DS106 on the couch

Tag: dailycreate (page 2 of 3)

Daily Create creating

I saw this on the DS106 stream today. 

I liked it and realised it was a photo of something found on the web. I tracked the source to Go Origami. I decided to use the idea and create a winged bat in origami for my daily create today.

I found a You Tube Tutorial, of course! I followed it and made my first origami figure!


and also made a little friend for the bat.


Total time 1 hour. I am wondering about the new Daily Create WordPress theme. 

It seems to encourage ‘responses’ that are only a tweet, often containing unattributed images and no actual creation involved – unless we take the ability to send a tweet as creating? I wonder if we need to rephrase ‘my response to today’s daily create is…’. Something more like ‘post a link to what you create today to Twitter’. 

The old site was designed to make this clearer. For example, Flickr is clearly a place for one’s own photos – posting there first makes it clear that the response expected is one’s own creation as a result of the prompt. The writing prompts offered an editor form for people to write a story, this made it clear that the prompt ‘write a story’ meant more than write 140 characters ::thinking::

Happy Halloween y’all!

Just a little story about serendipitous connections on Twitter around another daily create. I wrote about this the other day  and this is the story told for cogdogblog​ and his stories of open sharing

Behind the scenes

Hmmm… Don’t ask.

It was going to be my first black background video. It was not to be. I learnt that making video with back background that do not make one look like a ghost is just plain difficult. I then tried Touchcast on the iPad. Well, I should know better. I am sure the app is cool once you learn to use it but


So I decided the ‘easy’ way would be to create it in Animoto.

I have made one other video sucessfully on Animoto, but have tried several that #bigfail. It is not a transparent platform it has many rules that are there to encourage you to upgrade and you often get stuck after you have gone to far into your project to ditch it. I refuse to collude with dishonest commercial behaviour so I ditch the project rather than be forced to pay. I have an education account, you would think they would behave transparently, they do not. 

This time i worked out all their rules. Clip length, audio length, number of songs (1), free theme, total length of video allowed, maximum size, size of photos…. and I am not kidding!

The damn editor still cut my soundtrack by 2 seconds. I could not get around the problem in their editor. I think it has something to do with the addition of their logo at the end but i was not going to be forced into another way of paying to test that out. I rendered the video with faulty sound track and downloaded it. 

I then brought it into iMovie and edited it. Detach soundtrack, add new on, shift a few clips to make it flow, add titles and a little music. Bob is your uncle, as we say in the UK. Done.

What is annoying is that it has a lot of potential. Animoto that is. If only they gave clear free options and then offered upgrades. They even try to force you to upgrade for better quality video download. If I wanted that I would have asked for that when I signed up! 

Come back One True Media! That was a fast and easy way to produce video, and I did not mind paying them. They still went to the island of dead tools…go figure.

I did two posters yesterday for the Daily Create

It was such a struggle. We were supposed to be wax lyrical about rain and I could not find it in me to make anything positive about rain. jjgifs had made an image showing just how wonderful (not) UK summer can be. 

I looked at many options and nothing appealed. Back to basics. The series of typography posters I am working on. Find appropriate words that did not praise rain as that is how I was feeling and templates I have used in the past. Add lovely Noun Project icons and  John’s photos  – Bob’s your uncle. Done. 

Driving the Daily Create Bus


I have not written one of my long reflective posts for a while. I have enjoyed just making stuff without words. Still, the time has come. 


I am not sure how long ago I was entrusted with making sure there was a Daily Create prompt for us all every day. I can say it has been the best job I ever had. I would do it for free. Wait. I am doing it for free! Except that not all that counts can be counted. The joy and creativity I get back from driving the DS106 daily create bus, I cannot measure. If what I do supports the DS106 community and is of use to some people, it is a real privilege to be in the driving seat. 

This reflection was prompted by the lovely tweet from Jim Groom posted at the start of this post. I did have a big smile on my face when I read it. I have not said very much about the process or about how I see what I am doing because I am afraid that if I talk about it the magic will go; kind of like when we have a gift we do not understand but treasure. We may fear losing it by bringing conscious attention to it. 

In this post I want to face the fear and just talk about what the experience has been like. The joy of seeing what people produce as a result of a prompt, the stream of drafts I find when I go to edit the site as people keep submitting ideas, seeing the web in a whole new way as a ground to harvest potential ideas for daily create prompts, trying things out myself to ensure what I am suggesting is doable and the one downside: I no longer get the joy of the surprise of the daily prompt. It is a little like I get to see into the future so when it comes up, I have seen it and I might be working on the next month’s set of prompts. 

But it is a small price to pay for such a precious creativity source. The rest of this post explores the process as I see it and why I find it so precious.


I notice that one of my guiding principles has to do with inclusion. I always check a submission for content but also for who submitted it. I want to make sure if somebody is new or rarely submits an idea, that idea gets used somehow. 

I am also always on the look out for people’s ideas in the DS106 community (and sometimes outside) that might make a good prompt. I ask for permission to use and then try to let them know when it will be published so that they can see what art is made from the prompt.

There are different audiences to consider too, the University of Mary Washington students are always a joy to interact with. The open participants come and go, some (like me) never go! Then there are those who are doing the open course with their students in different universities around the world. There are customised versions of DS106: #youshow15 is focussing on digital presence through digital story telling tools, 3MDS106 is applying the open course to develop enterprise social networking skills in a large corporate and I am sure there are others I have not kept up with. So the prompts have to be general enough that anyone can use them and also be inclusive so that people feel they are part of the community – I must confess to bias my choices to the ‘young ones’ as I describe them in my head. UMW students make my Twitter stream come alive with fun and ideas when there is a run of DS106 there, I do try to think of prompts they will find fun to do. So, I am heartened to hear what Jim says in his tweet above. 


Then there is the ‘what makes a good prompt?’ question. Alan Levine spoke with me at length about this when he decided to let me drive the bus: Simplicity,  not an assignment, balance of type of prompt, not just what I like, possible to adapt ideas for use more than once, remembering when last one is….but if there is a blank day, Sandy will always remind you!

All of above is sound advise and I was glad to have it as well as the behind the scenes information of how the site works. But there is more. Here is where the ineffable comes in. I saw it in Alan when he spoke, I see it when I talk to creative people and I have done my best to teach it most of my career. Playfulness, risk taking, experimentation, connecting the not obviously connected, willingness to fall on my face if something does not work out… It is quite a public choice and it is daily. Thankfully Talky Tina taught me how to futz.

Beyond the cognitive creative strategies, there is also the love of the process. The flow that engaging in the process requires and the joy that brings. I have had days when my mental state has been less than ideal, I have sat down to work on the daily create and after an hour felt like I had been on a day’s meditation retreat. I keep saying, DS106 is cheap therapy.

Then there is the practical what, making sure I have ideas stored up to create prompts as needed. I have a secret Twitter list and a community in Google Plus with just one member: me. I store up possible ideas as I come across them when I am doing other web type activities. Sometimes I don’t even know how it will become a prompt – just that it can become one.


A public service? Yes, it is that. A fun way to learn digital storytelling tools and find ideas? Yes, it is that. A way to make friends? Yes, it is that too.  But my why is different from all that. 

My why has to do with finding myself lost in the midst of the mystery that is the human imagination. My favourite writer on creativity and the soul, Thomas Moore puts it better than I can,

“The key to seeing the world’s soul, and in the process wakening our own, is to get over the confusion by which we think that fact is real and imagination is illusion.”

The daily create prompt creates a tapestry of stories that brings the imagination alive. And that brings me alive. I am honoured to be part of the tapestry.

It had to be done. I am so sorry.

It started with a DS106 daily create, of course. I then saw this precious little gem from Kathy Onarheim which reminded me of Brian Bennett’s excellent ‘Roll it Baby!“ and then I remembered ‘The most boring mash up ever’

The scene was set. The most boring plumbing commercial ever had to be remixed. I have been giggling for the last hour whilst making it, worth the smile I reckon.

A writing Daily Create based on the Art Assignment prompt: “The one that got away”.

So, I recently found out about the Comic Alliance and started following them on Twitter. On their site I found a comic by Andrew MacLean that seems interesting and I was drawn to the style of the illustrations. I wanted to remember the publication date for the future, so sent the link to Pocket for never finding again.

On a separate event it is Giulia’s birthday and she wants to keep it quiet. 

Well, this oddly configured mind’  (best description ever, thanks Sandy!) put these two things together and did a quick creative edit for Giulia.

Happy birthday Mighty Doodler, you will be remembered ‘til the end of time!

It has been a while since I have written a post here. I have been posting my art (See? calling it ‘art’ not ‘artefact’ anymore 🙂 but not narrating the process. The truth is that narrating process is hard and as I get more into making art, I am less able to run the ‘witness loop’ to be able to accurately explain my creation process. This is, of course, natural when creative flow happens. We ‘lose’ ourselves. What this means is that we lose the judging mind and align in activity. 

I want to make an effort to narrate this daily create because I believe this to be my graduation assignment!

There are many goals to set going forward, but for the first time since I started participating in DS106 I have made something that is inherently and standalone pleasing to me. Awesome feeling. I have had glimpses of it when making animated gifs but this time the intensity was different. 

It started with me scanning the daily create site and seeing what others had done for today. The prompt made me go: meh. I am in the middle of another project for our Summer DS106 Story doing a trailer in the style of a silent movie (something that is proving more challenging than I expected). May be I get one with that and forget about the daily create today. Or may be not.

I watched a video today that admonished me: "The most dangerous thought you can have as a creative person is to think you know what you’re doing.“ I decided to make an animated gif, I know how to do that. 

I had the idea of many hands moving and that gave me the slogan you see in the image. Hands were dancing in my head and I started, predictably for those who know me, to make a gif. 

Where to find hands? @cogdogblog introduced me yesterday to the most beautiful resource I have found in a long time The Public Domain Review. Looking for images was a great excuse to lose myself there for a while. Actually, I found what I wanted straight away. The physiognomy of hands in 1917. Use these images in Photoshop and make the hands dance whilst the slogan pops up. Boom. Not Boom. I could not keep the background still whilst the hands danced.

Each time I watched all my layers I could hear a faint voice saying – it looks great as a still image. I ignored it for a while and kept trying to make the hands dance. I knew what I was doing. Until I was willing to suspend knowing. 

I abandoned the idea of an animated gif and looked at ‘what the marble wanted to be’ as they say Michelangelo thought of sculpture. Not that I am comparing the output, just the process. I spent hours playing with Photoshop selecting, blending positioning the hands. I tried many fonts and colours and then I noted that this was a kind of ‘silent film’ poster. 

Off I went down another Google rabbit hole. Find a font that suits the silent era. I have never installed a font, I just use what is there and match it as best I can. Lazy creator. This time was different. I wanted to shape the poster as it seemed to want to be shaped. Worked out how to install font and restarted machine. Boom. Like. Now I thought about the inter-title screens in silent films. It needs a frame. I looked and could not find anything. 

I remembered that Photoshop now has Picture Frame to use. I needed a tutorial for how to use that. I played around until I made something the fitted the style. 

Boom, my poster for today.

It really helps not to be struggling so much with the tools. As Ira Glass reminds us ‘our taste is impeccable, it take a couple of years for the execution to start to align with our taste and we know when we are falling short’. Well, today I did not fall short. There is a big difference between quickly getting something done, and losing oneself in the process of creation. I have known that from writing all my life, but this is the first time I experience it with digital art. Thank you daily create for the ‘boring’ prompt today.

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