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Joel Greengrass, senior vice president of talent, BuzzFeed

Schedule (subject to change):

Week 1

Jan. 15
Introduction to the class
• Setting up Google doc for reading notes. There is a video tutorial for setting up and sharing a Google doc on the Reading Notes page.

Week 2

Jan. 19 – Martin Luther King Day – No class

Jan. 21
Maker and DIY Culture

Watch: 1. Roll Up Your Sleeves: A Documentary About Do-It-Yourself Counterculture 
Reading notes: Summarize Roll Up Your Sleeves and explain “DIY” as it is interpreted in the film.

Assignment and portfolio overview

Jan. 23
Reflective practice
If you always do what you always did, then you will always get what you always got
2. John Dewey, How We Think (pdf, pp. 1-4)

Reading notes: What is Dewey talking about here? What does he mean by this:  “Reflective thinking, in short, means
judgment suspended during further inquiry; and suspense is likely to be somewhat painful.” 

Workshop: Website choices

• Buy your domain from Reclaim Hosting
Obviously, think carefully about the domain you buy as the idea here is to establish your professional digital footprint. Incorporating your name in a sensible way is a good idea. So is probably not a good idea, nor is Think and reflect. It’s important.

• Begin search for a WordPress theme
Again, think about the purpose of the site and make design (theme) choices accordingly. You have the choice to install a free or “premium” ($) theme. Here is one list of theme providers. There are many, many others.

Deliverables (by next Friday):

• Buy domain
• Install theme
• Craft bio/about page – include image.
• Write a post that reflects briefly on your choices for the site (250 words)

Week 3

Jan. 26

Creativity Isn’t Just for “Creatives”

Design thinking process (Image from the Stanford D-School.)

3. • Ken Robinson, “How Schools Kill Creativity” (TedTalk)
• David Kelley, “How to Build Your Creative Confidence” (TedTalk)
• An Introduction to Design Thinking Process Guide (Stanford D School) (pdf)

In class:
Small group presentation of three possible (and different) website designs/themes and explanations of your choices
Reading notes for today:
Pull three bulleted memorable quotes from the Robinson and Kelley videos. Based on your reading of the Design Thinking Process Guide, write a succinct but detailed definition of “design thinking”.

Jan. 28

From Doug Belshaw’s Ted Talk.


Introduction to Digital literacy

4. • Howard Rheingold, Net Smart introduction, “Why You Need Digital Know-How” (pp 1-15)
• Doug Belshaw, “The Eight Key Elements of Digital Literacy”
Reading notes:  Summarize each text. Also, Doug Belshaw says the remix is at the heart of his idea of digital literacy. Why?

Jan. 30
Your installation and theme choice should be made (present in small groups)
Look over the WordPress Codex if you haven’t already.
Plugins and widgets

Week 4

Collaborative production

Feb. 2
The new history of peer productionimgres-1
5. • Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, “The Peer Pioneers” in Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.(pdf) Wikinomics – The Peer Pioneers

Feb. 3
“Reflections on the Recent Attacks in Paris: Are We Really All Charlie Hebdo?”
11-12:15 at the Wolfington Teletorium, Madeville Hall

Are we all really Charlie?
Click to enlarge.

Feb. 4

No class. Instead, please attend the discussion above during free period on Tuesday.

Feb. 6

Getting collaboration to scale
6. • Rheingold, Net Smart, ch. 4 – “The Arts and Sciences of Collective Action”

Wikipedia article editing
Tags and categories

Week 5
Intro to Multimedia Storytelling

Feb. 9
Why do stories work?
7. • Jonathan Gotschall, “The Witchery of Story,” from The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human (pdf)*

The Witchery of Story (pdf)

Reading notes: Summarize The Witchery of Story.

Feb. 11
8. • Jonathan Gotschall, “The Future of Story,” from The Storytelling Animal (pdf) The Future of Story
• The New York Times, “2013: The Year of Interactive Storytelling

Reading notes:
Summarize The Future of the Story and bullet three points. Choose one story from the New York Times link and describe how interactive or multimedia elements helped tell the story.

Feb. 13
Personal Geography
Tell your story using maps, photos, video

Week 6

Microstorytelling: (very) Short form


Feb. 16
The “attention economy”
9. Herbert A. Simon, “Designing Organizations for an Information-Rich World” 

This is famous speech on “attention economics” that engages the ideas of “attention scarcity” and “information overload,” concepts that we are still grappling with now. What is Simon getting at here? What’s his point? Is it still relevant? Why?

Feb. 18
Vine stories
“How it Sounds”

This week’s assignment requires you to produce three vine stories. The first, which will be some sort of stop-motion animation, you will do in class with two other people. Your on your own for the other two.

For inspiration, here are some finalists in the Tribeca Film Festival’s Six Second Film Competition.

If you haven’t used vine since it first came out, you should catch up with the latest features (added last summer) that make it much easier to shoot and edit. Here’s a decent tutorial.

And here’s a good tutorial on stop-motion on Vine.

Feb. 20 – Class online

Week 7

 Feb. 23

One Vine film is due on your website.

Feb. 25



We need to spend a couple of days talking about what seems to be a resurgence in Longform storytelling online. I wanted to start with what was the toast of the digital storytelling world last year – the podcast Serial.

10. So for today listen to the first episode of Serial. You can either download the podcast through iTunes onto your phone (it’s free), or listen here.

Also, read this.

Note: As registration approaches, we are trying get a feel for the classes students need. Go here and answer a couple of questions about what classes you want/need and you will help us get them on the books for next fall.

Feb. 27

Workshop in (Bronstein)

Week 8



March 2


11. Jeff Howe, The Rise of Crowdsourcing

In this article in Wired from 2006, Jeff Howe coins the term “crowdsourcing.”

Jay Rosen, The People Formerly Known as the Audience

This was written way back in 2006 and was a sort of manifesto of the “Web 2.0” era, which was the catch-all name for the Web’s becoming more collaborative and participatory.

In your reading notes summarize these two pieces briefly and then think a little about the successes and failures of corwdsourcing. Where does it work? When has it failed? Why?

1. 99 Designs

2. One Billions Minds

3. Hand Up

4.The Johnny Cash Project

5. My Starbucks Idea


March 4  

The crowd goes wild: Information cascades online

Image from the New York Times Magazine


12. Jay Caspian Kang, “Should Reddit Be Blamed for the Spreading of a Smear?”

Reading notes:

So after reading this article, answer the question: Should Reddit be blamed? How do you explain what happened on Reddit? Does this help us understand crowd behavior online?

March 6

A requisite skill for anyone who uses digital media to tell stories is to leverage “the crowd” as collaborators.  Today we will get started using the platform Storify to tell a crowd-sourced story.


Week 9 

No class, spring break.

Week 10

Filter bubbles

March 16

13. “Beware online ‘filter bubbles'” Eli Pariser TED Talk

“Why our Webs are Rarely World Wide, and What We Can Do About It” Ethan Zuckerman PDF Talk

March 18

Algorithmic filtering

14. Gail Sullivan, How Facebook and Twitter control what you see about Ferguson


Zeynep Tufecki, What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: Net Neutrality, Algorithmic Filtering and Ferguson

March 20


Portfolio check-in 1

This provides you an opportunity to show me what you have worked on so far and is an important point in the portfolio process. The idea here is to improve through multiple attempts and tweaking.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

– Winston Churchill

Week 11


Sound and audio storytelling

This week we will talk more about sound and audio stories. The week will culminate with an audio story workshop.

March 23

15. For today have a listen and read to these. Write in your reading notes some reactions to the stories.

Anthony Villareal

A Love Defined Not by Disability But by Love

Interview with David Isay of StoryCorps

Ronald Ruiz

Today we will have an introduction to the free audio editing software Audacity. Download Audacity to your computer. It’s free and works on Mac, PC and Linux. Your assignment is to create a sound story – 30 seconds to a minute long – using the sounds below. You will have to download them and edit them together in Audacity.

Crowd chatter
Man dying
Police siren
Footsteps on wooden stairs
Breathing heavy and running
Old door creaking
Tires squealing
March 25

16. Short audacity sound story. The story you created with the sounds above should be uploaded to SoundCloud and then that link should be placed in your reading notes.

Today we will have a crash course in digital recorder use. Please bring a pair of earbuds/headphones.

March 27 


Audio story workshop

Storycorps-style interview story assigned.

Week 12

Search literacy

March 30

17. “How to Solve Impossible Problems” by John Tedesco
“How I Quit Google” by Julia Angwin, TIME Magazine

April 1

Workshop and Portfolio Check-in 2 – In Bronstein.

April 3 – No class

Week 13

April 6 – No class

April 8

Digital entrepreneurship

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Chris Anderson – The Long Tail (article)

In-class talk by Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage

Tenaya has combined her passion for cheese and passion for writing into kind of a mini publishing empire. Have a look at her website before class.

Also watch this short video that features her in a story on WHYY.

April 10 – (In Bronstein)


Listen to StartUp Podcast:

Episodes 1 and 2


Here is an episode of the podcast Longform that features a really good interview with Alex Blumberg.

“When someone starts talking about something difficult, when they get unexpectedly emotional, your normal human reaction is to sort of comfort and steer away. To say, ‘Oh I’m sorry, let’s move on.’ What you need to do, if you want good tape, is to say, ‘Talk more about how you’re feeling right now.’ It feels like a horrible question to ask. It feels like you’re going against your every instinct as a decent human being to go toward the pain that this person is experiencing.”

Week 14

April 13

No class

April 15

Tagging, embedding, fair use, free use, public domain


• The Yahoo! Style Guide, pp. 419-423

• Case study: Bad Lip Reading

• Getting images/video into your site and what you can use legally.

Prezi on copyright


“Steal this Hook? DJ Skirts Copyright Law” (2008 NY Times article on Girl Talk)

“Blogger Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Photos You Don’t Own on Your Blog”


April 17

Here’s the Creative Commons search thing that I mentioned on Wednesday.

Workshop – Bronstein.

Portfolio check-in 3 and introduction to screencast assignment.

Week 15

April 20

Crowdsourcing (part2)

A couple of weeks back when we were talking about crowdsourced project and the power of the crowd I had hoped to show the film Life in a Day. I didn’t get a chance then, but, as we have some time now toward the end of the semester, I’d like to show it now. So we will watch and discuss this in class tomorrow.

April 22

Screencasting 101


April 24

Portfolio Workshop

Week 16

April 27

Portfolio workshop – Bronstein

April 29

Portfolio workshop – Bronstein

May 1

Portfolio workshop – Bronstein

May 7

Portfolio due as a link on Google doc by 10:30 a.m.


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