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Feel the fear and do it anyway?

Art by Edward Monkton:


This week’s reflections hinge around our fears about publishing our work online. I know quite a bit about that. It is about that pesky 2 year old who refuses to give up his toy.


Here are the questions we are being asked to reflect on this week:

“Is there work you felt  you shouldn’t put online because you were afraid it would be stolen? Copied without your permission? What are you afraid someone else will do with you work?”

Ask a direct question, will you?

So I listened to Cory Doctorow in his keynote embedded above. He talks sense that guy, even if his jokes are a bit obvious.

He first cheerfully tells us that ‘ your art is as likely to generate success as the edge on coin contest’. Artists may set out to land the coin on the edge but the majority of [us?] them will fail. Say it straight, will you? I was reminded of when I taught at the University of the Arts and student actors where told something along the lines: out of the 30 people in this room, one of you will be famous, a couple of you might make a living from acting and the rest of you will find another career. I used to think it was inspiring to see all these young people wanting something so much that they did not care about the odds. They **were** going to land the coin on its edge.


'Art and Coins' Animated gif by Gifadog
‘Art and Coins’ by Gifadog

After a few bad jokes we get his 3 laws:

Anyone who puts your work under lock and key but does not give you the key, is not doing it for your benefit.
Fame will not make you rich but you cannot sell your art without it.
Information does not want to be free. It just wants you stop anthropomorphising it!

Given Cory’s laws I guess that I had better work on any fears I may have about putting my stuff out there, letting people use my cute cartoons for advertising haemorrhoid cream or my animated gifs for getting traffic into gambling sites. Is any publicity really good publicity? No. Cory says that there is a right and a wrong side. Actions we take to sell our art  that are on the side of censorship surveillance and control are on the wrong side of history. If you have to break the Internet to accomplish your coin on the edge feat then you are also on the wrong side of history.

So we give our stuff away to be famous, we do not give it away to be kept under lock and key where others keep the key and we remember that it is not about stuff but about relationship. Artist running free on the open web? Wait. That’s DS106 #4life

Happy holidays everyone.


Is it art or is it spam?

So we had a lovely hangout for CT101 this week.

(I am at the limit of what media I can add here and I am not used to that. I pay for the media pack on my blog and never run out of space to gif there. So just links here from now on)

We had many technical issues but Prof. Michael drew on his tech support past and we managed to overcome them all. I have not watched it again yet, but wanted to write this post now to note some key insights I had as we talked. It was such a rich conversation, I want to go back and review it again soon.

For now, what stuck?

  • Bebo saying we must connect to something we love deeply to find inspiration. All the more meaningful coming from a young person who is starting out as an artist and seems determined to hang on the joy of creating.
  • Prof Ryan talking about how we have preconceptions about what art is that are unexamined. Such as who counts as an artist. Leonardo and Michelangelo may be, but modern artists? Meh.  Ryan explored this to show us how limited our conception of what is an artist can be. I suddenly realised that what stops me from saying I am an artist is precisely this same preconception. An artist belongs in the Uffizi not on Tumblr. Change that belief now!
  • Michael saying that when he started out the people whose judgement he feared the most were those who were close to him. I had not consciously thought about this before. Yet, I reflect that only recently I started to say ‘I make digital art as a hobby, so I made you this’. I only ever thought about sharing what I make with my close friends and family weeks ago. It suddenly occurred to me I can save a heap of money on presents making art for friends 🙂
  • Stefanie tried so hard to join us and it was so lovely when she did. I have known her for most of my DS106 life. She has been a great guide to me, challenging me in the most kind and caring way to call myself an artist. She said that now I had spent an hour talking about what art is, I had not escape but to call myself an artist!
  • Stefanie also said that artists do not just create for fun but that they have a drive to create. They have to make art. I was reminded about what I always say about writing books: “I pray I will not get another idea. Writing books is hard, but once i get the idea I must write the book.”
  • So far I have only talked about the meaningful asides. The core of the conversation was to explore how we get over our fears to show our work. I requested this topic because I realised that one of the things that stops me from calling myself an artist is my fear that people with say ‘I hate it’.
  • Ryan ( Zen master like) said that all this talk about evaluation and emotional attachment to outcome was just the ego talking. Yeap. True that.
  • I went down this route because of a task Ryan had set for me to learn. Publish a post of art I love and art I hate. I realised that in doing this I would have to go public on my emotional responses to art. This was at the edge of my comfort. What if I lost all my friends when I told them I hate Constable for example?
  • I reflected that engaging with the idea of being an artist is a powerful was of developing one’s emotional intelligence.
  • Defining myself at the identity level as an artist, the way I say ‘I am a psychologist’ or ‘I am a writer’ means profound personal change. To me ‘I am an artist’ feels as risky as ‘I am a poet’. I confessed on the hangout that I have a lot writing that I label ‘ramblings’ but that others might call poetry and that I never publish that.
  • Since starting DS106 I have published some creative writing as a means to tell a story. This now feels pretty okay. Mostly, people value the way I put words together.
  • We talked about the process of liking on Tumblr and other platforms. I said that I do not attach a lot of value to this. On reflection this is not, strictly speaking, true. As a flip-side of fearing those I care about hating my work, I put a lot of value on a ‘like’ from people I respect. I am less concerned about accumulating quantities of likes from people I do not know.  I think it is true, as Michael says, that the process of curating art can teach us a lot about where our passion (our vocabulary) for making art lies. I had not considered this before I started playing with CT101.
  • Ryan suggested an another task: your favourites on Twitter contain a mine of information about constructs that matter to you emotionally and that can form a purposeful part of your inner ‘artistic mindscape’. Off looking there next.
  • We talked about John Johnston. A fellow DS106 traveller who also wonders if his work is that of an artist. Stefanie mentioned how he tends to focus on the technical aspects and minimise the artistic elements. We all went ‘his gifs are something else, man’. Definitely art and (Shhh…. he might hear :)) he is definitely an artist.
  • Ryan disagreed with me when I said that may be he could not understand our fears as he had always been supported as an artist. He told the story of going to art school and feeling a passion for Graffiti Art and how the powers that be in art school kept suggesting he might try a different type of art. He kept coming back to his love for graffiti art.
  • Is it art or is it spam? Could it be that, like so many things in our personal growth, it is what I believe it is?

I started calling what I learnt to make in DS106, artefacts. I too would have said it was the technical elements that appealed. I have never focussed too much on the story telling element of it. I got hooked on making animated gifs. Why? Who knows? I love animated gifs. Full Stop. I love them. Art or spam? They can be both. I have made some I am now proud to call art and have currently settled for ‘makes’ to describe what i do.

Animated gif by @gifadog. “Slaying our inner MOOC monsters” for the HEA conference 2014.











On another note, I keep telling myself I ‘should’ learn photography. I never get around to it. Don’t get me wrong I love photography. Yet, I never get around to taking photos. What do I find myself ‘having’ to do? Looking for photos others have taken and doing creative edits of them. I normally say that is just for fun. It is fun. But you know what? I feel passionate about salvage. Recycling digital content is another theme I notice runs through that space where I notice what I ‘deeply love’. As far back as the start of this year I was preoccupied with this thing I called ‘digital landfills‘. I risked disagreement from those whose views I respect stating my view that may be, just may be, we needed environmental awareness for the digital as well as the physical:

Sell-by dates for data? Digital Literacies that include a sense of guardianship for what we produce? Questioning our god-given right to keep hoarding content just because it is virtual? Let’s keep the ideas coming without changing the conversation to ‘But, we have the right to create!’ We do. Yet,  if we stop to reflect, we may also see unintended and unwanted consequences in our creating?

How aligned is that with my passion to look for existing stuff and remix it? Mind has ordering principles if only we listened more often.

Thank you guys for such an enlightening conversation, I will be pondering on all these nuggets for a long time and am definitely on my way to being an artist!

Gif the portrait

Well, I must admit this was a big challenge. I did not really understand the process and I am still not sure I did it according to instructions.

I think I managed to get the required size and mix elements of the portrait as requested. I cannot fathom why the size but here it is,

Animated gif by @gifadog ‘Bark like Cogdog’

It started as Jonathan’s Worth lovely portrait of Alan Levine,


I then wanted to find a way to have the portrait somehow emerge from this animated gif I made from a video posted on Twitter yesterday,

Animated Gif by @gifadog ‘Educational debate on the web’

My idea was to suggest from the image:

“You can either fight like dogs or be like Cogdog when you think about the web.”

I wanted to follow on from the ideas of the previous post about Aaron to say the Internet is both-and not either-or. Yet another #big fail. I cannot see how to combine the two gifs….yet.

I made a huge portrait gif just because I can an posted in Gfycat. Check it!

Here are a few examples of the stills I made for the gif. I am unsure why we had to save them but I did.

stills for the gif
stills for the gif

In conclusion, it was fun. I do feel like I have missed an important learning point about the process. Any feedback welcome, did I get the point of this assignment?

For Aaron: It is up to us!

My two memorable quotes from the film, aside from the whole thing?

You know, there’s sort of these two polarising perspectives, right? Everything is great, the Internet has created all this freedom and liberty, and everything’s going to be fantastic or everything is terrible, the Internet has created all these tools for cracking down and spying, and controlling what we say. And the thing is, both are true, right? The Internet has done both, and both are kind of amazing and astonishing and which one will win out in the long run is up to us. It doesn’t make sense to say, “Oh, one is doing better than the other.” You know, they’re both true. And it’s up to us which ones we emphasise and which ones we take advantage of because they’re both there, and they’re both always going to be there.

And one that should stop all of us on our tracks and make us ask if we are living the life we were born to live or just settling for the ‘Easy Button’.

What is the most important thing I could be working on in the world right now? And if you’re not working on that, why aren’t you?

And as is becoming custom, I end this post with advise from Alan Levine, years of psychological research boiled down to one classic comic:

Bags of gold – Can’t spend them fast enough

I have done this assignment before.

I went back to my original Tumblr blog and found the post to review.

It brought home to me the reality of link rot and how it can limit long term usefulness of educational material. It contains my wonderful Read-Tapestry story on Garner Campbell ideas but….it is no more.

It closed down earlier this year. They handled the closure relatively well. Sent me perma-links to my stories and I have no idea where I put them.  I have emailed them to ask for them again, watch this space.

My biggest bag of gold is safe in You Tube still. Phew.


This was an early video I made for DS106 open. I can see much I would do differently today. May be I will redo it and post here to show to myself how much I have learnt.

It is interesting to think about making digital artefacts and its connection to having one’s own domain. I guess if I had archived my stories I would have them here now to embed in this post….does it matter enough to go through the hassle of being my own sys admin?


Tapestry are decent humans, they sent links straight away. The weaving of the web has been mended. A rabbit hole to changing all the rotten links and leaving comments to those who had used my art in their websites….done.

And you can view the story in awesome full screen too.

Reflection 6 – Do I want I domain of my own?

I am writing about the domain of my own separately. I have created a WordPress multisite to experiment with the idea of a canonical site that directs users to all the places I have a presence in on the web. I am blogging against how I feel in going through this process – I am lazy and I love Tumblr. Still, I think it is necessary to learn how to weave the web as part of my commitment to open practices. So, one of my sites is for #ccourses as well as #ct101and will track the ‘technico-emotional’ aspects of this experiment. (Update: #ccourses site deleted).

I have no idea how I am going to do the crossover, what is relevant for which site and why the heck am I attracted to the idea of a multisite? Appeals to my sense of order, I guess. These reflections will be part of the process during CT101 with crystal clear clarity coming on the last day?

My game plan

The mind is working overtime to create it!

  1. Bag awesome domain.
  2. Read WP tutorials 
  3. Create multisite
  4. Struggle with damn menus to get them to show on top level site 
  5. Work through weeks I missed on CT101 
  6. Follow each week and do as I am told for once  

I am familiar with the syllabus but I am choosing to go through it again with a focus on creating a domain of my own and working through what it means to evolve the ‘story of me’ in this new space for myself.  I have always had help with the spaces I own or have used spaces that are designed by others. I want to struggle with this being my own ‘sys admin’ for a bit, create my personal cyberinfrastructure one step removed from third party design. I have not done so up till now because I have had an inkling that Stephen Downes is right when he says,

I have no illusion that hosting my own domain and server and all the rest of it will free from such fecklessness [of third parties]. It simply moves it back a level.

But this does not mean that I should not go through the creation process to learn how to move it ‘back a level’ even if, due to laziness, I decide to go back and hangout in Tumblr until Yahoo ruins it beyond recognition.

So, my game plan is to experiment with this domain and deepen my knowledge of digital storytelling tools. The secret plan? to get to the end of this and find a voice as an artist,

I had no idea what kind of artist I was or even wanted to continue becoming. I just knew that I loved making art. I also knew the feeling that making my work gave me. That feeling has never left me, in fact, it is the same one that I know from my childhood. What I wasn’t doing was connecting that inner bliss with understanding my personal goals and intentions

I know exactly what Ryan means in relation to my writing. I cannot not do it. My love for my own ‘drive to express myself in more ways than I could count’ has seen me through some really tough times. Yet, I never defined myself as an artist. When I started DS106 last year, I was just learning how to use fun toys and make artefacts. I was not making art. I became fascinated by the question ‘what makes a story?’ I am curious as to what is the minimum we can offer in any medium to earn the label ‘storyteller’. I am a psychologist, an academic, an open educator, a wife, a step mum, a dog lover….but and artist? Meh.

That feeling I get when a sentence is crafted just so or when that animated gif is so awesome I could watch it loop forever? I think that is where my artist lives and may be it is time it came out to play in the open.

Week 1 – Assess your skill Level

Week one asks that we,

“Assess your skills with a variety of digital storytelling tools – Shooting, editing photos. Manipulating text and image in a layered fashion. Recording and editing audio (this could be music, voice, natural sound, found sound, remixed sound). Shooting and editing video. Creating animations (this includes creating GIFs from loops of found video). What tools have you used to do your work? Which ones are you most comfortable with and why? Which ones are you not and would like to learn to use better? In a blog post, answer these questions as well as embed a piece of media you’ve created and describe it.”

Digital Sticker from
Digital Sticker from

Here is my initial self-assessment:

  Shooting photos: suck at it, need to learn about the technical stuff about taking photos.

  Editing photos: Am pretty awesome here, I love doing creative edits in Photoshop. Always up to learn more.

  Manipulating text and image in a layered fashion: Okay, always struggle. Can do better.

  Recording and editing audio (this could be music, voice, natural sound, found sound, remixed sound): Meh! not bad.

  Shooting and editing video: Meh! not bad.

  Creating animations (this includes creating GIFs from loops of found video): Need to learn the basics of animations, I am pretty good at making them animated gifs 🙂

  What tools have you used to do your work?

 iMovie GarageBand Photoshop CC Gimp ScreenFlow MpegStreamClip and various apps and online tools.

  Which ones are you most comfortable with and why?

I regularly use the ones above, I can do stuff at what I would label and intermediate level, I want to get awesome at Photoshop.

  Which ones are you not and would like to learn to use better?

The new GarageBand. I was so used to the old one, I have thought to go back to the old version but that is silly.

I need to learn the basics of animation for any tool. I just experiment but have never learnt building blocks.

Kinetic typography – I would love to find and learn a tool that would enable me to do this easily. I tried Letters in Motion once. Spent a day making a video and I am still looking for the rendered version in my computer – some glitch that means you can create on iPad but can only view in iTunes…

The DS106 Good Spell

Every Sunday at 8pm UK time John Johnston and I do a talk show on DS106Radio – which should always be heard on GiFTV in my view!

I have embedded below one of the episodes. You can hear more at EduTalk

Audio has been a big surprise since starting DS106 a year ago. I did not particularly want to learn it and now I love doing DS106 radio and creating audio. Could do with learning the basic building blocks broadcasting – I just wing it!