Behaviorism and Rocket-Babies

Design week on DS106. I thought I could do a lot this week. Wrong. A week off, but then so much came up that I only could do very little of what I had planned.

The whole MOOC-thing got me interested in learning theories and I read a bit about them the last days. The assignment “Learning by Design” was a good opportunity to work with my new knowledge. My drawing is very limited, but it was fun to think and draw visuals for the ideas. Here is my take at Behaviorism:
Behaviorism in pictures


The next assignment I did was One Story, Four Icons. I tried to tell the story of a movie with four icons. Can you tell what movie it is? Not so difficult, or is it?
4symbol_story(harmonica: Renaud Mignerey, from The Noun Project; gun: Christopher Terrill, from The Noun Project)

And last but not least a DS106 propaganda poster. As I am in China, I took one from China. A great source for Chinese propaganda posters is Stefan Landsberger’s There are some really great ones there. What about this for example. Chubby rocket-babies!

ds106_babies and rockets

Gimping the day away

I had to economize this week 5 of DS106. So much to do and so little time. First thing I did was to spif my Flickr account. It’s all creative commons now. The blog as well. I also created a set and tried to find a flickr-plugin for wordpress that lets me display the set in a sidebar. Thats why I chose a three column theme in the first place. Wasn’t lucky. The ones I found just display the latest public photos. Anyway.

Second thing I did this week was the photo blitz. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it when I read about it in the assignment post. But then I did it anyway and it turned out to be interesting and fun – as so many things in ds106 that luck a bit strange in the beginning!

The interesting part was that I did it in the office and did not have my camera with me. So I was constrained in to ways. First by the place and time limit, and second by only having the iPhone camera. That was good! These constrains push you. You need to get creative. And the time limit pushes you to just do and not think too much. Sometimes too much thinking kills creativity. Just DO. And find out if you became lucky afterwards.

I think I got lucky this time. There are two photos I like in particular. The first one is a try in being abstract. I took some files, and while pushing the button, I shaked the iPhone (in HDR mode). Here is the result:

Second one was an effect I stumbled upon when I took a photo of the lights in the office. I guess the frequency of neon lights interferes with the camera somehow and the result are those yellow lines. It’s realy interesting how a little effect like this can make a totally boring picture interesting – at least somewhat.

Unfortunately I could not take part in the hangout this week. Too late for us early risers here at the 116° longitude.

The came a long, long break. ….. And finally yesterday was my gimp immersion day. I didn’t know much before. Now I do.

First I tried my hands at the assignment “Fat Cats make Art Better”. I had a shot of a cat I made recently (not too fat, anyway …) and managed to put her into the “Birth of Venus” by Botticelli. That was some work. Particularly cutting her out gave me a headache, literally.

I used the technique where you have to black and white the photo first, invert it and make everything that is supposed to be cut out white and the rest black. After that you use a mask over the original and somehow it works. I guess I have to do it again, to be able to explain it in detail.

But I was successful in the end. Even the whiskers are there. It’s not the best cat in art piece. But for my first work with gimp not so bad, I think. Here it is:



Next I tried the “Splash the color” assignment. With the experience of the one before this one was quite easy, so I made two of them. Both photos from a recent trip to Greece. Ah beautiful.
First there is this one from an old coffee-shop in Hania in a beautiful park.

Next came another photo I made on Crete. We were hiking through olive yards and suddenly saw this sign. Guess we found the place where alle the hippies went.

And last but not least I did the Album cover assignment. Wher you get random band names, album names and photos and have to make something out of it.

I cheated a bit here, as the photo I got was copyrighted. So I went to the commons on flickr and this was one of the first ones I found. Just right I thought. Maybe I should found a band, and take this as our first cover.

My thingking behind this, that I have this very heavy photo, I have this title that is also a bit heavy. I need something a bit lighter, something playfull, perhaps even a little irconice. So I colored the album title “Tame the Dragon” and also hid it a bit behind all those heavy black and white stuff. Peaking out from behind them cheering at you: Don’t be so serious. … At least that was my thinking. Later I realised that the problem with it might be, that I first have to invent oval records before I can use it. But anyway … here is is:

And finally I joined the dream team for the radio project. Lets dream this!

Potz Blitz! Photo Blitz!

So I was having lunch in my office and was reading my emails. Found the announcement of the hangout on google+ on photographie in my inbox. As Alan asked us to do the photoplitz today, so the could talk about it on the hangout, I had no choice but to do it in the office.

Here are my results:

… 3, 2, 1, goooooooooooooooooo!

An ordenary object looking interesting, almost supernatural. No trick involved here. No photoshop, not App or anything. Just the iPhone in HDR-mode. An effect I stubled upon when I made a photo of the lights in the office. Very cool indeed!

Here you have my try at beeing abstract. I like the effect. Just some files, the iPhone in HDR mode and a little shake, make for a nice effect.

Converging lines. We don’t have that many of them in our office. Espacially not the good looking ones. But then I saw this. Not to bad, I thought. Even can see my street from here.

Two objects that don`t belong together. Or do they? You might ask yourself what I am doing with a boxing glove in my office. Well, it can get tough around here.

A photo with maily one colour. This is not the best. Not realy one colour. But it looked good, when I saw it first:



… ups! One minute to long. Disqualified. :-(

Keep on going!

A day job, ds106 and some other stuff to get done. Time management is of the essence!

So one of this weeks assigenemts was to reflect on some videos about producing stories in general, and for radio in particular. I want to concentrate on two:

Ira Glass from This American Life on storytelling:

Part TwoPart ThreePart Four.

… and Jad Abumrad, from Radiolab, on the creative process:

Jad Abumrad: Why “Gut Churn” Is an Essential Part of the Creative Process from 99U on Vimeo.

Both are excellent. I knew This American Life, but never heared of Radiolab before. Amazing! Anyone who hasn’t needs to listen to it. Go there right now.

There is a common theme in both talks. Luck, or chance and persistence. They have different ways in putting it.

Glass speaks of the process of creating stories as a kind of marathon where one first has to endure a long, long time of mediocracy before one reaches a level of mastership. And even then, he says, a lot that he produces is just crap, and identifying and throwing away this crap an essential part of the process of production. So a lot of the time one produces for the trash. But if one kepps on going and doesn’t stop, eventually, one will be lucky to find that one genuinly good story – once in a while.

Abumrad puts it this way. He is constantly on the search and most of the time has not idea where he is going. He has not a master plan to produce that great show. He says, he knows it when he did it, but not before. So again, there is a process of constantly creating, and eventually you will find that gold nugget, that story that just works.

In both accounts failure is an integral part of the creative process. Its like evolution. Nature also just tries and tries out new things constantly. Those that work are kept, the others fade out. Reminds me also of the book, Adapt. Why Success Always Starts with Failure, by Tim Harford (recommended). There you have it again. Failure as an improtant part of creating.

I think this is a very powerfull and also encouraging thought. It takes away the mysthism that sourrounds the creative process, that idea that you need to be some kind of genius to create. Not true. A lot is persistency. The motto is: Keep on going!

So here is what I did this week. First I did one of the audio assignments, create a sound effect story.

Most of the sounds I downloaded from Freesound, only the sound of the door opening and closing again was recorded by myself. I used Voice Recorder HD on the iPhone. It was recommended on one ds106 blog and so far I am happy with it. I allready used it for my key-video assignment.

Not sure if I should be happy with it, cause I am not sure if what I intendet the story to be is understood by the listener. Does it get clear, that the person walking up the stairs disturbs the cat, and then the cat breaks something? What do you say? What to change to make it more obvious?

I did three Daily Creates this week. First there was tdc619, make a photograph that ullustrates an aspect of communication. I thoght of grammar an here is the not so pretty result:
Element of Communication

Second there was tdc 620, make a photo of some sort of grid. That I like the best from my Daily Creates this week. A very chaotic grid. A Hutong grid:
Beijing Grid

And last but not least, there was tdc621, make a photograph featuring a path, road, or trail that leads the eye through the photograph. Well, we have some roads in Beijing. This one is the third ring road. I think we have 6 of these now. But that won’t be the end, I guess. It’s the century of the mega-metropoli:
CBD from afar

I did not participate in the discussion this week. Something I hope to change next week.

Ok. Thats from me so far. Good night.

White Paper

He stared at the white paper. Transfixed. At the top where the few sentences he had written hours earlier. For ages it seemed he had sat there, unabel to move, unabel to get more to paper.

His throat was dry and his heart was racing. He felt like screaming but he was not sure if he even would have had the strength for a whistle. It felt as if the glaring white of the paper would suck every last bit of liveliness out of him. The longer he stared at it the slower his mind seemed to work, his thoughts gooey like rubber. The few first sententenes stared back. He had read them a thousand times. And with each time they seemed to make less sense.

Like in trance he started to read them again:

“He stared at the white paper. Transfixed. At the top where the few sentences he had written hours earlier. For ages it seemed he had sat there, unabel to move, unabel to get more to paper.

His throat was dry and his heart was racing. He felt like screaming but he was not sure if he even would have had the strength for a whistle. It felt as if the glaring white of the paper would suck every last bit of liveliness out of him. The longer he stared at it the slower his mind seemed to work, his thoughts gooey like rubber. The few first sententenes stared back. He had read them a thousand times. And with each time they seemed to make less sense.

Like in trance he started to read them again: ….”

The Daily Create 610 for ds106.

The General 3D Theory of Digital Storytelling


So what is storytelling? That is the question in the third week of ds106. Tyler Cowen says storytelling is simplification. Boiling it down to some threads that make sense to us as a story and leaving all the rest, the messy, chaotic parts out. The ones that just don’t add up to a story. Which is a lot.

Like saying my life is a journey, instead of it is a mess – what it actually mostly is.

Storytelling is finding common ground. Breaking it down to a common denominator that a lot of people understand so I can get heard and my message across. If that is storytelling, then a lot of arthouse movies are the opposite of storytelling. But whats that? Storywithholding? Storymuting. Story… I don’t know.

Well, I think good storytelling is finding that common ground, that all humans have (like a gene is telling us what stories are) but at the same time finding and taking a new path on that common ground. One that no one has taken before. And finding that path and having the cochones to take it, makes for a good storyteller.

I think there is something to this idea that there or only several universal stories, but infinite ways to tell them.

So what is digital storytelling? I think we don’t know very clearly yet. Its different because it can be nonlinear. But that’s also the difficulty with it. We are so used to thinking linear. Our whole life and how we imagine the world is linear. Our whole concept of history is linear. From the stone ages to the nuclear age and further into the solar age. To go where no one else has gone before. Linear.

But that was not always the case. The very notion of history is a very modern one. This idea of progress and different ages is new. Before the 18. cent. People pictured the people of biblical times as not much different from themselves. Wearing just the same clothes ( as you can see form paintings) as themselves. For them everything was and would always be the same. Not linear but static, like a point. One-dimensional.

So we came from the static, point-view, the 1D-view, to the linear view of our times, we might call it the 2D-times we live in.

And now we enter the 3D-times (which is, again, a linear way of thinking, I know, sorry, child of my time).

Where does that take us? I don’t know. But I am sure it will be a hell of a ride.

Imagine … 3D!

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The first gif of my life!

A last minute gif for the second week of the boot camp of headless ds106. The assignment was to say it like peanut butter, whatever that means.

I like Monty Python. The Holy Grail is is not their best movie. But its a good one. No special reason why I took this animated scene, except that it makes a good gif. The medium is the story, right?

So here he is, my sunny_jesus:sunny_jesus

2 weeks headless

So its been two weeks that I am taking part in the headless ds106. I have a blog and customized it. After several tries I finally found a them I like, the Blaskan theme. I added a nice header. I photo I made recently in restaurant. Not really a dog, its a pig. Anyway, it looks nice.

The twitter connection is not working yet. Got to tweak with it a bit more, or ask for help on twitter. So far I am satisfied with the feel of the blog. Now I will have to keep on tweaking.

I didn’t have much time this week, so I only made one of the daily creates, daily create 603: Show us your keychain and tell us a story about the keys and/or things you have on it.

At first I was a bit clueless what to do, but then I thought about the key to my scooter, the connection of the scooter and the neighbors cat. And I had a little story. I also wanted to experiment with recording the sounds of my commute to work and as I had them anyway, I tried to add them to the recording about my keys as background. I am not that happy with the result, a bit long. And there are a lot of cats on youtube … do we really need more? But I got first experiences with iMovie. I guess thats worth something.

The text by Gardner Campbell, A Personal Cyberinfrastructure, was very interesting. I don’t have experience with an LMS so I can’t comment on their influence. But as with a lot of other stuff in higher education the lessons that are #4life are rare. A real web-literacy that enables students to become independent from walled gardens like facebook would be a big step.

One very good point that Campbell makes in the video “No More Digital Facelifts: Thinking the Unthinkable About Open Educational Experiences.” is the sterility of the current system were papers are only seen by the professor. There is an artificial boundary between what you do and produce inside the university and what comes after that. With a personal cyberinfrastructure that remains and that has the potentional to further develop when one leaves university this artificial boundary would stop to exist. My work in university would be the start of my lives work. A very interesting thought especially if one takes the notion of lifelong learning serious.

As I said, I didn’t have that much time this week. Next week won’t be better. But although I couldn’t be very active I am still enjoy the course and the new perspectives it gives me.

Update: A last minute first in my life gif. I give you The Sunny Jesus: