What is this Western106?

Maybe we gotta tell a story...


Before you ride with an outfit, you outta know what you are gettin’ into. We’ll spin you some back tales and give you a sense of what you are getting into.

DS106 has its origins, of all places, back in the east, where it was openly taught as a computer science course in Digital Storytelling at the University of Mary Washington (the UMW ranch) in 2010, rustled by a feller who calls hisself Jim Groom. About the start of his next round 2011, some others people peppered ole Jim with questions about makin’ it an open course for others to be in.

That was the beginnin’ of some wild times. You can be reading up on all this history over at the DS106 web site. It’s not only been done many times at UMW, but also by folks in New York, Florida, Japan, ‘an more, but also by free rangin’ web storytellers all over the world. They built some mighty fine parts of their outfit, stuff you won’t find at those City Slicker MOOCs, like an Open Assignment Bank, a Daily Create gig, heck even some kind of ray-dee-o station where I can even broadcast from the back o’ my horse. Wild, eh?

And one time in 2013, there was nobody a teachin’ a DS106 course, these folks got together and ran an open version with no teacher — heck, they called it Headless DS106. Lots of folks out on the interwebs know of DS106, but they may only get to join up when a regular class is out and ridin’ so Alan Levine put together a compendium of all previous course offerins as the Open DS106 course, kind of a do it yerself operation.

DS106 Open Course

Over the last few years, people leadin’ different DS106 courses have built them around themes- there was ones based on the Twilight Zone, The Wire, Noir, Horror Comics, even some family livin’ in a trailer in Texas. So there are lots of flavors of DS106, often happenin’ at the same time.

A Western Version of DS106

man-with-no-courseAnd some folks thought it might be time for one based on the Western genre. And that’s where I got called in for the job, the Man With No Course.

Many of us know of westerns from growin up watching them on TV. Or from books. But maybe they are different in other parts of the world, similar stories, but different.

And there are problems too with many of the familiar tales- dominated by white men, full of violence, mistreatment of other people, taking of lands, etc. We are not advocating the Western as a Right Way, we are here to poke at it and investigate it, and maybe see how far the idea extends, heck even maybe to outer space. Australia too.

We aren’t tellin’ you what Westerns are or even what storytellin is, those are the things you will probe during this experience.

How It Works

I ain’t yer teacher, you won’t get grades or coddlin’ from me, and y’all will be better off relyin’ on each other rather than me. But I know the territory well, and will be a layin’ out a course-like experience for you here on this site as listed down at the bottom of this dispatch.

You will get experience settin’ up, designin’ and managin’ your own digital web space for your Western106 work. Mebbe you have done this before, or already have a blog thing, but it’s also a good chance to do one for the first time. Anyone can ride with us, if they get a blog mount.

We communicate a lot via the twitter. Look for us with the #western106 and/or #ds106 hashtag brands. Other people like to hangout at the Google+ Saloon.

There will be regular announcements from me via this web site as the Western 106 Dispatches and if you like gettin yer news by pony express email, you can sign up for our lil Tinyletter. But there will be a regular series of things to do, taking you through a study of What is Story, Visual Storytelling, Audio Storytelling, Elements of Design,  Video Storytelling, and Remixed Storytelling. And you can be part of a gang getting together to make a real time radio show. And if you manage to ride with us to the end, you can weave all this together and produce a web-based story of yer own. If you are a likin these things layed out fer ya, we even got you a Syllabust.

You can do all the assignments below or none of ’em.  Nobody will yell at ya. We may tease you with a Missing Persons poster, but that’s just in fun.

What you get out of it depends on what you put into it. You are welcome to ride with us full bore, or just meet up once in a while. Maybe you only want to pitch in now and then with Daily Creates.

What You Will Need

This will be covered in our first unit, but if you are eager, here is what you can start assemblin in yer Western 106 gear bag:

  • A Twitter Handle. Yep, we stay in touch by twitter. It’s the way to identify yerself, even if you don’t want to be a tweeter. You can use one you got, or make a new one. Maybe as a Western character.
  • Yer own blog. It can be anywhere, in yer own domain or hosted elsewhere. It can be a brand spankin’ shiny new blog for Western106 or some old nag you’ve ridden before (in that case, you may want to figure out a tag or category to use to ID your Western106 work). Anything is good, but it must have an RSS feed. See the DS106 Connecting Your Blog for more info on what to choose, and more options.

We’ll be asking you to send us yer blog info startin’ Monday Janaury 11, but if you are all set, send us the info at http://ds106.us/signup We do those so we can gather all the stuff people are doing in DS106, and we have a special area where the stuff from the Western 106 crowd is postin’.

There will be more stuff you might get later.

Are You Ready?

Yes, Django, we got room for you in Western 106

Yes, Django, we got room for you in Western 106

Then move on to the next part of western 106

The Western 106 Way