Inspired by (or copying depending on your perspective) this Modern Met post. Apophenia Find something in your house. Take a picture. Let your imagination churn. Make as many different augmented versions as you can think of. Help others see what’s in your head. Submit it on DS106 using the tags VisualAssignments and VisualAssignments1255. cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Woodward

If it seems like playing . . .

If it seems like I’m playing lately it is because I am. The last week or so has been an exploration of all sorts of fairly odd things. Markov chains, Twitterbots, McRibs1, photo walks to name a few items. These are easy things to dismiss as trivial. It’s not necessarily obvious how these strange wanderings connect back to outcomes that other people may want or how they mesh with the idea of online learning at VCU. I believe that’s because we’ve created a belief that (in many things) we know both where we are (point A) and where want to go (point B) and that whatever gets us between these two points most “efficiently” is the best path. I’m going to try to both justify the value of a wandering path by pulling in pretty disparate examples2 from time/space with some recent examples of these wanderings coming to fruition. Similar patterns of over-narrowing happen in lots of areas. People tend to think they know lots of things they don’t.3 I see elements of this narrowing in terms of the echo chamber, the specification focused patterns of today’s world4, and the general lack of joy evident in work and school.5 Here’s a fairly typical pattern for me. Stage One – September 2011 On Sept. 22, 2011 at 10:48 PM6, I took […]


I was in an elementary school Friday and there was a line of stars with rules written on them. Most of them were fairly sad and/or boring- don’t smoke, don’t play with markers (?), don’t leave your buddy etc. Then there were these two and I cannot tell you how happy they made me.

Introducing Randomness

I had a great time at UMW’s Faculty Academy. Got to meet a number of people face to face for the first time which is always interesting. I was lucky enough to be able to present as a plenary speaker1 as well. After being repeatedly told to “bring my A game” I had completely psyched myself out. In direct retaliation I decided to introduce as many elements of “randomness” as I could into this presentation.2 I’m not necessarily arguing that all three made the presentation better but it did make it more interesting to me and I think they did add some interesting elements for the audience. Element One The day before the presentation I had already come up with two slide decks with two very different themes. One, had tattoos as the visual element because I thought the idea of things people were willing to have jabbed into their skin with needles made for an interesting visual theme. The other presentation was based around the danse macbre woodcuts from the Black Plague. Neither one did quite what I wanted and the macabre one was too depressing even for me. So I decided to do a version of Deck Wars/Battle Decks. Essentially, I sent out an open call to Twitter requesting images. Punish me. Send me url to any image […]

1 Story – 4 Icons

Assignment: Reduce a movie, story, or event into its basic elements, then take those visuals and reduce them further to simple icons. That’s my attempt above. I tried to stick to a three color scheme. The first image is supposed to be a parking meter. My wife was unable to ID it. It needs work. Hopefully the other three are at least identifiable. I don’t use vector drawing tools very often. I clearly need to spend some more time with them to get some skills but that was half the reason I attempted this. My learning is now public, fairly messy, but most of all not really what I want. That is ok. It’s fun. It isn’t a contest. I’m enjoying it. I do not fear Jim Groom’s red pen. You might also notice that I’m doing assignments in and around the #ds106 course but not necessarily all the ones that are assigned, nor am I necessarily doing them in the order they are given. I’m doing extra “work” with the interest and energy moves me1. I may go back and do some. I may not. I like the MOOC idea. I find it valuable to have a group of people moving through the roughly same ideas at roughly the same time. I like the freedom I find in the […]

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 ffffound.com 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.

Survival Guides

Survival guides have some interesting potential for a variety of historical and literary analysis needs. This idea was jump started by the Brighid Survival Manual which was found via Super Punch. Here’s a quick example for the Witch in The Wizard of Oz. I’ll see if time allows me to make one for a Jamestown colonist. The problem is that these take a good bit of time and effort if they’re going to be good. That’s great in a project but it does make it harder on me. Anyway, lots of English and history applications. It’d be fun to write survival guides for self-destructive historical or literary figures- maybe Edgar Allen Poe or Custard.

A few things . . .

Currency Redesign This would be a fun way to look at our government (and other countries for that matter). It’s simple but complex. How do you redesign our currency so that it reflects our history and current values? There’s a lot of interesting analysis potential there. Partnering with an art class would give you some added advantage and would allow for more focus on art as problem solving. Monsters Inspired by this Boing Boing post, I thought it’d be fun to have students draw a monster of their choosing (maybe give it some particular talents) and then randomly assign them to other students who then write a story with the monster as a main character. The artist then works with the writer as a peer editor. I’d do this online and then mix in other monsters and story lines. Then the larger group has to look at the stories and figure out how they’ll merge. Drugs This list of the top 25 psychiatric prescriptions and a comparison to their numbers in 2005 would open the door for a number of conversations about our society and medicine in the U.S. I’d love to see overall prescriptions and a comparison of those numbers between countries. Random Thoughts This card trading game concept for medical students is worth thinking about more. I’m in […]

Step Up Your Vocab: The Musical

cc licensed flickr photo shared by bionicteaching This is pretty simple and likely to be pretty fun. It probably fits best in an English classroom1 I’m not sure how I’d start this . . . I think I’d go this route. I’d show the kids a bunch of article headlines and quotes complaining about the deterioration of today’s society and how today’s music sucks. This is really just to get them riled up and interested in proving they’re not the brain dead people being described. The kids pick their favorite favorite song and go find the lyrics. Then you have the kids run they lyrics through something like this site which calculates reading levels. This one isn’t great for this purpose but it’ll do for this demonstration. We just want some sort of number that quantifies the sophistication of the lyrics. The challenge for the kids is to increase the reading level as high as possible while maintaining the spirit of the song and it’s rhyme scheme (if any). So they have to really figure out what makes the reading level go up or down and then apply what they learn. They’ll be working with vocabulary, sentence structure etc. The students will have to think about the essence of the song and struggle with the subtleties of word choice. 1 […]

This is a bent paperclip on a green background. It is awesome.

Modernist Posters

When it rains, it pours snows people panic and Richmond shuts down. Also when I find one good thing on the Internet, others often show up. So here are minimalist TV show posters by Albert Exergian. I’d do this for sure. It’s another in the line of restriction = creativity possibilities. The drawing skills are really low. It’s all about figuring out the essence of the novel/era/historical person and figuring out how to represent it as simply as possible. You’d have to stress what makes things modernist and really get students thinking about using color, shape etc. with as much thought as possible. The example would be key, as would your explanation of it1. I ended up with this from one of the few email newsletters I find worth subscribing to – Very Short List. If you like this type of thing, it’s worth checking out. 1