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Week 3: What is a [Digital] Story?

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cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by pasukaru76

Storytelling… it’s part of the title this course, and you likely have some idea what it means from your childhood or school years. This week we will explore it in the framing of what you will be doing for the next 13 weeks in ds106. You will hone in on your own understanding of what the Digital part adds, and try your hand at a few creative exercises. As always, there are daily creates to be done this week. And this is where we will ramp up what is expected to be an active participant in this course (commenting on the work of others and engaging in discussions via Twitter).

You have all graduated from Boot Camp (some more successfully than others!), so you know the drill here, which means we outline all of the things we expect you to be working on this week, which is due, as always, Sunday night at midnight, with a link to your weekly summary posted in our Canvas course area. By Tuesday, Martha and I will have posted a summary video for the week, which may likely include a special hint or answer to help with this week’s load.

If you have a question related to this week’s work, we’d like to ask that you first post it as a comment to this blog post – this way others will be able to learn from your questions, and you may even be able to answer as well (this counts as participation too).

Are you ready to tell a story?

First, What is Storytelling?

What do you associate with the word storytelling? Before you do anything this week, use this as an opportunity to put down in words what your current concept is. There is no right or wrong here.

Do not go look it up in Wikipedia — we’re looking for YOUR ideas not someone else’s. Just write a blog post to represent as a starting point what storytelling means to you. Think about what the word brings to mind: images, places, people, sounds.

Then, expand on what it might mean to introduce the word “digital” to storytelling? What changes, is different, or is the same? What do you see or think of when we say “digital storytelling”?

Organize this in your “Thoughts and Ideas” category and tag it StorytellingToMe

Kurt Vonnegut and the Shape of Stories

Next we’d like you to look at this video from Kurt Vonnegut about the structure of stories. It’s a great overview about the shape of stories, and we want you to apply those ideas to a story you know. So, after watching it, please write a blog post in which you explain a story that you’re familiar with. You can pick a movie, TV show, book, song, etc. The idea is you want to describe the shape of that story (based on Vonnegut’s video) in the post. We’d like you to use some kind of media to do this, be it a drawing or video or whatever you like. Be creative!

Here’s a bonus infographic where graphic designer Maya Eilam has applied Vonnegut’s ideas to a number of familiar stories.

Tag this post: VonnegutStory

Appreciating Past DS106 Stories

Part of what makes ds106 special is that you’re part of large, ongoing community of digital storytellers: both from UMW and beyond. You get the added benefit of being able to look at the past work of participants in the class as a way to better understand what digital storytelling can be. To that end, we would you like you to review the submissions on the ds106 Inspire site. This is a community-created collection of the best work of ds106 from past semesters. Pick one story from the collection and blog about it. Why do you like it? What makes it special? What makes it a digital story? Is there an arc to the story? Might they be part of a larger story?

Daily Creates

We’ll be ramping up our Daily Create activity this week. You must complete four daily creates this week. As always, be sure to tag them properly so that they show up on the Daily Create site, and blog about them in your weekly summary. We suggest rather than doing individual blog posts for your daily creates, that you do one final summary at the end of the week and you can link to that from your regular weekly summary.

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Kalexanderson

Telling Stories with Photos

To get some practice, select one of the storytelling activities below that leverage the photo sharing capability on flickr to construct your own digital story that uses photos as the primary medium. What might be happening in that photo above?

Do ONE of the photo story activities from the ones listed below, share your story, and your reflection on the process.

  • Tell a Story in Five Frames is a group in flickr that you can join to add a story that consists of only a title and 5 photos, no text. You can share it with the group as described, or just construct it in your own blog post. See an example done by Alan last week
  • Five Card Flickr Stories is similar in approach, of challenging you to tell a story in photos, but the photos you get are randomly chosen (based on tags in flickr). You can play with a general pool of photos tagged fivecardflickr or a new one we added that just uses photos added to the Daily Create. When you save your story on the site, it will provide you a direct link to it as well as cut and paste HTML you can use to put it in your blog (You will need to switch your wordpress editor from Visual mode to HTML, buttons in top right)
  • Write a Story Based on Someone Else’s Daily Create Photos Find two photos from the archive of recent Daily Creates, embed them into a blog post, and write a story that connects what happens in the first photo to the second one, make it like a story sandwich.

Using Google Reader to Track ds106 Posts

This week, we’re going to ask you to set up an account in Google Reader (you will need to use your Google account to access this service). Reader is a tool for tracking blogs (and other sites that deliver content via an RSS feed). It makes it easy to easily scan all of the new items without having to visit the blogs individually, and to see which ones you have already reviewed.

We’ve created a file that you can download and then import into Reader so that you can begin tracking the activities of ds106 participants this fall:

See our tutorial explaining how to import these feeds into Google Reader. You MUST set up Google Reader to track the blogs from your section.

In addition, we recommend that you import feeds from the other section and from other participants in ds106:

Once you have Reader set up to follow ds106 blogs, it will be even easier to tell when new posts are up. Make sure you are reading your classmates blogs and commenting upon their work!!

Stepping Up Participation

Your participating credit in class is based partly on your level of activity in commenting on other students work. We are not counting comments in a gradebook, but because as instructors we look at every blog post students post, we have a sense of who is doing this. And here is how it works; it’s great to receive comments and helpful feedback, and nothing works better than to do that by commenting on the work of others.

Your goal this week therefore, to start is:

  • Comment on at least 10 other ds106 blogs, it could be in any section or anyone else on ds106 (remember that posting a question or answering someone else’s on this assignment blog post can count too)
  • Identify a blog post you have done that is so far the most creative, and use your communication tools (ahem twitter) to solicit people to comment. See fi yuo can get at least five comments on that blog post (and something more substantive then “nice post!”)

And if people comment on your blog, reply to them! It is conversational.

In addition, it is critical that you learn how to both listen and participate in the ds106 community on twitter. This is how we often communicate helpful tips, and frankly, is the best way to get help. Some of you have already figured this out. Some tips for being part of the twitter gang in ds106:

  • If you got the twitter tools plugin set up, you should be able to set it up ao automatically tweet every time you publish a new blog post. You can have it add the #ds106 hashtag if you also active the twitter tools hash tag plugin (We offer some extra credit this week to anyone that write up a tutorial on how to do this)
  • For using twitter, one part of using it is paying attention to what other people are saying, but choosing the ones you want to “follow” – a starting point is the other students in section 2!/cogdog/umwfa12s2/members or just look at people’s profiles in the #ds106 search results (see below) Messages from people you follow are what you see on the main screen
  • In addition, keep a regular check on the search for #ds106!/search/%23ds106. This is the “tag” people use to share ideas, questions with others in the class. The next time you have a question about class, try asking it in twitter with that same hash tag.
  • Lastly, to get someone’s attention, include the @ sign before their twitter name- like send a message that includes “@cogdog” so I will see it. Make sure you are checking to see people that are mentioning you by clicking the “connect” button at the top of twitter, or

Another over the head with a hammer hint: Use twitter to promote the blog post you’d like to get comments on.

Two Important “Administrative” Tasks

Approving Comments

As new comments come into your blog, you will sometimes need to “Approve” them in order for them to show up on your site. You should be getting emails whenever a new comments is submitted and/or needs approval. Please be sure to moderate these comments! The conversation can’t happen if it is never published! If you’re not sure if you have comments awaiting approval, you can always check by going to the “Comments” item in your WP backend menu.

Redirecting from Your Main Domain

Many of you installed WordPress in a subdirectory of your domain. As a result, when someone goes to your main domain URL (without the subdirectory), all they see is the Domain of One’s Own landing page. If this is the case for your site, by the end of the week, you must figure out how to redirect visitors who go to your main domain to your blog.

We will award extra credit to the first two students (one from each section) who writes up a complete tutorial about this subject and shares it on his/her blog and Twitter!! 

Weekly Summary Checklist

As always, you are required to write up your activities for the week by midnight on Sunday (9/18) in a weekly summary blog post (and then submit that URL to Canvas). Here’s a run-down of what you must include in this week’s summary:

  • Link to your first ideas blog post on “First, What is Storytelling?” – has that changed at all by the end of the week?
  • Link to your blog post of analyzing a movie or a book based on Kurt Vonnegut’s Shape of Stories; this should include an graphic representing your own drawing of the arc. Did this make sense to you as a way to analyze stories?
  • Embed and describe the four Daily Creates you did this week. How is this activity working for you>
  • Link to your blog post with your example of Telling a Story in Photos and your reflection on that activity.
  • A general description of what your participation has been this week, not a link to every comment you made, but a summary. One effective suggestion is when you set up google reader, you can use the Star feature to mark the blog posts you have made comments on. And here is a trick to be able to show your twitter participation in ds106- use this URL but edit the last part to be your own twitter name, in place of “cogdog”!/search/%23ds106%20from%3Acogdog.
  • Link to the blog post that you attempted to get five comments – how did this work? Did you get anything helpful?
  • Talk about week three in general: How is your experience of ds106 going? Are you feeling more comfortable with your blog? What do you need help with?


  1. Robert Skoczylas

    September 10, 2012

    “We suggest rather than doing individual blog posts for your daily creates, that you do one final summary at the end of the week and you can link to that from your regular weekly summary.” I don’t quite understand what you want us to do lol. Do you want us to write a quick summary on the Daily Create tab on our page and then link that to our weekly summary, or just write the weekly summary with the Daily Creates…I’ve seen people doing it multiple ways and I just would like some clarification, THANKS!

    • Crystal Moyer

      September 11, 2012

      I was going to ask the same thing. :) I’m confused because every week, I’ve seen under the daily create assignment that we can make a summary blog post at the end of the week embedding all of our dailycreates of the week, and then link to it in our weekly summary, but once you get to the bullet list of requirements for the weekly summary, it specifically says to embed all the daily creates, which makes me think that linking to the daily create summary blog post we’ve embedded them in may not be sufficient, as the earlier statements under the daily create section state. Which one is it? Or is it both? Or neither? I’m confused, lol. :) TIA!

      • cogdog

        September 11, 2012

        Yes, it does sound confusing, but let’s not get caught up in the minutiae – the thing I would see is that you develop a system for achieving the results; I would not dock you for doing it either way. What we prefer NOT to see is a bunch of stub posts with just a photo that says “My Daily Create” – these tend to clutter up your blog and the ds106 site.

        So if it was me, I would do my Daily Creates, and at the end of the week do a summary of that activity because I would like to use my categories to organize all my TDC work in one place. And I would use that as a place as well to write a bit more about what went into it, the story behind the story, what I learned from doing this. The things I constantly seek to read is more about the thinking behind what you produce, not just the final products.

        It wold be fine with me to link to this from the weekly summary; these are not meant to me a secretarial exercise of repetition. The weekly summaries need to indicate the work you do, but again, the key things we want to read are your reflections about the work you are doing.

        Embed media where you can, where appropriate. Play with the form. Find your style. And stop fretting over points, make art.

  2. Crystal Moyer

    September 11, 2012

    Redirecting domain visitors to subdomain – there is no option in A Domain of One’s Own to redirect a domain. Under DNS Settings, there is no redirect option. Under File Manager, it won’t allow me to add an index.php file anywhere to redirect that way. No instructions I’m finding on Google wiki, siteground, or elsewhere, and no options under UMW Domains are working. I tried to fix this back when I first noticed the issue, but couldn’t find it and gave up. I dug quite a bit deeper this time, with no success. Is there any way we could get some kind of starting-point guidance on this task please?

    • cogdog

      September 11, 2012

      You won’t find any hints on the umwdomains docs because we are waiting for you to write it ;-)

      There are several ways it could be done; I see no reason why you cannot create an index.php or index.html (with their own redirect methods) to the root of your web directory where the bus.jpg image sits now. The file manager allows you to uploads.

      The other way to do this is using apache .htaccess file in that directory. Do some research there.

  3. afghanwoman

    September 11, 2012

    In appreciating past DS106 stories do we have to embade the story in our blog to or we are only suppose to pick one and post about it in our blog.

    Thank you,

    • cogdog

      September 11, 2012

      You do not have to embed the stories, just link to them. You can try and embed the thiumbnail image.

  4. afghanwoman

    September 11, 2012

    -In telling stories with photo- do we need to do it by using all the bullet options or we need to choose one of them to do the project ?


    • cogdog

      September 11, 2012

      You have to do one, choose from the bullet options

  5. afghanwoman

    September 11, 2012

    In photo story telling-I uploaded 5 photos in my flickr account and taged it to ds106, 5cardflickr . but I do not know how to get to it now to get its HTML and post it in my blog… can some one help me please

    • cogdog

      September 11, 2012

      That is not the point. Tagging your photos puts them into the mix. Go to the Five Card Flickr Site, and select one of the options under “Play” to create a story. The result is what you embed.

  6. Crystal Moyer

    September 12, 2012

    What?! What is this LIST thing you speak of for Twitter where we can easily find class members on there to follow them?! That’s cool. Off to find it. :)

  7. Anapaula Ojeda

    September 12, 2012

    I’m trying to download section 1 and secton 2 feeds to upload to my google reader but when I download it, it saves as “openonline-umwfa12s1-2.opml.ychat” and it tries to open it with my yahoo messenger, and when I log on to yahoo nothing comes up. I don’t understand what i’m doing wrong.

    • cogdog

      September 12, 2012

      I have no idea why your computer is adding the .ychat to the file name. What you should try us to edit the file name and remove it so the extension in just .opml

      Do not open the file; you need to import it unit reader

      • Anapaula Ojeda

        September 12, 2012

        Thank youuu! I did what you said and it worked. Now i have my google reader set up! :)

        • cogdog

          September 13, 2012

          That;s awesome, I am happy it worked!

  8. Emma Stotz

    September 13, 2012

    So, for the Telling Stories with Photos, we only have to do ONE of the options, correct? I was confused because the actual directions for each make it seem like we should do all of them? HALP. Thank you :]

    • cogdog

      September 13, 2012

      Choose 1 of them; I modified the instructions yesterday,

  9. Lyndsey

    September 13, 2012

    •Section 2 (Levine) Feeds Won’t open for me… I subscribed on google reader to a ds106 section with like 119,000 something odd subscribers… is that going to be okay?

    • cogdog

      September 13, 2012

      I am no exactly sure what you did. Can you be more detailed? Did you follow the instructions in the tutorial video?

  10. Enisa Turko

    September 13, 2012

    I really wanted to try and make a story off of someone else’s pictures. Are people planning on putting up pictures that you’d want someone to make a story to? I’m kind of curious to see what I can come up with…

  11. Paul Waltsak

    September 16, 2012

    What do I tag my past DS106 inspiration as?

  12. Eric Greenlaw

    September 16, 2012

    For some reason I haven’t been able to watch any videos nearly all week. It’s like they won’t load at all, all I see is a black box. I’ve tried to do something about it myself but can’t seem to figure it out. Does any body have any ideas that could help me?

    • cogdog

      September 16, 2012

      Have you tried another browser? What browser are you using?

  13. cogdog

    September 16, 2012

    Whatever you feel like. Free tagging.

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