Why So Angry, Alien?!

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For this weeks Assignment Bank assignment I chose one called This Doesn’t Belong Here.  This assignment you need to mash up two different iconic movie scenes. However, you should aim to be as subtle as possible. Perhaps a famous prop that simply doesn’t belong or a character that looks a little out of place.

So my photo-shopping ended up a little less than subtle.  However, this was a fun assignment to fit this angry little alien from my childhood into iconic science fiction movies.  I tried to pic my favorite one, but then just decided to share them all here.


Those Tasty Digital Story Bits

Super Digital Stories Bits

I had a hard time choosing a design assignment from the ds106 assignment bank this week.  I looked at several and kept tossing them aside for the next and the next, so I decided to grab a random assignment and tell myself I would just do it no matter what it was.  The assignment I ended up with was to design my own cereal box.

This turned out to be pretty fun.  I thought of this class approaches digital stories as a series of small interconnected stories, that we are constantly creating digital story bits, some of them are more tasty than others, and how every once in a while you even run into a secret toy surprise!

I made a cereal box for Super Digital Stories Bits which includes Gifs, Blogs, Tweets, and at the end of the rainbow, who knows?   This was a simple creation, I used PowerPoint graphics capabilities to draw a 3-d box using lines, then used  used shapes, logos, and pictures I found on the web, saved it as a picture and uploaded it to Flickr.

Some more great resources for using PowerPoint’s graphics capabilities:

How to Easily Make Killer Graphics in PowerPoint

How to Create Your Own Illustrated Graphics in PowerPoint






The Secret to Conor McGregor’s Confidence

This week for my digital story critique, I ran across a video within my personal research interest topic by Charlie at Charisma on Command.  This video dissects and analyzes the confidence of Conor McGregor, an MMA fighting world champion from Ireland.

Conor is famous not only for being a winner, but also for the unwavering and complete confidence he presents himself with.

This video begins with clips of him trash talking his opponents and speaking of how sure he will win fights.  This is something that isn’t unique to MMA fighters, or professional fighters or boxers all over the world.  What makes this really interesting is the way the narrator stops the video, rewinds and replays and analyzes his speech and movements to make specific points to illustrate how Conor’s body language,  and communication style reflect a unique, steady, and resolute certainty that he will beat his opponents. In addition, he speaks with a friendly, but authoritative voice, that can appeal to many audiences.

Specifically, he observes the way Conor is able to make a self-aggrandizing statement but sit with it and show complete resolve that he believes what he is saying.  Secondly, that he is able to focus on the things that he has control over, rather than what is outside of his control.  Lastly, that he has an amazing knack to visualize specifically what his strengths are and how he will overcome challenges he will face to beat an opponent.  Through these visualizations, he is able to practice in his mind how he will overcome obstacles over and over again.

This video can appeal to viewers on many levels.  Of course, he appeals to MMA enthusiasts or viewers hoping to understand the secret to Conor McGregor’s success as a fighter, but also this appeals to people seeking a general view into the life of a very successful individual and how he continues to believe in himself and meet his goals.

So the secrets to Conor’s confidence?

  1. Get relevant experience – make sure you can execute on the basic mechanics of what you want to be confidence in.
  2. Draw on what you can control.
  3. Use specific and relevant visualizations to help practice how you will overcome obstacles on your way to success.


Weekly Reflection – Week 3

Okay, so this week I gotta say was difficult, more difficult than any week so far.  I began the week feeling excited and on top of everything I need to do for this class and looking forward to learning and working with my classmates in creating learning.

But then life happened.  First of all, I started the reading assignment which I must say was very interesting and engaging on DIY media, but unfortunately I found about ¾ in that I was annotating in a different document than the rest of my small group.  I’m not exactly sure how that happened, as it was the link I had followed from the syllabus, but by Wednesday, when I saw no one else had contributed, I started to get suspicious.  I was able to search and find where my small group was annotating and I went back and re-annotated what I had already contributed, which was frustrating.

I had a crazy busy week at work, which required additional evening work.  Then I was sick for a couple of days and ended up in bed unable to even sit or stand.  Finally, I had a death in my family which was not only sad and difficult, but also resulted in a family member who had downed a 5th of rum, keeping me up until 8am grieving and crying and demanding I stay up with them all night.  It was a challenging week to say the least.

I was not going to let this keep me from completing the requirements of my class.  This particular family member was verbally abusive and referenced my graduate program as evidence that I was selfish, not a good person, and that I was too focused on advancement in myself and my career.

I was supportive, I stayed up to comfort this person as well as I could and finally got them to bed around 8am, but this also made me determined.  I told myself I would indeed complete the weekly requirements of my summer course.  I woke up, sleepy from a crazy evening, but unwavering in my resolve to complete the rest of the assignments required for my course.

Okay, so that seems pretty dramatic. Yeah, it is.  I have to say I was  pleased that I was able to complete at least the minimum requirements for the week when it seemed completely impossible.

I do feel I can definitely improve.  For week 4, I plan to complete most assignments in the first few days of next week, as I will be traveling later in the week to a funeral.

This class is important to me.  I’m proud of the work I have done so far, and feel that it is important to continue to improve and flourish in this class.  This is not only a matter of completing a class for me.  It is proof that I am making my learning a priority in my life and succeeding in creating the life I want to live.

Reading Response Week 3 – I’m a DIYer, Who Knew?

Home improvements
Work tools

This week we read the introductory chapter of Lankshear And Knobel (2008) Ch1: DIY Media: A Contextual Background And Some Contemporary Themes.

Once again Lankshear and Knobel put together an engaging and interesting perspective on new media.  I had never thought of the act of participating and creating in new media as part of the DIY movement, but it works very well.

The readings this week made me examine my own affinity for DIY media and recognize that my interest in DIY media sprouted long ago.

It was the late 90s.  I had been a moderately successful insurance broker.  In 1998, however, the company I worked for decided to try to force out rather than fire our entire department and proceeded to significantly reduce our pay, products, and commissions.   It would seem like a fairly easy solution right?   Start applying for a new job!  However, I had a bit of a complication at the time.  I was 5 months pregnant with my second child.

I decided I would take a second job to supplement the loss of income and work the minimum hours to continue to keep my benefits while I tried to figure out what else to do.   I went to a temporary agency and as kismet would have it, the first interview they sent me on was for a company located just minutes from my house, and probably even luckier was that the HR person interviewing me took pity on me and hired me.  I was to fill in for the graphic designer who they had just fired.  Yes, I was not really qualified to do this job, but I certainly needed to try.

I inherited folders of graphic files created in Adobe Pagemaker (called a “desktop publishing” program at the time and an ancestor to Photoshop).  It was at this time I now realize, that I entered the DIY media movement.  I was thrown into the need to edit these documents, but was also tasked with discovering a way to convert them into a format that made it easier to distribute editable digital files to managers of corporate cafeterias, a group of people with limited computer time and skill.   I found I was able to bend the graphic limits of familiar Microsoft products, especially Word and PowerPoint to create similar results to the more complicated programs and share these files in a format that was familiar and friendly to the managers.  These were exciting and fun challenges to me, although I remember feeling like quite a fraud at the time.  I knew I wasn’t a “real” graphic designer.  I was a tinkerer and jury-rigger of simple tools to create the illusion of more sophisticated software.

So my story goes that I would go on to be offered a full-time job with that company after my maternity leave,  and continue to flourish with that organization for another year before leaving to become a full-time parent to my two young sons.  I had escaped the insurance world and recognized I would not return, but I didn’t really think my phony graphic design experiment would ever really come in handy again either.

Fast forward 7 years.  As I returned to work I looked for a job that was interesting to me and close to my work.  I entered a job with the training department at the airport.  A newly purchased LMS made the possibility of internally created e-learning a reality for the first time.  Our manager asked for volunteers to attend training to learn to use this new software.  I was actually the only one vaguely interested.

It was on the first day of training for Articulate Studio that it hit me that this was the world I belonged in.  The instructor showed us “new” ways to use PowerPoint like a blank canvas and tweak it to make it do amazing things.  This not only validated the work I had done and loved previously, but also made me see that this work was the beginning of a movement.  This was the work I had always had a passion for, and one that I also realized could combine a lot of my interests including: entertainment, communications, engagement, and marketing quite nicely, but it really hadn’t been accessible to me before.  I also found that there was a whole industry of people wanting to share ideas and help each other with these projects.

I am not handy with a hammer or powertools, so I’ve certainly never thought of myself as a DIYer.  This week I realized I have been a creative “produser” for some time.  Through this kind of expression I have created a career, found my passion, and continue to learn exciting new things every day.

DIY media is a movement which puts creativity into the hands of anyone who cares to use it.  We can tinker our way into amazing things, and now we can do it in concert and with the help of people all over the world.  It is social, life-affirming, and powerful.

A couple of my favorite DIY e-learning affinity groups:





Self Affirmations – I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone it, People Like Me!

Inspired by last week’s digital critique, this week I began listening to Amy Cuddy’s audio book, which she released in 2015 following her Ted Talk.  Her Ted Talk on How Our Body Language Shapes Who We Are became one of the most watched Ted Talk’s so far, at nearly 35 million views and counting.

411+vGwYyUL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_She begins her book with a personal narrative about her experience since giving the Ted Talk.  It was an unexpected and strange experience that people began recognizing her many times in public.  She was very surprised and touched by the impact that her talk made on many peoples’ lives.  She tells how she went back and forth with herself and nearly did not share her personal story in that Ted Talk, that it seemed like it might be too big of a risk to her personally and professionally, yet that story, I believe is what really makes her presentation powerful.

In her book she talks about self-affirmation, although is quick to point out that this is not what we might initially think of when we hear the term.  She refers to the character Stuart Smalley from SNL in the 90s played by Al Franken.  She talks about why this type of self affirmation doesn’t really work, as it can be hollow and rather than allowing someone to get to know themselves better, it can result in simply wishful thinking or worse, a lie to oneself, which can reduce your personal power rather than enriching it.

Thinking about this made me want to go back and review Stuart Smalley.  I had remembered some of those sketches as one of those kind of dumb but popular characters on SNL.  It was fascinating to go back and look at Stuart through the lens of critiquing  digital stories and what I found was that these sketches were really a pretty powerful narrative on the popular culture of the 1990s.

Creative Voice

Through humor, Al Franken depicts a poignant look at a man desperately trying to cope with the trials of his life and to heal and increase his personal power.  He is ridiculous in many ways, but also a sincerely kind person who really believes he is helping others through sharing his stories.  Stuart is, at least in part, a very accurate depiction of a person you have probably met who is  struggling to recover from their past wounds but who finds himself in a therapy loop.  He can’t seem to move out of his pain and go forward.  The truth and sadness in this character is what makes him both funny and relate-able as he exposes the dark side of a kind of addiction to self-indulgence in group and talk therapy.

Use of Media

It was interesting to analyze how this skit is “broadcast” like a network type of talk show of the time.  This is one thing that added to the ridiculousness of it in context of the early 90’s.  It seems that this show could hardly have much of an audience.

Today we live in a world with so many cheap, free and easy media DIY tools and access that this kind of personally raw and self-indulgent media is actually very prevalent through reality TV and Vlogs.

So, Self-Affirmations – Do They Work?

Amy Cuddy’s definition of self-affirmation is quite different from Stuart Smalley’s.  She encourages us to be honest with ourselves, to do work to get to know ourselves, and to accept our imperfections.  Her research has shown that the act of writing to understand what we truly care about can actually reduce stress, anxiety, and assist us in accessing our personal power (defined as the power over our own emotions and reactions) to perform better in all areas of our lives.

Amy’s call to action is to encourage everyone to increase their own personal power rather than to focus on “social power” or the power to influence other people. Personal power, she says, is infinite, doesn’t require power over another person, and will allow us to become more authentic, unique, and interest human beings.

Famous Stuart Smalley quotes:

  • “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”
  • “That’s just stinkin’ thinkin!”
  • “You’re should-ing all over yourself.”
  • Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt!”
  • “I am a worthy human being.”
  • “…and that’s…okay.”
  • “Trace it, face it, and erase it.”
  • “I don’t know what I’m doing. They’re gonna cancel the show. I’m gonna die homeless and penniless and twenty pounds overweight and no one will ever love me.”
  • “I’m in a shame spiral.”
  • “You’re only as sick as your secrets.”
  • “Compare and despair.”
  • “You need a checkup from the neckup.”
  • “I am a human being, not a human doing.”
  • Pee-wee Herman: There but for the grace of God go I.”
  • “It’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world


Al Franken on Stuart Smalley:





Adventures with Vine – Name that Book!

So this week I chose my first video assignment from the ds106 assignment bank.  The one that caught my eye was called: “Name that Book”.  It seemed like a fun challenge.   The assignment was to use the Vine app to visually create a book title.  I hadn’t used the Vine app before, so I thought it was a good opportunity to try it out.

I’d certainly heard of and seen Vine videos before, but I hadn’t really understood why I would want to do a 7 second video.  Well, here’s a great reason!

I began trying to download the app.  This turned out to be a project in itself, as it seemed that my son had logged into Google on my Android phone a while ago and so it was failing to allow me to log myself back in.  It took me and both of my sons fidgeting with it, but we finally got him logged out and me logged back in and we were in business.  So my next hurdle was trying to figure out how to work the darned thing.  What was funny was the simplicity of it was what was throwing me.  I was looking for features, controls, how do you work this thing?  I must admit I finally broke down and looked at a YouTube video on it.  It’s brilliantly simple in that all you do is press on the screen to begin, stop pressing to pause, and then press again to resume.  The other thing I found on YouTube were so many really fun and very sophisticated things that people have created with it by finding new ways to push Vine to it’s limits.  Since Vine is so crazy simple and convenient to use and capture moments, people have taken some amazing videos there.  They’ve also created a lot of funny, silly, and pretty amazing stop motion videos.

This was a fun assignment and it was great to learn about a fun new DIY media app.  I kept thinking about the class reading and how fascinating it is to peer a little into the Vine culture and see what people are learning, making with it, sharing, and creating culture.

So here is my first Vine video.  Can you guess which book title I was illustrating?  Here’s a clue, I live near Seattle.

Happy Guessing!