Almost a year ago Mia Zamora and I got very excited about the idea for a class we would co-teach in the spring.

The rest was is Alchemy.

Last week I headed back to Irvine, California for the 2017 DML Conference where I will get to share that alchemy (sadly Mia is not able to attend in person, I had hoped Rebeg and M might hack her into my session).

Our session was Digital Alchemy of Networked Narratives: A Connected Course of Web Storytelling & E-Literature, blurbed as:

Seeking to transform what is possible in the real world via a fictional community and exercising collective civic imagination, we launched Elements of Networked Narratives or as an experiment in “digital alchemy” (

Offered as a Spring 2017 Digital Storytelling course at Kean University, we invited colleagues on a global scale open participants. is an open collaboration delivered in emergent improv style, a laboratory mix of Mia’s Writing Electronic Literature course and DS106 — where Connected Course-style participants write in their own digital spaces which are aggregated in a course hub.

Participants in inhabited personas, remixed digital media, and explored the role of multiple identities in networked spaces. It included “virtual field trips”, live video visits with international artists & scholars to explore the latest in digital storytelling, electronic literature, fan fiction, and #netprov. Taking a cue from the age of alchemy (often thought of as closeted pseudoscientists concocting formulas to make gold from common substances), sought narrative transformations while co-building a “mirrorworld” inspired by current conversations.

Our students gained experience with memes and GIFs, twitter bots, web/audio annotation, text/graphic ciphers, audio editing, creation of alt personas. A core group of open participants, despite often not having clear rules of engagement, persisted with us, and even independently created their own #Netnarr activities.

is an experiment in designing for narrative emergence and teaching itself as a narrative-based experience. As budding digital alchemists, we have not been constrained by what we do not know. We even have rogue characters who “hacked” our class.

In our presentation we will share a unique community as we consider the intersection of co-learning, networks, civic imagination, pedagogy, and digital writing/making. We will also reflect on the role that “co-imagineering” and ARG practices (alternative reality games) might play in addressing real world challenges. This was our pilot for a flexible approach to teaching, not on the web as content, but in the web as a space of its own. We hope our ideas inspire you to join us for a next iteration in 2018.

Yes, Rebeg, there were slides!

It was fast and un-furious, I blasted through 27 slides in 25 minutes (you can go fast if you don’t have words on slides!).

That alchemist was tweeting through my talk, but I could not figure which face in the audience was his.

I guess Rebeg’s hacking was helpful after all:

And the whole thing was designed as a call for action in 2018

In conjunction with the presentation, Mia and I published another installment on DML Central Networked Narratives: Netproving in the Mirror World.

In addition to this presentation, in the time slot before I participated in a panel discussion on Layered Learning: Web Annotation in Collaborative and Connected Contexts where we will share the ways we tried to use web annotation as a narrative tool:

Networked Narratives ( Mia Zamora and Alan Levine will share how learners in Networked Narratives – a digital storytelling and civic imagination connected course for Kean University students and open participants – leveraged annotation to explore virtual trips and narrative layers atop web content.

We had 2 slides in the mix…

Examples of what we did with web annotation in

Where we hope to go next with annotation…

Watch out, Arganee is rising in 2018.

Coming to a web near you in 2018….

Featured Image: Modified with -ness from Alchemist Lab flickr photo by ilovebutter 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

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