How I fell Off #DS106 and Bumped My Head

I’m not sure how it happened but sometime around Thanksgiving, I fell off the DS106 Headless Course Wagon Train and bumped my head. Prior to that, I was deeply engaged and deeply involved in the creative storytelling adventures that unfolded, from audio podcasting to gif creation to … well, the gamut of ideas ran far and wide. I’m still proud to be sharing out our Merry Hacksters radio program.

The headless element (no real leaders, although I would not say it was completely headless, as folks were always behind the curtain to some degree). It was an amazing experience that reminded me once again that the technology and the tools are always second fiddle to the stories we want to tell and the experiences we want to share. It reminded about the power of narrative across mediums. It was a blast.

So, why didn’t I stick with it all the way to the end?

An easy answer would be to say that life just got busy, and it did. It always does. That’s not it, though.

There was something about the turn in the headless course towards video in the final few weeks that gave me pause, and then to a gif-related project (see this great storify for more details) that took root and took hold with the DS106 friends when I turned my head to other things (like presenting at conferences), and I could not seem to get caught up again. The thread got lost.  I bumped my head. The video elements were very interesting and tapped into something I am very intrigued about (video as composition), but I soon realized that time and attention to video would be my enemy (or was that only what I thought and not what reality would be?). It also felt as if a natural cycle of an online experience had happened and the course was still running. (We noticed this with the Making Learning Connected MOOC, too.)

Again, I blinked and then I was lost.

So when notices started to come about this past week about a wrap-up event, I thought: I should take part in that and reconnect with the course and my friends there. Then this morning, reading through Alan Levine’s post about the virtual gathering, I realized: Crap, I missed it. It was last night. Drat. I appreciated Alan’s post about the event (I am a fan of pulling back the veil on the technical aspects so I read his reflection with pleasure) and it reminded me of what I most appreciated about the DS106 Headless Course: the open nature, the collaborative spirit, the sense of adventure, and the realization that there are communities of people doing amazing things and sharing them out to the world.

I had heard about #DS106 over the last few years, and even checked out the site from time to time. I couldn’t quite figure it out: was it some kind of real course at a college? Or just another place for sharing out of ideas? Or something in-between? A creative community pushing the boundaries of storytelling? Yep, to all of those, it turns out. Yep to all of that, and more. What you make of it is what it is, and for me, what DS106 was was a chance to push myself in odd directions and compose across media lines. Which I enjoyed immensely.

I absolutely adore the Daily Create, and I would point anyone to the the bank of assignments for digital storytelling as a magical place of ideas. But it wasn’t until I became immersed in the Headless Course that I understood how imagination powers our views of technology, and if nothing else, DS106 reminds us that the agency of creation rests with us, not our machines. We are the ones telling stories to make sense of the world. Our computers, and mobile devices, and whatever else comes along should be examined and evaluated through the lens of “making and creating.” Let’s make sure we with technology.

Have fun out there.

Peace (in the reflection),



One Comment
  1. Hi Kevin – lovely to have you aboard. Remember, there is no “fail” in ds106, because it’s just a stream of ideas and creative challenges you can build on or let slide. I too had a gap in the middle, but caught early wind of this show and managed to get some music together.

    The big difference between this and the other iterations was that there was no one person to hassle and shame people into making art 🙂

    david kernohan – followers of the apocalypse

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