I’m Still Chewing on that Over-Branding of DS106 Comment

I’ve been thinking a lot about the over-branding conversation that Stephen Downes started on Alan Levine’s blog post I Want You to Make Art (Dammit). Downes did not like the use of ‘DS106′ in propaganda, and called it “over-branded.” After Alan tried to defend the work as students celebrating the class, Downes continued that it […]

I’ve been thinking a lot about the over-branding conversation that Stephen Downes started on Alan Levine’s blog post I Want You to Make Art (Dammit). Downes did not like the use of ‘DS106′ in propaganda, and called it “over-branded.” After Alan tried to defend the work as students celebrating the class, Downes continued that it was ‘some’ that are over-branding ds106 and ‘didn’t expect you (Alan) to get it.’

I think it was the later comment that lit a fire under a few in ds106, Martha Burtis took particular offense calling that type of commenting, trolling. I as well felt there was more to Downes point that he initially wasn’t willing to discuss. Whether or not it was trolling, and because he has a long standing relationship with Alan, true he shouldn’t have to explain himself but it did seem snide.

The reactions to the over-branding comment regarding ds106 didn’t stay focused in Alan’s blog, as a number of people went on to post new work about it. Giulia Forsythe’s Join the Brand, Martha Burtis’s The Cult of 4LIFE, Alan’s Got Infected, and I couldn’t help myself and made A purely unapologetic piece of ds106 branding. And many others continued along doing the ds106 propaganda assignment.

Downes reacted to the comments and I assume posts as well as ‘hostility.’ Ok being called a troll is a bit hostile, but I’m not so sure that others were at all hostile given the short and somewhat curt description of why ds106 is over-branded. But Downes did finally go into more detail and linked to a post he wrote about the group mentality gone wrong.

And I get it, groups can transform into mobs, can become cults, and people that are part of them behave irrationally. Downes does recognize that groups have a place and have value – they are where you make emotional connections to others, in a family or on a sports team. But they can go to far, and that is a rubicon apparently some in ds106 have crossed – was it just the propaganda posters? Something else?

Downes exhorts in his final comment on Alan’s blog that we must ‘be careful.’ I find this idea particularly alarming because the course is one about creating stories and art. If the community has to be mindful their creations should not cross a line that somehow represents ‘bad group’ activity, ds106 is going to fail.

At a different time, I made art that spoke to ideas of safety and religious iconography. Back then I wasn’t making the effort to narrate the how’s and why’s of my process. About a year before finding ds106, I was working on a project reflecting on old artwork to answer these questions. And one post, “Please Keep Art Safe” I find it appropriate to reference as it speaks to blasphemous art and speech, and how the Supreme Court of the US was asked to rule on a case of blasphemy.

The 1940 Supreme Court agreed unanimously and set a precedent that basically made any previous laws against blasphemy in the US a dead letter.  The 1940 decision explains, that “the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his neighbor.” And that in a democracy an individual’s right to resort to exaggeration and vilification are liberties “essential to enlightened opinion.” And under the “shield” of these liberties, “many types of life, character, opinion, and belief can develop unmolested and unobstructed.”

So the line ds106 crossed toward ‘over-branding’ in my mind cannot occur within the creative work of it’s participants. And it would be a fruitless to try and define a line. But if there is group behavior trending toward a ‘mob-mentality’ in the community of ds106, and those actions can be separated from the creativity ethos of the course, I’d like to know what it is.

CUNY Week 3 -Web 2.0 is an attitude not a technology.

Remix RSS from cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by eBlog The name of this post is a quote from Ian Davis one of the co-authors of RSS 1.0, which I think is a great way to … Continue reading

RSS #4LIFE
Remix RSS from cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by eBlog

The name of this post is a quote from Ian Davis one of the co-authors of RSS 1.0, which I think is a great way to kick off thoughts for Week 3 and Web 2.0. RSS is one of the web’s catalyst technologies that transitioned the Web from Read-Only to Read-Write. People able to create blogs easily, but also others could follow their blog through RSS syndication. This led to people following one another’s sequential conversations, which lead to commenting on conversations, which leads to more syndication opportunities, and on and on. The Daily Create Website uses RSS feeds to drive your properly tagged photos on Flickr into the page for each particular assignment. And that aggregation of photos presented using a great photo gallery tool allows you to also link back to the original and leave comments. More conversation, all due to RSS!

WEEK Three’s Quick Description

Speaking of the Daily Create, a number of you have communicated that you’re photos are not showing up on the site. I’ve done my best to check links to images you’ve sent and it looks like most of you are tagging photos correctly, but your Flickr account permissions and sharing settings are not allowing your photos to share. Here are my settings for reference hopefully this will help (click on images for full size):

If you haven’t, create an account on the ds106 website.

If you don’t have your blog up and working and/or haven’t submitted it on the Week 1 form, it’s time to start thinking about dropping the class as you will not be able to pass the course.

WEEK THREE ASSIGNMENTS: For this week we are going to thinking about Web 2.0 ideas reading a few texts suggested by the UMW section of ds106. I want you to read:

Draw from these text salient points about Web 2.0 ideas and philosophies and reflect on them in a blog post on your site. This is the writing part of the assignment.

Second, visit Alan Levine‘s “50 Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Digital Story” site and browser through the many free online tools available to create stories with. Choose one and create something that also reflects on the ideas of the readings. Make sure that what you create can be embedded in a blog post.

Both your written reflection and your creative digital story reflection should be posted in your blog and are due by Tuesday’s class Feb 21 (class meets on Tuesday with the Monday holiday).

Looking forward to seeing everyone’s work and keep up on your daily creates!

DS106 is Taking the 7 Train

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by adaptorplug The spring semester is finally starting for York College and I’m really excited to get a new group of students into DS106. Here at York DS106 feeds out of … Continue reading


cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by adaptorplug

The spring semester is finally starting for York College and I’m really excited to get a new group of students into DS106. Here at York DS106 feeds out of the course CT101 whcih is the foundation course for our Communications Technology majors. For students that haven’t heard about it yet, and are registered for CT 101. This course is now taught as a “Digital Storytelling” class, and is a bit of an experimental course. The experimental nature is really two-fold, one in that all of the work you do for this class is conducted on the open-web using tools that you set-up for class, or ones you already are using and bring with you. The majority of the work you do will be posted to your own blog, and it will feed to the website http://ds106.us/.

This brings us to the second unusual part if this class – we are actually conducting the class in concert with three other universities around the world and everyone’s work feeds into the ds106 site. The course was created by the University of Mary Washington, and this particular open-web version was created by Jim Groom. Jim and Alan Levine are both teaching sections out of UMW this semester, while Scott Lockman is teaching a section out Cyberspace and Society course at Temple University Japan. There is also a section coming from Kansas State University (sorry I don’t know who’s running that class yet). And finally there are people that are taking the class, for their own personal fufillment, they are not receiving credit for the class, but are doing assignments which are fed to the ds106 site. These individuals are called open participants.

What’s exciting about this kind of class is that all the work feeds the same way into the same site and the intermingling of students, faculty, and open participants creates a wonderful community of engagement. You will see comments on your work that comes from people that you will never meet. You will also comment on others’ work and you will never meet them either. But that doesn’t mean you will not get to know them, and enjoy the interactions that happen online throughout this semester and hopefully beyond.

We’re starting a couple weeks behind the UMW course being taught by Jim Groom and Alan Levine, but we will be followoing along the main syllabus for the most part. I will be creating a specifically dates for our section of CT101 as DS106, but you will need to start out with the first assignment which involves registering your domain and setting up your web hosting account. Once you’ve done this, please enter your domain information in the form below.


I’m looking forward to another semester of DS106 at York College, which will be our second semester so far. It’s been a tremendous ride and all that John Rocker says about the 7 Train in Queens he’d likely say about DS106. That’s because ds106 is a proud bunch of degenerates, bringing on the open internet to education, diverse and sometimes nerve-racking, but always awesomely real.