Where do ideas come from? Reflecting on my first make for DS106

I have lurked. I have laughed. I have never launched into my own learning into DS106. For those that do not know D106 started off as a class into digital storytelling and it has evolved into one of the most active communitities for mutlimodal composition.

I always saw my favorite Twitter folks discussing #ds106 and #ds106 radio without knowing what it was. After struggiling to find a MOOC that met my needs as a learner, and after hving a positive experience with almsot completing the #CLMOOC I decided to give #ds106 a try.

Expertise without Authority

I think I enjoyed the CLOOC because it was a community and not a class. The members were people I respected as authors and makers before the class began. I have found that expertise missing in other MOOCs I have tried. No one was pushing my thinking. We did not delve into particulars of theory of Design, literacy, rhetoric, research design, etc.

Maybe the audience for the type of learning I was looking for isn’t that massive. What I do love, and I stress to my writing students, is that writing takes a community if we are to learn the cultural practices of meaning making.

That is what CLMOOC and from what I can see so far DS106 represent. It is expertise without authority. It a group of authors willing to explore the boundaries of multimodal composition in ways I have never thought of.

My First Creation

After perusing the DS106 website late last night I discovered the daily challenges. Yesterday’s challenge was satire. I fell in love with satire, like many, when I first read Catch-22. I followed this up with a study of Satire in college.

So I used Mozilla’s xx-ray Goggles to create a satirical news article.

 Where do idea come from?

As a writing instructor I promised my students to try and make my writing as transparent and open as possible. Yesterday I shared my pre-writing process. Today I wanted to talk about where ideas come from.

Ideas are dialogical. They develop through a dance of experience with other texts often taking the lead as a partner. To say I own my ideas just makes no sense. Ideas cannot be owned as they are entertwined in the fabric of yesterday’s stories.

So how did the idea for my Nemo story develop?

  • First as I stated I enjoy satire. True story: back in college I was a political science major. I was taking a class in comparative politics looking at Lenin, Roosevelt, and Hitler. I was also enrolled in acreative writing class on political satire. We had to write a story based on Swift’s Modest Proposal. I think my piece was on ending poverty by inoculating minority babies with the HIV virus. So my roomate, stumbling around, found a draft, and then saw all the Hitler books on my shelf and came to the obvious conclusion I was a secret neo-nazi.  So satire has been with me a long time.
  • Then last year I was taking my children to the mystic aquarium. Folks hate visiting museums with me. I want to read every placard at every exhibit. It was there that I learned of the mating habits of clownfish. I know, an exciting topic.
  • At the time I thought that this would make excellent satire. I shelved the idea away. Then when I saw the daily challenge on DS 106 it just popped back into my head.
  • So I Googled, “Finding Nemo.” and realized it was ten years old.
  • Then I Googled, “New York Times Lawsuit.” I needed a mentor text to serve as a template for the article.
  • Next I Googled, “Clownfish Wikipedia” so I could get a modicum of the science write.
  • Finally, I Googled the education director of the Mystic aquarium to add some authority to the piece.

Looking at this process my writing spanned over a decade (centuries if you count Swift). It is really a remix of a half dozen sources and the inspiration I have found in the writing is making crowd.

Greg McVerry

Greg McVerry is a teacher, researcher and scholar at Southern Connecticut State University.

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