Archive for the ‘ds106 Reflections’ Category


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


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)! :)

Everything’s a Remix?

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

This is week 2 of video analysis in ds106. Taking a look at the video series Everything is a Remix by Kirby Ferguson, we see that the same or similar ideas are repeated over and over, through decades and eras in movies. This concept is reinforced by last weeks study of reading movies and specifically genres or TV Tropes.

I never really thought about it before but many (if not all) movie story lines are regenerate, reinvented, reinvigorated, and reused many times over sometimes from lesser known movies like those listed here on This makes me wonder when the last time there was a completely “original” concept introduced into our movie collections.  And quite frankly, I do not know the answer. I’m not a big movie buff, and admittedly, I’ve seen the beginning or parts of many movies, but have fallen asleep or lost interest before viewing the entire film. However, I was excited to find myself identifying a “remix” scene Friday night while watching an old movie (old to me anyway!)

Friday was Friday the 13th. I thought it would be fun to watch the original, classic Friday the 13th movie that night. As the movie played there was one scene that caught my attention as familiar.

I recognized this scene from Dirty Dancing. Well, actually Friday the 13th came out first in 1980. Dirty Dancing debuted in 1987. But I saw Dirty Dancing before seeing Friday the 13th, so that’s my point of reference.

So in answer to the question posed to us this week:

Is everything a remix? I would have to say…Yes! I give the TV Tropes as evidence that all cinema falls into one or more of these categories, therefore connecting it to the others in each group or making a remix of ones that came before it.

Video Prep Work

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Video week is really two weeks! Oh, what fun!

Last week we were doing a lot of prep work, familiarizing ourselves with the available software programs for video editing and starting to plan our assignment completion for the unit of study in ds106. Here are the assignments that I’ve scoped out and started planning:

Video Assignments 376—Return to the Silent Era (5 stars) gave me the challenge of using a modern movie trailer and creating a silent, black and white version reminiscent of the Silent Film era of cinematography. I’m going to use the trailer for Act of Valor, a movie from last year where the “actors” are genuine Navy Seals. I think this trailer will lend itself nicely to this task.


For Video Assignment 435—Serenity now! (3 stars), I will make a calming video like those displayed in a spa or used for meditation. I find the beach, especially at sunrise to be a soothing, peaceful environment for me the walk, think, reflect and just exist. On a trip to the Bahamas a few years ago, I was trying to use the time away to put things into perspective and re-prioritize my life. My soundtrack for this vacation was Led Zepplin…mostly because I love the lyrics, the melodies and the instrumentals in the songs. For these reasons, I will create a video of a beach sunrise, overlaying it with at least one Led Zepplin song. The hard part will be choosing which song to use…maybe Kashmir or something similar.

While I would love to go to the beach to film the video myself, my Outer Banks vacation isn’t until September, so I will be using a video from Creative Commons licensed video from YouTube (with the proper credits, of course) like this one:


Video Assignment 463—Watching Movies with the Stereo On (3 stars) directs me to take a movie clip and replace the original audio track with a song that somehow fits the movie scene. I picked the arrow roulette scene in the hilarious movie Grown Ups. I’m thinking I’ll dub “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 over it.

Stay tuned for the final products of these assignments!

That’s all for now, but I did get a great idea for a video assignment to add to the repository! I hope I have the time to flesh it out and develop an example later this week!

Readin’ Gone With the Wind (the Movie, not the Book)

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

This week, a we start the examine video in DS106, we examined some movie reading tips from Roger Ebert’s blog “How to read a movie“. our challenge was to apply these concepts to a favorite movie or other compelling film. I chose to examine one of my all-time favorites, a classic in cinematography, Gone with the Wind.

I’ve read many books that later became movies. This is one of the very few where I did not intentional read the book first. Reading a movie is very different from reading a book. Instead of translating the words to images in your imagination, the scene is given to you and you are reading the placement of characters, positioning of people and things, camera angles, lighting, music, etc. to interpret underlying or hidden messages, intentions or influences.

In clip below, Rhett declares to Scarlett in his domineering style: “No, I don’t think I will kiss you. Although you need kissing badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.”

Though some of the dialogue is antagonistic, both characters start by continually moving to the right, evoking a positive perspective on the scene. Rhett is positioned on the right appearing dominant over Scarlett on the left. Scarlett’s severely upturned face is tilted upward and to the right, into Rhett, expressing imbalance in the exchange. I think in this case, Scarlett is presenting herself submissively to Rhett, despite her sassy attitude and declaration to the contrary. At the end of this segment, she walks away from Rhett, into the camera’s foreground in a left sweeping movement. This accentuates a helpless, resigned feeling for her, but I think it fails to make her dominant. I found it interesting to note that despite Rhett’s rejection, she is still glancing to the right, back at him, indicating a continued positive regard for him.


The next scene I examined is the famous “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” ending to the movie. Here, Rhett walks away from Scarlett and seemingly out of her life. Scarlett is now positioned on the right with Rhett on the left suggesting she is the more positive one in this situation. During and immediately following his departure, she is facing and looking to the left, negatively into her past. After she collapses on the stairs and hears or remembers previous dialogue about her home, Tara, she begins to face right. Speaking the infamous line “after all tomorrow is another day”, she is looking dreamily to the  right with the camera angled slightly from below her eye line, enhancing her in this scene and expressing a positive attitude toward her future. This is also reinforced in the closing shot, where she is silhouetted against the sunset overlooking Tara, again facing right toward Tara. Tara position on the right in this scene suggests it is her positive influence and hope.

Gone with the Wind fits nicely into the drama genre. Within any given genre, there are tropes, or storytelling conventions. This classic film from 1939 is an example of a Bittersweet Ending trope, more specifically the Senseless Sacrifice trope. There are many more tropes at play in this film, throughout different scenes and characters. Discover more about what trope are at play in your favorite movie at




Zombie Apocalypse Radio Teaser

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

In preparation for our collaborative radio show to be broadcast, I created a bumper to be broadcast on ds106radio as a teaser to get an audience tuned in July 3 @ 9pm EST. 

This bumper was not too complicated to do. I wanted use clipped words and phrases, paired with appropriate music to portray the dire situation at hand. I listed the words and phrases that come to mind when I think of “zombie apocalypse” and feelings it might incur. After choosing my words and phrases to describe a zombie apocalypse and the underlying tone of my own segment, I selected Metallica’s Welcome Home (Sanitarium) as the musical accompaniment. Cropping it to a section of music and lyrics I deemed most fitting, I merged it with my voice track in Audacity and there you have it.

Fear of living on
Natives getting restless now
Mutiny in the air
Got some death to do
Mirror stares back hard
Kill, it’s such a friendly word
Seems the only way
For reaching out again

Hope it entices you to tune in to our (Group 2) show on ds106radio, July 3 @ 9pm EST!

**Special thanks to my group members (Mike Berta, Ben Harwood, Kevin Murphy, Ciara Norquist, and John Johnston) for their creative contributions in making this show awesome, especially Mike Berta, who so generously volunteered to host and had to suffer my tardiness related to our very real, local “Post-Derecho” apocalyptic power outages and struggles. Thanks everyone! :)

Behind Door Four…Design and More!

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Hi Mom, Hi Dad! :)

(**yes, I know they will REALLY see this! I’ve shared my web address with them!)

Week 4 at Camp MacGuffin was Design Week! Learned lots and accomplished a lot, but still lagged by a day or so. So here’s an overview of what the last week held for me in ds106:

I started by researching Creative Commons and copyright. Although I already knew a lot about copyrights, from my time spent as a department manager and copyright manager at Kinko’s…although that was many moons ago now. Creative Commons (CC) was new territory for me and I found it exciting! I chose to license my photos and other image work on Flickr, as well as my this website and its contents, under a the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) license, so that others can share, use, and alter my works, as long as they credit me for the contribution and do not use the work for any commercial purposes. I was a little late blogging about CC in Copyrights, Creative Commons, & Immortality mostly because I was hung up on creating the CC promotional poster and I wanted to incorporate it into the CC post, instead of posting it separately. I spent WAY too much time trying to figure out how to make the background of the logo transparent, but I finally figured it out and I think it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself.

This week’s theme was design. After researching and refreshing my artistic knowledge of design concepts, I went on a Design Safari, scouting for real-world examples of the different design elements. I published the examples and an explanation of each concept individually. I mainly did this so I could feel like I was making SOME progress without waiting until the end of the week to do one comprehensive post. Fallout in Fredericksburg shows symbolism in design and Domineering Downtown Dwelling is an example of dominance. I found these two as I reviewed the dozens of images from my photo shoot excursion to Fredericksburg a week or so ago. Mother Nature’s Mountain Rhythm and Memorial Minimalism in Design showcases rhythm and minimalism respectively. These images were both captured in the Virginia mountains, at two different scenic overlook stops along I-64 on Friday.

Two of our Design Assignments for the week were given to us. Okay, it was a choice to pick 2 out of 3 on a list, but I discarded one, because, well…Minecraft is kinda my worst nightmare. I spent a week or more fumbling around, unable to even move my little guy around. After some help from the oh-so-patient and helpful Martha, I finally got enough of a hang out it to move around, place blocks/items, and blow things up, but flying is dangerous! I got hung in a tree once and several times, I’ve gone flying and can’t get down! I even solicited assistance from my 13-soon-to-be-14-year old son, Austin, who was just THRILLED to know he could teach ME something. Almost. I think I know enough to participate when necessary now. I’m just NOT a virtual world kinda girl!

Anyway, back to the Design Assignments. In addition to the CC poster from  Copyrights, Creative Commons, & Immortality, which was one of the mandatory design assignment choices, I reviewed another ds106 assignment from DS106 Inspire in Designer Breakfast with a Berry Splash. After getting the required ones out of the way, I went to work looking for the additional ones I’d do this week. I settled on Apocalypse Anyone?, The Big Picture Captioned Courtesy of Maroon 5, and my absolute favorite assignment yet…What People Think I Do as a Proposal Manager! I shared this with Facebook as well as my colleagues at work and it was a HUGE hit! Now I’m entertaining Alan’s suggestion that I get it printed on a die, so I can roll it and let fate decide which side of me they’ll get that day! :)

The Design Safari sorta replaced The Daily Creates this week. I didn’t get any time to devote to Daily Creates, much to my disappointment. Maybe I can circle back and do some of the ones I missed out on! Or, maybe…the Camp MacGuffin Directors will give us a “freestyle” week to focus on the types of art we enjoy most! Hint, hint…? ;)

I’m having a lot of fun figuring out the capabilities of this blogging thing. This week I figured out how to link text to other sites ALL BY MYSELF! So, please, feel free to click around and see where it takes you!

I’m not looking forward to the next 2 weeks, as we explore audio assignments and radio, but maybe I’ll find some fun in there somewhere.

Until next week…


**Update: I can’t believe I forgot to mention that I MADE CAMPER OF THE WEEK! Much to my surprise I might add! Check out the badge on the right corner of my blog! :)



Fallout in Fredericksburg

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Metaphors and Symbols in design are a simplistic way to communicate in a “universal” language. When using symbolism, it is not always necessary to use words. For instance, with street signs, one is not required to know how to READ words on the signs, but rather to know what the shapes, colors, and symbols or icons mean. Same applies the other public informational or directional signage, like the photo of the old Fallout Shelter sign I found bolted to the side of a building in historic downtown Fredericksburg, Va.


I have no idea how long that sign has been there, except it looks like it’s aged awhile! I find it interesting that the capacity is cited as 210! Fallout Shelters are designed to protect inhabitants from radioactive debris from a nuclear event. Thus, the sign incorporates the radiation symbol large and bold to identify its location. Maybe that should be my destination during the Zombie Apocalypse!

Mother Nature’s Mountain Rhythm

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

Mountain Valley

This is a photo I took yesterday on our way back from Lexington. This beautiful mountain valley scenic overlook off of I-64, showcases Mother Nature’s design rhythm. The majestic, tree covered mountain range has a fluid movement about it, with it curves, evaluations, and spacing. It tempts your eyes to flow the curves, texture of the trees, and shapes of the mountain, with color variance aiding in the guidance of the viewers vision. You are so engrossed in taking in the rhythm of the view, that the white house in the foreground is almost an afterthought!