Unit 1 Summary

I’m writing this on a Google Nexus in a hotel room in Istanbul. On the TV there is a Turkish pop video channel (Kral Pop TV) where most of the women are beautiful and scantily dressed, the men less so, on both counts. Very glossy, East–West culture mashups. Very glamorous.

Özgün – Öpücem (Official Video)

I am the teacher of a class on social media at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. As part of a coursework assignment, the class of 10 (now 12) students are doing the ds106 open course and reflecting about it in their personal wiki. I’m doing the course too to see it from their perspective and to experience it myself. I see myself as a creative person. We will see. I didn’t create anything special in response to watching the videos about art, but instead here is something that I enjoy creating – Spotify playlists that take the track titles to write a short story or poem. Neil Gaiman’s advice about creative work is to just do things and don’t follow rules. We could interpret ‘rules’ here as doing things that everyone does routinely. We know that everything is a remix and great artists steal. So the trick is to remix with originality, build on what has gone before, but with something new and of value – at least if we follow the basic understanding of creativity. ‘Doing things that excite you’, advises Gaiman, things therefore with intrinsic value – good advice. ‘Make mistakes, make good art, be good, be on time, be nice, enjoy the ride, be lucky (work hard)’ – this is all good, and yes, it does seem like there are new opportunities for creative folk in this online and digital environment. But if the ‘old rules are crumbling’, there is no guarantee that the new rules will not be like the old rules. We take part in this social media environment in a global media corporate context.

Neil Gaiman – Inspirational Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts 2012

Watching the Neil Gaiman video put me in mind of another celebrity’s Honorand speech that got a lot of attention on social media. In this speech, Tim Minchin gives us nine life lessons. Minchin’s message to us is about filling up our meaningless lives by being creative, advising that you don’t need a dream, don’t need to seek happiness, but you should learn as much as you can and teach and exercise and embrace things and respect others and fill your life (but not too quickly). It’s about the work, again like Gaiman in terms of its intrinsic values and  not because it will change the world or make it more meaningful because there is no meaning to life.

Tim Minchin UWA Address 2013

Gaiman tells us not to follow rules although I think he means conventions more than regulations for living as given to us by John Cage for teaching and learning. These things can give us structure and purpose, but we shouldn’t over-inflate them to the point of restriction – we want some spontaneity and rule-breaking, right? My preferences among Cage’s rules are to have a mutual learning system and just make and do (work). There is nothing wrong with ‘Be happy’, but that is more easily said than done. And why are movies so important? My background is in film studies, so I should be going “Yay!”, but I know how I feel when reading books is elevated above other cultural activities. There are assumptions here about the value of one kind of cultural objects against others, assumptions that we should always question. For now, this seems like enough advice and I think it is best to just get on with it and make mistakes or glories as you go, so I didn’t look at any advice from other ds106 participants – I just got on with it in my own way, bit by bit. Leon Botstein suggests that what artists do is artificially manipulate our sensibilities. Some artists may well want to manipulate us, but far more I think would not want to be so closed about the reception of their work.

Leon Botstein asks “What is Art?”

Yes, art is about the transformation of everyday life, but I don’t agree that art is ‘beyond the thoughtless’. Art can be accidental, but it has to be thought to be art and here is the problem – as a concept, art is all encompassing – it is whatever we say it is, inclusive but meaningless, like life. Art is in the eyes of the beholders, and when Rhett and Link make enjoyable fun at the expense of expensive and meaningless art objects, they are funning the art market rather than art itself. They want art to be good and beyond their own capabilities (‘art is something that I can’t do’). This goes against the grain of ds106 where anyone can make art, for intrinsic value and not as self-expression to create a reaction or manipulate sensibilities (Botstein). Creativity is equally as slippery a concept as art. Stephen Johnson highlights how creativity needs space and time to collide hunches into something bigger than its parts. He also mentions serendipity which I think is a great creative thinking technique. You do need to be good at taking advantage of chance by being open and receptive to whatever’s comes your way using your ‘connected mind’ and now the new technologies of connectivity. I did very much enjoy Kelli Anderson’s sweet presentation about ‘disruptive wonder’ and her manifesto of ‘millions of tiny disruptions’. I like her formula for creating an ‘avenue to better’ that relies on being sceptical about assumptions and confounding expectations with surprising reality revealing the ‘hidden talents of everyday things’. Lovely.

Disruptive wonder for a change: Kelli Anderson at TEDxPhoenix

Here are my links and my ‘About’ page:





It was a nice to get an acknowledgment from ds106 guardians Mariana Funes and Jim Groom:

I was rather picky about the daily creates that I did. If I am to change anything about doing further units of ds106, it will be rethink the approach to the daily creates. I chose image-based tasks that I could do quickly. I need to perhaps vary the media and build them into the pattern of doing the course as part of everyday life, embedding creativity in life and not just in pages. Thus, embedding creativity and art in our meaningless lives where meaning is all we can do, so be meaningful in not pursuing ‘the meaning of life’.

Make a miniature window silhouette tdc1015


Your weird and wonderful DS106 letterhead tdc1002

Letter Heading for ds106

Make a Flickr Lune Poem of an Ordinary Act tdc976


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