” inspired both the essay and the many minds behind the development of the Internet.

He recognized that there is something more important than the money to be made – humanity over profit. I imagine that might have been obvious in the wake of WWII, but it has long since been forgotten in military-industrial complex, and it no longer seems to matter to the powers that be in information technology. The Web was meant to connect people, in Berners-Lee’s view, rather than to disrupt them. A way to let your mind grow and let yourself be free.

People walking around everyday
Playing games, taking score
Trying to make other people lose their minds
Ah, be careful you don’t lose yours, oh

It can be hard to maintain that sense of humanitarian optimism in this age of disruption, creative destruction, and weaponized information. When I looked up the lyrics to Aretha’s song, the third line above stood out to me – the definition of gaslighting. That’s quite the opposite of informing, isn’t it? The tool that Bush envisioned and humankind built is not being used to connect people, or to organize information, or to help us think better, but quite the opposite. This has to do with the social, political, economic and technological environment we have created and the way information is generated and distributed within it.

If we work to understand the hows and whys of information creation and flow, what I would call information literacy, then presumably we will be better able to review our shady present. That would elevate my spirit. Until then, there’s always Aretha:

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Week Four: Mission:Photography



All work is due by midnight on Friday, 2/10
Thanks to the Photo group for their input this week.

This week we will be exploring visual elements of storytelling.

  1. Mission: Photography

    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)
    •   Photography and narrative: What is involved in telling a story?

  2. Think about what you read in Becoming Better Photographers and Photography and narrative: What is involved in telling a story?, and try to find examples of the different points and analyze them. I recommend using the videos from last week as a source, although you could choose something else that fits our theme. Looking specifically at the photography (still shots) in the video, how many of the points below can you find?
    •   selection
    •   contrast
    •   perspective
    •   depth
    •   balance
    •   moment
    •   lighting
    •   foreground/background
    Put your examples and your thoughts on them in a blog post.
  3. Do this assignment:
    Love at First Shot http://assignments.ds106.us/assignments/love-at-first-shot/
    “Shot” has multiple meanings, so you could have a lot of fun with this one. The write-up for this assignment – your thought processes as you were doing it and your reflections on the results – are especially important.
    Do any one of these three assignments:
    Shadow of a Doubt http://assignments.ds106.us/assignments/shadow-of-a-doubt/
    Cipher Typography Photo Images http://assignments.ds106.us/assignments/cipher-typography-photo-images/
    Who Said What http://assignments.ds106.us/assignments/who-said-what/
    And do 6 stars worth of visual assignments, and involve the character you created last week in at least one of them in some way. How you go about doing that is up to you.
    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. Do 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. Include your reflections on the exercise in your post. 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. This should not be difficult or time-consuming. It is rewarding and inspiring though.
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Warning 106

One of our agents reported some foreign interference this week. We have had these issues in the past, as seen in the above video, so we need to be on the alert. We do not know if the ds106 outage this afternoon was related. Our New Zealand office has weighed in on today’s events:

As did our special ninja agent:

We will be keeping an eye on the situation. Stay vigilant!

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Week Three: Writing

by Epting & Brubaker, from Velvet #13

Sorry, no goofy video this week. 

All work is due by midnight on Friday, 2/3

Thanks go out to the Writing Group for their input for this week!

Below is a detailed list of what’s to be completed this week.

  1. To get us thinking more about the Secret Agent theme, read through the AV Club’s history of TV Spies & Secret Agents. You can find episodes of many of the shows discussed in the article online, on Youtube or Netflix or elsewhere. Pick one to watch. Also watch any one of the following:
    Spy Kids (Amazon $3.99) (Youtube $2.99)
    The Hunt for Red October (Amazon $3.99) (Youtube $2.99)
    The 39 Steps (free on Youtube)
    Kingsman: The Secret Service (Amazon $3.99) (Youtube $2.99)
    Write a blog post reflecting on these. Considering these and other works in the genre you know of, what themes, patterns and commonalities do you see? What defines a secret agent, or a secret agent story? And…
  2. Watch Vonnegut on The Shape of Stories: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP3c1h8v2ZQ Apply Vonnegut’s method to one of the stories from this week and write a blog post on it. Tag the post agentstories
  3. Write a Character Dossier: Create a character dossier for a secret agent themed character of your own making. Feel free to use the TVTropes site as a resource. You can also look at the Dossier section of the Spy Museum’s Spy for a Day guide for ideas.  You do not have to conform to any traditions, and you are not limited to agents themselves – you could make a character in an ancillary role. In the Bond series, for example, there is a supervisor, an office manager, and the mad scientist who makes all the gadgets. Agents of SHIELD had double agents and Hydra. Archer has an accountant and a HR person. North by Northwest had an ordinary guy who got accidentally pulled into international intrigue. Roles like those are interesting because you can make of them whatever you want.  Also, this is a character you will be working on over the course of the semester, so take some time to think about this.
    Fill out the Dossier form for your character.
    You can also create a dossier cover page.
    Write a narrative post introducing your character. This can include information from the form, but should have more details, like a back story or background intelligence, perhaps. Tag the post:
  4. Writing Assignments: This week, we will be using Writing Assignments from ds106’s Assignment Bank. Pick one of the following to do:
    Explaining the Spy
    The secret life of a spy
    The Everyday Life of a Spy
    Create your own story line  
    Changing Fortunes
    Each assignment comes with a “star” or point rating that roughly estimates its difficulty. In addition to the assignment you choose from above, you must complete at least 8 stars of other
    writing assignments. Connect at least one of the assignments in some way to our theme.
    Note: You started creating assignments last week. You can do this at any time. So if you don’t like the writing assignments as they are, you are welcome to come up with a new one and do it yourself.
  5. Daily Creates: Let’s do 3 this week.
  6. Commenting: You should all be following each other’s work and offering each other feedback, ideas, support and encouragement. A good habit is to visit the course site every day to see what people have posted. Click through to a few posts and share your thoughts on the work, and ideas that it may inspire. We all appreciate positive feedback, and we can all be inspired by each other. This should take no more than a few minutes a day.
  7. Write your Weekly Summary: This is an every week thing. Your summary should link to or embed all your work for the week, and give your thoughts on the week as a whole. Submit the URL for this post to Canvas by the end of the day on Friday.
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Secret agents

I wrote a little about my thinking with Mission106 a while ago. I remember seeing The Avengers and The Prisoner in reruns when I was very young.Those were a couple of my favorite shows. It was sometime later that I found out about James Bond. The TV shows are dated, but the movies keep getting updated. Another secret agent I remember was Nick Fury, who went from being an army sergeant in WW II to a pseudo-Bond in the present day somehow without aging a bit. He connects us to some more up-to-date secret agents in S.H.I.E.L.D. And for those who like their agents with extra cheese, there’s a Hasselhoff version (YT).

image of Velvet Templeton with gun

by Steve Epting

One agent that caught my interest in recent years was Velvet Templeton, for the way she turns the tables. The author, Ed Brubaker, pitched the character to television, with unsurprisingly disastrous results, before taking her to comics. What happen in that line of work when people get older? When they’re not as quick anymore, and not in peak physical condition? Velvet became the executive administrative assistant, which, if you think about it, is a vital and extremely sensitive job – privy to all the secrets, everyone’s secrets. The Bonds of the world get thrown into all the dangerous situations because they are not indispensable. The Moneypenneys of the world are another story.

By Ellis and Masters, from James Bond: VARGR #1

Someone in my Twitterverse said that Warren Ellis’ James Bond comic books were better than any of the recent movies. I agree. They’re not as full of themselves or bound by formula or budget, so the creators get to have fun with it. They’re far more bloody and brutal though.

So that’s just a little ramble. There are a lot of directions we can go with secret agents. Let’s try them all.

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Opening lines

Image from page 30 of “British sanatoria for the open-air treatment of tuberculosis : with numerous illustrations ; [reprinted with additions and alterations from the “West London Medical Journal.”]” (1899)

It’s been a while since I joined a MOOC. Mostly that’s because I recognize that I don’t have the time. #OpenLearning17 is hard to pass up though, because of the format, the great people involved, and the topic, which means a lot to me. Hopefully I will find some openings in my schedule so I can put something in and get something out of it.

I’m thinking about my journey to open education. I’ve always been a heavy library user, and the library represents a form of open education although I never thought of it that way. Fifteen years ago or so I enrolled in a distance ed masters program in digital printing and publishing. It taught me to get out of the printing industry, but I learned some other lessons as well. I noticed that almost all of the tools, readings and materials we used were freely available online.  What we were paying for in the program was mainly the selection and organization of the materials, and some occasional feedback and interaction. Thinking there might be more of a payoff in learning about the selection and organization of information, I dropped that program and entered one in library science.

Then, as I was transitioning from a K-12 librarian to academia, I found out about MOOCs. I thought this was a brilliant innovation.  Siemens and Downes opened their course to learner input, and at the same time opened it up to the public, sharing the learning experience with the world and seeing what the world could add to it. This became addictive, and eventually I got sucked into ds106 and never escaped. (ds106 is 4life, you know.) So I’ve been thinking about the value of open resources and the potential of open pedagogy and practices, trying to talk the talk and hoping to walk the walk, to get better at it and do it more.  OpenLearning17 can be another step on the journey.

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The Daily Create today was to design a philosophTEE. “Make Sartre, Dammit!” was the first thing that came to mind, making a pun off of the longtime ds106 slogan, but I basically don’t know Jacques about Sartre. Then I thought, isn’t MOOC pioneer Stephen Downes a philosopher? His name naturally suggested the Kool & the Gang song (YT). I needed an appropriate font, so I went to Da Font and found Prisma, which seemed to fit the groovy spirit of the song, but I also liked the disco ball “o” in the Disco Diva font, so I used that too. I looked for a good photo of Mr. Downes, and found a masterpiece linked on CogDog’s blog. So I put it all together, and thought an assignment Jim came up with for the Hardboiled course way back when, using CafePress for shirt designs. So I found some custom t-shirt site an uploaded my design so it looks like an actual product.

Afterwards I thought I might have been impulsive. It’s one thing to play with Plato, but Downes is a living person who may object to this use of his image, or to the commercial nature of the site. Then I looked closer at CogDog’s post and saw that the photo is licensed CC BY-NC, so maybe I really shouldn’t have used it on a commercial site, even if I’m not actually selling it. I tagged @Downes in my tweet, so he could chastise me, but instead he retweeted it, so I guess it’s okay.

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