I thought I should think out loud a little more on the theme of “What’s (y)our story?” The duality in the question represents something that always happens in ds106. On one hand, we all create our own stories, and on the other a group narrative arises from our interactions and collaborations.
Typically one of the ds106 instructors picks the theme for the semester. We’ve used themes like the Western, the Twilight Zone, 80s pop culture and other in the past. I always tell the classes that they have very wide latitude in interpreting the themes, so they can really make whatever they want of them. The point is to give us some common ground for interacting and collaborating. The problem with the themes are that they come from me or one of the other instructors. Some students like them, others politely play along, and mostly everyone plays it safe and avoids pushing the boundaries of what the theme might be.
So what I’m trying to do this semester is involve the class more in determining what the theme means. “What’s your story?” could be almost anything. I’m not really interested in autobiography though, as much as what people are motivated by, interested in, and find meaningful in the world. As another ds106 master put it, “Everyone has something that they can geek out on.” So here are a few examples of geekery:
Maryam Tsegaye, Canada, Physics, Winner: 2020 Breakthrough Junior Challenge
Some people really get into physics, and some people don’t get it at all. This video bridges that gap with visual language, pacing, and loads of enthusiasm.
Lady Gaga’s MIXED METER Star Spangled Banner?!
This is a deep analysis, mostly over my head so I probably miss half the meaning. But still it feels accessible, like I don’t need to be a musicologist to get the drift.
Darwyn Cooke & The Punctuation of Comics | Strip Panel Naked
This analyzes comic book pages on a level I didn’t even know was possible. It exposes how the visual language and design actively work to convey meaning, something I might not see even though it was right in front of me.
In all these cases, the speakers’ love of what they’re talking about is infectious and draws the listener in. These topics may not matter to most of us, but the way the speakers present their stories makes them interesting and compelling.
At the same time, we have to find common ground, so we can develop our collective story, whatever that turns out to be. That’s not something we can plan in advance, but rather a narrative that should, hopefully, emerge from our interactions as we share ideas, feedback, and input, and build upon each others ideas. While we can’t plan it, we can facilitate it by offering each other inspiration and looking for ways to connect our stories. I think we can have a lot of fun with this your story/our story idea. It’s just up to all of us to make it work.