Happy 4th of July!

happy 4th napkin
This napkin doodle was inspired by the DS106 daily create (tdc1273) and the 4th of July holiday weekend. I got to see the fireworks hosted by the city of Englewood.  It was such a great time to catch up with friends and do some serious people watching. As I reveled in the fireworks’ awe-inspiring beauty, I realized just how lucky I am. I live in a wonderful place, have wonderful friends and family, and have my health. Here’s to remembering that life is good!

Promotional Meetup Poster: Finding Joy in Times of Grief & Loss

meetup flyer
As a function of this weeks design assignment, I maximized on an opportunity to create a dual-purpose promotional poster. There were a couple other assignments that I really wanted to create, but practicality won that battle. On one hand, I had a fun design assignment to complete for my CU Denver Storytelling class and on the other hand, the Althea Center, where I host the Meetup group, requested promotional flyers for members. Sometimes in a crunch, things just work out.

I recently started a Meetup group named Finding Joy in Times of Grief and Loss, which I have heard members describe as a sophomore experience to a traditional grief group. The meetup has attracted people who are grieving yet understand that both joy and grief can coexist. My first group had eight attendees from all walks of life, with differing stories of loss, and who all wanted to move on in their lives in a healthy way. I love this group and hope its growth will help those who would benefit from such a community.

This promotional poster was created in a flyer template of Microsoft Word. I altered the color scheme to match my existing Meetup page’s branding. Then I inserted content from my Meetup group and made sure to answer the who, what, when, where, and why of the group. Lastly, I made the overall product aesthetically pleasing through tweaking the layout and proportions.  I hope I accomplished the goal of drawing an onlooker’s eye to the poster.

New Literacies’ Chapter 4 Review: Rate That API’s Purpose

This week in my Digital Storytelling class at CU Denver, I learned about the power and efficiency of merging two or more application interfaces (APIs) to create a serviceware mashup. According to Lanshear and Knobel’s book, New Literacies “Mashups create innovative and useful—purposeful—process tools out of existing tools, to which they add value by enabling them, in combination, to do what could not previously be done. This is a form of customizing and tailoring existing resources to meet niched purposes, perhaps most commonly understood at present by reference to the emergence of apps for mobile phones and tablets” (107).
In order to form better understanding of mashups, Lankshear and Knobel suggested locating, researching, and forming a rating system for several API mashups at ProgrammableWeb.com.

Rating an API was challenging because this is a completely new subject to me. I did not want to inaccurately judge an API due to my lack of knowledge of the original software. Therefore, I decided to research what makes a good API and select a single quality that I could rate confidently.

Nathan Segal, author of What Makes a Good API says, “A good API is easy to learn, easy to use, easily scalable, purposeful, and easy to maintain and upgrade.” He also wrote, “It should be easy to explain what your API does in a few words. If not, you’ll need to simplify the idea” (HTMLGoodies.com). The quality of ease of explanation stood out to me and I ran with it.

My “explanation of purpose” numerical rating system is based on a scale of 0-5. An API that does not explain its purpose on ProgrammableWeb.com in a few words, scores a 0, while one that explains its purpose concisely earns a 5. The APIs that I will explore and rate were located on ProgrammableWeb.com under “Most Recent” in the API Directory. They include Google Classroom, Delivery.com, and Handwriting.io.

Google Classroom

  • API Explanation: “The goal is to integrate students’ accounts and domains into education applications that include courses, aliases, invitations, students, teachers, and user entities” (ProgrammableWeb.com).
  • Purpose: An education based program used to integrate students’ accounts and foster collaboration.
  • Motivation: Developers may have wanted to aid teachers in their classroom management and educational value.
  • Users: Teachers and students.
  • Added Value: It seems like a combination of Google Docs, Mail, and Calendar created specifically for education.
  • Personal Use: I would absolutely use it if I taught or trained in a group.
  • Explanation of Purpose Rating: 5—The purpose is very clear.

Delivery.com

  • API Explanation: “Delivery.com provides a database of restaurants, fast food establishments, dry cleaners, and liquor stores that provide delivery options. Users can search locally for places that provide delivery, place an order, and pay online” (ProgrammableWeb.com).
  • Purpose: An eCommerce based program that can have most anything delivered to your doorstep.
  • Motivation: Financial promise for venders signing up to be listed under this service.
  • Users: Anyone who is busy, tired, and/or not apt to leave the house.
  • Added Value: This service doesn’t currently exist on such a wide scale.
  • Personal Use: I might use this in a pinch.
  • Explanation of Purpose Rating: 4—The explanation is a little wordy, but its purpose is clear.

Handwriting.io

  • API Explanation: “The Handwriting.io REST API allows developers to access and integrate the functionality of Handwriting.io with other applications” (ProgrammableWeb.com).
  • Purpose: A writing based program that makes it easier for other apps to use and promote Handwriting.io.
  • Motivation: Developers probably wanted to get this API into the hands of more people, thus making it easier for other applications to use it.
  • Users: Anyone interested in handwriting.
  • Added Value: Other applications can benefit from being able to partner with Handwriting.io.
  • Personal Use: I’m not sure when I would ever use this.
  • Explanation of Purpose Rating: 5—The explanation is very clear.

While there are a million ways to rate these APIs, I chose one single quality. Even rating APIs on their ease of explanation was harder than I thought because I did not take into consideration such qualities as smart coding, scalability, and users’ ease in learning and use. If the above APIs were scored on different characteristics, their ratings would more than likely change to reflect other strengths and weaknesses.

I am curious what criteria others might have chosen for rating these APIs. Please leave a comment and share you insights.

“The Microscopic Structure of Dried Human Tears” Story Critique

Tears
For my Digital Storytelling class at CU Denver I chose the focal theme of grief. The variety of emotions entrenched in grief and that are born of grief led me to critique The Microscopic Structure of Dried Human Tears by Joseph Stromberg.

The Microscopic Structure of Dried Human Tears, explains and evaluates a fascinating set images of human tears produced under different emotions ranging from joyful reunions, to loss, and even onion-induced tears by photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher. She collected and photographed more than 100 tear samples from both herself and volunteers. The variety of results were astonishing.

I will be critiquing this story by Joseph Stromberg based upon three traits from the Lankshear and Knobel’s Appendix: Some popular everyday remix practices.

  1. Expressing a journalistic identity—having something to say that appeals to others
  2. Expressing an identity as an artist—being able to write
  3. Developing artistic skills—developing a personal “style” that is nonetheless in keeping with the original texts/images

Expressing a journalistic identity—having something to say that appeals to others

Most often tears indicate sadness, which is why this article caught my eye. As I read more of Stromberg’s work, I realized all the emotions captured in Fisher’s photographs were feelings I have experienced. I also learned that each tear carries its own unique story. Stromberg’s expression of his journalist identity appealed to my humanity and appreciation for the complexity of our design.

Expressing an identity as an artist—being able to write

Stromberg eloquently weaves together the science behind emotions. He remixes the photographed images into a story that begins with creating context around Fisher’s identity. After Stromberg explains Fisher’s artistic portfolio and how her idea of the pictures emerged, he writes about the science behind the images. Stromberg elaborates on the tear samples, the scanning electron microscope, different types of tears, and hormones in the tears. The story culminates on patterns that emerged and how they reflected the larger world. Stromberg absolutely expresses his identity as an excellent writer.

Developing artistic skills—developing a personal “style” that is nonetheless in keeping with the original texts/images

In this story, Stromberg showcases his artistry as a journalist by digging up interesting facts about Fisher’s original vision and images. He quotes her beautiful analogy of tears as being, “aerial views of emotion terrain.” He further quotes her insight that, “it’s as though each one of our tears carries a microcosm of the collective human experience, like one drop of an ocean.”

My friend on the beach

better photo 2
I tried to capture my friend’s scarf blowing in the breeze as we enjoyed the beach, but to no avail. This DS106 Daily Create challenge was the perfect opportunity to remix the photo as a drawing. I’m not sure the drawing does the moment justice, but it was fun to create.