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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A Valentine’s GIF for you

I’m no good at coming up with clever saying for cards. So I asked Hallmark for ideas. They’re the pros. For today’s TDC, I grabbed a bunch of the romance cover paintings that @cali4beach saved to Flickr and went to see which lines would work for which images. I ended up with a few of them, so here’s a Valentine’s GIF for you.

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Top Secret: For your eyes only

Being a secret agent is a risky business. For security’s sake it is important that you know who each other are, in case any of you should cross paths. You may find it advantageous to be aware of each others backgrounds, skills and strengths, so you should familiarize yourself with the contents of this file. We are lucky to have such a diverse group. As this file is top secret and confidential, you should destroy it after you have it memorized, as per protocol.

Name: Athena
Code Name: Agent A
Personal motto: Pay attention to me!
Bio: Secret Agent for O.S.A.A (Organization of Secret Agent Animals). My mission is to rid the backyard of Dr. Squirrel and his evil minions. When I’m not working, I’m in my mom’s lap begging to be pet or sleeping in the sun spot on mom’s bed. I work out by playing fetch with my favorite snowball squeaky toy and love to kick back with a bully stick every now and then.

Name: Wren Wilder
Code Name: 3
Personal motto: All good things come in threes.
Bio: A dual interest in property management and government surveillance/intelligence  lands 003 in a middle-management role,  keeping track of bazookas and office chairs with equal vigor.

Name: Kaos Brown
Code Name: Agent Smith
Personal motto: Darkness is the best cover
Bio: I am quiet but follow orders. I never get detected by the enemy.

Name: Ben Aggos
Code Name: Aggos
Personal motto: Get them to court.
Bio: Ben Aggos is a lawyer in London who also doubles as a secret agent with the partner of his firm. He brings down the bad guys as a secret agent then tries them in court as a prosecutor

Name: Al Gore
Code Name: ManBearPig
Personal motto: No one can stop the unbreakable ManBearPig
Bio: By day I work as politician in the United States Government, but by night I am a part of a secret organization of spies. We use global issues and problems by day  to keep the enemy off our tail, and we hunt them at night. I lead this group of exceptional spies and tend to take a more backseat role giving out the orders. They call me the ManBearPig or MBP for short.

Name: Frank Underwood
Code Name: Franwood
Personal motto: Living for something, even small, is the most important thing a person can do.
Bio: Born in Long Island New York to Sam Underwood and Ryan Underwood. Frank has one brother names James who is five years younger. Frank grew up wanting to be just like his father who was a fireman but had a change of heart in college when he was approached by Thomas Hobbs at a job fair, who informed him of other ways of helping people out rather than being a firefighter. Hobbs introduced Frank to the endless possibilities of becoming a secret agent and what responsibilities came along with the position. This was the begging of Franks Career.

Name: JJ Redick
Code Name: The Kid
Personal motto: Life’s a beach, I’m just playing in the sand
Bio: Senior in high school, who when not at practice, wether it be baseball, golf or basketball, you can find me taking down crime with my super crazy family.

Name: Neil Roberts
Code Name: Soap
Personal motto:  They don’t think it be like it is but it do
Bio: US Naval Academy Graduate, former Navy Seal, beat up bad guys for a living

Name: Alex Burns
Code Name: Agent Zero or The Marksmen
Personal motto: “Waiting. Like it or not, it’s a skill all spies have to master eventually.”
Bio: Kills whoever the CID tells me to kill

Name: Lillian O’Dell
Code Name: Fawn
Personal motto: Being mundane is efficient
Bio: O’Dell started at a clerical job at the Central Intelligence Agency for a number of years, after gaining access to certain key strategic documents her job assignment changed to fit with her new found expertise. She now works with securing and transferring important information for the agency both at home and abroad. Her ability to blend in and remarkable memory skills make her an asset.

Name: Kate “The Marksman” Jones
Personal motto: Revenge is a kind of wild justice
Bio: With her husband dead, Kate “The Marksman” Jones’ husband dead, she’s on the hunt to find the killer and make him wish he was dead.

Name: Dennis Pratt
Code Name: D-Boy
Personal motto: Don’t let me catch you wipper-snappers leaving crumbs on my floor, y’hear?
Bio: every building needs a man who can clean up, and that is where Dennis comes in. Born in Memphis, he was a simple farm boy, and stayed that way for about 18 years until he decided to serve his country, it was the height of the cold war, and he decided to be a spy. so he went through a 2 year training course to be a spy, but by the time he finished, spies weren’t as huge a necessity to the us, so they gave him a desk job, but also allowed him to partake in small missions that were not too high risk. while working he met his future wife deborah, and they were married for about 30 years, but then deborah died and left him with 1 kid, paul. Dennis went into a bit of a depression and sulked around his work. he was transferred to DS106 headquarters and didn’t do much. he didn’t want to do anything since the love of his life died. So, he just decided to take the lonliest job and keep to himself most of the time, he became a janitor. but since then, he has perked up and taken his job as Janitor a little too seriously. DS106 headquarters is spotless all thanks to Dennis’ war on Filth. he gets a little overbearing about cleanliness at times, and would probably be let go if it were not for the fact that Janitors have S level access cards to clean everwhereon the facility, so he is the one person who probably knows about every secret mission. thank goodness he’s just a janitor, or our enemies might pry him for information more often. some people have tried to get his information, but his training as a spy comes in real handy then, since he usually leaves any opponent with a broken hand and sparkly clean.

Name: Lynn Harris
Code Name: Agent Reveal
Personal motto: Nothing is truly hidden from Agent Reveal
Bio: Lynn was recruited by the FBI in 1984. At 20, she was able to do things that no other agent was able to. She is a very valued agent that has been able to go under cover for many special ops programs and has come out successful. Agent Reveal is fluent in Arabic and English and has been able to translate Arabic for the FBI for 30 years.

Name: Charles Finch
Code Name: Rubiks Tilbit
Personal motto: Right as rain and left as —, that’s what I always say!
Bio: Agent Tilbit’s past is not well-known at the agency aside from a few small details that he has let slip on limited occasions such as the fact that he was married at one point and shares his birthday with the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

Name: Igtherion
Code Name: Zephyr
Personal motto: I don’t like doing this dairy much.
Bio: Was child to actual milk men and realized their inconspicuous position.

Name: Boris Ongorachov
Code Name: Bongo
Personal motto: Spin everything.
Bio: Directly from Wharton business school in Pennsylvania, Boris always had an interest in being a secret agent. Unfortunately, he failed all of his physical field tests. Luckily for him, a public relations position opened up at the agency. He’s known as bongo because he plays the media like a drum.

Name: Margaret Francis Delatour
Code Name: Special Agent GO
Personal motto: To stay in the same place is to exist, but to travel is to live.
Bio: Margaret Francis Delatour was born in the coastal French town of La Rochelle. Her father was a high-up international business man who also inherited quite a bit of money from his family and her mother was fairly well known wedding dress designer. She had no siblings and only a pet cat Ruby to keep her company. Margaret was always well off; she had the best of everything. She went to a very prestigious private school in town that you could only get into through connections. She went away to college to study business because after seeing her dad, she wanted to be a powerful business woman. Margaret was a very beautiful girl with many great talents and could get any guy she wanted. One day, she met a man at a bar. He wanted to talk in private with her. She was hesitant at first but he didn’t seem like a bad guy so she went. It turns out, he was from the EFSA, the European-French Spies Alliance. He thought she would be a perfect spy. Away from her home life, he offered her a glamorous life like you would see in the movies. She would be wining and dining throughout the world in the best restaurants, flying to multiple places in a day on a private jet she would get, and always going to glamorous parties and meeting the most influential of people. Since she was so used to always having the best, this kind of life intrigued her and really she didn’t even have to think about her answer. She was going to become a spy.  She finished out her business degree while she underwent spy training. She quickly found that even though the lifestyle was glamorous, the job was not for the faint of heart. Her code name was Secret Agent GO, which stood for Golden October. She opened up a marina in her hometown of La Rochelle and it was a perfect spy base. She has been doing spy work since she got out of college up until now. She is constantly going on missions and she loves her life.

Name: Alex Berchek
Code Name: Viper
Personal motto: Do what you must
Bio: My names Alex, my first love is working on bikes but I do a lot of things.

Name: Mac Plaia
Code Name: Cobra
Personal motto: Do the things you fear. Fear the things you do.
Bio: Mac was part of the Brazilian special Forces, one of the top agents. She was dishonorably discharged when she was framed by evil  Kevin Duong. The Duong clan runs the biggest coke (i.e coca cola) dealership in brazi. Kevin has had a grudge on Mac ever since she got that promotion before he did back in 08′

Name: Annabella Smith
Personal motto: For king, country and myself
Bio: Annabella Smith was born in a small village in Cornwall in 1905 to a clergyman and nurse. Bored with country life, Smith left home at the age of 17 to live in London, where a year later she was arrested for burglarizing the homes of several major businessmen. Smith was given the choice between prison or becoming an agent for the British government. Smith is currently wanted for espionage and treason in Russia, Germany, France, Brazil, America, and Britain. When not rescuing the world from total destruction, she enjoys reading Sherlock Holmes novels and drinking vodka martinis.

Name: Alex Whales
Code Name: A.W.
Personal motto: The higher the risk the higher the reward.
Bio: A.W. is a gambler when he is not on a mission. He likes taking high risks whether it is on a mission or in the casino. He is all about privacy and being secretive. He is always one step ahead of everyone else.

Name: Nice Guy
Code Name: G07
Personal motto: The truth will set you free.
Bio: G07 is a spy who do not have a particular country she is working for. Known for being nice, hence her agent name “Nice Guy,” she always took on the assignments for others from multiple countries. It has been believed that she kept the relationship so well with others that even the countries that assigned her did not even speculate her building relationship with countries of their worst enemies. In another words, they all thought she was just friendly, not actually building ties and may even work against their own country.

Name: Robert Reynolds
Code Name: Moncure
Personal motto: Trust is hard to come by. Friends are harder.
Bio: Robert is a successful journalist who specializes in investigative journalism. He keeps his ears close to the ground and hand close to his gun. He had an old-town childhood in the fields of Kansas and had parents who worked hard for an honest living. He married his high school sweetheart and life was good until he began to make enemies while working in law enforcement. His enemies went after his parents and ultimately murdered them. Broken from the heartbreak, Robert spent the next two years tracking the people responsible and all connected to it. In his heartbreak, his wife was virtually left behind and never saw him. The two divorced, but Robert continued on his path of vengeance. His success in the field caught the attention of secret agent recruiters, who trained him and stuck him in an entry level position at the Chicago Tribune. Since then, Robert has been following orders, but keeps his own agenda above all others.

Name: Roderick Rush
Personal motto: Answer to no one
Bio: Roderick Rush is one of the most wanted spies in the world. At a young age, Rush was chosen by the shadowy spy organization ORION for his genius level intelligence, physical skill, and dedication. Today, intelligence officials across the globe disagree as to whom Rush owes his allegiance after an alleged falling-out with ORION. Rush operates under a number of aliases. Do not approach. If spotted, contact the highest authority possible.

Name: Aaron Brand
Code Name: The Accountant
Personal motto: Trust in yourself, before anyone else.
Bio: Aaron Brand was born on March 13, 1976 in Richmond, VA. Not much is known about Brand’s early life. In college, he studied accounting. After some of his early accounting jobs, he went on to work for the FBI as a forensic accountant. For the past 15 years, he has worked in forensic accounting positions. For the first 10 of those years, he worked for the US government, but has since fallen off of their radar. Attempts to keep an eye on Brand and what he’s been up to have been unsuccessful. There have been a few cases in which a certain expert accountant has been sighted working for criminal groups and governments around the world, and some think this to be Brand. In these instances, the figure is simply referred to as “The Accountant.”

Name: Scarlett Jones
Code Name: tinkerbell
Personal motto: Safety First
Bio: Went to school at the University of Alabama with a major in Marine Biology

Name: Kevin Burkhalter
Code Name: Agent 5ly
Personal motto: Invictus by William Ernest Henley, but specifically “It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul. ”
Bio: An up and coming Christian professor with interests in anything related to technology, athletics and espionage films and history.

Top Secret logo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


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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:

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 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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