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 92575 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 2: Getting Through Bootcamp / Personal Cyber Infrastructure

Posted by
Here is the assignment for the second week of the open ds106 Digital Storytelling course that started August 26, 2013— a wide open course, with no designated instructors! The material is adopted from previous classes at the University of Mary Washington. Unlike other supposedly open courses, in ds106 there is no penalty for starting late. Learn more…!
If you are brand new to ds106… If you are just starting, see the info from week 1 on how to get your site set up and registered with ds106. This week you will further customize your blog, plus consider some of the foundational ideas of the course related to having your own digital space. And… we give you a challenge without telling you how to do it (“What kind of course is this?”)
If you have done ds106 before, there are always things to consider for your blog- maybe a new theme, a different organizational scheme, or perhaps some new sidebar widgets. When you create your animated GIF this week, be mindful of people who are new to this, and try to outline your process in good detail.

Congratulations! You’ve been through your first week of ds106 bootcamp, under the command of Captain I Crane. This week, we’ll be continuing to work our way through the ds106 obstacle course as you work on customizing your blogs, wrap your heads around the wonderful world of tagging, ponder the concepts of personal digital spaces, and attempt to complete your very first digital story assignment.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by The National Guard

Before We Dive In How About a Little Inspiration?

Customizing Your Blog

In a typical ds106 class at UMW, during this week we provide a lot of direct instruction about setting up self hosted WordPress blogs, because that is something all students are required to use. For participants in headless ds106, we will make some general suggestions on things you can do to make the space your own, but it’s on you to check the documentation, help systems, and your friendly search rodent to help you with specifics. If you are using WordPress, you can refer to the resources we provided students last semester in this week as well as the ds106 Handbook.

And do not forget we have helpers around in the #ds106 hash tag on twitter and in Google Plus– ask there for help.

So here are some things you should try and figure out for your blog system…

  • Try on some themes/templates- change the general look. Explore options to change settings. For the most part, you can swap these out and not lose any content. Can you customize the header with your own images?
  • What kinds of addons, widgets, plugins can you add to change functionality? How can you customize the sidebars?
  • What are the ways you can embed media in your blog posts- it is always better to have your videos, images, audio in the context of your writing, not something you have to link out to see (WordPress users can see tips in the ds106 Handbook on embedding media). Try it out in some test posts.
  • Learn how to add tags and or categories (ir Labels in blogger) to your posts.
  • What kind of media (and how much) can you upload to your site?
  • Can you customize the navigation menus?
  • Do you have to do anything special to enable comments (this is trickiest on tumblr but comments can be added with disqus)

While doing this, what you want to be thinking about is how to make this place really personalized and representative of you. At what point does this site begin to feel like it does that?

A Personal Cyber Infra… What?

No digital facelifts: thinking the unthinkable

In past classes this is a point where we want to emphasize that ds106 is more than making posters and animated GIFs- it is an opportunity to think more deeply about your place on the internet, who defines you online, and perhaps how you might assert yourself there. We call on our friend and colleague Gardner Campbell to help us look at the idea of a Personal Cyber Infrastructure.

Read Gardner Campbell’s short article titled “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure”

Additionally, you should watch his presentation on the topic at the 2009 Open Education Conference called “No More Digital Facelifts: Thinking the Unthinkable About Open Educational Experiences.”

As you read the essay and watch the video, keep track of a key sentence or sequence in the video that generates interest or questions for you- in his own teaching, Gardner calls these “nuggets” and will be launch points for our discussions. In the video, note the time stamp when these occur (You may even try to use the technique of linking to a portion of a YouTube video.

As a further resource, listen to an audio recording of Gardner Campbell speaking to the 2011 ds106 class
A Network of Networks

or a video online discussion Gardner led for ds106 in January 2012:

The article and presentation serve as a theoretical and practical framework for the work we will be doing over the next 15 weeks, so take the time to read and watch both carefully—and then blog your response. Your assignment is to write a blog post reflection on these ideas, in words and/or media. What is a digital facelift?

Digital Facelifts by Stella Meme

Where else does this happen? What are the potential benefits/drawbacks of these Personal Cyber Infrastructures?

Why do people not want a “Bag of Gold”- Experienced ds106ers from 2011 might remember the “riffing” on this phrase? Check out some of the examples that people built upon each other’s work – can you riff something new on this? What does this mode of communication say to you about the way ideas spread in a place like ds106?

Bag of Gold BlackBoard Remix by Tom Woodward

Or better yet– just ask Gardner himself on twitter via @GardnerCampbell or read his blog.

Do Some Daily Creates- At Least One

We will always advise you to do a few Daily Create challenges each week– these should take no more than 15 or 20 minutes to do (although some people end up putting way more into them).

The best strategy is to look at them in the morning, they are published at 10:00am EST to the site and via twitter (follow @ds106dc). Keep it in the back of your mind and as you go through out your day, keep your eyes and ears open to media you might use or ideas that might jump out at you.

And do not just choose the ones that look easy to do- the whole idea is to stretch and try new things.

For this week, as a way we can all get to see and know each other, we ask that you do the video daily create for September 2, 2013 in which we ask you to tell a story about something on your keychain. In past years January 2011 and August 2012 this one has been very successful in having a way for people to get to know each other.

What you should do, by the end of the week, is to write a summary blog post of your Daily Creates for the entire week, with all of the work you did embedded (if it was a Writing type, you should be able to link directly to your own contribution). Do not just slap the media up there, make sure you link back to the original dailycreate and/or describe the task. And also write about the thinking or process that went into the way you created your own.

And use the categories/tags on your site as organizers for your Daily Create posts!

Your First Digital Story

This week, we’re also going to ask you to do your very first digital storytelling assignment from the ds106 Assignment Bank. This site is filled with assignments that we’ll be using extensively this semester.

Your first assignment is “Say it Like the Peanut Butter,” in which you’ll be creating an animated gif of a clip from your favorite (or least favorite) movie. You must also follow the instructions on the assignment page to ensure that your contribution shows up on the Assignment Bank site (this means using the two tags listed in your blog post). If you are baffled, check out the examples on the assignment page.

We are not going to tell you how to make an animated GIF. Rather, we expect you to use the tutorials on the assignment page and/or do your own research into how to complete this task (hint also look in the ds106 Handbook).

This is our bootcamp exercise to test your resourcefulness. If you get stuck, should you just spin your wheels alone? No– use your tools (cough… twitter) (cough… #ds106 hashtag) to seek help.

Just see what you can learn and do. Do not invest a lot of time perfecting this, we are interested in seeing what you can figure out on your own, and we are not expecting GIF brilliance (but if you do achieve that, all the better).

Furthermore, we want you to get accustomed to using the Assignment Bank and tagging your submissions properly. If you did it correct, within a few hours of publishing you blog post about your animated GIF should appear under the list of examples on the assignment page.

Double GIF Bonanza!


You may begin to think all we talk about are GIFs. But if you got your GIF on, than try your hand at a sight our colleagues in New York run called GIFfight. On a regular basis, they will publish a single image and invite people to use it as a basis for creating an animated GIF. There should be a new challenges issued on September 2, and every two weeks thereafter.

And here it is! They made a challenge just for us:


If you do a GIFfight animation, be sure to write up a blog post about it. Use the tags in the ds106 Assignment Bank listing for GIFfight to connect your example.

And, as always, ponder… is it Art? Why/Why Not?

Thanks to @mdvfunes for creating this out of some glib comments.

On Blog Writing

Speaking of writing, you should be finding that the way you write on your blog will evolve as you get to understand the space it occupies (and that you own it). We are not looking for academic essays or the usual kind of brain dumps students do to fill blue books.

What we are looking for is that you are thinking about the work you are doing and the topics we present. When you post a digital story piece of media, that is only part of the process. We want to see some evidence of your line of thinking, the inspiration behind it, and the context.

Each blog post must be able to stand on its own as something that makes sense if that is the only thing a visitor reads on your site.

The first thing you need to be doing as much as possible is using hyperlinks when you write in your blog. It is what makes the web a web, right? When you are writing about one of the videos we assigned or a Daily Create, if a user reads it, will they know what you are referring to? No. Link them to it. When you discuss your previous work, link to it. When you reference a movie that you used to create an animated GIF, link to a page about it (like IMDB or Wikipedia).

For more blogging the ds106 way, see:

Weekly Summary

You are required encouraged to write up your activities for the week by midnight in a weekly summary blog post.

Here’s a run-down of what you might include in that summary this week:

  • Is your blog listed with the class blogs? Check the right side of, the page that displays all posts from our class mixed together. If your blog is not listed, maybe you forgot to register it with the site.
  • Reflect upon the process of customizing your blog — What were able to add with plugins, add-ons, widgets, changing themes? What did you have trouble with? Do you feel like your blog is a reflection of you and your identity now? What other things would you like to be able to do in this space?
  • Link and summarize your reflections on Gardner Campbell’s article and/or video on the concept of a Personal Cyber Infrastructure. Or if you prefer not to write, try making some art to represent your reaction to this material.
  • Embed your Daily Creates (and/or link to your summary post of Daily Create activity) and tell us a little about the process of creating them.
  • Embed your Digital Storytelling GIF assignment and tell us a little about the process of creating it, or at least what you tried to create.
  • Talk about week two in general: How is your experience of ds106 going? What did you think of bootcamp? What do you need help with?

If you do all of this you are ready to leave Bootcamp.

Actually… you are free to leave at any time.

Next week, we dive into Storytelling.


  1. Mariana

    September 5, 2013

    Hiya! The link to riffing examples is not taking us anywhere. Just flagging up to the gods or dogs of the internet?

Add a comment

  1. 3M-DS106 Week 1 In Their Own Words | Rockylou Productions DS106 Blog09-04-13
  2. Headless Over Heels In Love | Rockylou Productions DS106 Blog09-05-13
  3. Big Lebowski in an animated gif | Learningblog for ds106 (digital storytelling)09-07-13
  4. 106 drop in » Blog Archive » A beautiful face09-08-13
  5. 106 drop in » Blog Archive » A Diverting Week Two09-08-13
  6. Bootcamp’s over: my to-done list | jesstheobscure09-08-13
  7. Room to roam: digital facelifts and footprints | jesstheobscure09-08-13
  8. Headless ds106 Week 2 | Rhonda Jessen.com09-08-13
  9. State of The Daily Create- Wk 2 | Rockylou Productions DS106 Blog09-09-13
  10. What did I do in Week 2? | Rockylou Productions DS106 Blog09-10-13

ds106 in[SPIRE]