Player gonna play

I liked #tdc1880 as a design assignment, so I’m going to treat it as one. I did it as a TDC already, but my effort was pretty lame. I originally wanted to do something with the picture of the mandrill (#7) because the shape and symmetry of the image looked like an album cover. I didn’t have a good idea for it though. I thought about playing off of 70s funk band Mandrill, but that seemed too obvious. I liked the red nose though, so I figured I’d highlight it, kinda like the Splash the Color assignment. I used the Select->Color Range function in Photoshop to select the red and copy it to a new layer. I adjusted the Fuzziness so that it was getting mostly just the nose and brow.

Then I went to the background layer and used the Image->Adjustments->Hue/Saturation function to desaturate (make grayscale) the rest of the image. I liked the way that came out. Manually selecting around the red of the nose would have been tedious, and the result would have been less smooth. I never would have been able to isolate the red in the brow otherwise.

Manipulating the image like that and highlighting the red nose gave me an idea – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Mandrill. I felt like it should have a techno vibe, although I’m not sure why. I looked for a typeface to reflect this and found OmegaForce by Iconian Fonts. I liked that it had upper and lower case, sort of, and thought I could make use of the various decorative variations.

I haven’t seen the Rudolph Christmas show since I don’t remember when, but I occasionally watch Raging Rudolph (YT) and The Reinfather (YT) around Christmastime, so I get them mixed up. I titled it Player Gonna Play to take the reindeer game aspect into gangster territory. I centered all the type to go with the symmetry in the image. I put the type in white to go with the grayscale image, and added a drop shadow that picks up the red from the nose. I reversed that formula for the title of the album.

Back when LPs and CDs were a thing, they would sometimes have stickers on them promoting the hit song. So I added one, playing off the Reinfather theme. It weakens the design, yet at the same time feels a little more authentic to me, reflecting the way commerce tends to ruin art.

I like the way it came out. The colors and the layout give it a sense of unity, and the italic type gives a slight sense of motion. And as I was working on it, I found a five hour and seventeen minute Best of Mandrill video on Youtube. There goes the rest of my day.

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Weeks 7 & 8: Radio royale

2/24/17 – 3/17/17

For weeks 7 and 8 we will be working on producing radio shows. The shows will be broadcast on ds106radio the week after they are due.

Group Radio Show Guidelines
The radio show will be a group project. You will have two weeks to complete the project, with Spring Break in between. These are the specifications:

  • All group members must contribute to the final radio show. I recommend you create a Google Doc for planning and collaboration. If you invite me to be part of it, I can offer advice and input. It’s up to you. But I recommend it.
  • The total show should around 20 – 30 minutes, equal at least 5-7 minutes times the number of members in your group (for example, a three person group would produce a show of about 20 minutes; five people would go about half an hour.)
  • The show must include at least 3 ds106 radio bumpers (they can be specific to the show or general bumpers for ds106radio) that are produced by group members.
  • The show must include at least 3 commercials that the group creates.
  • The show must relate in some way to the theme of the class. How you go about that is up to you. Creativity is encouraged.
  • Blog about your process and progress. Every member is expected to blog at least once during the first week about progress; every member is expected to blog at least once during the second week about the completion of the project. These should be substantive blog posts in which you explain what progress/decisions the group had made, what individual work you’ve been doing, what tools/tech you’re using, what’s going well, what’s not working, etc. tag: radioshowweek1 & radioshoweek2
  • Each group member needs to do at least one promo poster/bumper sticker/logo etc. for their show during the first week — a little splash of design work.
  • Keep the instructor apprised of your progress. You can email me, send me messages on Twitter, etc.
  • Consider what a show should sound like. There needs to be an opening and a closing. You may need transitional elements. You will need to do audio production. This will include editing sections together, layering in background sounds, incorporating music, etc. It should not be just a recording of a conversation.
  • On the subject of music – some people had their work blocked by Soundcloud due to copyright violation. You can use CC Search to find openly licensed music and other media. You could also google open source music. You won’t find hits, but you will find things you can use.

As you found out during Intro to Audio week, audio editing is time consuming. Plan to be done early and you will probably be done on time.

Some advice on group formation:

Get into groups:

  • Membership: You will have the chance to self-organize into your groups for this project..
  • Theme Ideas: There are a lot of great ideas out there, so this should not be a problem. You can see everyone’s ideas at— at least everyone who tagged their posts correctly! For your convenience, I have these posts linked below. If you see an idea you like, contact the originator about working together. Stick to the ones from February 2017 though – older ones are from previous semesters. If you have an idea you like, put a call out on your blog and Twitter for collaborators.
  • Use Twitter: If you need to find a group, put the word out on Twitter that you’re looking for a group to join.
  • Let Us Know Your Group: We have created a spreadsheet to facilitate group formation. You should have received the link to it in an email. Give your group a name, put down a brief description of your show idea, and list the group members. There is also a section for people who are looking for a group.

Adapted from

Group sizes:
Groups should have 3 or more members. If a group grows to 8 or more people, I may decide to split it in two, unless the group can make the case that all members will be actively involved in the show’s production.

Group deadline:
Everybody should be in a group by Monday, February 27, by midnight. If you have not joined a group by that time, you will be putting your fate in my hands. I will assign you to a group, but it will be entirely your responsibility to make the situation work.

Summary of Deadlines and Assignments for the Next 2 Weeks

Due by Midnight 3/3 (Summarized, as usual, in a weekly post):

  1. Radio Show Progress: A blog post on your radio show process and progress. Tag this radioshowweek1
  2. Radio Show Design Project: A blog post for your radio show poster/bumper sticker/logo etc. Write this post just like you would an assignment post — with the same amount of detail we usually expect! Tag this radioshowpromo
  3. Commenting: Everyone needs to be reading/commenting on other students’ work.
  4. Audio Assignments:  Complete 10 stars. Most of the assignments should relate to the course theme in some way. You should use your audio assignments to develop content for your radio show (bumpers, commercials, etc.). We are assigning these stars this week so that you make progress on developing content for your shows! Feel free to bend the assignments to your needs.
  5. Daily Creates: Complete 3 TDCs this week.

Due by Midnight 3/17 (Summarized, as usual, in a weekly post):

  1. Completed radio show. Upload it to Soundcloud.
  2. Radio Show Progress: Second blog post summarizing your radio show process and progress. Tag: radioshowweek2
  3. Commenting: Commenting, commenting and more commenting. The more, the better.
  4. Daily Creates: Complete 2 TDCs this week.

Audio resources:

In addition to the Audio Resource page, here are a few additional items worth reviewing:

  • The Convergence Center has recording equipment and facilities available for you to use. Take advantage of them!
  • The UMW New Media site is a resource for producing, editing, and generally working with media, including audio.
  • The UMW Digital Knowledge Center is available for individual and group tutorials for audio editing. You can schedule a tutorials for assignments and the radio show here:

You can find additional audio resources in the Open Ds106 syllabus (

Radio show ideas from

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Bond goes GQ

I decided to take another shot at the Animated Magazine Cover assignment. Former ds106 master Jim Groom did a GQ Dude cover, and I thought GQ would be tailor-made for Bond. As it turns out, it was, since I found a GQ France cover with Daniel Craig on it. The Bond GIF I picked to work with was Sean Connery, which makes for a nice mismatch.

I did this with Photoshop. I used the Select Color Range function to pick up the red, the Magic Wand to get the white background and the type on top of Craig, and the rectangular select tool to get the black type. I copied all that to a new layer, and used the Magic Wand to select the white background to delete it. That gave me a layer with just the text and logo, and no background, which I could paste on top of a GIF. I checked the size of the cover, 1346 pixels high, and resized the Bond GIF to the same size, and I added a new layer on top of the stack. The I copied my GQ cover layer and pasted it on top. There was a problem though, because the black type on the left side was over a black part of the image. So I used my trusty Control-Z to undo the paste, and went back to my GQ file, selected the black text on the left, and used Image->Adjust->Invert to make the text white. Then I pasted it back on the GIF and used the Crop tool to trim it to magazine proportions. I also added a new GQ logo since part of it was cut off.

It’s a little fuzzy, but that’s okay because the GIF is a little grainy. The logo seems a little out of place because it’s cleaner that the rest, but not too much. I think it helps that most of the GIF image is pretty static. It makes it more magazine-like.

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Open and info lit

Today I woke up to find Digital literacy and democracy

I wish my hastily-made blog posts could be this good. Democracy and civilization need an informed citizenry. Efforts at mis- and disinformation then, are uncivilized and antidemocratic. And immoral in their casual disregard for honesty, ethics and truth. It’s not enough to call these things out though. That may not even be productive. What matters is that people be empowered to ask questions and to access and use information. It’s also important to challenge our assumptions, or to have our assumptions challenged, to self-reflect and self-evaluate. This is basic information literacy as I see it, as well as basic learning and growth.

This week in OpenLearning17 we’re looking at digital literacy in general, and the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy in particular. Some see information literacy as an element of digital literacy, like JISC. I take a more expansive view. Information comes in many forms and flows through many channels. Information literacy then is an umbrella term, and things like media literacy, visual literacy and digital literacy delve into the forms and channels. A problem with that view is that information literacy becomes too big to know, as Belshaw pointed out.

I find it interesting that very little of the discussion around the Framework seems to tie to open education. I see a deep and long term connection between the two, and have been harping on it for a while.

It makes me wonder if this is just so obvious that it’s not worth talking about, or if I’m seeing a mirage. But I think it’s a matter of two movements on parallel tracks, not really connecting with each other. I’m sure the terminological issues play no small part in that disconnect. The Framework is ambitious and aspirational though, and as a framework, offers opportunity for connections. It won’t solve the problems of the world, but we can use it to find a path forward.

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Callin’ from the fun house

photo from

I’m sure a lot of books have had an impact on me. But the first one I though of when I saw the Daily Digital Alchemy today was The Rolling Stone Record Guide. I got this when I was in my mid-teens, very interested in music and very not interested in most of what was on the radio. This book introduced me to the history and evolution of rock music, the classics and obscurities. There was much in their ratings and reviews that I disagreed with, but there was so much that was new to me that it proved invaluable over time. I remember once I was in the Record Archive and found a used copy of the then out-of-print Funhouse album. I didn’t know anything about it, but felt the need to pick it up, and it ended up being the best 99 cents I ever spent. Sometime later I looked up Iggy Pop in the Guide. The was a line that said Funhouse was for people who thought The Sex Pistols were mellow. I realized then that that was what subconsciously moved me to get the record.

Does it make sense that a librarian’s life was transformed by a reference book? Probably.


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A bit about ds106radio

One of our listeners expressed some interest in ds106radio:

I would always turn it on earlier than the start time (because I was nervous about missing anything) and the kinds of music and stories it played at other moments was an interesting selection. I am pretty curious to understand where and why those stories and songs were curated for the radio. Especially the stories that I heard pieces of felt really old school style so I am curious about their source. The existence of an online radio for an online class though is a great concept. I knew DS 106 had a lot of layers to it before I started this course but I do not think I understood just how much it had until I started.

What we have running on ds106radio currently are mainly things that have been used or produced in the course in past semesters.  Some of it is content that students have produced, like bumpers and radio shows. Some of it is old-time radio shows from the Internet Archive that were used during the live tweeting sessions. And there are other things, like discussions of ds106, audio produced by the ds106 community, and some occasional random but related music.  You can actually broadcast on ds106radio yourself. Timmmmyboy wrote up some detailed directions, with screenshots, which I think are still good. They’re Mac-specific though. CogDog also has a take on it. I also wrote up something about doing it without the SoundFlower program. So if you want to play with broadcasting, you can. If you tweet out what you’re up to with the #ds106radio hashtag, you might even get some listeners.


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Design in action

Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (@HassanOE) has been doing some brilliant analyses of comic book illustration and design in his series Strip Panel Naked. He takes us through the details of how comic book pages work, looking at the impact of the various elements, explaining the visual and psychological effects, and doing it with an infectious level of enthusiasm.

While he talks about various elements in his series, I see it all as design. It’s all planned, deliberate decision making to achieve a desired goal, whether in the layout, coloring, dialogue or whatever. I think Hassan’s work first came to my attention when I stumbled across his analysis of a James Bond page. It’s a simple page, but a great opening, and we can see how the lines of writing, lines of sight and lines of architecture all work in concert to lead us through the action. One thing that fascinates me about this write up is the inclusion of the original script. We can see how the author was designing the scene in his head. I find the use of all caps in the script interesting. It’s as if the author thinks in comic book dialogue, so he has to provide melodramatic emphasis even in his description of the scene.

In the video below, he gives a detailed analysis of several pages of a Black Widow book, showing how the action moves through the pages and also from one page to the next. He also goes into the mechanics of the design, showing how the different elements move the action and control our eyes and sense of time.

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Week 6: Design another day

2/17/11 – 2/24/17
All work is due by midnight on 2/24/17

Thanks go out to the Design group for their input this week!

Week 6 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.
Note: Many of the design assignments challenge you to design objects like posters, postcards, or book covers. Consider – What makes a poster look like a poster? What makes a book cover look like a book cover? It takes more than just putting words together with a photo. What distinguishes design from decoration?

  1. Read/Watch and Reflect – Two options: 1. 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 let us know what you think.
    2. Last week Netflix released a new series, Abstract: The Art of Design which looks at design in a larger sense, as a deliberate decision-making process to achieve a desired goal. It does this by profiling designers across multiple fields. Watch two episodes of your choice and note the commonalities and design principles involved in the designers’ work.
    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.

    an example of design gone wrong

    • 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. Do your DailyCreates: We are doing 3 TDCs again this week.
  4. Do one of these three:
    Contradiction Creation
    Create Your Own Cipher
    Destination Post Card
    Complete at least 10 stars of other design assignments:
 Complete at least 10 stars of Design assignments from the Design category of the Assignment Bank. Make at least two of the assignments related to your character in some way. 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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Corporate spies

CC 2008 Doug Greenberg

One might ask: How does Limetown fit in to the secret agent genre? But it becomes apparent over the course of the storyline that there is a secret agency involved, mostly in the background, but omnipresent. It’s sort of like a James Bond story seen through the eyes of one of the tertiary characters. RB Villard may be a Bond villain, but he’s never directly part of the story. And apparently there is some other secret agency, the one that employed the mole as city manager. So we have groups that have the power to make people disappear, to abduct and execute people, to arrange for deaths that appear to be accidental, but it wasn’t until the final episode that anyone connected with the groups had an actual presence in the story.

Normally we think of secret agents as being government employees or contractors – people who report to the state. But the agencies in Limetown are private, and apparently above the level of nations, as they are able to operate across borders and outside the law. This is comparable to SPECTRE and Hydra. Or Blackwater, perhaps?

That idea of a privatized secret agency is also part of Archer, although it’s not really played up in the series. The International Secret Intelligence Service and their corporate rival, the Organization of Democratic Intelligence Networks, are mercenary organizations involved in extra-legal activities, and appear to have little national loyalty. With privatization, there comes a lack of (or freedom from) public accountability and public oversight. That’s good for the owners and people in power, but not necessarily for the overall good.

CC2009 Thomas Hawk

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Creativity – the gift that keeps on giving

I remember watching Gardner Campbell’s interview with Ted Nelson (YT). Along with a related interview with Alan Kay (YT), it made quite an impression on me. Even the edited, half-hour version (YT) is packed with information and insights. I started to take a few notes, but really couldn’t keep up with what he had to say, what I needed to look up, and what it inspired in me. So I will be coming back to it eventually.

The early part (YT), discussing his ideas on General Wrongfulness stood out to me. Our system of education “greatly reduces the human potential and the human spirit,” he says. This doesn’t exactly speak well of my chosen profession, although I like to think that as a librarian, I’m in a liberating sector of higher ed. But Nelson has a vision of open education, one shared by others at the time and worth remembering today, that involves making students empowered rather than compliant, by “mak[ing] the process and products of education more transparent, understandable, and available to all the people involved.” I think that this empowerment is what we are trying to do when we promote information literacy – to help people learn how to learn, to engage in informed learning.

Is your motivation to get a degree and a dumb job? Or is your motivation to be a learned person? (YT)

It’s that matter of motivation – bringing the students’ motivations into the system, and letting them guide and drive the learning activities -none of which is easy to do within the systems that we have.

That other thing I loved about it was Nelson’s Nothing magazine. There is a freedom in the simple technology – trailing edge technology – because it is not encumbered by complexity, because it is so physically manipulable. Perhaps we forget that sometimes.

I’m fascinated by handmade magazines anyway, because we had a pile of them in my house when I was growing up. My father made these things when he was ten years old or so, and somehow managed to hold on to them. I digitized them and used them as an excuse to play with Omeka. They may be child-like, but there is a sophistication in the humor they contain and in the commitment they represent. Maybe that’s why they were preserved for so long. I think they’re valuable anyway, as products of creativity, and I can try to make something out of them. Creativity – the gift that keeps on giving. That’s also one of the points of DoOO, in that it lets students document what they make and preserve their creations. The record makes learning and creativity persistent, so we can still learn from and build upon ideas from decades past.

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