Like a classic MOOC dropout artist, I’ve fallen so far off of my horse I can’t even see the dust any more.

I had grand hopes of running a DS106 in a genre of Western films/stories. I was doing trailers back in October for a planned online class to teaching at Kansas State University, flipped the theme on my 106tricks site, and heck, even bought a poncho.

Some people did push and struggle with the genre, which seemed interesting as past DS106 has dealt with noir fiction and a TV show about drugs, violence and gangs. I never got where studying a genre says it has to be one you abide by.

The class did not make, so I was cut loose. And then I thought I would still drive an open course version, ran a few intro videos, units, radio shows… and let it go.

Excuses ensue.

The magic sauce of DS106 often us having a core group of one, two, maybe more courses going of registered students with this dynamic cloud of open participants coming and going. The classes are often at University of Mary Washington, but as many have come from elsewhere, and for different kinds of courses. This is more than two layers; I’ve always felt the drive of students motivated by class mixed un with open participants who find their own motivation is a richer ecosystem then when you have just the self-interest driven participants.

And it’s a great thing that Paul Bond has kept the light burning in his current UMW course.

Yet I had pushed out a “course-less” / “headless” ds106 in 2013 and rolled that into a still available open DS106 that people seem to pick up every now and then.

Look at the effort of Terry Greene – who is still on fire doing DS106 / Western 106 stuff on his on.

I was talking to someone who’s been around the DS106 corral and it was this person’s contention that DS106 had “faded” suggesting in so many words it was past the top of a curve, and maybe it was missing a “charismatic leader”. Many people who got crazy bit with ds106 in 2011, 2012 are not much less or non-active. That’s not a problem, that’s a natural curve of evolution.

In the past, if someone tweeted they were going to do a live ds106 radio broadcast, a solid group would assemble to listen and talk back via twitter. Now hardly anyone goes live on the radio.

Yet, this is a normal cycle. This is not 2011.

But I think there’s more, because if something has risen and fallen some peak, that’s implying it is a single, trackable entity. I’ve maintained that a key part of DS106 is that there is no single DS106. It’s not a thing defined by a syllabus or a course (take in all of its part iterations). Nearly every other open course is defined by the course; DS106 is beyond that scope. It’s not course-ish.

And there is much that is not right there in the tweeted spotlight. Paul has his class going, there is another professional development flavored one happening now from CU Denver, and there is some other class from Chadron State College doing something alongside DS106. One is challenged to find the boundaries in the hashtag.

While I have no data, I do get some notification or indication that many more make use of the Assignment Bank and/or the Daily Create.

If your open course has logins, signups, well than you can collect metrics and make graphs and stuff, and know fairly well what kind of pulse it has. But if it’s wide open, well, then you don’t have quantifiable chart ready data.

I’ve been reverberating on a video about metrics/measurement called Is Anything Worth Maximizing. It brought home this point that nearly all the stuff done based on metrics / analytics is gathering, charting, and acting on behavior actions in online spaces… because, well, that’s easier to quantify. But it misses out on the meatier and more interesting reasons why people are there at all. Take it in.

And I don’t know why a post that started lamenting the letting loose of a DS106 concept and ended up railing against metrics. It’s late here, and I would have written something more coherent earlier if I had not tried to compose first on a WhyPad.

And so like any MOOC whose wheels fell off the bus, I am reaching for some rationalization why I dropped it.

And I don’t have one. I had a blast and a half doing whacky videos, and I’ll be hanged if there’s not something I got out of it.

And people are musing another genre for ds106

Riffing happens

And as it does, as it has always done, DS106 morphs / mutates / zygotes itself… because it is not one single thing. And it is not capable of being put into a neat and tidy MOOC / open course box.

Top / Featured Image: A hat that spent 2 years out on the back deck; my photo, my hat; flickr photo shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. I for one have to say thanks a million for Western 106. It drew me in to the DS106 world. I’ve benefited greatly from the experience. So thank you!

  2. I imagine the DS 106 website as a space station spinning out there in space with rich storehouses of resources for intergalactic travelers, self contained and with an unlocked dock. Sometimes it’s populated with a Federation cohort and sometimes everyone is off doing something else.

    And what is a WhyPad?

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