What is #ds106 ? Why is it the greatest thing ever?

This post represents my own opinions only and does not represent the views of my employers, or of programmes and projects I am responsible. It is available under a CC-BY license.
I really didn’t (don’t?) have time to get involved in #ds106 , but it sucked me in through just sheer awesomeness. It’s a MOOC (massively open online course) led in inimitable style by THE BAVA: Jim Groom at Mary Washington U. The course is actually offered to (and is being taken by) a number of Jim’s actual students, but their participation is more than matched by the enthusiasm and anarchy of what I’m going to start calling the EduPunk diaspora.

The canonical course site is here.

It has assignments, but these have quickly become sublimated into waves of activity. The first was around animated .GIFs, which I have yet to engage in but need to rectify urgently. The second – which was just so completely up my alley that I couldn’t not was an open access radio station. Adherents have been uploading their own audio work and their own favourite tracks, which are played with a cavalier disregard for public taste and the laws of copyright, all thanks to Jim’s enthusiasm and Grant Potter’s technical wizardry.

And it is compulsive listening. Occasionally mind-blowing, occasionally irritating, occasionally challenging – never, ever, boring. UK folks, it’s like the second coming of John Peel. 

This is an amazing example of the ability of the internet to bring people together almost despite themselves – a more concrete example of the phenomena which makes the “misc” section of any discussion board the most interesting and lively, makes mailing lists occasionally veer wonderfully off-topic and does bizarre things to conference back-channels.

If you provide people with the means to connect and share experiences then they will – on a level that is both more massive and more human than anyone could have anticipated. If you try to constrain the connections and the sharing you kill a community. The internet has taught me (and many others) that, now #ds106 is bringing it home.

[I've contributed a 1hr "Followers Of The Apocalypse" radio show/mixtape, made during odd bits of downtime this week using Audacity and Sonar. Be warned, it's pretty extreme and definitely not safe for work/children and the IP is just, well, my fault...- but it would make a good workout/deadline/driving mix. Possibly.]

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2 thoughts on “What is #ds106 ? Why is it the greatest thing ever?

  1. John Peel was a legend – a hero of mine who I learned about from another hero of mine – Canadian broadcaster, musician, and photographer and first music educator – David Wisdom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Wisdom) .. so many of my lessons on history, music, art, performance, and creativity were delivered by David throughout my teenage years over his show http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightlines .. if #d106 radio resembles Peel, Wisdom, or any other of the great radio experiences then I am utterly floored and overjoyed. So glad you are listening and submitting … here’s hoping we can meet sometime over a pint and few instruments.

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