DS106 on the couch

Tag: ds106radio (page 1 of 2)

Letting Go


So we came to the end of our radio show  The DS106 Good Spell in 106 Bullets. We did it in 107 bullets, of course!

Just before the last episode somebody sent me the above diagram, it reminded me that cycles are an inherent part of life. It also got me reflecting on the nature of the ‘group’ that is DS106 as an online open community. In our last show we talked about the value of combining of open participants and those doing the course at a university for a qualification. We spoke about how this reciprocal relationship works – offering students at a university a sense of audience beyond the professor and open participants a sense of structure and physicality that supports learning. 

The rest of this post is my personal reflections after the final show. 

Looking at the diagram I see how little ‘we’ within the DS106 community we talk ‘about’ the nature of the group we are; attention seems always focussed in the digital output we produce and we relate through that over time. Using the ideas  in the diagram as a descriptive and reflective model, I very much see  the hashtag classroom that is #ds106  as a community of practice. 

I remember starting to learn about it and seeing its potential for supporting learning; taking the first steps to get to know people and evaluating if this were ‘my kind of people’. Once I joined the question changed to how I could contribute. What Jim Groom referred to on our show as ‘we ask what we can do for #ds106 rather than what it can do for us’. This desire to contribute does not come from nowhere; it comes and grows as we see how being part of this group helps our digital practice. Some of us see what we do as art, others as story, yet others as mere artefact (that would be me when I started); but what brings us together is the practice we share and are developing. For some of us it is a limited enterprise, we need the credits for the course and for others of us it is a wider enterprise that supports the work we do elsewhere on an ongoing basis.


The DS106 Good Spell show is a good example of the last two stages in the diagram. The ‘course’ I did, DS106 Headless, finished in 2013. Some people dispersed and some of us stayed in touch and continued to engage around the hashtag as  ‘a force and a centre of knowledge’ that still exists and that is to some extent independent of who participates at any one time.

John and I started this little project as a way to stay connected *because* we experienced the value of the community. We kept making stuff. We stayed around to be of use to others as best we could whilst we moved on to other projects and life. Even when DS106  is ‘no longer central’ (in the sense that it takes up every waking hour of your life) ‘people still remember it as an integral part of their identities’. Online, we express this with the hashtag #4life and make jokes about how DS106 is like Hotel California – you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave.


The last episode of the DS106 Good Spell Radio Show was very much and example of this ‘memorable’ stage the diagram suggests as the end of the cycle. We told many stories, spoke about artefacts we have made and created. And, of course, the show itself is the most amazing artefact. @johnjohnston has painstakingly archived it all, so anyone can binge listen all episodes!

As we spoke about what we made, the stories we tell through time and the way in which ‘DS106 is just like the Internet but with less trolls’ you can hear in our voices how proud of DS106 memorabilia we are and how much we all wish we had some DS106 socks! (in-joke, sorry. But if you are interested watch the latest instalment of the story here). We talked about the most significant symbol of all, the number 106. A meaningless symbol given life by the relationships and stories people chose and choose to build around it. We even made a radio programme on DS106 Numerology, of course.



We spoke about issues of inclusion and exclusion. There is a way in which DS106 does not set up to be inclusive. This for me connects with how our attention is on what we make and how we embody what we believe: ‘Show them, don’t tell them’ is a mantra for DS106. To me, this simple sentence expresses the essence of transformational pedagogy much more than much of the convoluted jargon I read on open pedagogy (critical or otherwise) elsewhere. 

The ethos of DS106 means that it is not for everyone, there is a vulnerability that comes with being willing to ‘futz splendidly’ in public. On the show we spoke about how what was important to us as educators was to be as transparent as possible about the nature of the experience, make it okay for people to join or not – much in the same way as not everyone plays golf and joining a golf club is not something inherently good or bad, just a preference. 

We may be more dispersed now than when I started in 2013, may be we only gather around the metaphorical campfire to reminisce about the great old days sporadically as other projects gain our attention. Yet, the important things remain and develop outside of the hashtag.

John and I are talking about a new radio show, I am furnishing a new home outside of Tumblr where I will show my ‘digital art’. I can now contemplate the idea of calling myself an artist as well as an academic. My new online home is with the best educational hosting company ever, Reclaim Hosting , run by DS106 folk.  I started to build an online contemplation studio, again with Reclaim Hosting, at the stillweb.org with support from people I met through DS106. I even run a kind of daily create of my own, thanks to @cogdog​, focussed on activities to ‘find stillness in movement (digital or otherwise)’ which I use in my university teaching on the LMS. All this and more would never have been possible without the people I have met through this great hashtag. 

The joy of having been part of what Warren Bennis labels ‘a great group’ will stay with me for a lifetime and reminds me that open true ego-free collaboration is possible…even at times when competition and comprehensive doctrines seem to make up most of our educational dialogue online. As James Poulos explains,

We’re all succumbing to what philosophers call “comprehensive doctrines.” Translated into plain language, comprehensive doctrines are grandiose, all-inclusive accounts of how the world is and should be.

Whatever I do for #ds106 going forward will never pay the debt I feel for it offering  me a learning environment that reminds me each day what true education can be.


A new bumper for this Sunday DS106 Good Spell #106spell on Twitter. The season finale is at 8.00pm UK time on http://ds106rad.io/listen/ and it is back next year at the same time, same place on February 7th. 

Sources: John Johnston Alukahn ValentinS Clint 

Koinonia in DS106


<before I get going here, I hate the new editor. Tumblr sort it> 

So we were chatting at the splendiferous pre-show for our radio show and Jim asked us why we do it – ‘it’ being DS106 #4life. We said for fun and he joked he was talking to a bunch of fun junkies. It was hard to have a serious conversation as we laughed at Uncle Jim futzing the log in to DS106 Radio’s servers, we had so much fun and the show rocked. Please ignore unfounded reports that DS106 is an immortality cult, we just make art. This post is not about that, though. This post is about this: is it something bigger than fun that makes us collaborate across continents and work hard at producing something nobody is asking us to produce?

I have been reflecting on this question for the last few days, it is something bigger than just fun. I have spent a lifetime supporting groups in various contexts become a ‘team’ ‘work collaboratively’ ‘manage a virtual teams’. I can, and often do, drone on about best practice in group facilitation.

Yet, this question echoed to the learner in me not just the educator. 

I could go to my usual space of creativity theory and the environment that makes creativity possible to answer the question.  Or the place of ‘hard fun’ a la Papert and say DS106 is all that and more and paraphrasing Papert’s kid say: "It’s fun. It’s hard. It’s DS106.“ 

All the above would speak to the why, but there is more.

Today I was grading papers on Bohmian dialogue; one of my students answered the question for me as she quoted Bohm on Koinonia,

And perhaps in dialogue, when we have this very high energy of coherence, it might bring us beyond just being a group […] Possibly it could make a new change in the individual and a change in therelation to the cosmic. Such an energy has been called ‘communication’. It is a kind of participation. The early Christians had a Greek word koinonia, the root of which means ‘to participate’ – the idea of partaking of the whole and taking part in it; not merely the whole group, but the whole .

The other day, with another group of students, we talked about how hard it was to collaborate virtually when your team is spread out around the world. In the context of business, this seems almost impossible to do and people mostly complain about it and pay consultants to help them do it. For the first time, since I have been involved in DS106, I thought about DS106 in the context of my work in my business school – in DS106 we sign up on a Google doc and make it work. 

The holly grail of large businesses – what is the difference that makes the difference? My students and I had a conversation about DS106 and they immediately said: Well, but that is not work! There are no problems likely to arise in that situation. I disagreed, but I could not put my finger on why. I took it to my reflection space. 

rockylou22 and I were talking about the show this week, as we discussed work and play and expectations,  Frame Analysis and Goffman came to mind. We use unconscious frames as a way of explaining "what is going on” and determining salience in a given experience. We filter important information, discard noise and build basic cognitive structures to guide us in our understanding of what is going on in a given situation. We do not manufacture these ‘life frames’ but adopt and adapt them depending on the situation. As we receive the email ‘shall we do a Radio Show?’ we put one frame around it: This is play. When my students get an email ‘shall we collaborate on this project?’ they put a different frame around the event ‘This is work and will be hard’. 

Play carries with it a very different set of expectations than work. We treat people differently in one context or the other. Problems do not arise because there are no expectations, we ask unconditionally for what the end result might need and somebody may or may not step up to help. We marvel at the potential for partaking in the whole. In the pre-show with Jim we kept saying we had no idea how it would all come together. We are genuinely creating in the unknown space of possibility. As Bohm said, we participate to create not to impose our view or idea on the situation. We attend to the situation, and notice how ‘it’ is shaping. We support and participate within that. There is a sense of connecting to something that is even larger than Jim’s ego 🙂 – there is a sense of participating in a whole larger than the group and larger than individual ideas. 

Why do we do it? Because it is a place where we can create together without expectations. What is the difference that makes the difference? The play frame we put around it allows us to check the ego at the door and work together in the service of something more. What? Making art, damn it! 

For those of you wanting a clear how-to, the google obliges: The spirit of Koinonia offers some steps to follow, but this is beyond steps and skills – it is a way to be in the world that is truly precious. #4life 

Another great example of DS106 Collaboration


We started with an old beer commercial found by Karen Young. I decided to turn it into a DS106 themed commercial and wrote the script. Jim Groom kindly recorded his lines and emailed them to me. So did Karen with added burning dinner sound effect. The Headless Inkspots provided the music. I edited it all together, adapted the poster and bingo! We premiered the commercial as a trailer to ‘Noir on the Couch: An interview on the Femme Fatale in Film Noir with Prof. Young’ on the DS106 Good Spell tonight. This segment is part of a whole show ‘The Fabulous Femme Fatale’ to be premiered soon on DS106radio and sponsored by Rockylou Radio. Date to be announced. 

An example of collaboration

So I became obsessed with friction matches in Noir and wrote about that a while back. 

I created a script based on something I heard on Double Indemnity and made a video commercial. I was not happy with the voices as I did them myself and then changed them in Garageband. As we were working on a collaborative radio show for Noir106, I decided to turn it into a radio commercial and asked for help from the community.

This is the kind of thing that makes the open web so special. I asked dogtrax for help and he did the most awesome voiceover. I asked Karen Young (@karenatsharon) for help and she did the greatest femme fatale voice ever. With such great voices and script, I had to find some awesome music and who better than The Headless Inkspots to provide original noir inspired music? DS106 is pretty lucky to have them as part of our community.

In sum? I think this is the best commercial ever, and it shows how a simple idea can turn into something special as different people bring their gifts to it. Thank you all, and roll on the Fabulous Femmes Fatales Show on Rockylou Radio this March with the irrepressible Ms Talky Tina in a starring role as Daphne de Beauvoir. 

Stop press: Ms Talky Tina in conflict with Rockylou Radio Productions. Read all about it!


Every Sunday at 8.00 UK time ( check here for your local time

The DS106 Good Spell in 106 Bullets –  John Johnston and Mariana Funes talking DS106 learning, community and creativity.

On DS106 Radio: http://ds106rad.io/listen/

A radio programme based on my 106th post for DS106, read it here. And episodes will be archived at EduTalk. Episode 0 is already up!

GIFaChrome unveils a world first: Their first cross-species endorsement for their Gifachrome camera. 

The first official radio commercial for the GIFaChrome camera

The impending death of radio – or is it?

DS106 Headless 13 is in the middle of 2 weeks of video. I have managed to create a couple of videos and read a few movie scenes but my time right until Monday was taken up with audio. I decided to create another show this time on my own without my great @talkyteam to help me. 

I have learnt a lot and when we broadcast the live show we had a few listeners and some kind words. The guests of honour, Jonathan Worth and Jon Levy of Phonar,  did not make the live show but John Johnston and I did the best we could to fill the space with useful dialogue: 

We even had an offer of help from one of the Phonar 13 students who listened and also found it interesting:

You can judge for yourself if you follow the archive link for the live show. A special thank you to John for being a last minute sound engineer and using Levelator to even out my clumsy edits. If you just want to hear the recording of the pilot show, you can find it at ColinPods where I am starting to store all the audio I am making. Also a big than you to Bill Smith who helped me navigate the DS106 Radio Servers and who (bless him) took the first version of the show in his car to work to listen and offer me feedback. He emailed detailed feedback and I am very appreciative of the support. 

The rest of this post is about my reflections on audio, collaboration and just doing my best to keep going with DS106 Headless13 in the absence of a Head.

My first reflection is the same as as always – this stuff is hard work. 

Each week as we learn new media to use for our digital stories I am amazed at the amount of time it takes to produce something that I consider fair to middling quality. 

This week I have been trying to get through weeks 11 and 12 of the course with video assignments. I decided not to do the Chaplin video as I already played with that earlier on the course .

So I decided to work on my first open educational resource video instead. I figured that if my video had several short clips that needed editing and creating then that would count towards the 16 stars worth of assignments we are meant to do this week. I will end the week with a radio programme that (almost) nobody heard and no vOER to show for my efforts. 

I wanted to complete the radio show first and premiere it as I had promised to do it. I felt pretty alone and pointless on Monday when nobody was able to turn up and only a few listeners heard the show. it made me reflect on my intentions when making artefacts for DS106. I tell myself I am making them for my own learning, yet I was pretty disappointed when nobody from DS106 turned up to listen. I could hear echoes of old patterns – after all the hard work i put in….yet, I was able to look beyond these.

We say that we create for an audience or the potential of an audience and that this offers a different kind of learning potential than sitting in a classroom or writing on my hard disk. We formulate our ideas more clearly when we think of an audience, we form the ideas as we speak on the radio. All this feels true and useful. We do not say as much about the vulnerability this exposes us all to. The ‘Zero Comment’ dynamic Lovink discusses so eloquently or in my case the ‘Zero Listeners’ dynamic which on monday was compounded with Zero guests. I was so grateful to John and Bill for taking an interest. 

Bill understood that I had taken a long time to produce it and cautioned me to perhaps reconsider my idea of a weekly show:

Otherwise, excellent production! I think you could continue the show, bringing in a variety of topics related to the themes of photography and audio, and the psychology of perception and cognition. I don’t know about your overall schedule, but you might find weekly to be overly ambitious if you are the only producer, editor, narrator, researcher, writer, and technician.

So I ask myself again, why did I do it?

  • Because I wanted to learn how to produce a whole show on my own?
  • Because I wanted to do something nice for Phonar?
  • Because I was interested in the ideas?
  • Because I wanted recognition? 

I think it was a bit of ‘all of the above’.

What was brought home to me was that I had expectations about how others would behave and these were not met. This led me to reflect on what is the psychological contract we have in hashtag classrooms. It is not clear and it can be tough to navigate the uncertainty and lack of guidelines. I learnt about my unconscious expectations and also about how touched I was that 2 people who know me little were willing to support me so that the show could go live on Monday. I do wonder if the flow channel might have tipped to too much anxiety had it not been for these 2 people helping me learn. 

More generally it makes me think about how feasible it is to ask students to challenge themselves publicly without a clear psychological contract to encourage flow.

I am really happy I did it and now feel I can keep on going with audio. I will not be doing live radio for a while but will continue with my ColinPods  as and when i feel the need. I have a clearer sense of intention going forward and creating podcasts will be driven by my own desire to learn about a topic.

As I end my audio reflections I need to say something about how this video-week-that-never-was has been. I was inspired by the idea of creating something useful rather than a few disposable assignments for video week 12. As I started to work with the web and find out about what a simple video needed from me, I panicked. I was tired from spending many hours on GarageBand for the radio show and could not face learning iMovie in a day. I thought I would start with something ‘easy’ – the script. 

I am still writing that and as it shapes itself and I start collecting what I need for it, I am starting to think my timeframes might be off. I will not be producing anything by the end of the week. If i want to do a fair to middling job of this vOER then I think I am looking at it becoming my final project as well as my 16 stars of video assignments. I am left questioning the wisdom of having chosen not to do the disposable assignments. I am left questioning the wisdom of a headless course where I can do whatever I want no matter how foolhardy the choices made might be. 

This is how I am feeling today, if you replace ‘work’ with ‘DS106’.

Tomorrow is another day and I am a resilient learner. I am also left wondering who the audience for Hashhag classrooms really is and doubting more and more that my dream of introducing open education to a traditional business school environment will ever obtain. But that is a reflection for another day. 

On with the show! We are all ready! 

For a web begun, god sends thread...

Thank you Seth, for this lovely saying.

I hope God will send me thread as I sit to write my 2 week reflection post again. I spent all morning putting it together and did not save my work. I have had the opportunity to connect with the ephemeral nature of the web and with the ill-will of a mind full of unmet expectations. No, Tumblr does not auto-save drafts. Just breathing and noticing my attachment to completion, as I start again and keep saving every sentence.

I start again with half an idea of how I may put this together with the time I have left before I need to move on to the next thing. Have a tantrum? Write a stinking letter to Tumblr and meet them up the stairs?

i will just get on with my reflections for weeks 7 and 8 and write them down for a second time – may be with fewer links and shorter than the previous version, but reflections anyway.

Key insights:

  • Daily creates help me get into the habit of making stuff but do not meet any real quality criteria. I have done many and most I have forgotten. They fulfil a need in the moment but have no permanence
  • Assignments give me more time to wok on something and get it to a standard I assess to be ‘good enough’ – I prefer to work this way
  • These last 2 weeks have taught me much and left much work in progress
  • The highlight of the 2 weeks has been the radio show and whilst you can listen to the show below, i will be writing about my learning from it separately as there is much both practical and theoretical I want to unpack from the project. 

Of all the daily creates these last two weeks I like this one best,


It was done in response to TDC643 draw the internet. I like it because it started as a screenshot of a film I made for the same daily create and it ended up as I played with photoshop as something that emerged – just like the web does each day we connect with it. 

As far as audio my favourite was the create I made up for myself visiting the Phonar course.

Of the assignments my favourites are 2:

Both challenged me in different ways, one expanded my mental models of the value of audio, the other helped me expand my technical skills using GarageBand and iMovie.

I said that these 2 weeks have left me in flux with work in progress, I have begun a web and I hope God will send thread in the shape of time to complete this work and start week 9 before the end of week 9!

Here is the list:

  • Pictures for your ears podcast – editing a joint effort between two hashtag classrooms: DS106 and Phonar. I have been inspired by my interviews so far and hope a regular slot on DS106 radio may emerge
  • ColinPods – i have started a new blog for audio photos. I love the idea and want to do many more
  • Talky Team’s radio project blog post here – my personal experience
  • Keep getting better at all the tools as I am still limited by my lack of skill in bringing about the ideas I imagine
  • A ‘serious’ blog post about team process and facilitation of virtual teams – this project experience has made me question much of the received wisdom I work from when I facilitate executive teams in the workplace
  • I want to do a podcast shrinking another big question ‘is DS106 addictive?’ I have asked another Headless13 participant if I can use a conversation we recorded a while back as a starting point

What is the most important practical tip I have learnt this week? You guessed it – save your [add your own expletive] drafts regularly. The biggest insight? I am learning to be less about explanation and more about imagination.


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