Ceci n’est pas une donut

a diagram of a torus with a caption in French saying This is not a donut.I signed up for a SUNY Learning Engineering Fellowship Program a while back, because it looked interesting and potentially useful, and I found the term intriguing. It’s a nine week summer program, when I also have to take three or four weeks of vacation, so maybe I should have thought that through a little better. Maybe i can negotiate some comp time for working on my weeks off.

The program is built in OLI’s Torus platform, and part of it is learning how to use the platform on both the learner and author ends. It’s a bit challenging to try to learn both learning engineering concepts and the ins and outs of a new software platform at the same time, but I understand why we’re doing it this way. I can’t complain, given what I put ds106 students through.

For my project, I plan to work with the scholarly, popular, trade concept. One of the SUNY Gen Ed outcomes for info lit is to be able to evaluate information with an awareness of authority, validity, and bias. The concept fits well with the outcome. I think it’s also important for community college students to learn, since half of our population transfers to 4 year schools and half goes into the workforce. The concept is also in need of an update. Instructional materials on scholarly, popular and trade publications pretty much all focus on aspects of print publications, which made sense in the 80s but not so much now.

I want to update terminology as well, to name the categories academic, professional and consumer. I think I’ve only ever encountered one student who knew what a trade journal was. “Popular” is misleading as a term. “Scholarly” still works, but many library catalogs and databases connect the term with peer review, which is a subset, so I’d suggest changing the category to academic.

So far, I’m thinking the lessons that need to be learned are

  • categorization is a means of evaluation, and recognizing authority, validity, and bias
  • the categories are distinguished by their intended audiences
  • the categories can be blurry, as interest in some content may cross boundaries among academic, professional and consumer audiences

For the purposes of Torus, these lessons need to be expressed in terms of learning outcomes, and outcomes may have sub-outcomes. Assessments and activities within the system are tied to outcomes and sub-outcomes, and then instructional materials need to be developed to meet those assessments and outcomes. The engineering aspect comes into play when we analyze assessment data with an eye towards improving the course.

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Yesterday’s Daily Create involved using one of the Photofunia effects to put text in rust. As usual, I did the most obvious thing and made a GIF from a verse of My My, Hey Hey. Maybe that’s only obvious to people of a certain demographic though. But since nothing exceeds like excess, I decided to do the whole song. I’m not sure if it was worth the effort. I like the idea in concept, but in practice it’s probably as tedious to watch as it was to make. A kinetic typography approach might have worked better, but definitely would have been a lot more work.

Photofunia has many interesting effects, some of which have shown up in Daily Creates before. What interests me is not so much the effects in themselves, but how they can be used as building blocks, and contribute to a bigger story. Not unlike our experiments in AI106 – we played with generative applications to make stuff, but where the course really succeeded was in what we made out of that stuff. They give you this but you make it that, to paraphrase a song of the past.

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… we made them what they are.

Here’s a brief video I put together based on the week 15 prompts. It references the AI rap battle video from a few weeks back, Dr. Oblivion off his meds, and our visit from our friends at Aggressive Technologies. There’s also some minor reflection on lessons learned from the course.


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Scenes from the whale rapture

The other week one AI said that the internet was like “diving into a vast digital ocean where you can swim with majestic whales of knowledge or get caught in the undertow of clickbait and cat memes” and I asked another to visualize that metaphor. One of my colleagues was so enamored of the image that she asked it for a few more. This was the first of the collection that I saw:

It looks like there should be a story to go with the image. That might even be a good idea for a daily create. You could probably do that with any of them. Take this one:

I see a whale rapture while the planet bursts at its seams. It’s like an alternate version of Star Trek 4

And then there’s the cat riding the steampunk whale:

I wonder if he’s related to Dr. Ravioli? He looks like he might know everything too.

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Mysteries abound. “Mwaa haa haa!”

a cartonn character laughing, Mwaa Haaa Haaa

I thought I’d bring together a few of the class projects. Some interesting things are going on. Mysteries abound.

Dr. Oblivion has some competition: https://cat-on-a-moped.com/uncategorized/final-video/ This was unexpected. Is Aggressive Technologies behind this? Is it connected to their lawyer’s threats? Is Dr. Oblivion the mole? So many questions…

Note the Doctor’s diabolic laughter embedded in the middle of Destiny’s great AI interview video. Is he giving us a warning, or inadvertently showing his hand? The whole video is worth a watch for the way it weaves a variety of viewpoints together.

We can also see Eisenhower, of the military-industrial complex fame, warn about Aggressive Technologies. Or has the president been hacked?

Some people used Gooey.ai to do the lip-syncing, like in this debate between the doctor and Isaiah Beacon. It is good when people note which tools they’re using, and even better when they link to them and explain the ins and outs of the process. I wonder what the competition between Isaiah Beacon University and Oblivion University would be like? Is there a connection between Dr. Forges and Isaiah Beacon? Hmmm….

This video of the hacker getting hacked is another one worth checking out. Note the various techniques used to keep it moving and hold our interest – different voices, the use of titles and clips, and the underlying sound effects. It builds on an earlier story and ends on an ominous note suggesting more to come, while still holding together as a complete story in itself.

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“Happy surfing.”

For today’s Daily Create, we were to build on the classic “On the internet nobody knows you’re a dog” cartoon. I wondered how Dr. Oblivion would respond to the query:

Then, in my infinite laziness curiosity, I asked the same of ChatGPT. It gave me a bland list, so I asked it if it could express the ideas in humorous metaphors. That didn’t turn out much better, but it did suggest that the internet was like “diving into a vast digital ocean where you can swim with majestic whales of knowledge or get caught in the undertow of clickbait and cat memes.” The underwater cat concept had potential, so I asked Copilot to draw me a picture.

an underwater scene of whales swimming over a seabed og cats on computers

They both brought up cats. It occurred to me afterwards that cats are highly correlated with dogs as well as the web, so maybe I should have expected that. Perhaps those cats also represent the digital overlords that the doctor warned us about.

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“Turn around, bright eyes”

For yesterday’s Daily Create we were to make blackout poetry with content from a certain web site. I looked at it briefly and decided to use the Weird Old Book Finder instead, probably because I found the typography uninspiring. I searched WOBF for eclipse, skimmed a few titles and picked a random page from one. I unfortunately neglected to note the title. I highlighted some phrases that caught my eye and blacked out the rest. I saw the black void in the middle of the image and decided to drop an eclipse shot in there. In hindsight, I should have done something about the line at the top of the eclipse image, so I softened it a bit for the image above.

The TDC was appropriate for Eclipse Day, but even more so for me as I had traveled to the path of totality. I was under complete cloud cover and couldn’t see the event, but that’s okay because I was more interested in the environment and seeing/hearing how wildlife reacted. Here’s a short recording of the sounds of the area about an hour before the light went out:

I wanted to broadcast to ds106radio but my phone has been uncooperative. Maybe that’s okay because technology shouldn’t have been my focus in the moment. I can’t say the animals (deer, squirrels, chipmunks, birds) seemed any different than usual in the lead-in to the eclipse. As it started getting visibly darker, it got very quiet. It wasn’t a very quick process, but every time I blinked it was noticeably darker. I wouldn’t say it got night-time dark, but it was very close to it for a few minutes. There was no moon or stars behind the clouds for that slight dim light that happens at night, but there was dim light on the horizon. I thought heard the hoot of an owl, and definitely heard the howls of some coyotes. Also some cheers and fireworks from the crowd outside the woods. Then it started to get lighter, but not like a sunrise since the sun was mid-afternoon overhead. Quite the amazing experience. As it grew lighter there was a lot of bird chatter, like you might hear over the course of dawn but compressed into a few minutes. I’ve had worse Mondays.

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Bleeping video

Ooops! Someone forgot to hit the Publish button.

Jim and I have periodic conversations about what we’re doing and where we’re going in de106. I had this idea that the chief legal counsel from Aggressive Technologies would drop in and threaten us with a cease and desist order if we didn’t stop talking about their company. This would create another potential plot point the class might build stories around. We invited ds106 co-founder Martha Burtis to play the part of the lawyer, and her performance left us, me at least, literally dumbfounded.

Jim recorded our meeting and I went through and edited it. I downloaded a bleep sound effect to deal with some of the more aggressive language and imported the components into iMovie. I went through and chopped out extended pauses and “um”s and such, which ended up trimming three minutes off of the run time. At first I tried putting the bleeps in with iMovie, but between the small screen on my MacBook Air and the imprecision of the trackpad, it was getting very difficult. So instead I left the language in and shared the edited piece as a file. I imported the file into Audacity and added the bleeps there on an additional track, and used the Effect=>Amplify function to reduce the volume of the f-bombs.

The bleep track was still a little loud so I used the volume slider to take it down a few dbs. I exported it as an MP3 and then imported that into iMovie. I reduced the video soundtrack to zero and dropped the MP3 in to get the final version. Obviously my bleeping skills leave something to be desired, but it’s the thought that counts, right?


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Aggressive Technologies loves ds106

Aggressive Technologies loves ds106After reflecting on our visit from Aggressive Technologies legal counsel, I had an inspiration for a new ds106radio commercial:

I thought the tone of her spiel would pair well with our friend Bob, so I had him do the intro and outro, and layered some calming music, Reflected Light from SergePavkinMusic, in the background. I think it’s really a win-win, as the track puts Aggressive Technologies in a positive light, and lets them promote their beloved ds106 at the same time. They’re sure to let bygones be bygones now, right?

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Livefutzing is something of a tradition here

We had our first night of ds106radio broadcasts last night, with a possible record crowd. At one point the ds106radio page said we had 23 listeners, although some may have been ghosts and doubles. They were treated to Isaiah Beacon’s Logic Pod show and Ravioli Radio, two excellent shows. I was curious as to why Beacon did a commercial on Ravioli Radio. Coincidence? I suspect there’s a story there, but no one said anything.

I was able to bring a few of the creators on air to talk about their processes. This had been an iffy proposition in the past when I used Ladiocast to broadcast. This time around I used Audio Hijack, which made working with multiple inputs easier. Here’s my setup:
screenshot of Audio Hijack setupI used Quicktime to play the show recordings, a Logitech headset to monitor and speak, and brought people on air through Streamyard on Firefox. There was a slight hiccup in the first on-air conversation in that I had the Logitech input turned off, so ds106radio listeners only heard half the conversation and were a bit confused. They got the important half of the discussion though, and I got it straightened out for the subsequent conversation. Live-futzing is something of a tradition on ds106ardio.

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