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The Value of My Experience at DS106

Monday, July 30th, 2012

As I write my final “letter home” or weekly reflection, I will share advice with future ds106 participants, especially students. Understand that I write this from the perspective of an adult student, in my mid-30′s, in the midst of a successful, demanding career, with a family and home to manage…all while balancing a school agenda, pursing my Bachelor’s of Professional studies degree in Leadership & Management. Obviously, I am an extremely busy woman, whose time is a precious commodity.

I will also share that I dropped another class off my summer schedule because the amount of work required was so intimidating and overwhelming that I was afraid that I could not get it all done successfully to maintain my 3.8 GPA. After dropping that class, I quickly looked for something to take it’s place. Seeing as I am short on general electives, I found this class that thought it would be a fun, creative, even easy way to accumulate credits over the summer. I was a few days late enrolling in this course and felt like I was constantly playing “catch up” right out of the gate. But Martha and Alan were welcoming and the other participants and students were great in helping me along the way and encouraging me with accolades and constructive criticism. My think that ds106 would be fun and creative part was accurate, but easy? Well, not exactly easy for ME, but I certainly learned a lot and I’m sure this ds106 experience is one that I will never forget.

So my advice and experience comes in the form of a David Letterman-style Top Ten List.

10.   Come prepared.

Be ready to hit the ground running. Review the list of materials or potential tools you will need to use throughout ds106, including image editors, video editors, audio editors, etc. Familiarize yourself with unfamiliar programs, if necessary. This will save you time later. I started a bit behind the curve and used a lot of time trying to find the right tool to do what I envisioned in my head.

9.   Pay attention.

Bookmark, and check daily, the activity at ds106. As this is an online environment, use Google Reader, Twitter, the ds106 website and other pertinent tools at your disposal to get announcements and tutorials and follow what’s going on with other ds106ers through blogs, tweets, etc.

8.   Get involved and interact.

You should make a few minutes each day for ds106, including getting involve and interacting with others. It really is a lot of fun to browse blogs and see what other ds106ers are working on. Leave substantive comments whenever possible to not only let everyone, including the professors, that you are participating, but to enjoy the creativity that takes place here. Don’t forget to tweet your new blog posts and daily creates! Again this shows participation and alerts others to review and comment on your work too.

7.   Be consistent.

Daily participation in ds106 is critical.  Be consistent in your activities…planning, interacting, doing assignments, blogging, tweeting, etc. Some tasks and some days will require more time and investment than others. Just keep making progress and you’ll do fine.

6.  Plan ahead.

This is KEY! One of my strategies to plan my week was to browse through the ds106 Assignment Repository at the beginning of each week or segment and start thinking about which assignments I wanted to create and how I would go about doing them. I took myself on field trips often, both around town and online, looking for ideas and inspiration. Also, I recommend looking at the daily create as soon as it’s published each day, to give yourself time to think and do, depending on your schedule for the day.

5.   Do NOT procrastinate!

Putting off until tomorrow what you can or should do today can be a fatal error in ds106. Falling behind will likely create a snowball effect that will leave you overwhelmed. Plan accordingly. If you know you will have schedule conflicts or issues, communicate them to your professor and plan ahead to mitigate these demands. Trust me, I fell behind once or twice and it was so much harder to get back on top of things. There’s a lot of work to do here and you should be ready to commit time every day to ds106.

4.   Open your mind…and your eyes.

This was  one of my favorite things about ds106! If you open your eyes and your mind, you will begin to look at every day things different. As you move through the course, you start to see the concepts all around you. The daily creates really help to stimulate this as well.

3.   Challenge yourself.

DS106 is likely to push each participant out of his or her comfort zone at some point. But I challenge you to push yourself. Don’t always pick the easy assignment or use the same tool every time. Stretch your imagination and reach for the stars. The support system here is fabulous, if you get stuck or have trouble, say so! Others will jump in to help or offer advice.

2.  Tell the your story.

The blog write-up are important. Don’t just post the final product. Explain the story behind why and how you did the assignment. Make it personal. This is not an English class, so informal writing is preferred. EMBED your work, not just link to it. A reader should be able to see or view the media directly on your site and not be re-routed elsewhere. The website is yours…make it yours. Personalize it, own it, enjoy it!

and the number one advice and informal motto of ds106…

1.  “Make Art, Damn It!”

I think this is pretty self-explanatory. You are assessed on your participation and effort, not the perfection of your product. Have fun and be creative!

 

My personally favorite segment of ds106 was the visual (photography). I bought a new camera at the beginning of the summer, and really enjoyed playing with it and learning to use it in new and exciting ways. This is definitely an area where I didn’t have the time toi do ALL I wanted to in the assignment repository, but watch out…I do plan to keep working ds106 as an open online participant as time allows me. I can’t wait to do some new assignments and maybe even refine some of the ones I already did.

I have truly enjoy my ds106 experience and learned so much, it’s hard to recap it all. I will say I plan on using the skills I learned here to help my boyfriend re-design the website for his business and link it up social media using the media I learn to manipulate here – images, video, audio, etc. The tools will be a great help in marketing his business and increasing traffic and exposure to his work.

Good luck and enjoy ds106…it’s a great place to be creative and play with others! :)

Camp Magic MacGuffin: A place of mystery and intrigue!

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Have you heard about Camp magic MacGuffin?! What a fun and fascinating place to spend the summer! But there’s some strange things going on there!

I first raised my eyebrows at this strange character, Jim Groom. I  missed whatever started the commotion but he managed to get himself sequestered into a separate bunkhouse in the first couple of weeks of camp. Looking back over the summer, I have to wonder…is Jim Groom behind all the strange happenings at camp? Is Shed #4 really Bunkhouse X, aka Jim Groom’s lair? Is he responsible for the disappearance of camp counselors and the peculiar behavior of our beloved camp directors? Or was it the derecho that hit camp? Did we hit a nerve with our zombie apocalypse radio show? Hmmm…

Apocalypse Bumper by Chanda Sorrell Cowger

As I look back, I knew something peculiar was going on, but tried to mind my own business, even though the level of mystery was rising

Then, I think I touched a nerve…or at the very least called unintended attention to  myself.

 

Would I become the next target? Campers and counselors were all around at the beginning of camp. Slowly but surely they started going silent, disappearing. Even our directors, Alan and Martha seemed to be acting a little strange. I found this very distressing! They were our leaders, our guide through this adventure. Alan kept disappearing and reappearing in the new places, irritating Martha. Or was Martha’s moods being influenced by someone or something else. She got more excitable and a little paranoid as time passed. Was it the crazy weather and heat causing her confusion? Did the derecho leave something unpleasant behind that would infect us all with the same affliction that had its grasp on Martha?

I became very concerned for Martha…and the effect her apparent altered mental, emotional state would have on those of us that still lingered at camp. She keeps rambling about Shed #4 and, in this video released earlier today, appears to be “jonesing” like an addict when Shed #4 inexplicably disappears!

I know it might seem a little far-fetched, but here’s my theory about what happened at Camp MacGuffin this Summer:

Someone…I’m still unsure as to who…came to camp with a sinister agenda, ready and waiting for fresh meat for their experiments in mind-control. Was it Jim Groom…Hatchet Jack…Uncle Hector…or even Slide Guy? I don’t know, but whoever it is constructed Shed #4 and ds106 radio to distribute…a virus or infection of some kind?  Once infected, the victim becomes addicted, obsessed with the ds106, its participants, the assignment repository, the daily creates, any and all creative media projects and collaboration…a zombie of sorts. Over time, these victims, also known as #4lifers, become so creative that it takes a toll on their mental and emotional health. Their logic and reasoning skills are changing, perspectives evolving. It’s already taken so many…including directors Alan and Martha, nearly all of the counselors and even some fellow campers like poor Kavon! Some must have run away…or were taken. In any case, campers that made it to the end of the season, appear to be showing signs of possessing this #4life contagion.

And now I fear…it has ME too!

Day 2 diary at Stafford Lakes by Chanda Sorrell Cowger

Given all that’s happened here this summer, I had a great time and learned so much!

DS106 I’ll Have What She’s Having… by Chanda Sorrell Cowger

 

Wrapping Up Daily Creates for Camp

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

I have enjoyed The Daily Creates of ds106 and will strive for continued participation in this creative outlet even after my educational enrollment in the ds106 curriculum comes to an end. Here are the 3 daily create assignments I completed for the last week of ds106 and Camp MacGuffin…

tdc198 – Draw a flower with your eyes closed.

Flower drawn on the inside of my eyelids

I’m not that great at drawing on a good day.Ask me to do it with my eyes closed ensures a disaster in the art department. Knowing this would be the case, I want to add a twist…to make it more interesting. So I used Flamepainter to blindly draw this flower. This made it look more abstract and colorful, standing out from the other pen and pencil renditions of this challenge!

tdc200 – Take a photograph of animal you think represents your personality.

I emerged from my cocoon…a Butterfly

“Just when the caterpillar thought its life was over, it became a butterfly.”
A butterfly is an accurate reflection of my life to this point, especially the last few years. I recently had this beautiful reminder tattooed on my ankle for my 35th birthday…to always remind me that change is ineviditable, so make it beautiful! I will blog separately about this in the near future, to give the the whole story, my story and why this holds such a powerful significance to me that I would tattoo on my body. Look for it, if you really want know what’s really Behind Blue Eyes.

tdc201 – Make a short audio of the sound of water pinging, flushing, splashing, roaring, tumbling…

Bathroom H2O by Chanda Sorrell Cowger

To create this sound clip, I recorded a few sounds of water in the bathroom. The shower running, toilet flushing, sick faucet flowing. Again, easy to do using the SoundCloud app on my iPhone to record a short bit.

Daily Creates — Week 9

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Another week gone like dust in the wind! Sorry to report that I fell off the daily create challenge this week, after completing 8 consecutive challenges, but here’s the 3 I did get published:

tdc190 - Flip the decibels. Make a loud sound soft, or a soft sound loud.

This wasn’t too difficult to do. I walked around my home, tuning up my listening skills to hear soft sounds that I probably over look. It’s been hot as Hades here in Fredericksburg this summer and my AC has been working overtime. I admit, I’m fearing the resulting electric bill! The AC softly blows the lovely cold air from the vents in a glorious, quiet murmur of sound. Almost a white noise, usually taken for granted. To get this sound bit, I simply turned on my SoundCloud app on my iPhone and stuck it into the vent to capture the sound…and nothing but the beautiful sound of cool air comforting me! No alterations necessary, worked like a charm.

 

tdc191 – Illustrate attraction in a photograph today.

Attraction

My first idea for this challenge was to photograph the stray dog hair that is usually attracted to my work clothes, but, of course, the one time I want to see it there, it wasn’t. So I took a stroll through my home again, and a walk down memory lane. A stuffed Simba and Nala from the Lion King are attracted by a magnet in their noses! The Lion King was my oldest son’s very 1st favorite movie and he carried the VHS tape with him EVERYWHERE! I found these guys among the other well-loved but forgotten childhood treasures.  (circa 1994?)

 

tdc192 – Make a video that represents the concept of flight (but not a bird).

I wanted to record a butterfly or dragonfly fluttering around, but the weather apparently wasn’t pretty enough or they are camera-shy and hiding. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t find any even though I looked for them for hours. Oh, well. Next best thing for flight…and airport! Fortunately for me, my office overlooks Dulles International Airport! Unfortunately, my timing was off and I was unable to capture the arrival or departure of aircraft. So I simply recorded a sample of my view of the airport and it’s activities from my vantage point. Not too exiting, I’d say, but it was original!

Next week is the last for daily creates for ds106, although I plan on continuing to participate, as time allows. It’s a good excuse to keep “making art, damn it!” if even on a smaller scale! :)

 

A-Z Photography

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

My next contribution to the ds106 Assignment Repository is Visual Assignment 615: A-Z Photo Collage. The instructions read:

Make an alphabetically themed collage. Compile images to represent each letter of the alphabet within a chosen subject area or theme. Create a collage.

The potential themes are endless: items around the house, items in nature, food, flowers, even possibly things that simply make you smile. For the example, used food.

Food A-Z

After collecting photos of food that represented each letter of the alphabet, I simply opened the folder in Picasa

…and from the “create” menu, selected “create collage”

…to start the photo compilation.

Then, I adjusted the settings–style, page format, background options–and rearranged the photos to be in A, B, C order to get the final collage I wanted. Pressing the button to “create collage”, I had my A-Z Photography composition created!

I can’t wait to see others’ interpretation of the assignment, as well as the individual themes or topics that will be used for the collages. Good luck and have fun!

Zombies, Zombies…Everywhere!

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

One of the requirements for ds106 was to create a new assignment for the DS106 Assignment Repository. I’ve been thinking about the possibilities for the past 9 weeks, keeping in mind that I don’t want to closely duplicate an already existing assignment AND I must be able to do it myself. That was the real challenge…my mind envisions things that my talents fall short on bringing to fruition.

This morning, inspiration struck! Zombie mania is spreading like crazy. With shows like The Walking Dead gaining popularity and news stories of people attacking others in a zombie-like fashion, I thought “what would I look like as a zombie?”

My Photoshop skills are greatly lacking so I started looking for other ways to alter an image of myself and zombify it. After some quick internet researching I found there were many online options available for FREE! Halleluiah! I played around with a few finding the Zombify Yourself online app on the Zombieland website is my favorite. Here’s one possibility of what I might look like as a zombie:

Zombie Me

I was having so much fun I did another of Dave & I

Zombie Couple

See the assignment and other examples in the DS106 Design Assignment Repository: Zombify Yourself

I hope other ds106 participants have as much doing this as I did!

 

 

Remixing with Dr. Suess

Friday, July 20th, 2012

The remix assignment this week was to use the remix generator to produce a remix card paired with another assignment from the ds106 assignment repository. The task was to then interpret this as a new assignment and do it. We were instructed to look at the examples that were done for the original assignment, and use media from one of these as the starting point.

The remix generator made for some interesting browsing this week. I’ve randomly been flipping through to computer-generated combinations, looking for something that (a) had examples, (b) was feasible with my limited skills, and (c) was interesting. After a few start and stop trial and errors, I got Remixed Assignments 454 (5 stars), which basically meant I needed to take a time-lapse pic from another ds106er and “Dr. Seuss” it. There was only one example available to use: kimchipizza’s soccer composite.

I then conducted a quick Google search to find a quote or saying from a Dr. Seuss book that included anything about a ball. And I found this one:

“Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.”

Since this quote is from “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”, I did Google image search for the book, looking for an appropriate image to incorporate into the image, settling on this one of the main character, from Dr. Seuss Wiki:

After accumulating the pieces and parts that I needed, I used Aviary Image Editor to create my remix.

Dr. Seuss Time Lapse

Remix: Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery

Friday, July 20th, 2012

After watching all four Everything is a Remix videos created by Kirby Ferguson and his blog, I think one of the most profound things he said that really drove home the reasons for remixes was “Nobody starts out original. We need copying to build a foundation of knowledge and understanding. And after that, things can get interesting.”

Mr. Ferguson articulates the basic elements of creativity as: copy, transform, and combine. And when you think about it learning takes the same cycle. Singers learn their voice capabilities and practice on already recorded songs. Musicians learn their instruments by playing their favorite tunes or songs over and over. Artists likely start by imitating famous paintings or the concepts. Actors learn to act by watch movies and reenacting the scenes. Once an individual has been copying awhile, they start to put their own “twist” on the works, varying them slightly to add their individual flavor or personality into the mix, transforming the subject piece.

Watching, listening, doing…it’s how humans learn new things. Add in our desire for free will, to make our mark, add our own personal flare…and there you have it, we are all remixing all the time. Consciously or subconsciously, over time we have noted things we liked, or didn’t like, things we might have done differently and use these ideas later. Remix is a creative way to learn and grow and experiment with our own individuality…and stretch our imaginations!

I have to wonder, if now, in the 21st century, there is such a thing as “original”? It seems to up for debate nearly constantly. Amateurs and professionals alike are constantly recycling ideas, changing them, morphing them into different, new products of art. But introduce copyright into the conversation and things get really dicey. Should it be a copyright violation to remix? In my opinion: No! Unless of course you are misrepresenting a work as yours. Give credit where credit is due. Making a profit, monetary or otherwise, off someone’s else hard work is wrong, but recycling, reusing, and reinterpreting ideas and concepts is a great way to show how much you like the original (or not).

One of the best remixes I reviewed this week was this one:

The Shining was a damned scary movie the first time I watched it. I’ve seen it many times since and enjoy it. This remix of scenes from the movie completely changes the premise of the plot, leading the viewer of THIS video remix to believe that this is a sentimental story of love, a drama…instead of a horror flick. The scenes weren’t altered. They were just cut and arranged differently to create a different mood. Very creative!

30 Classic Music Albums Recreated With Lego was really fascinating to scroll through. I wish my Lego-maniac kids had so expertly imitated something like this. No, it’s not original design, but very creative interpretations of famous album art. Remember when album cover art was truly an art? I used to love to flip through my parents album collection simply admiring the different types of cover art. I have a few of my favorites framed and hanging in my home now. I don’t think the Lego creations of these art covers are rip offs…more of a different form of art. I bet the original artists or designers couldn’t do it with Legos!

I’m surprised that “Weird Al” Yankovic has not entered into he remixing conversations of ds106. This guy has made a very lucrative career remixing songs and videos! He uses satire and comedy to reinterpret other musicians work and poke fun at the musician themselves in some cases, like in this hilarious video remix of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way!

And here’s Lady Gaga’s original video of this song, if you’re interested.

 

In ds106, much of what we do is remixing for the purposes of learning through experimentation and sharing of products and processes. Many find trying to recreate or improve upon any already existing piece of work a convenient and intensely educational. I know I do! I have learned so much through trial and error and feedback during the ds106 process. It was a lot more fun than sitting through a lecture being talked AT about all the concepts we’ve studied here.

I want to conclude by saying that imitation is indeed the highest form of flattery. This is one of the reason my most original works and products for ds106 and this blog are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0. Go ahead…remix my work. I’m cool with that…as long as you give credit to me for what is mine and don’t make money off me (without sharing anyway)! :)

Lethal Weapon Series: 4 Movies, 1 Trailer

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Mashup Assignment 135 (4 stars) called for making a movie trailer by taking a trilogy, or any series of movies, and combining scenes from all the trailers to make one trailer. This was an easier assignment, and considering all my problem with video editing, I figured I could probably handle this one with a minimum of frustration. For the subject of this assignment, I decided to make a trailer montage for one of my favorite movie series, Lethal Weapon.

Turns out I was right. After downloading the four individual HD trailers for the Lethal Weapon movies from YouTube, I imported them all into VideoPad to splice them together. Starting with the first movie, Lethal Weapon, I cropped off extra material at the end of the trailer that I didn’t want to keep. Then I added the next trailer for Lethal Weapon 2, to the video track immediately after the first one. Again, some trimming to make the resulting “uni-trailer” a little shorter and transitions less obvious, I added the third and fourth videos trailers for Lethal Weapon 3 and Lethal Weapon 4. Admittedly, the transitions between segments are not as smooth and more obvious as would have liked, but the damned video editing software is making my crazy, so I did my best and settled for that.

And if you haven’t seen the Lethal Weapon movies yet…I hope this teases you  into it! Working on this task has reignited my love for these movies so I see a movie marathon coming in the near future! :)

Mashing Up Daily Creates

Friday, July 20th, 2012

I accepted cogdog’s challenge last week to do daily creates every day for seven days. As of today, I’m going on 8, but I haven’t done today’s yet. Anyway, since issuing his challenge there has been more consistent participation on The Daily Create site, so the timing was good to do Mashup Assignment 609 (5 stars).

I started by reviewing the TDC archives for July 11-17, 2012. Two of these were video so I decided to start with those and fit the others in like puzzle pieces! Starting with Martha’s mysterious The Most Amazing Technology video (tdc189), I downloaded it and imported it into VideoPad. I think this is when I decided to go with an ominous, mystery compilation, building on the mood of her video. Moving along, I assessed the other tdcs and proceeded to fit them together. I turned TDC 185 – tornado by Malyn Mawby into a video by applying the film effect to make it move and shimmy like a real tornado. Importing it back into VideoPad, I positioned it at the beginning of the track and overlayed Tdc190 boilingwater by Malyn Mawby as a soundtrack over the tornado for additional effect.

For the next segment, I used No TV. Just static (tdc187) by Audrey Watters. Overlayed on this segment of track is the Morse code sound bits from the NCH Sound Effects Library, included in VideoPad, and a short piece of TDC188 Telemarketing Call by mrswanson. I trimmed this soundclip down to fit the video piece and keep the overall project to a shorter time. I added two more Morse code sound bits on the end to transition into Martha’s technology video segment.

To wind down the entire project and include a few more tdc projects, I inserted a blank slide after her video to showcase My strongest attraction #tdc191 by Martha and emphasize her statement of being the most amazing thing she’s ever experienced. After that clip, I merged two photos, by inserting Jacques Cartier, Over the St. Lawrence by aforgrave (tdc184) into the video track and overlaying it with a cropped version of Rainbows by robertss (tdc186). To wrap it all up, I inserted scrolling credits to the contributor’s projects that helped create this compilation.

In the end, I used 8 tdcs instead of the required 7. This was a fun project to do, even though, yet again the final product is not exactly as fluid as I envisioned it to be.

I hope I’ve done cogdog and ds106 proud with this new Mashup Assignment!

Recap of all the bits and pieces that made this assignment special: