“When a plan comes together”

The best part of co-teaching, the most fun, is seeing how different ideas come together. As we’re planning AI106, I get to see all the genius conceptions gel, and hopefully make more of my thoughts than I could on my own.

I had a couple ideas coming in. One I touched upon earlier comes from reading Sontag, and Sacasas as well. Storytelling is a fundamental human activity. It is necessary in that it is how we understand the world, and essential in that it is something we’re driven to do. While it may be possible for a tech app to string words together in the form of a story, any deep meaning in the story would come from the human reader rather than the machine generator. When I had ChatGPT create a story outline, it put forth something workable. But it was also too familiar, lacking in any twists or surprises. The output is like an averaging of storylines, squarely targeting mediocrity. I’m not sure how to work this idea into the run of the course, but it may fuel ongoing discussion.

In many iterations of ds106 students created characters that they used to interact with the course and build stories around. We have floated the idea that in AI106 their characters could be human or bots. My second idea borrows from role-playing games. We could have a list of character archtypes, like

  • Innovator  – interested in making new things, trying new things, open to risk and disdainful of guardrails
  • Regulator – interested in stability and security, approaches risk with great caution
  • Luddite – militantly values people over property and technology
  • Mad genius – feels entitled to rule the world by virtue of intellectual superiority
  • Documentarian – tracks the facts and tells their story
  • Technician – dedicated to making things work and keeping things running
  • Artist – sees all tech as paintbrushes and palettes, tools and media for self-expression
  • Evangelist – dedicated to spreading the good news and preaching the potential, disinterested in drawbacks
  • Philosopher – works to bring clarity to truth, meaning and ethics
  • Investor – feels entitled to rule the world by virtue of financial advantage

and have the students fit their characters into one. This could give the students some inspiration and direction, and sets the stage for interaction and plot development while giving the class a lot of latitude to determine where the story goes.

Perhaps in honor of Oblivion U I will bring an Oblivions set to ds106radio one of these days. The music may not be for everyone, but some of the attitude might suit the course.

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