Tag Archives: ds106

The Swift Kick Characterizes the Man

“It is with a simple yet sublime gesture that Charlie expresses his supreme detachment from that biographical and social world in which, for us, we are plunged.”

blinking buffon

“…when Charlie is involved with an object for some time he quickly contracts a sort of mechanical cramp.”


charlie shake 2

“One of the most characteristic aspects of Charlie’s freedom in respect to the demands of society is his total indifference to the category of things held sacred”

charlie eyebeows 8

‘Essay on Charlie Chaplin’, from What is cinema by Andre Bazin.


Digital reinvention – the rise and fall of ColinMcCampbell

Not only is this the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do. The phrasing was deliberately ambiguous, but most of the audience and many London newspapers and magazines took it to mean that Bowie was retiring from music. In fact, he had killed off his Ziggy persona but not his music career.

Now as reinventions go my decision to start again with twitter is hardly up there with the end of Ziggy Stardust, but the end of @ColinMcCampbell is about more than my use of a social network.

I started with @colinmccampbell at an educational technology conference in Shanghai back in 2009. Assisted and encouraged by then colleagues @brianlockwood and @GenkiU I stumbled into this new arena. I attended sessions hosted by @ewanmcintosh, @mscofino@cogdog & @dwarlick at the same conference and I was blown away by the openness and creativity of this community. The son of a gadget loving photograher I had grown up in a technology enhanced household and it has always seemed natural for me to bring computers into things, but this was different. They weren’t talking about technology they were talking pedagogy, community and revolution. The conversations I’d wanted to have for years as a teacher were happening and were being pushed by educational technologists.

Soapbox by Shuttleworth from Flickr (cc)

Soapbox by Shuttleworth from Flickr (cc)

So as @ColinMcCampbell I started blasting away on twitter, edublogs and then wordpress. I wrote about educational change and tried to be as open as possible, following the example of @ewanmcintosh using my real name (or as close to it as I was permitted, there are a million Colin Campbells) and looking to engage with others. I built up a network, of sorts, on twitter and through my blogs and on the advice of Stephen Downes in this post did my best to share, to be open, to engage and not lurk too much. This was hard though, it was difficult to do more than support the comments of others especially in the forums, discussions and blogs I was drawn to and finding your online voice is hard especially amongst more experienced peers. Then I wondered into the open online digital storytelling course called #DS 106 and I started to rethink (as is the goal of the course) my digital identity/ self/ selves.

Two conversations stay with from this experience. One was with the organiser of the course – meddler in the middle – Jim Groom.

Jim had kicked the course off as Dr. Oblivion and ran the first few sessions under that adopted persona. He tweeted and blogged as him as well. In the midst of the above exchange I then started to think, is Jim messing with me now?

Jim Groom or Dr. Oblivion?

Jim Groom or Dr. Oblivion?

Amongst this I had developed an unhealthy obsession, perhaps fuelled by my own procrastinations, with the films of Charlie Kauffman – so layered, potentially unreliable narratives was very much in my mind anyway. I was befuddled as to to what to do with all of this? I was thinking, what do I want my online identity to be? What manifestation of myself? What is my identity as a teacher? As an educational blogger? As someone trying to start a socially responsible education start-up? I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied not with what I had been saying but the way I had been saying it. Whole parts of me were being left out.

I then read this excellent confessional blog post from @BrianLamb and nodded along in agreement. He seemed to find a new lease of life by venting his frustration with dialogues he connected with conceptually but just couldn’t get excited about. This post was, for me, about not letting the communities and conversations you are part of dictate the mode and nature of your expression. #DS 106 reminded me of how much I like to make things, my fondness for movies, storytelling and subversive, sweary conversations. Sure we get these things from other places but we want our digital selves to be true don’t we, or honest at least.

And so as we come back to an almost depressingly simple truism that I heard the John Peel say when asked about the secret of his longevity on Radio 1.

John Peel by Foxtongue on flickr (cc)

John Peel by Foxtongue on flickr (cc)

He acknowledged, grudgingly, that not having an image is an image in itself, but there was something about his honesty that would keep you listening, even when he went an hour without playing something that you really liked. Thankfully there are good people making sure for all we still miss him terribly, we can still enjoy his music.

So how does all this relate to Ziggy Stardust and ColinMcCampbell and digital identity? Well I’ve decided to let the manifestation of me that was ColinMcCampbell go. Why? Well because he mainly just jumped into a communities, had a look round, broadcasted from a soapbox and then left. If our habits create our digital identities he meant well, but he got things wrong.

My digital selves are splintering anyway with the development of this blog on our project’s website where I will write about learning and through my involvement in PechaKucha Hanoi which has been a great way to reconnect with the city and the creativity of the community here.

So, here is what @colinicampbell is going to try to do. Now I did say try, as we all need to get on the soapbox once in a while.

-comment and blog less preciously

-maintain my interest in education learning (it is what I do) but engage with more folks about sustainability, filmmaking, storytelling, Hanoi/ Vietnam, music, politics and social entrepreneurship

-avoid tweeting about blogging, or blogging about tweeting (shite! off to a bad start)

-more productive

-not drinking too much

-regular exercise at the gym (3 days a week)

-getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries

-at ease

-eating well (no more microwave dinners and saturated fats)

-a patient better driver

-a safer car (baby smiling in back seat)

-sleeping well (no bad dreams)

-no paranoia

-careful to all animals (never washing spiders down the plughole)

-keep in contact with old friends (enjoy a drink now and then)

-will frequently check credit at (moral) bank (hole in wall)

-favours for favours

Minimalist There Will Be Blood Poster

There Will be Blood minimalist movie poster

There Will be Blood minimalist movie poster

Right, getting into the minimalist movie picture idea now for the digital storytelling course I am following. Here I take on Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic There Will Be Blood. I got the oil barrel from here and I used sketchbook pro to add the drinking straws that I took from another picture (lost source sorry) and just erased the edges. I lost photoshop a while back when my hard-drive crashed and I’d really recommend sketchbook pro for this type of task. More of a drawing programme but has layers and really smooth intuitive controls.

Watching me, watching me – Synecdoche New York movie poster

Jim Groom’s digital storytelling course – DS106, is fun, clever and inventive. It has also got me asking good questions and has even unsettled me a little and as any readers of this post or this older one will know – I consider a bit of confusion to be an essential part of any good project or learning experience. This time the unhinging is all around digital identity, a topic I hope to come back to as the course continues.

Thinking about identity led me to select Charlie Kaufman’s ‘Synecdoche New York’ as a film to create an alternate poster for. A movie obscure, inventive and original enough to perhaps have ended his Hollywood career but hopefully not his creative output. His previous films Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Adaptation and Being John Malkovich had all focused on characters struggling with their place in the world. His protagonists can barely cope with themselves, never mind the single minded, self-assured women they all seem to fall for. For my poster I had a go at representing the central project that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s theatre director Caden Cotard gets lost in as the film progresses.

Synechdoche NY film poster by Colin McCampbell

Synechdoche NY film poster by Colin McCampbell

I wonder what Cotard might have done for his photo for the daily shoot on the topic of ‘deadlines’. Perhaps just himself alone on a huge empty stage. I captured where all good deadline days start and tend to return to fairly regularly.

'Deadline' by ColinMCampbell

'Deadline' by ColinMCampbell

If I could have taken a point of view shot of me making an uncessarily complicated sandwich that would have been even better but I think this makes the point.

What distractions help us ship? A mooc perhaps?

Seth Godin talks a lot about shipping. “Be a person that ships”, he says. I like that, but I have not always been very good at it. I can be way too ponderous and need to know when just to hit send or publish.

Lizard by TuckerH586 from flickr

Lizard by TuckerH586 from flickr

However, as Merlin Mann points out in one of his videos or blog posts (not this one but they are all good), it is not as simple as that. If we are in the knowledge game then we need to research, we need to read, we need to open ourselves up to the ideas that are out there. I couldn’t agree more, my google reader and twitter feeds have been invaluable in pushing my thinking to new places over these past couple of years. However what Mann says and I think I’m getting a bit better at is to be conscious in what you are spending your time on and why? His advice on email inbox checking is a must view for those who have not read or seen it. I also thoroughly recommend his interview with Seth Godin on the lizard brain where they discuss motivation, Bob Dylan and what stops us shipping.

So what distractions help us ship? Well for me MOOCs (massive open online courses) are an interesting case in point and after reading George Siemens blog post on the very subject I have decided to follow another one about digital storytelling. I follow with these questions in mind that I hope will come back to when I finish the course?

(a) Can participation in a mooc help you ship a project and if so how?

(b) Did participation in the Digital storytelling course change my approach to my digital identity?

Lets see.