In this week of NetNarr we enter the segment on Digital Art, with some discussion, research into early forms, and hands on practice with one of the fundamental building blocks for digital media creation- the photograph.

What else is going on? Listen in on the conversation between the instructors of the two different courses.

The Opener

What is your current strength in media creation skills, perhaps your media digital alchemy quotient? Where are our skills collectively as a group? We will use a simple little web response tool to gather your responses and display it as a tag cloud.

Pick one from the choices of graphics, photography, audio, video, writing, 3d modeling, animation, coding, or another you can thinking. Enter it in the Answergarden at and watch as we see where our class stands in media skills.

After this, think about the one media skill you can use the most development on. Pick one from the choices of graphics, photography, audio, video, writing, 3d modeling, animation, coding, or another you can thinking. Enter it in the Answergarden at Let’s see where the class might focus to build up

On Photography

Photo by Jennifer, Spring 2013UMW ds106 student

No we are not training anyone to be pro photographers. However, with a little bit of experimentation & practice, applying of some compositional principles and noticing details, anyone can create interesting images, with any camera device.


The photograph is a fundamental unit of many other media activities we will do; such as making meme messages, animated gifs, graphic remixes, video. Having an understanding of how images work will take your digital alchemy far.

And when you create your own photos, you have original material not found by searching the web, and you are assured of being free of copyright claims.

You may go from someone who takes a lot of snapshots or quick mobile photos to one who thinks more about composition, framing, and being more intentional with your photography. Even if you are an accomplished photographer, you can always get better by trying new approaches. And we find that people doing this week’s work come away noticing the world around them in new ways, in more detail. That’s alchemy right there.

This week we will practice taking and communicating with photos. You will later review and try out our set of suggestions and tips to up your photo game, On Becoming Better Photographers.

A NetNarr Twitter Photo Safari

This exercise is a fun way to exercise your visual interpretation skills. We will tweet out (and later will post here) 7 challenges we will ask you to convey in photos. You must capture as many as you can within a 15 minute window of time. It is less about capturing all the images, but more to practice being inventive in the way you interpret the subjects.

Before you do this, pick a place that is likely to have a lot of variety of subjects (middle of town or campus, your basement, whatever).

Your first photo should be the current time when you start, tweet out a photo of a clock or any device with the current time. Then, check out what @netnarr tweets our for the 7 challenges.

At the 15 minute mark, stop, and take a photo of the current time again. Tweet that out.

Then we can start comparing how different people responded to the challenges. Is this art? Why not, it was created with digital devices.

A Twitter Chat on Digital Art

In class we will engage in a live twitter conversation about digital art that should draw in people from beyond our own class.

Appreciating, Making Digital Art (Jan 30 5:30PM ET)

Appreciating, Making Digital Art (Jan 30 5:30PM ET)

Our first NetNarr Twitter chat will take place January 30, 2018, hosted and taking place during class for the Kean University students. Anyone else interesting is invited to join along, or respond later.

Introducing The Make Bank

As we move into the phase for much of the rest of the course where we will be making media and narratives, we introduce Yet Another Part of the NetNarr Web Empire, the Make Bank.

A “make” refers to something digital that we… make. These are specific exercises, activities, alchemy recipes organized into types based on the three segments of the course, plus a general one for “This Digital Life”

Sometimes you will be tasked with doing a specific one, other times you can use the various filters and tools to select one yourself. And as we are part of an open networked course, you can even add one yourself (more later on that).

So what is a make? As an example What’s Do Your Pre-NetNarr Twitter Tracks Look Like? is one for an assignment you did last week.

Each Make opens with some information about it, including who made it, what type it is, a difficulty rating by the creator (1-5), and… stars. Anyone can vote on how great (or not so great) a Make is by clicking the appropriate number of stars. This can help others find the best Makes to do.

Top Information part of a Make

The left side has a description and instructions for doing it; on the right you will find a link to an example.

Down the page you will see a link to Add a Response — this is where you enter information about your effort to do this Make. Below you will see links to responses from others who did it before you.

When you submit a response, make use of your creative skills in the title! You have a choice for the link to your work- if it is published or available somewhere else (Twitter, YouTube, another web site), you can use that to show your work and then write in the form field below a short description like you might in a blog post.

Or you can publish your response as a blog post in your own site, and use that web address in the form. This way you can just write a 1-2 sentence summary:

Writing a detailed response to this Make, since the link points to another web site that has the media or work I created

After filling out the form, use the Update button at the bottom to verify enough information is included. If there are no errors, you can re-edit, use the Preview button at the bottom, or if it looks perfect, click Submit.

The buttons in the bottom right of the response form for checking, previewing, and submitting your response

Each one of your responses published to the Make Bank will have it’s own URL (see an example) that you can reference in your weekly summaries, or even tweet out.

An old form of media (print book) about a new form of digital art from the early web era of the late 1990s-early 2000s. Photo by Alan Levine licensed Creative Commons CC BY

Researching Early Web Based Art

Published in 2006 New Media Art by Mark Tribe and Renna Jana profiled a collection of the forms of digital art that took advantage of what was then a relatively new medium for art, the World Wide Web.

The advent of the internet as a popular medium catalyzed a global art movement that began to explore the cultural, social, and aesthetic possibilities of such new communication technologies—the web, CCTV surveillance cameras, cell phones, hand-held computers, and GPS devices. Focusing on New Media art as a specific art historical movement, this book explores its technologies, thematic content and conceptual strategies.

For an appreciation of current digital art we will explore these foundational examples of digital, networked art. They represent a time of wild experimentation, new technologies, but also to see what could be done with much slower and less sophisticated internet. But also, we will examine the issues of how well digital art holds up over time, especially when many were created with technologies not currently available, or have themselves vanished. It also opens the door to question the ephemeral nature of digital art.

To look back into the internet past, we need the help of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, a powerful tool that allows us to access previous versions of web sites, especially ones that are no longer even online.

At one time, the authors shared the text of the book on a wiki at Brown University, no longer available. But because it was one time public and was visited by the Internet Archive’s “robot” (learn more how the archive works), we can use the Wayback Machine to retrieve the profiles that were part of the book via

Our Effort to Research / Revisit the Art Works

A project on tumblr was started to review the digital art profiled in the New Media Art book, to reveal if they were still available, if not to locate it in the Internet Archive, and as well to find what became of the artists behind them. See “Re New Media Art” at

Only six of the original 35 art pieces are reviewed on the site; in this class we are taking on the challenge to help fill out the collection.

Kean students will work in pairs during class (open participants, you know what to do!) to research as much as we can find.

  1. Pick one of the artist names listed in the open google doc that links to a Wayback Machine search for the original content from the book.
  2. Indicate the work as “taken” by adding your twitter names after the title.
  3. For each one gather the following info (much is in the Wikibook) See a example of a completed research:
    • Title of Art Work
    • Artist name(s)
    • When it was published on the web
    • Technologies used
    • Current URL (if still available online)
    • Link to Wikibook page (in Wayback Machine)
    • A brief summary of the piece, not just copied from the book (quotes are okay, but write your own analysis of the piece)
    • Screenshots that represent the work
    • Information on where the artist is now
  4. Publish as a blog post in one of your blogs and add the link to the google doc. Then you will get credit when it is added to the tumblr site.

Here it is, the Stuff at the Bottom

For this week…

Include links and thoughts on these in your end of the week reflection post. In addition, consider:

  • What did you glean from the twitter chat on digital art? Explore and share one example suggested or find one of your own. What makes it compelling, interesting, important?
  • Describe your experience with the Photo Safari. Which ones of your did you like the best? Study the ones others shared- what did you notice about the ways people responded to the same challenge?
  • Review the NetNarr tips/suggestions on photography. Try them this week on DDAs? Use on this page to add commentary and links/embedded examples of photos where you tried the technique. Write about how your quick photos taken during the Photo Safari might be improved if you had used these techniques.
  • What did you take away from the Re-New-Media-Art research? Were you able to find enough information? Does the digital art hold up over time? Does it related to anything today? Given that some of these pieces are 15 years old older what might you expect of the digital art you may create now?

You are getting more experience with the blog writing, right? By now your posts should include a good number of hyperlinks to related content or examples of your work. They should have at least one piece of media included. And most importantly they should be more than just a response t a checklist, they should synthesize your activities this week and relate them to that large amount of life outside of class.

For Next Week

Think about, pay attention to meme messages you see online; why are such silly things popular?

We will talking memes next week, possibly considering them as digital art, and also be making our own.

Ideally we could assign everyone to watch an episode of Black Mirror an anthology of near future stories where technology, networks darkly class with human nature. But the series are only available on Netflix.

As an experiment, collectively we will try to learn everything we can about Episode 1 of Season 3, called “Nosedive” without actually watching it.

In Black Mirror Season 3 Episode 1, a woman named Lacie is determined to do all she can to raise her social rank in a society where everyone rates each other via a mobile app.

Look for spoilers, reviews, analysis. Before class next week tweet out via #netnarr the best possible one you find.

And maybe you will give each other 5.0’s…

Featured Image: Pixabay image by blickpixel shared into the public domain using Creative Commons CC0. Image modified to slightly darken background for better contrast with title overlay on this page.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine
Alan Levine feels weird writing about himself in the third person. A 1990s pioneer on the web and early proponent of blogging, he shares his ideas at His interests include web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), mocking MOOCs, daily photography, bending WordPress, and randomly dipping into the infinite river of the internet.


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