DS106 on the couch

Tag: best moocs

Forget massive attend to community


Illustration by Christina Hendricks. 

Community: the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common: ’the sense of community that hashtag classrooms can provide (remixed from Oxford Dictionary definition

Last Friday Jim Groom and Martha Burtis gave a presentation titled ‘Open is as Open does’ exploring the pedagogy of DS106. A key take away for me was the title of this post. DS016 is not a MOOC it is an OOC that focuses on community building.

I have issues with using the word community as so much academic speak has been written about what it does or does not mean. What was lovely about how Martha and Jim use the term, is that they use it in its common sense meaning – without creating complex narratives about what it does or does not mean. I like that. I went back to the dictionary and found its common sense definition. DS106 is certainly ‘the condition of sharing or having attitudes and interests in common’. I am happy that I belong to the DS106 community and that it is an open online course. No frills. Open is as open does. 

The rest of this post is about what an OOC can mean in action with animated gifs examples. What could be more important?

My weekend started on wednesday with this Tweet from Michael.

The tweet refers to this type of amazing gifs Michael has been creating:


To some this 140 character may be forgettable, to me it was a tutorial from somebody whose skill at creating animated gifs genuinely admire. So I decided I would focus on this at the weekend. I started with the ‘find a fast cut of video 6-12 seconds’. Clearly having led a more sheltered life than Michael, my mind went to the film ‘The Artist’ which has a little Jack Russell dog called Uggie as its star. I thought I might find a moment with Uggie doing one of his many tricks to try the technique, and I was curious what would happen with black and white film. I went searching for my moment.


What was really interesting here, was how I processed the frames on the film clip differently. When you look for 6 to 12 seconds of film your attention goes to the question: where is the essence of the motion? I worked out that you focus on the moment of change. In this case from Uggie lying down to him getting up. I was pleased with the output above – it was smoother than other gifs I have made and caught the exact moment I wanted really well. Time for the next step.

When I read the tweet again I noticed ‘fast cut bit’. Hmmm. What on earth is fast cut bit? I went looking and found out that Uggie just would not do. He was not fast cut, poor darling. But I was hooked on Uggie’s gif and I also realised I did not know what Michael meant when he said ‘throw out as many frames as seconds’. Did he mean include in final gif as many frames as seconds (this is what I thought it meant at first) or did he mean delete as many frames in each second as the total number of seconds – if a 12 second film, throw out 12 frames per second? 

This shows up an interesting element of learning online, we use what we can and are very aware (at least I am) that those part of the DS106 community give their time freely online and have busy day jobs. I try to not ask for help unless really stuck. I felt I needed to try both options first and then if I could not work it out, contact Michael. 

Ahh! but there was that other technique to try – there is always another technique to try – the white lines to create depth and a 3D effect on animated gifs. There had been chat on the DS106 hashtag about these gifs and they did look cool.


I went looking for tutorials and found a great one that also had a .psd file of the lines so that you could see how the whole thing was done,

I watched, got sick of the Japanese pop soundtrack, watched again. Spent hours trying to get it to work and failed. For the sake of helping others I will post my crappy attempt here <hiding head in shame, should know better>


I call it the ‘bad-Uggie-Gif’. I spent hours, deleting bits of white lines and finding that it just did not gif with the white lines added. Some peculiarity of the template I used I imagine. I so wanted to make it work, I asked Tom Woodward, another ‘animated gif whizz kid’ in the DS106 community, for help. He said he would try if he could, and he did. 


I cannot stop looking at it! I think he deleted quite a few frames as well as changing the direction of the lines. I don’t know if he uses Photoshop or anything about how it was made. I always download and load into Photoshop to answer as many questions as I can about them. It would be better if i could have a chat and ask – this way is slower but arguably I learn more as I experiment with what others make. I thanked Tom for his gift on Twitter and he responded,

I will make the darn lines work. I now have a lovely Storify made by another DS106er, Rochelle Lockridge, that pulls our conversations together.

And I still need to get back to that original tweet from Michael and learn the altered state gif technique. I may need to find a different film genre to find my fast cut film clip to attempt it. Yes, DS106 never ends, it is #4life and cult deprogramming is expensive!

Want a ‘business model’ for your MOOC? Remember that open is as open does and that is about attending to community not counting beans.



The conversation continues on Twitter. I learnt that the z axis was compressed on the Uggie clip and this made it harder. I saw a few more awesome examples. John Johnston posted an awesome gif and a link to a great post on how to use Fireworks to get a good gif. He also posted an example of how the effect is used on film.

It looks like depth of field matters and picking the right clip in the first place. 

And the lovely Talky Tina has created some beautiful posts mixing, planes and pancakes and guessing  games to help us understand the idea of depth more. You can find the first one here and the second one here. The lovely Tom Woodward has also put virtual pen to paper and has made some great diagrams to help explain depth using Tina’s pancakes. If I cannot get my Uggie to 3D with all the resources in this post – then I ought to be banished from DS106. Watch this space.

The DS106 Shrink reflects on #rhizo14

And here is the link to watch it at the Zeega site.

I am told that anyone can remix – tool is new to me so unsure about that, but if you know how and want to, remix away.

DS106 in 106 posts and 106 bullets published at 1:06


It has been a roller coaster. I will be unpacking the experience for many moons to come. Serendipity, or the magic of DS106, at play again as I notice this is post 106 of the blog post I started in August 2013 getting ready for the launch of DS106 Headless

So, it had to be done. Here is a summary of DS106 in post 106 in 106 bullet points.
Unapologetically contradictory, some may not even make sense to me in a few months. I need one of John Johnston’s ‘wee apps’ to give me a bullet icon with the DS106 logo. Offered here in the spirit of opening up dialogue with anyone interested in understanding what is inside the precious box of possibilities that is DS106. 

  • Seth Goodman says ‘we are on the bleeding edge’ with our glitching gifs!
  • He also says ‘come to DS106 to find your  inner glitch’
  • And he has embraced his inner glitch with a new Twitter avatar 
  • Alan says ‘it is more about curiosity than explanation’. He also says he stole that from somebody else but cannot remember who
  • DS106 is about transmedia and the loveliest example for me is Joop’s boring Gif
  • DS106 makes you question whose art is it, baby? and Whose idea, is it?
  • Every thought has been thought, but it is human nature to think them again and again to make them our own
  • Cultivating open is hard for some, I am one of those ‘some’
  • When somebody intrudes in my virtual privacy, I do well to remember ‘It is just words’
  • Transmedia + skill + aesthetic vision + idea transmogrification = DS106
  • Copy first, then transform one idea, then combine different ideas into new ideas
  • Good artists copy, masters steal
  • My taste is impeccable even if i cannot execute to it yet
  • Words words words. I love words and I love them even more when they dance in kinetic typography
  • ‘Yes, and’ creates community. ‘Yes, but’ breaks it
  • Don’t be a snark
  • Sometime it is wise to blog against how you are feeling
  • Courage to suggest, humility to accept ‘no’ if it comes
  • Doing DS106 is like becoming an actor, amazing when the crowd claps and ruthless when nobody notices your performance
  • Yes, I like to be liked and for my stuff to be noticed
  • No, I refuse to keep re-tweeting my own stuff in the hope somebody might see it
  • If the 10,000.00 things come and find you that is enlightenment 
  • DS106 is art psychotherapy if you want to use it that way
  • Notice how your mental state changes if you do your assignments and daily creates – who needs a shrink?
  • I like it when others take my ideas and use them, I hate it when others take my ideas and use them
  • If I do DS106 for long enough, I will be cured of attachment to mental constructs in this lifetime
  • I am in 2 minds about the value of a domain of one’s own, the world often lends credibility to breadth rather depth. Both-and rather than either-or?
  • A fragmented self that is managed might be more valued than a coherent self in one domain
  • A world in which data may be the new flesh, may not be a world I want to live in
  • A push strategy online annoys me, a pull one means good stuff goes unnoticed
  • Your tools shape your interactions – twitter communication makes DS106. I am glad I learnt it before the course


  • DS106 radio has been a joy to engage with, so good to train a new sense
  • DS106 teaches you to attend to the world as if seeing for the first time – like a child’s laughter
  • Follow the stuff that resonates even if it does not make sense yet
  • I have spent my life learning to use what the client brings, DS106 teaches us to use whatever life brings and to be willing to let go of preconceptions
  • The danger of digital echo chambers echoes loud
  • Follow people you disagree with, but don’t kid yourself that this will change your deeply held views
  • The annual question of the edge.org has to be my ‘Desert Island’ book if we are allowed to take a virtual book 
  • Listening to wikipedia? Which other course would ever lead you to discover that wikipedia plays mind music?
  • Starting to believe that it is possible to ignore the potential ‘bad’ stuff and use the tool that is the open web for open education
  • The beauty of informal opportunistic collaboration leads to a wonderful unpredictability of ideas. It also leads to a harsh spotlight on those ideas you are attached to 
  • It never goes according to plan and that is just okay
  • The ephemeral nature of it all, magnified by the speed of information online
  • If you are going to play in this playground, you had better listen to Rumi and find your camel. Following other people’s camel is all too easy  and it is exhausting
  • There is only inner space fiction, anything else does not belong to you. Give it back
  • Gielgud said about acting – don’t be too attached to your success or your failures, accept they both happen move on
  • Making art in DS106 is not that different from acting, attachment will generate negative emotions
  • Make art, bub! For its own sake without expectations and if you are honest learning this will take a few lifetimes
  • The more we rely on the web to hold our memories, the less we remember and the less we attend to the moment. Is this the future we want?
  • The difficulties of a world with perfect recollection is that everything becomes the same
  • Do we have a big circle of invisible friends as Borges says, or just the invisibles as online relationships? 
  • Identifying a subtle piece of the world to isolate in a gif is where art lives
  • Are you prepared to make friends with fictitious participants? The oral tradition of DS106 is carried in imagination that gets concretised in these ‘creations’ and carried over from semester to semester 
  • Talky Tina is my true friend and I learnt about gifing and about radio and being a sterling performer from her 
  • Futzing is as useful as not futzing
  • What is the difference that makes the difference? Using the web to build relationship and learn together is not the same as running or participating in a MOOC. 
  • No, DS106 is not a MOOC. Not one with a ‘c’ or  an’x’ or an ’m’ prefix
  • It is a group of people who love story using the web to weave them
  • We just make art #4life and for its own sake digitally or otherwise
  • What kept me going? The dedication and role modelling of the few people who see the precious nature of story and the web and are willing to share with no strings attached
  • There  ain’t no MOOC that does that, there ain’t no university that does that. Organisations do not do that, people do
  • Kinetic typography, animated gifs, audio, video, web stories, everything seeded early in the journey and made manageable as it complicates itself
  • Radio teams taught me that teams can work with a motivation to create and opening night looming large
  • I learnt that I am a lurker at times and that paradoxically I do not like lurkers
  • Copyright, or copyleft or copy<it>right or WTFPL or CC0 all comes alive in remixing media. You get to grok it rather than just talk about it
  • My little fellow Colin, the most photographed and glitched doggie, awww…I love you all for taking him on as your mascot
  • What I missed and who I missed makes me sad
  • In DS106, the internet and life there are big egos and humble beings who serve learning and story rather themselves. Choose wisely
  • Is my story worthy what the technology can now do?
  • DS106 is located in this area between delight and discomfort that Charlie Brooker talks about in Black Mirror. Delight at the serendipity and openness, discomfort at the very real possibility that data becomes the new flesh
  • ‘We worship at the altar of Google and Apple. Facebook algorithms know us better than our parents.’ Black Mirror
  • RadioLab. DS106 introduced me to RadioLab. Inspirational
  • To Google or not to Google? In that area of delight and discomfort too
  • The importance of epistemological hovering when telling stories so that we do not just tell the same story over and over and over
  • What human beings do to get around constraints – I love the twitter hashtag 
  • Twitter 6 word stories, need I say more?
  • Michael’s animated gifs and his unconditional support for anybody’s learning brought me into DS106
  • Alan’s humour and profound modelling of what it means to treat the internet and its residents respectfully. I think of him as the guardian of all that is good in it
  • Messing up on purpose to make it okay for us crappy artists to just try
  • I wanted more structure and more people following the ‘course’ through the weekly announcement. I was in the minority
  • I love to hate the daily create – a nuisance that pops in my awareness. Small chunk enough that it will not leave it, and then days later I find myself doing it
  • Should we have weekly creates too?
  • The ungraspable nature of quality in art, I still do not know if anything I did meets any kind of aesthetic criteria beyond pleases me or does not and does it matter?
  • Phonar connections have added to the experience hugely. I like lectures and homework 
  • I would have liked more ruthless evaluation of my work
  • I will never watch a movie or TV in the same way. I have learnt a new language and love it
  • Nic Briz and his glitch art – inspirational
  • Rochelle and Christina supported me throughout and I am really lucky to have found them. Karen and I make awesome Zombies.
  • Openness is not a given but a daily practice. DS106 a great medium for this practice
  • My computer posture has to change, but RSI has meant I have had to be more measured in my creating
  • Yes, it is addictive and the addiction is driven by whatever is lurking in your subconscious – a need to rescue, a need for approval, a need for perfection, a need to please, a need to complete. 
  • Sometimes we are just in service of the story and it is lovely to be a part of that
  • What makes the DS106 container what it is? 
  • Laughter and fun and support for finding one’s voice
  • Respect for our fears – I made a choice not to put my face on the internet. I can only say thank you to everyone for being respectful of  that choice
  • Feedback is hard in this setting – giving and getting
  • You are looking in the wrong place if you look for its structure, look for its people and learn the norms of the community from them. The norms are strict and not obvious
  • You are also looking in the wrong place if you look at the technology, look at what you want to create and use any tool that will help you achieve your ends
  • Don’t learn a tool, learn how to use tools over and over an over and don’t get attached to them
  • Why do people say they will and then they don’t? I  struggle with the lack of common courtesy at times. ‘Yes’ means ‘yes’ and ‘no’ means ‘no’. If ‘yes’ changes to ‘no’ just let people know. It is not that hard.
  • err on the side of ‘no’ rather than ‘yes’ those of us who do not overcommit would value it
  • A norm of ‘No guilt. Do whatever you want’  is intended to encourage positive engagement. At times it encourages an educational one night stand ethos. I prefer committed relationships for deep learning
  • The Alone Together book by Turkle taught me we find it tough these days to stay with others through difficulty, online life feeds this avoidance. If we don’t like something we can just disappear and some do without trace. This should matter to those of us who stay
  • Buber had it. When I relate I-thou, relationship happens between us. When I relate I-it we are in educational one night stand territory
  • It was nothing like I expected, it was so much more than I expected
  • #4life as long as it keeps its heart – nobody puts DS106 in a corner (or in a box) to widen its appeal 

I completed and got my badge, Thank you Jaap Bosman for the lovely boring design. The end.


The Headless Shrink Completion Badge

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