Ok — so, not a real hack of the Digital Writing Month website. But still … hacking and remixing are modern literacy skills, right? Check out what I did with Mozilla’s xRay Goggles tool that allows you to revamp and remix websites. You can’t yet publish the changes (that seems to be coming soon, though), so I had to take a screenshot of my hack and upload it as an image.
See the larger versions of the hacked page if you want a closer look at how I, uh, tweaked the page. I was poking fun at what we are up to this month (and the duck … you know, the duck is fair game in a hack).
See what my friend, Rafi Santo, has to say about hacking as a way to understand content, and how remixing what we find gives us more agency as writers/composers, and the strong connections these skills have to authentic youth literacies. I’m still investigating. You should be, too.
Peace (in the changes),
I’m sure others will have a better insider’s look at Digital Writing Month‘s monumental collaborative project from yesterday entitled “Novel in a Day.” The goal was to use a Google Doc to create a novel of 50,000 words in 24 hours by as many people as possible, writing vignettes. In the end, it was just over 41,000 words, apparently. And about 55 writers were writing on the document yesterday throughout the day (the theme was using the mascot of the month — Digi the Duck — in vignettes.) A collaborative planning session in another Google Doc the night before narrowed down the focus of the novel, which I thought was a neat way to bring many voices into the mix.
I added two pieces — Vignette 9, which was about the duck trying to write a poem but he can’t reach the keyboard, and Vignette 28, told through a text message in which Digi asks Mickey Mouse for some advice. I had an idea for a third piece, but my oldest son was hogging the computer with some friends (ironically, they are writing a collaborative movie script) and by the time they were done, I was nearly asleep. Ack.
Here are some observations from my own experiences being inside and outside the Novel-in-a-Day idea:
- The novel is long. I know that is a “duh” moment but I was so caught up in the writing that I barely had time to read what others were up to. In that situation, the vignette concept was brilliant. But it often felt like I was more of an isolated writer than a collaborative writer. I also had a lot of other things going on during the day, so I wasn’t fully immersed in the experience. I’m pretty sure a few folks were working to tie threads of the stories together. I made an attempt in mine, but I am not sure I was all that successful.
- At some points, there were more than a dozen folks just lingering around in the document. I think some people wrote elsewhere and then pasted their text in. I wrote directly in the Google Doc. I had this feeling of being watched. I didn’t mind it so much but it was an odd experience. Another time, I was trying to start a new vignette, but the person writing the piece before mine kept on typing, and as I was trying to write, I was messing up their text. I could “see” them pause, try again. I’d wait, try, and mess them up. After two times, I gave up, thinking Google Docs must be on a bender. I hope that other writer forgives me.
- The collaborative element was a key component but I was hoping for more ways to push barriers with text, as part of the inquiry with Digital Writing Month. One writer did something interesting: using the idea of anchors, he created a series of “make your own adventure” choices for the reader. I may have missed it, but most of what is in the novel is traditional text. Odd storytelling, and very creative, but still very traditional: words on paper/screen. The third vignette that I did not write was going to be a story converted into html code, with a message embedded within the code. I really am sorry I missed that chance. I was hoping for a video vignette, or maybe some audio. There were some images sprinkled here and there. Of course, it was just 24 hours. I need to be realistic with my expectations.
- Does this translate to the classroom? Yes, and I have done collaborative stories like this with my sixth graders on wikis, using colors to show a change in writers. What this kind of activity does is allows you to talk about voice, and collaborative technology, and the focus of a story (which often gets lost).
- Was it worth it? Heck, yes. I love how technology can bring collaborators together to try new things. Although I was not one of the planners or organizers, who should feel pretty good this morning about the novel experience, I feel connected to the success of the writing experience. It’s not about the word count; it’s about the experience.
Peace (in the novel),
As part of Digital Writing Month, I am creating and posting periodic comic strips about a teacher and two students who are participating (or at least, trying to participate) in Digital Writing Month.
This comic strip was inspired by Lane Smith’s picture book, It’s a Book.
Peace (in the comic),
I had this urge to write a poem about hyperlinks for Digital Writing Month. You know, hyperlinks are the most powerful feature of the Web, in my opinion, for the ways they can connect texts and ideas together, and we often take the hyperlink for granted. But it is a powerful idea that allowed content on the Web to become … well, the Web, and not just some assorted random content.
I embed; you interact.
I’m the link inside the seam
with the power to attract
this idea to that idea and then off again to the next –
I’m underlined and powerful
sitting here inside this text.
You might think me odd
as I transport you from your spot –
an elevator shaft of movement
in associative thought.
But take a breath and look around
and see where you have landed
and tell me, reader of this link,
if you are not now standing
deep inside the chamber
of some other writer’s mind
which is where you needed to find yourself
after a bit of time, so …
I embed; You interact.
We weave ourselves
inside this map.
We create this journey, you and I.
You, the reader, open to adventure
as I, the link, draw the lines.
You can also listen to the podcast version of the poem:
Peace (in the poem),
As I have mentioned, I am going to be following Digital Writing Month, and I am creating a series of webcomics to go along with it. I don’t expect to meet the 50,000 words. But I hope to do some exploration and tinkering and playing around with mediums.
Here is a comic that I created yesterday:
But then, I thought about the idea of using a webcomic platform to create a comic in a comic, in a comic. It was sparked by the thought that code might be text in this kind of challenge.
Yeah. That’s how my month might be heading …
Peace (in the frames)
I never did try National Novel Writing Month. Thought about it … but never did it. Now, an offshoot is Digital Writing Month in which folks are encouraged to compose 50,000 words of digital words over the month of November. (Words, I hope, meaning text, image, video and multimedia … and comics). I might try it … or maybe I already do it? In either case, I hope to add some webcomics about the month to the mix every now and then.
Peace (in the frames),