Category Archives: Mash Ups

A Bag of Gold

I really liked Gardner Campbell’s “No More Digital Facelifts” talk that was recommended watching for #ds106 (embedded below).

I like it enough that I decided to remix it. I don’t claim to have captured all, or perhaps any, of the spirit/content of Gardner’s talk but it was an interesting experiment and hopefully one that entertains a few people. If anything it should encourage you to listen to the actual talk. It really is good and I don’t like talks.

bag of gold


I limited myself to the length of the instrumental (Nas – If I Ruled the World)
I limited myself to under an hour of editing.

Some Notes on Process

I chose the Nas song after browsing around looking for instrumentals that were titled something to do with gold and being unhappy with what I found. One easy way I use to get a feel for a good song is to set the audio of the speech playing and then browse for music. That way, when I preview various songs, I’m hearing the voice over the music like I would in the final product.

I did all the editing in GarageBand. I tend to cut up the speech as I listen and pull clips that I especially like into a different track. Once I’ve got them there I drag them over the music and start to shuffle things around. It’d be nice if I could separately label the diced up pieces but if you can do that in GB, I don’t know how.

Yes, that is Jim Groom laughing hysterically in the audience.

So it begins #ds106

Jim’s doing a class on digital storytelling. The course is open and free. That means we can all play and assume multiple roles. This is going to be fun.

Iconic Clash

Take your two favorite movies. Make one iconic poster. For bonus points use only black and white.

Closet Art

Find the center of disorder in your house. Make it interesting. Make it beautiful. Make it art, if only for a moment1. Take a picture.

Tweet, Tweet, Bang!

Take an already existing tweet2 mash it up with an Audubon painting. Challenge yourself. It doesn’t have to be bird related.

Say It Like the Peanut Butter

Make an animated gif from your favorite/least favorite movie capturing the essence of a key scene. Make sure the movement is minimal but essential. 3.

—All images are from which is pretty much the best place ever.

1 Try not to make it as pretentious as I sound describing it.

2 I will never forgive whoever made that the correct term.

3 Here are some directions on how to do it with free software. Don’t the let the command line scare you.


Playing with Vocabulary

I did this a while back but don’t think I ever posted about it 1.

So vocabulary work often is one the most boring things an English teacher (or anyone else) ever does. The beauty of an English class is that you have a fair degree more flexibility when dealing with vocabulary than a lot of subjects.

Here are two ways I wanted to attack words in a way that’d make them stick.

the album

Students pick a word/root/suffix/prefix and then build an album around it complete with cover art and song choices that reflect that theme. You see my Puffy Ego album above with songs like “Your You’re2 So Vain” and “I Love Me.”

It’s simple and pretty engaging for students. The association with music (and likely with music they like) should really help internalize the information.

the t-shirt

Once again, a pretty simple idea. Students take a word/root/prefix/suffix and make a t-shirt3 with it. This could be fun and you could also make posters, hats etc and get the best ones made 4

The point is just to have students think more about the words, to do something real with them and to have a little fun. Were it me, I’d have a variety of options like these and allow students to pick various options each week.

1 It’s possible I did and am bad at searching and worse at remembering

2 I’d thank the commenter for catching the typo if he/she hadn’t been such a jerk about it

3 Here’s a blank template for the t-shirt if you’re interested.

4 or maybe just put on cafepress


Stepping Up: Non-Programistan/Non-HTML Exhibit Page

Ben called me on the fact that Exhibit really was too much for most teachers/humans. It seems no one wants to know HTML these days has ever wanted to know html. So my “no programming” claim was weak and as a true patriot of Non-Programistan I had to step up.

Here is a spreadsheet where you can put in some basic fields. It builds you the Google Spreadsheet headers (you have to cut and paste them in) and with a little simple work on your part in the spreadsheet the HTML is made for you. You have to cut and paste it into a text editor and save it as html.

I made this page with it.

Now, this version if fairly rough but it works. The whole thing is limited and will only do the sortable table view but it’s a decent start. There’s a lot you could do to expand this to allow mapping, time lines etc. as Exhibit is built to be modular. I might have to learn enough programming to make this work in a web interface some day.

Step 1

You put in the data types, headers etc. you want.

Step 2

After pasting in the URL headers into a Google spreadsheet you publish it and copy the XML feed and paste it into the spreadsheet.

Step 3

Give the page a title.

Step 4

You cut and paste the html from this cell.

Step 5

Once you paste the code into an html editor and upload it you should be golden.

wikipedia table

Teaching a Table New Tricks

I’m doing a presentation tomorrow with Jim Groom on how to create mashups without knowing anything about programming. The fun thing is it’s presented using a mashup of communist propaganda posters and that sort of rhetoric. Good clean American fun! It may, or may not, be presented entirely in a fake Russian accent. It will entirely depend on my mood (and Jim‘s).

You can also check out the full site here if you’re interested.

My example takes a table of information from Wikipedia on Industrial Warfare and steps you through the ways you can change it using SIMILE’s Exhibit. If you bother to look at the actual Exhibit pages you’ll see they link back to the Google spreadsheets to show you what data had to be added to create the changes on the pages.

So, you’ll start with this-

Industrial Warfare

Step 1

Making this data interactive- so I cut and paste the table into Excel and clean up the data a little bit. I make the html portion of Exhibit. Then I get what’s below- an interesting level of interactivity has been added. You can select/omit/sort the data now. So seeing relationships is a lot easier.

Step 2

Adding the visual component- now I felt that we needed something more visual so I added some image URLs and URLs to the Wikipedia articles. Now we’ve got the same level of interaction but with added visual content and the ability to follow information outward.

Step 3

Adding the map- if I were fancier I’d saying “adding the geo-spatial element.” I kept the visual interface underneath the map for this one but it probably could be removed.

Step 4

This is the final step and it’s adding the data and presentation of the timeline element.

So, the whole point in this is that Exhibit is freeing the information so that you can tweak and bend and add to the information until it does exactly what you need. You don’t have to accept information the way it is. You can change it and ultimately make it far more valuable to you and your students.