Maybe I Missed It…Then Again, Maybe Not!

Unit 2 and I’m feeling lost all over again. No worries though, I followed the rainbow and found a bag of gold at the end, lol, but seriously though, this whole cyber-infrastructure thing had me a little confused initially, mostly because I’m a visual and musical person, and by visuals I mean movies, pictures or art, so listening to someone talk for that long was a bit of a process but I made it to the end and it was extremely insightful. Most of what was said by Gardner Campbell was very thought provoking especially when he pointed out the fact that “Any technology gradually creates a new human environment”, I had honestly never thought of it from that perspective but it makes so much sense. It got me thinking of the cyber world that is there today, how it has its own language and slang terms most of which are incorporated into the real world but its totally a new human environment.

However, and I could be wrong, to me it came across as though he was saying its mandatory for everyone to have a cyber-infrastructure or there’s something wrong with those that question where you get time for bags of gold and my reasoning is simple. Firstly, a personal cyber-infrastructure is exactly that ‘Personal’. Shouldn’t it be my choice whether I express myself or not, as well as where and how I choose to express myself. Hasn’t human expression always been there, the only difference is we now have more platforms on which we can express ourselves thanks to technology, but even with all that technology in place, we still decide whether we are going to make use of it to express ourselves or not. But not expressing yourself on cyber platform doesn’t not mean you are not expressing yourself at all. Think of the bag of gold as  tools to build a house and they’ve been made available to you and the person next to you. You decide to build a Castle, while the person next to you decides to build a little cottage. Of course, we are more likely to notice the castle and think wow, and ignore the little cottage or think there’s something wrong with that person because they built a cottage instead of a castle as well. Different modes of expression and yet one is believed to be better than the other and  to some extent doesn’t viewing things from that perspective defeat the whole purpose of expression, isn’t not expressing yourself an expression in itself? I mean we both see the bag of gold but we place different value on it, therefore we use it differently or not at all in some cases and shouldn’t that be ok?

Secondly, isn’t learning a two sided process? Shouldn’t teachers and learners contribute equally to the learning pool? I’m fortunate enough to have been exposed to three systems of education, one from my home country Zambia, the other is the American high school education system when I was an exchange student in Michigan and the third is the Malaysian system of higher education when I went off to college in Southeast Asia. In all three systems I noticed that most if not all students had the same attitude, we all went to school as an obligation that society had bestowed upon us and we studied for exams in order to pass and move on to next stage instead of studying to learn. However, it was only in my home system of education that I told and learnt that learning is a two way process. Students and lectures are suppose to meet each other half way or even better is an open education system where students are way ahead of their teachers or lectures  in terms of thinking and utilizing the bag of gold and their lectures just build on what they already have or better yet learn from them. We can’t blame educators alone for not utilizing that bag of gold, students ought to do it too and it shouldn’t take getting into a higher system of education to know that. The bag of gold is available to both educators and students, how they make use of it is entirely up to them, matter of fact, Gardner Campbell is living proof of that. He made a choice to think outside the box, to research and read up on some things and expand on the existing knowledge of a personal cyber-infrastructure and how it can function in our societies and be beneficial in societies to come, where as his colleagues choose to take a different route, and probably some students will adopt his method and thought line while others won’t. Same bag of gold, but we all place different value on it and therefore use it differently or not at all but either way we have expressed ourselves which is really what it should be about.

I know I’ve talked too much so I’ll close by saying this, digital face-lifts aren’t so bad when you think about. Stretching something or giving it a face-lift affords us the opportunity to look at it from a different angle or perspective, and I’d like to think that different perspectives are baby-steps towards change.


Made It Through Boot Camp (Unit 1)

I made it though week one, ‘YEY ME!’. Doing this course kinda makes me feel like I’m back in high school or college rather, only this time around, there’s no lecturer to guide me through things, just a set of instructions and a great ds106 community to help me figure my way through things. I have to say,  Unit 1 feels like the first day of school after a long semester break, everyone is still in holiday mode so they don’t hit you with too much work. They nicely ease you into the program and I like that.

The week has gone by fast but it has been memorable. The videos are unbelievably helpful. For someone who isn’t social media savvy and new to most of this stuff, the boot camp videos are super insightful. The initial video by Neil Gaiman is by far best motivational speech I’ve ever listened to. Not only does he tell it like it is but he does it artistically and humorously but he makes it memorable.  People rarely encourage you to make mistakes and beautiful ones for that matter and above all to learn from them. And I guess in some weird yet obviously possible way, all the videos in my opinion bring out the same message which is to make mistakes and that mistakes make good art as they are raw and show creativity, ” Disruptive Wonder” as it was eloquently put by Kelli Anderson. Matter of fact, my first daily create was a beautiful disaster I feel, I had no idea what I was doing but I had a daily create to make and I remember in the advice from previous students page, and the student said, “when you get one idea just, just run with it no matter how crazy it seems”.

My First Daily Create

My favourite answer to the question what is art came from the ‘Good Mythical Mornings’ video and they defined art as “Something that has purpose and is intentional and it sparks some kind of response or a reaction”.  That definition got me thinking of when I took a sculpture class back in 2006 and our trips to museums in Chicago. Every sculpture has a story or thought behind it and  most if not all us had some kind of reaction to every art piece we saw.

All in all, its been an insightful first week. Unit 2 here I come.


Spaghetti Westerns

So I recently got a job… and you can imagine my excitement, way to kick off the new year I thought to myself. On my first day, I’m told I have to take an online Digital Storytelling course so I’m well groomed for the job, to be honest, this was music to my ears, I mean how hard can it be? An online course, I live for this kind of stuff… but boy was I was wrong. In my opinion the Ds106 site isn’t very user friendly, I find that instructions seem to be a little all over the place and that makes it kind of hard to know whether you’re progressing or no. And so I PANICKED!!! I was about ready to grab my little bag and say thanks for the job offer boss and for the vote of confidence but I think this course is best left for the geniuses. Fortunately for me I didn’t grab my bag, instead I watched the Neil Gaiman that’s at the beginning of unit 1 and it really helped, some of his words actually echoed and got me thinking Adidas’s tagline “Impossible is nothing” and I managed to picked myself up from there.
Yesterday I took part in my first daily create task on Ds106 and it was extremely insightful. Daily create for those that aren’t familiar is almost like a daily challenge found on the Ds106 daily create sight. The challenge for the day could be to create a a video clip or write a short story based on a picture or edit something fun and create into your toast like I discovered from past archives. So my first daily create task was to do some research on Spaghetti Westerns which until yesterday I didn’t know was a term that existed to refer to Western movies with more of a Spanish influence and after doing some research post a video to the Ds106 daily create tweeter account. So after doing a little research I found a 1966 of the movie Django (which I didn’t even know existed) and I was only familiar with 2012 Django Unchained version of the movie, which is way different from the original. Unfortunately I have not been able to find an English version of the original movie on YouTube, I would have been nice to see the contrast between. On the plus side though, having watched at least one version of the movie helps one get a bit more creative as it allowed me to play around with the lines from the movie I knew and sort of apply them to the older version. Those who’ve seen Django Unchained which is the 2012 version of the movie will immediately pick up on the fact that I titled my daily create video with a line from the more recent version of the movie, I guess you could sort of call it a marriage between the old and the new.
My video clip isn’t out of this world amazing but I enjoyed making it. I had never used before but it’s so easy to use, even an amateur like me got it right. I feel I’m slowly getting a hang of the course, and hopefully I’ll be a digital storytelling pro by the end of it all.