At first when I accessed DS106, I had the impression that it was just an website where you can access materials for class like Open Learning Initiative from Carnegie Melon or MyAccountingLab from Pearson. How surprised was I when I finished watching the YouTube video on their About page! Turns out that was not what I thought at all, but it was (to put into simpler terms) an online database where you use digital tools to tell stories!

What I noticed about DS106 is that they do not list an exact guideline for when they come into questions regarding intellectual property, fair use, etc.. However, I feel that they incorporate fair use and intellectual property into their entries without causing trouble to the original owner of the materials because of the nature of their assignments. They edit the materials in such a way that encourages creativity and encourages comments and criticism. This community understands the “Commons” by realizing that their material is open to everyone to see. They are posting in a database whose main purpose is to showcase their creations.


One of the things that caught my attention on the ds106 site was the site’s title “Digital Storytelling it immediately bought to my attention the similarities to our class name. My first link was a story The Importance Of Words. The story began with a question of the importance of words in our lives. Then the writer when into the story

The story that I picked was about the importance of a language and the role that words play in our life. This story talked about people who did not have any language. As Susan was very surprised seeing a 27 year old man without having any language, since he was born deaf and he did not know that there is something such as words. And when he learn sign language from Susan, he became so emotional that he cried because the meaning of life changed for him as he realized that everything as its own name and definition.  As he said that his life without language was a dark life but now he is in a bright life.

As for this and other intellectual property ds106 seem to have a of respectful and an open policy like our digital history class. As for fair use they invite people to use and share the information just like wikipedia. I love one of their “subtle rules of NO APOLOGIES for not being able to participate when other parts of life intrude.” But particularly it was the way in which they choose to layout the creative commons in a language that was very simple and inviting to ready. I believe that it was my first time actually finishing the legal language of any document online. Impart too because they especially didn’t make it very long as to discourage the masses from reading it.

Finally, the theme of giving back, contributing and meeting new people gave me new motivation to take part in an online communities like ds106 and that made me see the importance of the site like these.


From Mona Lisa holding a cat to altered World War II slogans relevant to modern times, there was something unique about what was going on. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what was going on just yet…

The website is an open classroom available to everyone where they can either participate as a student, teacher, or observer.

Upon looking through the courses I noticed something peculiar between the assignments. Each assignment starts with a product and the students are challenged to create something completely unique within set guidelines. Such as this assignment where students use copyrighted material or intellectual property and “remix” them or create a reflection of the piece. The completed product is displayed openly to the public and others are urged to participate.

If you aren’t sure exactly how to proceed or hitting a mental wall… Have no fear as ds106 offers a big remix button next to each assignment that offers you a theme to incorporate your assignment with.

Ds106 allows those with technical skills to create something original based on existing ideas. Those without technical skills are offered tutorials and a community of like-minded pupils to communicate and educate one another. The entire idea of being an open course and an education tool allows the use of sensitive material to promote creativity.

Any and all walls of a digital commons is broken and swept aside as all material is available and open to each other. Users can even remix another student’s work. Ideas and information is shared and archived available for anyone to view.


Upon first entering DS106 I was immediately struck by its header, which read, “Digital Storytelling – We Jam Econo.” We Jam Econo is the name of a 2005 documentary which tells the story of seminal California-punk band The Minutemen. The band operated on a streamlined, “by any means necesary”, economic system. This system reflected heavily on their insistence on playing affordable shows, as well as releasing their music at a fair price. Ds106 certainly reflects the same sentiments through its open source approach to real, honest online participation.

It seems evident that the community believes strongly in their right to operate and create material within the context of a more “free” internet. As participants in the never-ending experiment of the World Wide Web, DS106 seems to prove, alongside countless other contemporaries, that “another internet is possible.” The most impressive display of the importance of the site lies beyond the walls of the initial assignments page, Mission: DS106. After exploring each tab, I was most interested in the work being done through the audio, visual, and mash-up assignments. Where many classes might stay clear of any possible grey-area regarding copyright, DS106 does not allow any roadblocks on their path to honest digital storytelling.



My experience with DS106 was very interesting once I had a chance to explore it. I really like how the users are extremely creative, it is very interesting how something that is an online course and its at free will can have such a positive outcome. One thing that really caught my attention is in the INSPIRE part of the website, “We have knitted together an intimate community that is not only participating in its structure but also creating it”, it really reminded me of the objective for our class. As far as intellectual property and fair use, DS106 participants would probably agree that when using someone else work to create something new or in better words, remixing, it just gives more opportunity for someone to express themselves easier. The class understanding of the commons is demonstrated by the freedom of sharing their ideas and work of art where it can potentially be viewed by anyone. Overall, my experience with DS106 was positive and I think our professors are doing a good job at making our small class as interesting  as DOS106.


There is a very prominent DIY (do it yourself) approach to this online community. Our society treats education as a “you must”; whereas in reality, it should be an act of free will. It’s an innate ability humans have to want to learn more about the world surrounding them. Due to the stifling neglect of creativity in the school space,young students find the most joy during their playtime with friends. This is because of their ability to create their own space with like minded people. As we get older we simply don’t lose that creative exuberance towards the world. Its a combination of academia and our surrounding world, that expects the rules and procedures to be followed in such a way it deters us from being creative.

With communities such as DS106 emerging, and becoming increasingly popular; the idea of ‘taking back’ education begins to come into fruition. The pace at which our society operates, and how effectively we can work remotely, lay the foundation for our future. Massive open online courses that are free and open to the public lay the framework for the taking back of education. In this specific case, the community strives to produce new media through collabration. All collaborating is down on items that can be successfully manipulated and “re-mixed”, under creative commons licensing. The idea of being able to take someone else’s work and adding your own personal touch visualizes the power That fair use can have. Adding your own touch to someone else’s work could prove successful in building on new ideas and being able to gain perspective of the picture from an entirely different viewpoint.


After exploring DS106 website, I think it’s a great platform that allows people to be creative and inventive while freely sharing their new type of art with internet community.

Intellectual property. With the emergence of the Internet people start to rethink and change the ways intellectual property should be used in a modern inter-connected society. Members of the DS106 community do their best to recognize the rights of the owners of intellectual property such as images, video, music and other digital content. However, they feel that they have the right to create new media by using elements of intellectual property and this makes important additions to original contributions.

Fair use. Allows to maintain a balance between the free flow of information over the Internet while still protecting intellectual property rights. It is a shared opinion among the members of the ds106 community that the role of fair use is to prevent copyright from limiting the creativity, and from imposing other challenges that would prevent the creation and spread of knowledge and learning. Since DS106 is online teaching and learning site, it permits limited use of copyrighted material.

Network ethics. Everyday technologies like the Internet, and digital media affects how we work, play and communicate, and challenges us to think about ethical problems in new ways. Few users of DS106 site would argue that legal downloading and distributing copies of copyright-protected material is stealing, and thus ethically wrong. However, using pieces of others’ digital work like mash-up and remix allows for the emergence of new forms of creativity.

Commons. After browsing through DS106 site, I came to realize that site users understand Commons as being able to collaborate, explore, share, mix and re-use digital content in new creative ways.


When professors Waltzer and Harbison first mentioned ds106, it didn’t sound like something I would want to explore in my free time. Upon entering the website, however, my attention was quickly grabbed by the unique design centered around the constantly switching images. Those images are created by users, or rather the students of this online course. Aside from artistic element, the images are based on works of other people, and that is the reason for this post and for ds106 itself. Every assignment for ds106 requires students to make use of the Commons and everything it offers. All of the materials used by the participants are available under Creative Commons licensing, which allows for unrestricted sharing of intellectual property.

The eye-catching design of the page was not the only thing that impressed me. The content of each post shows the high level of research done and reflects the commitment of students. They accomplish a serious amount of work for an online course with optional participation. One way or another, each student specifies the way he/she used the works of others in a legal way. Like others have mentioned already, that is something we are learning to do in Digital History as well.


Upon entering the DS106 site, I found it a bit overwhelming with so many different options and aspects of the site to explore. But after some use with it I became comfortable.  The participants view the commons as a shared space that we can all use and which better us in the advancement of learning and sharing digital pieces. The site is like the center of a web that branches out and displays information and art from all over. There were many mashups and the underlying theme was ART.  In terms of entering these pieces of art onto the site, http://ds106.us/handbook/blogging/ ,seemed to be of great use and help for participants.  It grazes over the importance of including a url back to where you attained certain pieces, which is important in regard to fair-use.   As Phillip mentioned in his post, I did find it a bit similar to our Digital History site in the sense that we are both collaborating with each other in a digital way to explore the web, share art, and at the same time take a class!   In the future we will be seeing many more sites and networks similar to this.


Phillip Bleustein


The community of DS106 is an open online class that allows for students to contribute their ideas in an open digital space. The class community is in favor of the “Commons”. They like being able to integrate their ideas into open digital space without worrying about copyright. They  feel that while being able to collaborate their ideas with other’s it also gives others inspiration.  DS 106 is not so different from our Digital History class that we are in. The definitions assignment that we did is very similar to the DS106 class. As a group we were contributing our ideas into a digital space for others to learn and bounce their ideas off of ours.

Connecting to the #DS106 Experience [entry-title]

When first assigned, the DS106 site looked like one huge monster filled with pictures, video and text. There were hyperlinks to every which-way, pictures moving up and down and with it all being against a black background, DS106 appeared to have a Frankenstein’s monster-like hold on the internet. After exploring some links, I realized that’s exactly what it was hoping to achieve.

DS106 is a mass online course that deals with Digital Storytelling (I felt incredibly proud when I realized that’s it’s what the DS stood for) by use of text, image, sound and video. It deals heavily with blogging, with students completing assignments and posting them up on their blog.

On the official DS106, under the About section the instructors pride that “the only requirements are a real computer, a hardy internet connection, preferably a domain of your own and some commodity web hosting, and all the creativity you can muster.”

The class works to create a narrative that can frame the student’s internet identity – and yes, it’s extremely progressive with a side of “Matrix” science-fiction.  Still curious about the inner workings of the course, I reached-out instructors Jim Groom, Alan Levine, and Michael B. Smith, in true DS106 style, via twitter. To which I learned that curating the internet, so to speak, is no simple task.

Michael Smith was the first to respond, and he discussed how DS160 deals with fair use and how the program avoids copywrite issues.

Smith tweeted me about the copyright issues around not just the DS106 course, but the internet as a whole.

Linking to a post in his blog, he shared a post by Groom regarding what really counts as “fair use.”  The post titled “Is There No Sanctuary?” is told entirely with .gifs, youtube clips and a few sentences of narration for flow. It tells the story of how Groom’s Youtube account was shut-down after various copyright complaints after using clips of copyrighted videos for educational purposes.

In Groom’s blog about the situation he writes,

I feel like a criminal for quoting works I love. I feel like a criminal for wanting to further imagine through the offspring of our moment. Worst of all, I have to feel like a criminal when I am having fun. It’s becoming a much more serious crime, and I’m scared about that prospect. Not so much that they’ll sue me, but more that they have already occupied my mind trying to convince me that sharing online is evil. To convince me that a video sharing site owned by an advertising company that promises to “do no evil” has become the de facto mediary between millions of people and what seems a basic human right to re-use, remix, and re-imagine the media we inhabit.

 – Jim Grooms, Fear of a YouTube Planet

The idea of reusing,  remix, and re-imaging the internet is a central aspect of the DS160 course. Smith tweeted that a lot of images are also taken from public domain sites such as archive.org but “mashing bits of popular media like digital punk flyers.”

Smith then linked me to a Youtube video by Groom, titled No Digital Facelifts: Thinking the Unthinkable About Open Educational Experiences.

In his lecture, Groom notes the importance of Narration, Curation and Sharing when dealing with any type of digital history and web content.

Which leads me to my conversation with Groom himself. Our conversation was more about the fundamental philosophy of what DS106 is and the inspiration behind such a deeply embedded course for the web.

Jim Groom is the director of the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies and adjunct professor at the University of Mary Washington and is the brainpower behind DS106.

Groom also directed me to Gardner Campbell’s article titled A Personal Cyberinfrastructur, which focused on how the internet should be used in an educational setting.

In short, students would build a personal cyberinfrastructure, one they would continue to modify and extend throughout their college career — and beyond.

In building that personal cyberinfrastructure, students not only would acquire crucial technical skills for their digital lives but also would engage in work that provides richly teachable moments ranging from multimodal writing to information science, knowledge management, bibliographic instruction, and social networking. Fascinating and important innovations would emerge as students are able to shape their own cognition, learning, expression, and reflection in a digital age, in a digital medium. Students would frame, curate, share, and direct their own “engagement streams” throughout the learning environment.

– Gardner Campbell,  A Personal Cyberinfrastructur

Much like our own class, the DS106 is a larger version of our own digital curation. With hundreds of students creating content for the web, by the web, with the web. Which left me wonder just how the community is to interact on such a grandiose scale. This is where Alan Levine came in, who explained me to how MOC classes like DS106 work as a community.

So…what now? As a new semester begins to rev its engine, the DS106 community is already finishing up their first few assignments. In a call-out using the #DS106 hash-tag on twitter, I asked students how they felt about the course. Some appeared excited, others confused, but one user tweeted back to me personally.

There’s a famous quote by Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher of communication theory, that claims that “the medium is the message.” As the lines between offline and online become more blurred, the tools of the web are constantly changing, and with that so is the message. Courses like DS106 are providing podiums for students to share their messages with the world, to be heard through a new medium.  Now what remains is the question of just how many people are willing to listen, and will obstacles such as copyright laws limit creativity.


By September 17th, 9pm

Explore http://ds106.us/.  Write a post of less than 500 words exploring the approach members of the ds106 community take to questions of intellectual property, fair use, and network ethics. How does this community understand the “Commons”?

As part of this assignment, you are encouraged to ask a question on Twitter of some central members of the ds106 community:

  • Ask @jimgroom questions you have about the philosophy behind ds106.
  • Ask @cogdog questions about community-forming and modes of interaction.
  • Ask @mburtis questions about the assignment bank and building the architecture of ds106.
  • Ask @mbransons questions about the (re)use of media in the course.

To ask them on Twitter, just include their twitter handle (for example, @jimgroom) in your tweet. And be sure to tag your question with the #baruchdh hashtag!

By September 19th, 8am 

Leave a comment on at least two posts by your classmates.

By September 19th, 5:50pm

Complete reading:


Tool Reviews, continued

Key Ideas from Monday
  • public domain, fair use, The Commons

Reading Review

  • Reconstruct the project
    • technologies used: the archive, WordPress, Wikipedia, YouTube, the network, Reddit
    • Ethical implications of the project
  • Was this a prank or a hoax?
  • 2008 v 20012

Prep for Next Week

  • Beginning discussion of contours of projects
  • DS106.US



Read (and follow the links within these pieces):


If you’ve not begun to explore the tools we reviewed in class on Monday, DO SO!



  • Wikipedia assignment
  • Some preliminary thoughts about collaboration

Intellectual Property and Ethics

  • Cohen and Rosenzweig, “Owning the Past
    • Focused Freewrite: what is the relationship between fair use and digital history?
    • Define keywords:

Illustrative Quotes:

Though it is dangerous and unethical to play fast and loose with fair use, it is equally a mistake to proceed too cautiously. As historian David Stowe points out in a perceptive article, those who unquestionably agree to every demand from rights holders “simply institutionalize a property right that doesn’t exist.” And their unquestioning compliance undercuts the ability of others to claim fair use rights. “Without being exercised,” Stowe argues, “the right to fair use will simply atrophy.” Even the more cautious Chicago Manual warns against seeking permission where there is on the slightest doubt because “the right of fair use is valuable to scholarship, and it should not be allowed to decay because scholars fail to employ it boldly.


Okeh Records, which pioneered the “race” record market with the first recordings by African American blues singers in the early 1920s, was later taken over by the Columbia Phonograph Company, which was, in turn, taken over by the American Record Corporation, and then the Columbia Broadcasting System, and most recently, Sony. Thus, if you want to make use of now obscure blues songs from the 1920s originally released by Okeh, you will find yourself negotiating with Sony Music Entertainment Inc. and sending your payments to a multinational conglomerate, not the heirs of the original bluesmen.


Tool Review