Week 3 Reflection: Finding My Groove

I found my groove this week through enthusiasm for this course and maximizing on my productivity. My positivity stemmed from the guidance of the weekly screencast. I gleaned how to create better critiques, format my blog posts for a wider audience, and dive deeper into my viewpoint and experience. In my story critique, I sought out stories that interested me more, while supporting my focal theme. Both stories, My Mushroom Burial Suit and The Power of Vulnerability, embellish upon my focal theme of grief.
I began to format my critiques in a more user-friendly way: expecting the outside world to engage with my viewpoint. Coeio, the makers of the Mushroom Burial Suits favorited my critique. Having been anti-Twitter prior to this course, I am surprised by my delight. Perhaps I have found Twitter’s niche in my world.

It feels like this week really began to click for me. I truly appreciate the design of this course and love its immersion component. I responded to one of my peer’s New Literacies responses saying that I hope to design such a well-thought-out course one day.

I feel like I am studying with the great educators of my time.

Here is my week’s work:

TDC 1 From Where I Stand
Story Critique 1 My Mushroom Death Suit
Story Critique 2 Power of Vulnerability
Weekly Assignment The Grief Wheel
L&K Response Chapter 3: Leverage in Web 2.0 Business Models
Peer Story Critique 1 23 Feelings in Dance
Peer Story Critique 2 My Kid Would Never Bully…Or Would They?
L&K Peer Responses 1 New Ethos & Social Learning
L&K Peer Responses 2 Out with the Old, In with the “Old New”??
TDC 2 GNA Birthday Wish
hip hop movement

(Photo Credit: http://www.foroswebgratis.com/fotos/7/7/2/2/3//1067525b-boys2.JPG)

Expansive Dreaming

Pope Valley Panorama
The Daily Create (tdc1266) was to capture an image of what Dr. Garcia might see in her future in celebration of her birthday. I can’t say that I know Dr. Garcia, but I’m sure she’s a wonderful person worthy of all the joy life has to offer.

I am currently at a spiritual retreat in Pope Valley, California. I come here to replenish my well and remember what is important to me. This view inspires and beckons me to dream big.

Dr. Garcia, I wish you all the expansive dreaming and rejuvenation your can possibly stand for your birthday.

New Literacies’ Chapter 3 Review: Leverage in Web 2.0 Business Models

Authors of New Literacies, Lankshear and Knobel, ask for a deeper discussion around how today’s Web 2.0 business models leverage their products/services and if there is some degree of user exploitation. This loaded question is definitely worth exploring in today’s internet-driven world. In this essay, I will cover how Web 2.0 companies applied leverage to their business models, discuss the leverage of two Web 2.0 key players, and how leverage can knowingly or unknowingly lead to user exploitation.
I will start with how Web 2.0 business models differ from Web 1.0 models. According to the authors, there are two defining differences. The first difference is that Web 1.0 models were applications that operated on users’ desktops, while Web 2.0 were built and operated on the web. (69) The second difference is that Web 2.0 products and services actually encouraged interactivity between the makers and the users. (69) The absolute genius of this is, “In the Web 2.0 business model, consumers or users actually help build the business for the ‘owner’”. (69) These companies applied leverage, or gathered user data, in a way never seen before.

Let’s explore two of the largest Web 2.0 players: Amazon and Google. Lankshear and Knobel write, “Amazon leveraged collective intelligence in the form of reader engagement and consumer data into the number one bibliographic data source on books, providing a free service for scholars as much as consumers, while simultaneously outstripping competitors in sales.” (71) This means Amazon users benefit from a gargantuan collection of books and reviews, while Amazon benefits by users continuously updating their bibliographic data directories. By gathering user data, Amazon employs targeted, user-specific marketing tactics. For example, I purchased a wetsuit on this site and at the bottom of the screen more “Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed” products displayed. I almost added neoprene five finger gloves and a Lycra hot skins hood. I have no problem with this tactic because Amazon, as a consumer site, is expected to market as effectively as possible to its consumers.

I do, however, question Google’s tactics. The authors explain, “Indeed, they [users] actively collaborate – whether they are aware of it or not—with Google.com by contributing to building a continuously improved and more dynamic database that is mediated by Google’s page rank system.” (70) I am fully aware that Google benefits from my every click, email, and Gmail chat, and yet I still choose to use their technology. I wonder more about the general public who are unaware of Google’s thorough tracking methods and do not realize they are choosing to be tracked. Robert Epstein (2013, May) Google’s Gotcha, U.S. News writes, “Google can and does monitor people – perhaps upwards of 90 percent of Internet users worldwide – whether they use a Google product or not, and most people have no idea they’re being monitored.” When Google’s business model emerged in the private sector, they were light years ahead of the public sector’s ability to regulate and protect the public. Do not get me wrong, I love Google and how it makes my life easier. I just wonder if the uninformed folks out there know they are being exploited.

Yes, Web 2.0 business models leverage user interactivity to their advantage, which warrants a certain amount of user exploitation. My biggest concern is if users are not aware of the intimate tracking occurring on their sites. Inform users, then participants are able to use Web 2.0 applications with their eyes wide open.

“The Power of Vulnerability” Story Critique

Brene Brown’s research on human connection led her down the rabbit hole of vulnerability, when she asked the question, “What makes a person whole-hearted?” Brene’s study is fascinating to me as her study of vulnerability embraced her, awoke her own journey of vulnerability, and then begged her to courageously share her experience with the world.

The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown

Three traits were chosen from Jason Ohler’s rubric to critique this story.

(10 points each)

  1. Content Understanding
  2. Story
  3. Presentation

Content Understanding-How well was an understanding of the material conveyed and addressed?

Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston graduate College of Social Work. She is an expert in her field, having gathered and quantified data to illustrate her depth of knowledge on vulnerability as both personal and clinical. It is clear that her Ted Talk is the culmination of her life’s work: gathering data to influence and shape the world’s perspective on vulnerability.

Score: 10

Story-Was the story compelling and engaging?

Brene’s research and personal life intersect in such a way that forces her to become the thing she hates the most: vulnerable. Her realization that to be a whole-hearted person, one must allow themselves to consistently be vulnerable. In the “greyness” of vulnerability, she was unable to grasp this “weakness” within herself, which led to a breakdown. To summarize, Brene said, “I had a breakdown, not a spiritual awakening. It was a breakdown.” That’s a very vulnerable thing to admit to a coliseum full of academics. The story shifted from average rendition of other people’s vulnerable experiences to Brene’s own whole-hearted testimonial on the power of vulnerability.


Score: 10

Presentation-How effective was the performance?

Brene appears to be having an effortless conversation with her audience at Ted Talks. She introduces herself as a “researcher/story teller”, which lends itself to the ease of telling her viewpoint on vulnerability. The images chosen for her presentation are effective, relevant, and emotionally engaging. It was refreshing that her images were used sparingly for emphasis. The content was so good that too much imagery would have been distracting.

When I add up her confidence on stage, complimentary images, and well-communicated message, Brene Brown delivers a phenomenal performance.


Score: 10

Overall: 30/30





“Non-Linear Grief Symptoms: Unpredictability is the Norm” Video Assignment

How does grief work?

My friends experiencing loss and members of my grief group all have different answers. One friend compared her grief symptoms to waves from the ocean, sometimes gentle, sometimes fierce, but they usually came in sets. Another friend compared her grief symptoms to being raped by a gorilla. She said, “You never know when the gorilla is going to grab you and have its way with you.”

I can relate to both explanations. The bottom line being that we are all trying to make sense of grief’s complicated emotional landscape.

The Heartlight Center gave me a Grief Wheel hand-out one night and I found peace in its reasoning. The Grief Wheel, created by the Grief Education Institute (Denver, 1986), explained that it is normal to be emotionally spread all over the map within one’s grieving process. There are four main phases that a person can move through in a non-linear manner: shock, protest, disorganization, and reorganization. Non-linear meaning that one will step or leap forward and backward between the phases at any given moment. In my video, I tried to capture the cyclical and erratic movement through the phases of grief.

As life carries on, emotions get to play themselves out, and the wound begins to heal, one ultimately steps off the wheel to embrace life again. However, visits back to the grief wheel are inevitable. Environmental circumstances may bring up an old memory like the smell of pie, a song on the radio, or seeing someone else experience loss. Grief is a normal reaction to such flashbacks and it is important to acknowledge and appreciate memories as they arise.

Remember, one’s grief is an indication of one’s capacity to love, which I believe to be the whole point of life. If you are not grieving, you are not loving.

“My Mushroom Burial Suit” story critique

My Mushroom Burial Suit by Jae Rhim Lee
There it is, that topic we don’t want to talk about: death. Most people, including myself, don’t want to talk about death until it is upon us or a loved one. What I love about Jae Rhim Lee’s My Mushroom Burial Suit is her incredible innovation and practicality around the inevitable. Jae Rhim takes ownership of death and ecological footprints to the next level by not only planning her funeral, but by planning exactly how she will decompose and further benefit the environment.

My mushroom burial suit by Jae Rhim Lee

Three traits were chosen from Jason Ohler’s rubric to critique this story.

(10 points each)

  1. Originality/Voice/Creativity
  2. Research
  3. Flow/Organization/Pacing

Originality/Voice/Creativity—Did the story exhibit an original sense of voice and a fresh perspective?

My Mushroom Burial Suit has one of the most unique perspectives I have ever encountered. Jae is not shying away from the tough topic of death, but rather delving into the decomposition of it. She coins the new words: Infinity Burial Project, Infinity Mushrooms, Body Decopiculture + Toxin Remediation, Mushroom Death Suit, and Decompinauts of the Decompiculture Society. I appreciate her blending of art, science, and culture to create a completely new way of connecting death and preserving the planet. The originality of Jae’s idea may even be pushing Ted Talks to another level of creativity. Perhaps this new way of thinking will inspire more conversations around death, loss of loved ones, and one’s body ultimate gift of good citizenship.

Score: 10

Research—Was the story well researched and documented?

Jae has thoroughly researched toxins and mushrooms for her decompiculture cause. She explains toxins in the body, which include BPA, preservatives, pesticides and heavy metals like lead and mercury. She further explains that in current burial practices, cremation releases toxins, mainly mercury, into the air we breathe, while formaldehyde, used to preserve bodies for burials, is making funeral workers sick.

In the flipside of her toxin research, Jae is documenting growth of toxin-cleaning mushrooms in petri dishes and the decomposition process. She cultivates mushroom strains that feed on her own hair, skin and finger nails in the hopes they will recognize and feed on her body upon her death. Once deceased, she will be placed in her researched dendritic patterned suit that houses mushroom spores. The last step being the insertion of a decompiculture capsule to allow mushroom spores to decompose her from the inside out.

Score: 10

Flow/Organization/Pacing—Did the story flow well, moving from part to part without bumps or disorientation?

It is clear that Jae is passionate about her work with human decomposition and the environment. She builds the story nicely by providing good context around toxins in humans and our environment. The only thing I find that disturbs her story flow is her frequent use of her notes, which causes constant disengagement from her audience. Otherwise she is eloquent and poised in spreading her message: radical acceptance of death and decomposition through our intimate connection to our environment.

Score: 8

Overall: 28/30





Week 2 Reflection: Am I Doing This Right?

It feels good to have officially completed two weeks of CU Denver’s Digital Storytelling class, but I have to admit that I keep questioning myself. It reminds of dancing at a night club. I am a fantastic dancer in my living room, but on the dance floor, I am not quite sure what the rest of the world thinks. According to our readings in New Literacies, as long as I am able to connect with my fellow classmates and participate in this new literacy, my dancing style is working.
Probably the biggest challenge I glossed over before committing to this summer class, and yes, Remi you warned us, was time management. Of course I knew I would be very busy, but I forgot about a four-day vacation I planned beforehand, how much time it takes to prep my mother’s house for sale, and just the simple things like hanging out with friends on a nice summer’s day. This has forced an agility to begin growing inside me right now. It will be born of ruthless prioritization, geeking-out in digital storytelling, and striking a balance of work and play within screaming fast timelines.

The picture I have painted so far seems a little intense and perhaps whiny. However, I must say that I feel very alive. To have my portfolio steadily growing online feels amazing and I love learning from my classmates. My natural happy place is in creating, so even though the work is hard, it is incredibly gratifying. It is a good feeling to know I am in exactly the right master’s program for my abilities and passions.

(Photo Credit: Eadweard Muybridge)

Singing Teapot Blind Contour

After procrastinating long enough, I committed to a sharpie, a lined tablet, and 60 seconds. Who knew such a simple, happy teapot needed to be born from the DS106’s daily create assignment tcd1258? It was a practice of trusting myself, the process, and that whatever picture I produced would be good enough. However, I have to admit it took everything I had not to “doctor” the image up.
There is something to be said for empty space. It lets one’s imagination come up with the rest of the setting such as the backdrop or story behind why the teapot is singing. The simplicity of this assignment was so refreshing after a long week of producing my best critiques, responses, and audio files. Simple is good, refreshing, and welcome.singingteapot

“Music, Music, Music” Story Critique

Music, Music, Music, produced by Jessica Leitko at University of Houston, tells the story of how humans are hard-wired to love pleasant, harmonized sounds. This short piece explores our musical affinity through history, science, and culture. I will be providing feedback on the research, media application, and flow of this piece using the Jason Ohler digital storytelling assessment rubric.

Music, Music, Music examines the human brain’s craving for rhythm and melody. In this piece, Leitko utilizes the knowledge of Dr. John Lienhard, Professor of Technology and Culture, at the University. When explaining the science behind our love of music he says, “PET scans show people reacting to their favorite pieces of music much how they react to food or sex.” Based on the narration, I assume Dr. Lienhard researched and compiled the script, while Jessica produced the visuals and final product. I found that how she wove images together produced an educationally potent end product.

Media Application

I applaud how Jessica’s music, narration, and imagery are used in a way to make the story more compelling. The images compliment the story nicely and kept me wanting more. It seems that Jessica pulled from every possible source for her images: ancient instruments, PET scans, courting couples, famous musicians, sheet music, and flamboyant dance. Utilizing the song Music! Music! Music! by Teresa Brewer was a nice touch as it added variety to Dr. Lienhard’s narration.


Music, Music, Music drew a large web of all the ways our brain’s relate to and crave harmonies. It seemed that Dr. Lienhard covered so much information that he barely took a breath. His pace is just fast enough to make me a little anxious. I think the overall storytelling could have benefited from a better paced flow of information. I wonder if Jessica could have implemented pauses here and there to slow down the pace. A better flow may have let the audience take the words in more deeply.

All and all, this was a fun digital storytelling piece. I liked learning that my love of music is a biological response and not just an obsession. Thank you Jessica and Dr. Lienhard for sharing your work.

(Photo Credit: Amazing Grace and Roses Christian Sheet Music Hymn Hymnal Digital Download Image Vintage Clipart Scan Graphic vs0092 via Etsy)