ds106: Digital Storytelling Tagged Stuff

What flows below are the bits, ideas, experiments, projects, assignments, and assorted weird ideas all associated with my participation in ds106, the most innovative open course every, first launched in January 2011. I am currently teaching my own section online at University of Mary Washington!

Newest Fancy Step in the YouTube Download Dance (why do we need this dance?)

image supposedly licensed for non-commercial use from SA Ballroom & Latin will

image supposedly licensed for non-commercial use from SA Ballroom & Latin will

In writing up the current ds106 lesson on telling stories, I provided some updates tips in how to download video form YouTube (and other services). In the past I have recommended KeepVid (requires Java, so its no go in Chrome). Since learning about it from Tim Owes, I switched to pwnyoutube, specifically the bookmarklet tool. I’ve seen it not work for periods, and lately Chrome has been tossing up a click through unsecure script warning. But last time I passed by pwnyoutube I noticed a new service– and it has smoother dance moves than the others.

SaveFrom.net not only can download video from YouTube URLs, but also another 40+ different audio/video sites. But the cool moves begin when you install the helper extension.add-on — it looks like it works for IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and more.

And this is what makes it best- in YouTube, vimeo, and more, it adds the download button right in the page. Toggle it open, and you get a few choices of formats


But wait, there’s more.

You get access to the same tools from an embedded video


I’m not done yet.

If you come across a hyperlink to a downloadable video, you get a little down arrow icon; click it once and you end up at the SaveFrom.net download page with the URL loaded for processing


For those three reasons, I am now using and primarily recommended SaveFrom.net for downloading web videos.

But these gyrations and moves should not even be necessary. YouTube has an option to put a Creative Commons By Attribution license on your videos (any clue why they only do one CC flavor?).
yt license

If I select this option, how is anyone going to get a copy to re-use? All YouTube provides for this license is

Creative Commons licenses provide a standard way for content creators to grant someone else permission to use their work. YouTube allows users to mark their videos with a Creative Commons CC BY license. These videos are then accessible to YouTube users for use, even commercially, in their own videos via the YouTube Video Editor.

The only thing YouTube lets you do with a video someone has released under Creative Commons is to use it in the YouTube Editor?

Awkward dance move, YouTube.


But here is the thing.

creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by keirstenmarie

Google seems to look the other way at all of these external services providing video download from YouTube (while at the same time allowing Record Companies and Movie Studios rampage users who remix Content Id matched stuff). In essence, Google says remixing YouTube videos is something they look away at although, as the kids say, “everyone else is doing it”.

Including Google.

I really thought when I pointed this out last month that someone might even notice, or more shockingly, leave a comment.

Essentially, Google has created an ad for themselves, a COMMERCIAL, using clips from YouTube users (legally they have a right to do so in their terms of service)

But did Google have to use goofy downloaders to get the video clips? No, cause they have the video files. Did Google provide credit or attribution to the owners of the clips? No, legally they do not have to.

Stop. In creating an ad, a COMMERCIAL ADVERTISEMENT, Google is condoning remixing of YouTube videos.

Public domain image, from Shmoop.

Public domain image, from Shmoop.

Why doesn’t Google stop the goofy dances we do, and just put the damn download button on the site? At least for people have have marked their videos for Creative Commons attribution.

It’s just un-necessary gyrations

Man That Bava Dog Can Blog!

Given a photo from @drgarcia of Jim Groom and his new sidekick, Daphne, I was struck by how similar their intent was on the computer screen.

As a fitting parallel for one of my older efforts at the ds106 assignment, the parent child head swap, we have now a dog who, if she tries hard, may be up to Dog Blog Standards.

A dog can really blog with a faithful sidekick

A dog can really blog with a faithful sidekick

Keep on blogging, Daphne!

Behind a Cowbird

My being inspired to write a story on cowbird is a likely correlation with spending last week visiting Barbara Ganley. Because I urge my students to share the story behind a story, the one I wrote last night A Stranger Rummaged Through My Suitcase came from my unpacking experience.

It was hardly the first time I found the TSA paper in my suitcase

cc licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Like usually I shrugged it off, tossed the paper, and put the pile of dirty clothes in the basket to be washed. That’s when “it” happened- that diffifult to describe itch when an idea bubbles up.

Part of it is how normal this seems, how matter of fact. We just accept the fact that when traveling by airplane, our checked baggage is inspected for Things That Do Not Belong in the Air. Less then that odd realization that someone opened and looked around my bag of dirty clothes– was more that a person was doing this. A person I would never know, nor would I know what their story is.

So I decided to make a character, so I tried to cast what the experience might be like on the side of someone who has taken on this kind of work. What its like to spend all day inspecting the inner secrets of luggage.

I ended up actually putting the clothes back in the suitcase, finding the note in my recycle bin, and reconstructing so I could get the photo.

Not that it is anything of critical acclaim, for me it is the practice of looking at a situation from perhaps a slightly different angle. THAT is what we can do with story, not always find out how the world really works, but imagine alternatives. To write a world, not necessarily right a world.

Anyhow, the story is below, but is always better tasted on the full cowbird. I enjoy the cowbird way, yet as I hear people rave about medium, I always come back to the idea that I could cast my story almost anywhere. The tools are interesting, and they can shape some of the story, but never all of it.

That’s mine.

Students Review DS106: Constructivist or Bust!


This internet can be so recursive on itself. Nada Dabbagh, Professor & Director Division of Learning Technologies at George Mason University (she is the person who invited me to teach a DS106 class for GMU starting now) emailed about an ironic event in one of her classes. She has an assignment where her students are asked to compare a constructivist learning environment and compare it to an objectivist learning environment. Without her prompting, one of the student groups had found and selected on their own, DS106 as the former.

I asked if they would share their project and was curious how they discovered DS106; she got this response:

I’m fine with sharing it with anyone who is interested.

I came across it largely by dumb luck. I had been trying to research MOOC’s as a possible option and came across the idea of a Connectivist MOOC. Then I came across a reference to ds106 as a constructivist MOOC on pinterest of all things (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/444026844482264651/), which led me right to their site.

Apparently Brenda Boyd, Director of Professional Development & Consulting for Quality Matters Program maintains a pinterest MOOC. And look where DS106 sits, right next to our pal, St Sebastian of the Thruns (not a suggestion that DS106 emerged from his head)

pinned moocs

You can listen to the student’s project as a screencast at http://www.screencast.com/t/u4IzpiWe. I was impressed with how well they were able to encapsulate the characteristics of DS106 just from what they found on the web site.

And now form the irony department. Apparently the objectivist course the students looked at, something called Skillport, would not allow the students to use screen captures of their site in the screencast.


There’s open and then there’s _________________________

Join in as DS106 Goes to Work

If you have been looking for a DS106 experience to join, your boat comes in March 18. That is when an online course I have been invited to teach in DS106 style starts. EDIT 572: Digital Audio/Video Design and Applications is part of a graduate certificate Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) Program at George Mason University.

Last summer Nada Dabbagh asked me if I could teach this course with a storytelling approach, even bringing the ds106 mode to it. “Are you sure?” I asked.

This class will be 7 weeks long, and is two credits, so I have been paring back a bit of what I typically do in the UMW courses (see the general syllabus).

What’s different for this course is that the students are all working employees of a major consulting firm, working on the IDT program at GMU. They have been described to me as “road warriors” meaning people who continually travel to client sites, and that their typical work week was intense Monday through Thursday, leaving the rest of the week for their studies. The folk at GMU were fine if I did not use the Blackboard LMS and require students blog in a WordPress.com site. But they were wary of asking them to create many more accounts.

The idea behind the title “DS106 Goes to Work” is asking how do/can the methods and techniques of digital storytelling be put to use outside of academia, e.g. in a work environment? This was approached so successfully last fall by Rochelle Lockridge in bringing the open DS106 inside the corporate intranet of 3M, and the paper I will co-present with her and Mariana Funes at OER14.

I see this GMU course as being somewhere between the “behind the firewall” design that Rochelle did, and the wild west open space of typical ds106.

The big question for me is not really knowing what to expect from attitudes and experiences of these students. I will have to find out and adjust as I go (same story every time I teach). That was the reason for making the video above, and to outline some information about the experience I will be emailing to students this week (the intro post for the students is baking in the blog oven)— a different flavor of the “scare email” Jim, Martha, and I have used at UMW.

So here is what is happening, I have two sections at GMU who will get the same course content (I believe one is a new cohort in the program, the others have been in it for a year). In the first week, they will be asked to set up wordpress.com blogs, and email me their sites, which i will add to ds106. There will be a page to see the posts in section 1 and another for posts from section 2, plus a way to see ones from all GMU students combined (the beauty of tagging feeds in Feed WordPress).

It will help them understand the power of an open class if the ds106 community can chip in some comments as these students start lighting up the course in 2 weeks. This is crucial- as a big important chunk I am leaving out is using twitter/Google+ with these students. It was a hard decision, but I have to limit the number of things I ask them to focus on. I did open up their Blackboard sections with just a discussion forum for Q&A, if they want a place to ask, but the amount of social interaction might be slim. I am trying to make that all take place within their blog conversations, and things I will reiterate in course videos.

But it an open course too, so if you want to follow along, tune into the weekly assignments (it even has an RSS feed for you old school readers). If you already have a blog connected to ds106, use it; otherwise sign up a blog and associate it with the open online participants.

If you are new to ds106, see our suggestions for getting started.

Maybe a shorter course commitment and not as full nuclear blast intensity as the usual DS106 might be your speed?

This is a new approach, full of unknowns and potential Bengal tiger traps.

There are some things I could use help with. For a project< i want them to identify something they come across that is some sort of instructions, explanations, that could benefit from redesigning with a more “storied” approach. I need help finding some things as examples, dull manuals or worksheets? The thing is because of the proprietary nature of their work, and for creative exercise, I want them to choose something out of their normal scope.

My original idea was to play with the genres of how companies are portrayed in movies, which seem to be mainly comical/farce or dark/evil (that was the reason for the clips used in the video above) — and probably not the only real narratives out there. Open participants are welcome to use that as a possible frame for assignments (and yes, the clips I found were largely white guys in ties, how true is that?)

Of course, in open DS106 people mostly choose to whatever they want.

That too is be design.

I hope you will join us.

And that’s the last time I put on a suit for this class!

Cory Greenspan / Alan Doctorow ? The CAPTCHA Did it!

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

For today’s ds106 Daily Create, Got CAPTCHArt? the challenge was to make some art out of those crazy “prove you are a human” devices.

Captchas are not quite as easy to find any more with interesting words. I have some in my flickr from the grand old days when you got real jumbled words, and sometimes freaky combinations, including this unlikely combination of names

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

I wonder what happens when one puts Cory Doctorow with Alan Greenspan? I used the portrait of Doctorow in his office that Jonathan Worth made available (creative commons) in the For the Remix project.


Wikipedia has a public domain portrait of Greenspan, at a very similar pose- in front of bookshelves.



I brought both into Photoshop and resized Greenspan to overlap Doctorow (with the transparency on the layer low enough I could see both). I did a bit of distortion on Greenspan to get his face to match up to the shape of Doctorow. I then split Greenspan’s image in half down the nose, deleting the right side, and did some more warp work to line up the glasses and the nose of the two men. On Greenspan adjusted the saturation down and tinged him a bit to match the sepia tones of Doctorow.

first bombo


But they were reverse in order from the captcha, so I merged them into a layer, and flipped it horizontal.

They eerily merge! I put the captcha on top, with some transparency.

To make it complete, I found a quote from Greenspan

In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value.

and one from Doctorow

Put simply, I want to treat my readers as partners and not crooks. There is no future in calling your most active promoters crooks.

I mixed and matched the sentences to put words in their mouths.

In the absence of the gold standard, I want to treat my readers as partners and not crooks. Put simply, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no future in calling your most active promoters crooks; and there is no safe store of value.

Are you scared now? DONT MESS WITH CAPTCHAS!

I might have nightmares of the irrational exuberance of a kid who is time-rich and cash-poor.

Be More Careful Erasing History, Todd!

Todd Conaway created a masterful animated GIF, riffing from John Johnston.

I am concerned for Todd’s safety as seems to be not aware of the consequences of erasing history!


I think we’re gonna need a bigger GIF.

World Radio Day: ds106 Radio Magic

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

We were excited that SourceFabric asked to stream 2 hours of ds106 radio for their program for World Radio Day.

I got a smattering of suggestions interest in the google doc, but a big gold star sticker goes to Dr Jones for sending me 2 great recorded remix sets. I have a lot of archive material, and put it in a playlist.

It was 8 hours long

I thought maybe we could do some call in stuff too, but since I had so much stuff, I kind of just took it over. Sue me. I put all the files in iTunes, and for the longer clips, I use the setting where you could define where it started playing, so I could have just a sample.

My setup was the usual Rube Goldberg iTunes/Skype audio to Soundflower mix in Ladiocast Stream with Nicecast setup

Set up for ds106 radio broadcast

Set up for ds106 radio broadcast

I’ve done this enough times, but I always run it through a test on the local server, and review the recorded archive. The Skype part is tricky, I use the test call for both ends of the audio. The trickiest part for skype is getting the levels even between me and the people talking into Skype.

Anyhow, I made a full archive of the show, about 2:20 (as in two hours)

ds106 World Radio Day Show

We had a good number of listeners on our end (like 14, which is huge). I have no idea who was tuned in via SourceFabric. That’s the nice thing about our little group- we had a lot of people actively tweeting back, and that ability to hear from your audience is what makes this more than just broadcast.

Anyhow, here is the playlist. It’s hard to get two hours of representative material since we likely have weeks of it, and its probably a wee bit tilted toward stuff I was part of. So be it.

@noiseprofessor produced this with his usual Photoshop jujitsu

@noiseprofessor produced this with his usual Photoshop jujitsu

Of course we started off with the “Can You Dig It” station ID, and below I try to link to all sources or references

That was a lot of fun, hope you 14 enjoyed it too. And the rest who tuned into Sourcefabric, I hope you said, “What the bleep is this?” because sometimes its better to not be totally obvious.

Speaking of the Warriors and ds106 radio, a little back track to Jim Groom

It helped me realize that ds106 Radio is, at least for me, that alternative narrative of possibility wherein we both share take culture that is meaningful to us freely as well as re-frame it more personally for one another—we control the vertical and horizontal, which is just another way of saying the means of production. The idea of this platform flying in the face of controlled channels of distribution.

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

DS106 Radio Corps

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

February 13 is World Radio Day and ds106 is on it! Check it out! Tweet it Out! Broadcast it out!

It’s your internet! Keep it Free!

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

A New ds106 Daily Create Tweet Clock

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by ihave3kids

GNA had a good idea for the ds106 Daily Create scheduling…

I had been thinking about the timing of when they are published; it has been 10:00 AM EST from the beginning, aiming likely at our students in Fredericksburg, and/or first thing in the morning for the west coast, and something totally inconvenient for people in other time zones.

Here is the thing about time zones– no matter what time you schedule something, it will be a crappy time for people elsewhere on the globe.

That is a problem I cannot fix.

But is a good thing to have the TDC planted in your head early, so I have just modified the site, so new ones are released earlier, 5:00 AM EST. We do this in WordPress as scheduled posts, so it was easy to tweak in my script that creates new ones; the ones already in the queue were edited in the dashboard.

This means for North American, your TDC will be waiting for you when you wake up. Most of you. For friends in the Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Zanzibar… well maybe still not optimal.

But as GNA suggested, it would help to have the @ds106dc tweets repeated at reasonable intervals. I set up dlvr.it to send the tweets based upon the RSS feed from the site, so as soon as new ones are published, the tweet will go out (within an hour, the is the frequency it checks the feed).

I could not find an option in dlvr.it to repeat a tweet, so with some poking around, I came across http://tweko.com/. With this service, any tweet that goes out from this account with a #tweko hash tag will be repeated 2 more times at 8 hour intervals.

I will know in a day if it works.

But now, you have fewer excuses for not doing your daily exercise!

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Giulia Forsythe

Especially the artist of that image ;-)