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Weeks 9-10: Telling Stories in/on the Web

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Excellent Example of story told in the web by Serena Epstein (click image for larger version)

Over the next week and a half we’ll be playing with storytelling within the web. What does this mean? Well, Martha Burtis lays out the idea nicely in this post here about the idea behind this assignment (read it!), but to briefly summarize: you will be intervening in the code and design of a website of your choice to tell a story. You are not to photoshop the design of the site (if you can), but rather intervene in the actual html and CSS of the site—though you can photoshop particular images on the site. This past Tuesday (March 15th) Martha provided a demonstration of using Firefox and the Firefox extension Firebug to accomplish this process in the ds106 face-to-face class (watch a screencast of it below or on here). What’s more, students in section 3 of ds106 have already blogged some of their ideas for this project here, here, here, here, here, and here —look at those posts for some inspiration and solid examples of what you can/might do.

To get started, here are a few first steps:

  • make sure you have Firefox installed
  • make sure you have the Firebug extension installed
  • make sure you have ScreenGrab installed (Mac or PC)
  • make sure you know how to access cPanel for your Web hosting account.  (Some students had trouble accessing this over anything but the secured wireless at UMW. Please make sure you can get on secured wireless for class!!!)

After that, pick a website (the more complex, flashy, and image/video based it is the harder it will be, so beware the the bling—think simple as in twitter, Craig’s List, Facebook, NYT, etc.) and decide what kind of story you want to tell in terms of the intervention (see the 6 links above for some excellent examples).

Important Update: Also see this excellent tutorial created by Martha to make it that much easier.

Also note that some very basic understanding of HTML and CSS will be very helpful here, and you should search out some resources for this online. What’s more, if you are at UMW, I will be doing a workshop tonight from 6-7:15  in duPont 215, and Martha will be doing the doing the demo we have a screencast of below in Trinkle B52 from 6:00-7:15PM (I recommend the real life Martha’s demo over the workshop if you have no previous experience with firebug, CSS, or HTML). If you plan on attending either, please let me know so we can plan accordingly.

Finally, if these times don’t work, I will be available all day on Friday (3/18) and a large portion of next week to help you one-on-one so I encourage you to set up an appointment with me (drop-ins are touch and go) so you can get this going as soon as possible. This project is demanding, but intentionally so, we want you to think deeply and critically about what goes into making a website, and what it means to intervene in this process to tell a story. It’s a beautifully technical and conceptual assignment all at once and kudos to Martha for dreaming it up.

Important, the tag for this assignment is “webstories” (no quotes).

Finally, for the face-to-face (sect 3) class at UMW, this is due no later than Thursday, March 24th at 6 PM. For the online students at UMW this is due  no later than Saturday March 26th at midnight (I am giving you all more time cause you are getting the assignment two days later than section 3). And for the open and online students, this is due whenever the hell you want it to be—if at all, per usual :)

Have fun, and may the #ds106 force be with you awesome internauts! make some art, dammit!

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