The only downside of introducing the ds106 model to a large group of bright, curious and creative students is that the instructor will quickly become overwhelmed with a staggering level of awesome output. I’ve already spent one incredible all-niter reading student blogs and trying to leave coherent comments. I imagine there will be a few more before the semester ends. The funny thing is, I love it. I find myself energized and inspired by this class’s enthusiasm and playfulness. I feel I need to redefine my personal ‘A – game’ standard upwards just to keep up with them.
Case in point is the suddenly spiraling out of control “Patty Pioneers” assignment. Adam started the ball rolling when he blogged a picture of Wendy’s Triple Baconator a week or so ago. I followed up with a photo of a poster of McDonald’s Grand Canyon Burger (only available in Japan). Nick was the first to put food into the hands of a computing pioneer when he placed a slice of pizza in a photo of Alan Kay (which happened to have been taken by UWM ds106 instructor Alan Levine).
Back to Adam, he was inspired to do something with his Triple Baconator so he decided to put one in the hands of Doug Englebart. He then went on to write up and submit the assignment through the ds106 assignment submission form. Here’s how Adam describes the Patty Pioneers assignment:
Simply put, this assignment involves editing a picture of any Computer Pioneer so that it looks like they are eating/about to eat/holding a burger or similar types of fast food.
And then we’re off to the races. Marina worked a bit of word play as well as a cola and side order of fries in to her stellar Weiner eating a wiener post. I noticed Paul stuck around after class today to complete his beef-burger-homage to Ted “Mr. Xanadu” Nelson. Earlier, Paul had posted two clear and insightful blog entries on the man who coined the term hypertext. But they’re not just photoshopping meals of the great minds here – something far more meaningful is going on.
Of course I love the playful nature of all of this. And it provides a great avenue to become more fluent with working with images and learning about image attribution and copyright issues. But the students here are also proudly displaying what they have learned about these different characters. They are sharing the findings of their investigations in a form that is informative, eye-catching and thought provoking. I’m not exactly sure how best to describe what seems to be happening. All I know is that I find it exhilarating and I’m grateful to be a part of it.
The idea of Sir Tim Berners-Lee being awarded a basket of fried chicken came when I couldn’t get the stack of pancakes image to properly fit the setting (the image of Sir Tim is from Academy of Achievement).
As the original image (from Bair’s Fried Chicken) of the basket had a white background, it was easy for me to select the white part with Gimp’s Fuzzy Select Tool, invert the selection and apply a layer mask to the selection. This turned the white portion invisible so that only the basket remained. I had trouble when I tried re-resizing or moving the masked layer. The image and mask didn’t move or re-scale together. I discovered the Apply Layer Mask menu choice fixed the problem.
To get Berners-Lee’s hand to appear to be grabbing the basket, I selected his hand with the Free select tool and copied it on a new layer which was above the basket layer. A little bit of erasing made the base of the actual award he’d been given disappear.
As for why I selected Sir Tim for this assignment, the simple answer is that his is the first name that came to mind when I decided to do this assignment. I understand that he is credited with creating the World Wide Web. Somewhere in the recesses of my memory I seem to recall seeing his name in my early forays into web browsing in the early 90’s. It struck me as a curious that the the earliest documents I found online all seemed to be coming from a nuclear research facility in Switzerland called CERN.
I vividly recall trying to convince friends and family that this internet thing was going to be huge. Few people I knew seemed to understand or care. The one exception was Uncle Calvin. For some reason or other, he has had repeated dealings with some of the CERN people over the years. I’ll try to share an account of some of Uncle Calvin’s affairs with CERN in a future audio recording.