Archive for the ‘digital storytelling’ Category

Kenny Powers: Greatest Hits

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

My digital storytelling class is about to embark on the wonderful world of video story telling, and I found a beautiful example from my favorite new HBO series, Eastbound & Down. I don’t know why I like this show so much, but the character matchup of Kenny Powers and Stevie Janowski just crack me up to no end. Anyway, I wonder if I can work in an assignment to try and make the cheeziest video possible, using this as the model.

The Art of Commenting

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

king of comments
Image credit: Not in HD

In DS106 one of the things that I have been pushing harder than anything else is commenting on each other’s work. I want it to be honest, plentiful, and sustained. In fact, I have the same expectations of commenting as I do of blogging, and, as Alan Levine notes, “Commenting is sharing, and its easy. We all need to spend more time commenting.” (And we all know the cogdog practices what he preaches.) That is absolutely right, and the value and importance of commenting is so greatly underrated in the larger discussions of blogging and social media in higher ed. What’s more, a lack of concern with absence of commenting when using blogs in a course is often a sign that what you are trying to accomplish with “social media” and “networked learning,” could probably be achieved with any old media.

In my mind commenting is key to such an experiment as DS106, it’s a sign of both engagement, distributed sharing, and relationships outside of some central discourse of learning. With every comment, there is the possibility of a whole new conversation. It’s not lways the case, and not all comments are equal, but the expectation has to be established immediately in my mind. Be part of the community, even if somewhat forced and arbitrary as we often find in any given class at the beginning. We all have to move beyond the impulse to remain unengaged and do the minimum, without the willingness to to explore and discover how we learn out in the open you can not truly be a part of this course. The whole enterprise requires that we feed off each other’s ideas, we think hard about how we create for others, and both offer and respond to feedback regularly.

There have been very few of the over 7000 comments on my blog that I have not appreciated. In fact, comments have been, and remain, the lifeblood of my blog. And when they start going, or I am failing to get them, it tells me something. It tells me is that I am not commenting enough on other people’s work, I am not reading widely enough, I am not linking to other people’s work enough. Because comments are born out of a reciprocal sense of interaction, community, and respect. A relationship with an audience that is both present and mindful of your wok, and ready and willing to push you to more, by way of links, ideas, thoughts, and criticisms. All important, and all part of what makes this space more than simply “journaling.” It’s conversation, it’s relationships, and it’s a sense of community born through a holy trinity of characteristics the best blogs exude: personality, honesty, and thoughtfulness.

And this is exactly what I said to the ds106 internauts this evening: if you aren’t getting comments, than you aren’t commenting on the work of others enough. if you aren’t getting comments, than you aren’t linking to the work of others enough. And if you aren’t getting comments, than you aren’t engaging your audience enough. And I have no qualms with saying any of it, it’s part of what I expect of this class. Understand you are engaging an audience, understand you are part of a conversation, and understand you have to take responsibility for that fact. I can and will not comment for you, but I will engage you once you do.

One of the many things I have learned from ds106 thus far this semester is that comments are key. And the fewer you have on your blog, the fewer you’ve made on the blogs of others. And it has proven to be absolutely right when looking at the 28 blogs I am following regularly for this class. Those who comment get comments, those who don’t, don’t. and for me, that tells the tale better than anything else has thus far this semester.

The DS106 Daily Shoot Assignment: The Great 8

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

OK, so upon finishing up one of the greatest series of assignments I ever gave, as well as did—-though to be fair I didn’t design them—I asked everyone to go through all the photos for each of the eight days and pick out their favorites, and then briefly explain why. Here are  mine:

Daily Shoot 1

Showcase the beauty of living foliage! Make a photo of a single leaf or an entire “greenscape” today.

Claire Cecil’s image for the foliage was pretty powerful. Not only does the leave look like it is burning while surrounded by green, but it was the first real sign of Fall I’ve seen in what has otherwise been a sweltering Summer here in Virginia. What’s more, it’s as if the other leaves are looking on, steady in their free life, as this one falls on her sword for them.

Daily Shoot 2:

Make a photo of two complementary objects arranged in a pleasing composition, one large and one small.

Garrett Bush’s “Two loves.” There were a lot of good photos on Day 2, and this is when I realized that Daily Shoot assignments with a specific group that is sharing ans commenting is a powerful way to step back from trying to teach digital photography as much as working towards a common goal to challenge, think, learn, and work through digital photography together. In fact, the commenting during these eight assignments was mind boggling, this ds106 class came to talk and share.What’s cool is the last two weeks emerged as something more than an assignment, it became  a way of helping us see each other. And as with most photos I immediately see myself in these skateboards. The scale and complementary relations brought the assignment home to me so subtly, simply because I hadn’t thought of that, nor do I have that to photograph. It tells me so much with so little. And the light on the board worked well, and the narrative is imbued from perspective and relationship. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it isn’t.

Daily Shoot 3

Some carry a talisman, amulet, “lucky charm”, or just a comforting thing in our pocket. What do you carry?

Again, a lot of great images on day 3, but that little pig in Edward’s pocket again frames an intrigue and narrative that just makes it an enigma to me, and keeps me coming back to it again and again.  The pig, an image titled “the thing that should not be,” is an ingenious frame of character because you know someone who carryies around a talisman like this regularly is right out of  film or novel. This prompt is all about revealing a part of yourself, and this pig represents the fodder of the best kind of mystery in why we do certain things, and how unique we are in our idiosyncrasies. This picture is al about framing the character for everything we don’t see. An image like this is so intrinsically linked to identity—something I remained fascinated with how we shape and foster online in narrative ways. And I can think of few better examples than this given the prompt.

Daily Shoot 4

Make a photograph of something that is soft, or at least looks that way. Convince the viewer of the softness.

For the soft images, there were once again many, many good ones (I have a list of honorable mentions below) but Sadie’s “We all Scream” is just so beautifully visceral that I immediately felt the soft, stickiness of the ice cream. And the colors just make it all that much more evocative. A great shot

Honorable mention: Garrett Bush’s “Woven Cacti,” Ashley Peterson’s “Spring Cleaning?”, and Lindsay’s “Afternoon Narrative.”

Daily Shoot 5

Use a mirror as part of a composition in a photograph today. Show yourself in the image if you’d like!

Man, how can I not go with Carlie’s “Reflective Shades”? Rock on!

I actually found the mirror images some of the hardest for ds106 internauts to do well, which was interesting. For what I thought would be a layup was anything but by and large.

Daily Shoot 6

Communicate chaos, disorganization or messiness in a photograph. Find some beauty in it.

The chaos image were a lot of fun, and once again there were some excellent photos. My favorite was Lindsay’s “Treasures here and there” Chest because it is so rich in both complexity and color. The chaos seems so naturally layered and organized, and I can;t help but think of the I Spy books my kids and I read on occasion, such beautiful chaos like this reminds me of the web.

Honorable mention: Jenn’s Ramen Chaos is beautifully done, and the food not only looks chaotic, but somewhat sinister.

Daily Shoot 7

Symmetry can be calm and soothing. Make a photo today featuring symmetry, either in subject or composition.

The symmetry shots were great, and there were a lot of good ones, but one image that got very little attention from others, but really struck me powerfully was Brian’s “Imperfect Symmetry” because it was the first time anyone had really dealt with the body. And seeing the symmetry of bodies, and the very powerful subject of the human form brings me back to the idea of our notion of symmetry and bodies is always both aesthetic and somehow physical, and as Blake might say “fearful” in the flesh.

Honorable mention: Jenn’s “Boat Symmetry,” Jessica’s “Living in a Symmetrical World” is remarkable, Lindsay’s telephonic symmetry is great, and both Megan’s and Gretchen’s respective book symmetries were great, but a day too early ;)

Daily Shoot 8

Make a photo of an interesting stack of books or magazines. Consider how you handle repeating lines in your composition.

Kevin’s “Learning by Osmosis” photo for the final day is near and dear to me, because as Jenn suggests in this post on her top 8:

I think photo really embodies what the class is about. Taking creativity to a new level and showcasing your work

But I would be remiss here if I didn’t also feature Morrgan’s “Books” image, which really subtly plays with color and grays. it is a masterful shot once you take some time and look at it:
Image of a book case

And finally, Ashley’s books for the semester tell us a lot about her semester, and what I wanna know is how much?

Image of textbooks

Daily Shoot: Carcasses in brown

Monday, September 27th, 2010

This image is an elegy for an old habit I have kicked now for 1 month—the graveyard motif works on several levels, and fits in with the theme for today’s daily shoot:

Make a photograph today dominated by browns or other earthtones. Explore how the color influences your subject choice.

I’m excited that my month off the smokes corresponds with Tessy’s 4th birthday.  I love you Tessy, and I’ll miss you Lucky, but not enough.

Flickr Feed Gallery: A Quick Hack for DS106

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

All images courtesy of various DS106 Internauts.

Image of two dolls
Image credit: spur_dotz’s “Ash and Ichabod”
Thursday night’s class started in one direction and ended up in a whole ‘nother one. It was pretty fun, well, at least for me. I was planning on talking about image stories, because we have been working on photography assignments all week, and were starting to think about image stories. But then the opportunity arrived to talk more about RSS feeds, Flickr, WordPress plugins, and hacking theme templates, and I couldn’t resist—I felt like an instructional tehcnologist again, a real EDUPUNK, so I ran with it :)


It’s Shark Season in bavaland

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Late last week DS106 Internaut Ashley Peterson tweeted me a link to this image:

Image of man carring shark
Link to see full-size image and full article here.

This striking image from Mogadishu, Somalia—which is described as the “world’s most dangerous city” in the article—is kind of a culmination of all our talk and crazy links about sharks so far this semester. And once I saw this image, I really couldn’t get over it. I mean how crazy, a man walking through the streets with a dead shark over his shoulder really does frame just how dangerous this city is, even for sharks. The link to the image came out of a larger discussion the DS106 course has been having about photography more generally these last two weeks, and after this image was burned into my brain. And given this I figured it might be high time to ask the great Tom Woodward to work some of his Photoshop magic. So via twitter I put out this simple request:

@twoodwar Can you photoshop me in this pls?

And never one to let my vanity get in the way, Tom complied:

Image of the bava carrying a shark
Image credit: Tom Woodward’s photoshopped “man_carrying_shark”

A nice way to accentuate just how much fun you can have with a little Photoshop action. Now teaching Photoshop gets prohibitive given how much it costs, and how little access we have to it on campus. But this class does need some basic image editing elements. Charlie Rocket did a fine job taking his audience through the process of learning Photoshop last semester, but he had Photoshop and made it his semester-long digital story, and perhaps owning it like he did is the best way to learn it. I should probably dedicate some time to learning Gimp, and spend time teaching that. But with Picnik, Aviary, and Photoshop Express, most of the basic are already there.

I mean it is increasingly becoming apparent that one can never be too young to both learn sophisticated image editing, and there is no better way than creating Jim Groom as Conan the Barbarian images as Tom Woodward’s six year old son John has. pretty cool to see a kid this young working his way through Photoshop so impressively. You go John!!!

Daily Shoot: More interested by the lines inside

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Image of stack of books

Today’s Daily Shoot assignment:

Make a photo of an interesting stack of books or magazines. Consider how you handle repeating lines in your composition.

Today’s shot is not too inspired, but I really didn’t have much time to take it, nor did I have the right light in my den. This is a series of books on the top shelf of one of the several built-in bookshelves in my new house (well, maybe not so new given we’ve owned it for a year this week). But at the same time, it feels new to me, and the built-in bookshelves are some of its nicest features, but I wasn’t up to capturing them adequately. So we’ll have to save that for another day. In the meantime, here’s my final daily shoot assignment for the section of the class on photography and visual storytelling. Now I just have to highlight my favorite shots from the whole class in a post sometime this weekend, and then on to audio stories.

I’m going to continue the daily shoot assignments because they really help me see things anew. I probably won’t post them regularly on the bava, rather I’ll send them right to Flick. Having the camera poised any given day is a habit I’d like to foster, and this past week has been a great exercise in training my habits of seeing

Daily Shoot: 1212

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Daily Shoot image capturing symmetry

Symmetry can be calm and soothing. Make a photo today featuring symmetry, either in subject or composition. (@logista)

I’m fired up about today’s shot, and not so much because the image is so beautiful—though I like it—but because 12 is my lucky number, and two twelves in a row? Doubly lucky. My cat is named 12, and if it were up to me my first born would have been named twelve, and my birthday falls on the twelfth day. More than that, 1212 is an anagram for 2112 which makes me think of Rush, which then makes me think of Andy Rush. There is a lot to both this image and this number, obviously. Symmetry is just the surface.

Daily Shoot: Green Maelstrom

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Image DS311 for daily shoot project
The daily shoot assignment for today:

Communicate chaos, disorganization or messiness in a photograph. Find some beauty in it. (@divadeb88)

I don’t know why this one was so hard for me, and frankly I’m not totally crazy with my shot. That said, I did manage to approximate the image I had in my mind when I took it, which you can see below (thank you, Brian Lamb):
Image of maelstrom

If nothing else, these assignments start to pinpoint for me the elements of photography I would like to get a grasp on, like shutter speed, catching things in motion, dealing more intelligently with light, etc. But for the sake of time and sanity I will stick with this, unless my kids offer me a new vision of chaos when I get home tonight.

Daily shoot: man in the mirror

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Image for Daily Shoot 310 #ds310

Today’s assignment for Daily Shoot:

Use a mirror as part of a composition in a photograph today. Show yourself in the image if you’d like!

What can I say, I love the whole sideview mirror thing.