Touch the firehose of ds106, the most recent flow of content from all of the blogs syndicated into ds106. As of right now, there have been 92605 posts brought in here going back to December 2010. If you want to be part of the flow, first learn more about ds106. Then, if you are truly ready and up to the task of creating web art, sign up and start doing it.

Headless ds106 Week 1: Are You Ready For Bootcamp?

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This is the assignment for the first week of the open ds106 Digital Storytelling course that starts August 26, 2013— this is a wide open course, with no designated instructors! The material is adopted from previous classes at the University of Mary Washington. Since you are not graded, how much of this you choose to do is completely up to you. Learn more…!
If you are brand new to ds106… Your main tasks are to get your ds106 blog set up and connected to this site. Introduce yourself in twitter, and try to do a few Daily Creates
If you have done ds106 before, your blog setup is already done. See what you can do to welcome newbies, and consider writing posts about your experience and/or tutorials- such as explaining in more detail how you made your Daily Creates.

Attention new ds106 recruits!

Welcome to ds106. I am your friend, Sergeant Headless.

The first two weeks of this open course experience might be seens basic training for what you will need to survive thrive in the rest of this course. In fact, you will not be able to proceed beyond week 2 without achieving the basic proficiencies of setting up your blogging space, publishing to its, and an developing an appreciation for the creative work ahead of us.

Are you ready? Let’s line up!

Meet Your Drill Sergeants

Well, we actually do not have any, you are on your own, so make yourself get up at dawn, do some pushups, and blog posts. But your helpers this week, people who have done ds106 before, include:

Learn Your Way Around ds106

The important locations in bootcamp include the following, which are, AHEM, things you might bookmark

  • Headless Course Weekly Announcements is where you will find the most recent list of tasks for each week; these are published every MOnday at 12:01am PT.
  • Headless News – other course announcements
  • Syllabus if you like to know where we are going in the future…
  • Course Hub where all the posts from everyone in the course will flow into; if your posts are not appearing OR your blog is not listed on the sidebar, please let us know, we may have to tweak the database.
  • ds106 Handbook This is your manual!
  • Advice from Past Students review tips from UMW students

And Now the Bootcamp Part

If you’re serious about learning how to self publish a book, your goal this week is to get your own ds106 web site set up begin your path of self-publishing there. Think of it as building your house- this week we are going to pour the foundation and put of the framing and the roof. The house will take shape. Next week, we will start decorating and making it customized to your preference. If you already have a blog or experience here, well, see if you can help your neighbors, or try some of the creative exercises below.

Keep in mind this blog is yours. It is more than a place to dump assignments. When you write in your space, We are looking to see that you are trying new ideas, thinking things out loud, making connections. It is not about writing an essay or using big words to impress the teacher (because there is none). Over time, you will find your own writing voice.

It may help to look at the blogs created by last semester’s UMW students (links are on the right hand side of that page).

We want to have your blog connected to the ds106 site- we use a technology that allows our site to subscribe and syndicate in a title and a link to everything on your site related to ds106, so we can aggregate all of the work everyone does in one place.

When this class is held at UMW, we require all students to set up their own web domains and install a site with WordPress on it, but for this open course, you have a lot of options as to how you create your digital space. Things are easiest if you make or use a blog solely for ds106 work (but see below if you want to use an existing blog).

The platform you use must generate RSS feeds (these are notification streams that tell our site whats new on yours) and you must be able to apply tags to your posts. The ones we know of and recommend include:

Yes, Google sites has RSS feeds but you cannot tag your posts. So pick a tool, create a blog, and create at least a first post (be original, this is a test) (no it isn’t, we do not have any tests!).

If your blog is solely devoted to ds106, skip this next section.

Feeds For Existing Blogs Using ds106 Tags and Categories

If you wish to use a blog that you already have and use for other purposes, we ask that you use a ds106 tag or category (or label for Blogger) to indicate which posts are related to this course. Make sure you create a new post on your site that uses this tag or category. Make sure you can find the URL that links directly to this category or tag view, and that it works. You will need to be able to locate the RSS feed that corresponds to it.

Here are some guidelines for finding your tag/category/label feed URL.

  • posts tagged ds106 :
  • posts in a ds106 category:
  • Self hosted WordPress posts tagged ds106 : (some older sites might be something like
  • posts in a ds106 category: (some older sites might be something like
  • Blogger posts labeled ds106:
  • Tumblr

Connecting Your Blog to ds106

Once you have your ds106 space set up, and at least one thing published there, register your blog on the DS106 site. Be sure to click the button for the Headless ds106 section. You MUST do this in order for everyone to see the posts you’ll be writing for the class – everyone’s blog in this section will show up on our class blog page.

The ds106 site will check yours for new content every two hours. If your posts or blog do not appear on the class blogs link, be sure to let Alan Levine (@cogdog on twitter) or Jim Groom (@jimgroom) as we may have to jiggle a switch.

More Bootcamp Exercises

Select an “avatar” for yourself, an icon or image that can represent you online (it need not be your face, see how some people use a dog everywhere). This should by a square image.

Create a “gravatar” for yourself at using the same email address you used to set submit your ds106 site. Many other blogs will automatically use this image to represent you, and the other social media accounts you will use one too (you do not want a default generic icon representing you, right?)

If you do not have them already, create accounts and fill out profiles for yourself (use the same icon as you sent to gravatar) the following sites. Make sure you can find the url for your profile.

  • Flickr (photo sharing) You should upload at least 5 photos to your flickr account; it may not consider you “real” until there are 5 photos in your site. When you post photos to flickr, give them meaningful names and captions! Your profile URL should look something like
  • Soundcloud (audio publishing) Your profile will look like
  • Google+ / Youtube If you have a Gmail account, you are already set with this. If not create a Google account. This is what will allow you to join any Hangout video sessions we offer and gives you access to post videos to Youtube YouTube. Your Youtube URL will look like
  • Twitter Twitter is our main channel for communication in ds106. If you already have an account for personal purposes., you are welcome to use it or create a new account for communication related to this class. Make sure you customize your profile! It will be found at a URL that looks like You may want to use a tool like Tweetdeck to manage your twitter activity.
    • The way we communicate to each other in twitter is to include a #ds106 “hash tag” in every message, when you search on this (or create a column in Tweetdeck) you can find other people who are participating.
    • Find some other participants in the #ds106 search, click their name, and in their profile and click the button to FOLLOW them.
    • Send a message of greetings to other participants by including a “#ds106” hashtag.
  • New this year as well is a ds106 Community in Google Plus — some people prefer Google plus, and we make no requirement that you use it or twitter (though highly recommend it as a way of connecting). You can do the same thing in G+, find other people to add to your circles, reply to their postings, etc.

One of the reasons we use these social media sites is they provide both a place to store media as well as an ability to “embed” them directly in your blog (learn more about embedding media).

Organizing Your Blog with Categories

It is useful to set up a framework to organize all of the work you will do. By creating and using categories as your start, by the end of the semester, your blog is going to be like a well-organized footlocker. Here is a suggested structure, but feel free to come up with your own.

  • Assignments
  • Daily Create
  • Thoughts and Ideas
  • Weekly Summaries
  • Best Work
  • Radio Show
  • Final Project

Now create additional categories, nd if your tool provides a way to create subcatefories, like in WordPress, set the Parent to be Assignments:

  • Visual
  • Design
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Web
  • Mashup/Remix

You may end up with a category structure like this example.

Add Something to Your About Page

The regular activity of blogging is writing Posts, which are date stamped so that your site typically displays the newest content first. Most tools provides a similar content type know as Pages which are not part of this time flow but are available typically from top level buttons on your site.

In WordPress, you will have a default About page that is pretty boring.

This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from.

Try your hand at editing this page with some more information about you as a welcome. You do not have to disclose anything that will identify you online, e.g. your full name or address/location, but try seeing what you can put there as a small biography. Be creative with this and have fun with it!

Introduce Yourself and Start Doing the Daily Create

During this first week, we all want to get acquainted with each other. We also want to start using The Daily Create (TDC) Web site where we offer daily small creative challenges.

To that end, you should attempt to complete at least three Daily Creates this week to get yourself warmed up.

You may or may not choose to create a new blog post for each dailycreate you do; it is not required– Instead, you may include them in a weekly summary. As you will see when we start writing up assignments nect week, we want to see more than your final creation, we are interested in knowing how you made it..

Movie Time

In addition to basic training, we would like you to start thinking what this course is about.

It is about an explosion of creative expression in media, on the web– from you.

When you watch these videos, pay attention to ideas, concepts, that jump out with you — things you agree with, disagree with, find insightful. Stop the video when one of these happen. Jot yourself a note. Our colleague Gardner Campbell calls these “nuggets”. You will be asked to share and expand on these as part of your weekly summaries (see below). We are not looking for a book report, just the sparks that got you thinking. Don’t try to blow through these all at once. Spread them out.

In this first short clip, listen to what art critic Robert Hughes has to say about why Art is important- and keep in mind this entire course is about creating art. Go beyond the fact that he sounds like an art critic. Listen to what he says.

Next, consider both style and message about creativity in this RSA Animate video, created from a talk by author Stephen Johnson on his book Where Ideas Come From.

Following this, listen to this TEDxPhoenix talk by designer Kelli Anderson– and think about, what is “Disruptive Wonder”? What do you get out of the designs that she shows?

Finally, take a look at this “Rules for Students and Teachers” by John Cage. They outline a general philosophy about creating, teaching, and learning, that we feel is at the core of this class. How does it resonate with your own perception of yourself as a creator and student?

Checklist for Weekly Summary

Each week we command suggest you to write a reflective blog post that summarizes your week- this is the kind of thing that normally students get graded on, but of course you are not getting graded, so we really cannot make you do this.

But this is a useful thing to start as a habit!

This will be your first weekly summary, and we will use it to chart your progress in Bootcamp! You will write this up as a blog post and publish it on your site. Maybe you want to share it on twitter or Google+ for feedback?

Make sure what you write is readable. Use paragraphs and formatting! You are also expected, where appropriate to embed media into your blog posts- do not provide links or plain text URLs to flickr, YouTube, the goal is to make your media part of your writing. WordPress makes this easy to do! Be sure to learn about embedding media on your blog posts. For other platform,s you may have to figure out how to embed media.

In your summary post, include the following:

  • Reflect upon the videos we asked you to review this week about Art. Describe at least 3 “nuggets” or ideas you got from them. Do not just parrot them, explain why you chose them, what it means to you. If you are an experienced ds106er or adventurous, create a something in media form that represents your response to these clips.
  • What advice from previous students seems most useful? Why?
  • Embeds of the Daily Create video you made. What do you think of Daily Create and the process of doing it? Did you look at other people’s work?
  • Links to your accounts on Twitter, Flickr, YouTube & SoundCloud.
  • Embed an example of your introduction to ds106 via twitter using the #ds106 hash tag in your message. To do this, go to your twitter home page ( when logged in) and click “Tweets” in the upper left. If you click on the date/time stamp of any of your messages, it will load that tweet in a single page with a unique URL. WordPress users can easily embed a tweet by copying that URL and pasting it on a blank line in your Editor. For other platforms, you may have to copy/paste the embed code.

embedded tweet

  • Link to your new About page.
  • Reflect on your first week of DS106. What was hard? What did you learn? What are you excited about in this class? What are you dreading? What questions do you have?

We are looking for a substantive, reflective post for these weekly summaries, not just a list of links and a line or two saying, “This week was fun! Can’t wait for next week!”

Was this fun? Can you wait until next week?

ds106 in[SPIRE]