As I start to see habits of mind reflected back on the digital echo chamber that is the web – I hit against another pattern in trying to do Daily Create 603 which is also an assignment for week 2 of bootcamp on Headless 13 Ds106. The brief is simple, tell us about your key ring and stories about what you have on it. As is often the case with disruptive wonder, making the ordinary extraordinary, it is rarely as easy as it seems if the focus is on critical reflection as well as artefact.

I viewed a couple of examples. One by Alan Levine – he tells a moving story about the meaning of the items in his keyring. Direct to camera, no disguise, sat outside the porch his home. I loved it, and I was unable to reciprocate. It frightens me to be that open on a video I will need to upload publicly to You Tube. That is the truth. I really wanted to do the same – show you my keyring, my home, I would have had to get Colin the dog in the story somehow, tell you about my history via the items I carry with me – for example the key to the postbox that reminds me of my life in Kentucky cut short by the death of my husband – and I may even have wanted to show you the equivalent to sitting on the porch which for me is looking at my view from my back garden. But it was not to be because fear to be public on a YouTube got in the way.

I saw another daily create that was a photo showing a vacation location – not very disclosing but with a promise to do more on  returning home. Yet another, with a story about one key that said something about the person’s history, yet did not show the person or have the person talking directly to the camera.

Many examples of people working with the boundary between the public and private and finding a place of comfort to share with strangers. I struggled.

I wanted to be as open as Alan, and found my need for privacy, and my fear of how what I put on the web may endanger me in some way, stopping me from sharing openly. I am aware that I am a work in progress as regards open education – I have a need for privacy and yet want to join in. So, I will do it over time in a way that is respectful of human fears. 

A fear reinforced by something that happened recently. 

On my first public hangout, a hangout held as a team meeting for an Open University programme, I found out about trolls on You Tube. It was a really unpleasant experience to know that strangers had been watching our team meeting and writing nasty comments as they listened. As I did not know how to get comments on a hangout as it was happening, I only found the comments afterwards. It turned out it was just a couple of kids wanting to interact and getting frustrated because we were not responding to them. No big deal. Yet it was a big deal to me.I spent the next few hours learning all there was to learn about back stage on YouTube – disable comments, hold videos unlisted if possible, make sure your public profile offers honest information, but not so much that you may be put in danger. Of course, some might say, where is the harm? If you get nasty comments just delete and move on. Yes, that is what I did as well as blocking the kids that had left the comments. But this misses the point. In choosing to have a digital identity one is choosing to be, to a greater or lesser extent, in a shop window. Some shops are exclusive and others less so, but still your shop window can be visited by strangers and not all have the intent of getting to know you and use the web in the same respectful way they might use your front room had you invited them there. This unpredictability both fascinates and terrifies me.

It fascinates me that it led me to DS106 and meeting such well intentioned people, it terrifies me that it can also be responsible for causing harm to people unaware of its dangers. So, the jury is out as to how exclusive my DS106 shop window will be and how much I will be willing to disclose to all, when in fact I may only want to disclose to a few. I err on the side of caution today and try to find a way to tell fellow Headless13 participants enough about me that they may feel I can be trusted, but no so much that it could be used to be hurtful to me or others. I have written about my privacy strategy as I build a personal cyberinfrastructure elsewhere, it is a difficult dynamic constantly under review.

What is interesting about this Daily Create is that I run similar activities on my face to face courses to help get people familiar with each other. They too choose different levels of disclosure driven by their own fears and habits – in that sense the difference between the virtual and the physical is not that great. We each bring our dysfunctions to how we interact with others, online or otherwise. Some people may have complied with the brief and disclosed more than they wanted to please others, some thrive in the potential of an audience and disclose all, others will not do the assignment not because of technical issues but fear. What about this headless shrink? Well, I am putting myself on the couch by doing DS106 as each assignment helps clarify a new pattern. This is the intention with which I am engaging on this course – can it support a contemplative practice as I live my life as inquiry.

What about the keyring video, then? 

Well, I did a Vine video without my voice or face. Just the keys. This erred too far on the side of privacy. So I went on a search of how to download a Vine video and found something. So I had an MP4 file that I could not load on to Movie2Gif , so I then looked for a converter and found an easy one. What was my plan? Well I thought I might turn the movie into a slow motion gif with added text to tell the story. That was 3 hours ago. I have no idea of my workflow beyond that – too many frames needed reducing, video quality needed improving, background noise had to be removed – eventually I found myself in Gimp with a few frames from the video to build the gif from. Easier said than done, of course. I was determined. So, I looked for more information and tutorials to allow me to execute my plan. Went via advanced tutorial on the Gimp site, which just do not work for me and found a noddy guide to setting delay in frames. It is so easy! When you worked out how, of course. I spent an hour or so playing with delays as I thought this may come in handy in the future. As I now can add text, via add layer and merge down layer – I practiced that. I still cannot get the text box to move – a mystery as drag and try to move the text moves the whole layer. I need to work on selecting the right stuff. I also found out that there is something called GAP that I think will let me (finally) work with multiple frames and see animations more clearly but it is too hard to learn today. 

And after all that, what was the result?


meh…just experimenting, it is ‘kind of’ what I had envisioned but lacking in a certain elegance I aspire too. It is too dark, that cartoon filter could have been left unclicked. Elegance will have to wait for another day. Achy RSI hand says ‘step away from that computer….’.

But I was told to upload to YouTube. Off I go searching again for a converter. This time .gif to .mov via YouTube help to find out about supported file formats….and voila same thing but as a movie again…started as a movie finished as a movie and helped me learn a few more Gimp tricks and reflect on what it means to have a public digital presence. I love DS106. 

Addendum – using this inferior Tumblr platform is teaching me more HTML than I ever need in WordPress! I like things to look a certain way, and here I have to work for that. In WP it is all taken care of beautifully. Unexpected.