A poem jumps …
(this is where it went — https://twitter.com/dogtrax/status/1079419917588459520 )
(this is where it went — https://twitter.com/dogtrax/status/1079419917588459520 )
Inside a post the other day, Sheri shared a previous project of hers, in which she used a sketchbook to draw a line into a story of art. I was intrigued by her call at the end of her story (which is part of the Sketchbook Project) for others to join her. Even though the call was from five years ago, I tried to answer it with words via Storybird and its poem creation tool.
Read your I Wonder line story from your sketchbook … I love it .. and appreciated your call to make a story, too … so went to make a story with a line in it for you … and found a poem instead via the Storybird poetry tool https://t.co/7PJQqTuqPN #MoDigiWri pic.twitter.com/qpgf3vuBht
— KevinHodgson (@dogtrax) December 28, 2018
Last night, I was still thinking of Sheri’s work in her sketchbook and mulling on the idea of lines as connectors. So I went back into Storybird and decided to use it to create a longer piece — a picture book this time — of how lines connect to writing, connect to people, connect to us. I started the book with the same image/artist as tapped for the above “magnet” poem, and built out from there.
Storybird is interesting because of the way it upends the traditional writing — where words often inspire image. In Storybird, image and art inspires words. You choose a keyword or a specific artist (as I did here, with Flapperdoodle as artist) and Storybird generates art for you. In the case of its poetry section, you choose an image and then are given a bank of words. This is something Anna noticed when she did a poem there.
drawing a line between a few #modigiwri dots…here’s a Storybird poem inspired by @grammasheri‘s quote that inspired @dogtrax‘s Storybird poem, which inspired my use of Storybird, and then Storybird’s constraint that I couldn’t use my own words inspired this… pic.twitter.com/7TBE5AlaR3
— anna smith (@anna_phd) December 29, 2018
Constraints both hem us in — we can’t do what we wanted to do — and force us to edit or revamp or find a workaround, and sometimes, this is what gives a piece a different feel. Constraints force us out of our comfort zone. That’s not always a bad thing. Anna’s poem is beautiful, despite her narrow options for expression.
I admit that I did not have much of a plan when I started Where the Writing Comes From, other than finding art with lines and being inspired by Sheri. Still, the story emerged as I imagined a narrator wondering about her writing, and then she shifts from herself as the center of her story to another as a larger narrative, seeing how worlds intersect with each other, and ending the piece with her writing the story I have been writing about her.
Sometimes, lines bend.
Peace (following it),
A poem, then, that emerges from a blog post of a friend. This is where this poem began … consider these words as my process notes, my thinking out loud about my compositional intentions, a trail through the act of composing, as best as I can recall it.
Anna inadvertently, perhaps, starts the kernel of this poem off with a blog post — Nothing to Write Home About — as part of her effort to write every day, noting that ‘writing’ is different than ‘blogging’ and she has been busy, with a newborn baby. She’s been writing but not necessarily for the world. For herself. Maybe for her baby. Her musings strike a chord.
— Wendy Taleo (@wentale) December 28, 2018
Like a tweet comment from Wendy after she read Anna’s post, I am thinking of how Anna re-frames time in her piece, and I suddenly remember those nights with a newborn in my arms, snuggled in the deep hours of the morning. The weary mind but the full heart of the connection. A memory of me, new dad in the night, with my firstborn son in my arms, looking through the window at a deer slowly walking down the street, so quiet, so peaceful, and the magic of that moment comes to mind.
One line of Anna’s piece resonates with me, and as I turn it over in my mind, a poem emerges. So, I write it for her, on the spot and in the moment, as a comment to her blog post, and I leave the poem there for her, another trail of words in an ongoing conversation around digital writing. She’ll find it when she wakes and has a moment to look, I think.
This is what I write, with her own words leading the poem:
“I’ve never realized how long the night is …”
There is a quiet, a humming
of the hours, the slow unfolding
of stars, places in the mind where
one goes to remember how every
minute moves at its own pace, the
clicking of the clock an illusion
constructed out of some madman’s
desire to untangle time, knowledge
we know now to be irrelevant, when
now we know the only way
to measure the night is
through the slow breathing
of a baby in our arms
Then I realize, there might yet be more done with this poem for Anna. Our discussions as a group around writing digitally often have us considering media and mediums for expression, and poetry opens up all sorts of corridors, does it not?
I pull the words of the poem forward, from the screen and into Lumen5, which is an online digital storytelling tool, and I begin the harder work of representing the words of the poem in visual and with music.
While Lumen5 auto-fills pages with images, I find they don’t work for me, they are not deep-sky-night-sky-slow-time enough for my purposes, so I dig down, deeper, searching for how to represent the poem’s pieces, bit by bit, phrase by phrase, idea by idea. The poem’s visuals should represent the night, but also, the coming dawn. The images should tell the story of time, not clock-time but parent/baby-time.
I haggle with myself endlessly as I do this — does this work? Does it not? Why? Why not? Where does one line of a phrase end and another begin? What am I trying to say here? Does this image complement or contradict that meaning?
I conduct this internal argument — the writer of me engaged with the audience of me — rather automatically now. I wonder if experience with digital tools makes this compositional work easier or harder? Am I more of a critic of my choices or is my experience allowing to narrow decisions? I am only now, later, here in the writing of this that you read, pausing, to think about what I was thinking. I’m writing it down to remember it.
My search for the poem’s underlying music beneath the chosen images and text seems even more difficult. I want an open musical piece, something to represent the big sky wondering of a parent and baby in the quiet night, the near-sleep dreaming and wonder of it all. I try out more than a dozen songs — auditioning them for the poem, asking the music to bring its best bits forward — and finally find one song that has both intimacy and grandeur. Or enough of both for me to live with.
Side note of thinking: what if I had chosen the music first and images, second? Would that have made the poem’s digital presence different? Would the music have guided my decisions in visual choices in ways different than doing it in silence, knowing music would be the last piece? How did the decisions I made about visuals impact the decision I made about music? Interesting.
I choose the music, create the file in Lumen5, then download it and then upload the new version of the poem, sharing the video poem via Twitter in the morning through the #MoDigiWri hashtag, and I wonder if Anna will see it. I hope she sees it. Others make nice comments but Anna is my audience, and when she makes mention of the poem later in the day, I smile and feel satisfaction and joy at the gift of poetry.
— anna smith (@anna_phd) December 28, 2018
What we do with words matters, right?
Peace (into the long mornings and nights),
This is becoming a regular story of mine, and probably yours. An app that I really liked using for writing and making digitally, and on which I relied upon regularly, seems to have gone dead on me. Its name is Legend, and it was an animated text app that Terry Elliott turned me on to long ago.
And I loved it on my iPad, for its simplicity and its design and the way you could easily find Creative Common images via its Flickr connection and then layer short text on top of the image. I used Legend for poetry and for quotes, and for merging words with motion and image. It was my go-to app for many things.
And now Legend is gone from the App Store. Vanished without a trace.
I was having some troubles with Legend on my iPad the other day, and I deleted the app in hopes of re-installing and re-booting it, and soon discovered that the app itself was nowhere to be found in the iTunes App Store. It’s not even a mention anymore in my “bought” apps file bin in iTunes. It’s like it never even existed, and its loss saddens me.
But, of course, I should know better.
In this world of digital writing and composition (and art, and whatever else we want to call it) the only technology that really stands the test of time with any consistency is a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. All else is mostly temporary, so be sure to back your stuff up and keep an eye on the horizon for alternatives.
In my mourning for Legend, I have been trying out a few different animated text apps. I grabbed a quote from Dave Cormier’s recent piece on Rhizomatic Learning.
This is HypeText app:
and this is TypiVideo app:
And this is TypoTastic app:
None do what I want it to do. None feel quite right. Some have limits on loop time (either going too fast or too slow). Some don’t give you much access to images beyond your own files (which has value but requires deeper planning than I am usually doing for this kind of work.)
I’ll keep exploring. I am checking out Legend on my Android phone … hmmm … seems like it now has an entirely new name now (Animated Text), and has advertisements within it … and no longer has access to Creative Commons images. Dang.
This exploration is another reminder to myself, and maybe to you, that nothing lasts forever in this shifting environment of operating system updates, app development, and that our own means and venues of digital writing is always in flux and motion.
Peace (animated with image),
PS — I’d also like to say that I could probably do what I want with animated text via Keynote or Powerpoint (and I have) but I appreciated the ease of making animated texts with Legend and other apps. Maybe another post for another day is about what we give up as writers — creative control, freedom to make change, a vision from start to finish — when we allow our tools to guide our writing process.
The image above seeks to represent a complicated idea — the merging of digital writing … through image. As part of a new push to explore Digital Writing (via the hashtag #MoDigiWriMo), I asked folks to share a wordless image to capture their view on digital writing. I know, strange, right? I then used the shared images from Terry, Wendy, Anna and Sheri to craft small poems, and then short musical interpretations of the image.
The final photo here is an attempt to merge all of the image/poems together, with a message of wonder and listening. I am happy with how the image came out, complicated as it was to create, and, as part of the MoDigiWriMo philosophy of sharing process notes of making art, this is how I went about it (mostly on my iPad):
1. Image to poem via Pablo extension
2. Poems merged as collage via Photogrid App
3. Collage texture and color via Prisma App
4. Collage broken into pieces via Fragment App
5. Shadow silhouette layers via Fused App
6. Paired silhouette via Photogrid App
7. Shared via Flickr
I also began wondering if I could (but never wondered if I should) remix the four musical interpretations into one single composition, knowing the juxtaposition of sounds would be strange, weird, and challenging. I did it anyway, using Soundtrap as my mixing tool, creating this layered cake of sounds.
The result is odd and disjointing, yet I find it intriguing (more so with headphones, where the shared landscapes are more likely to emerge). The one track that initially seemed out of sync was Sheri’s, so I ended up dividing it into smaller pieces, shifting it around as layers, finding the nooks and crannies for it.
There are moments of confusion in the track. But there are also moments of melodic and harmonic symmetry, where each piece seems to fall into the others. Sort of like how we write sometimes, digitally.
Peace (sounds strange),
I put out a call to some friends yesterday to visualize their digital writing, but without words. I was curious to what folks might do. Mine is above. As Terry, and then Anna, and then Sheri, shared their ideas, I started to think of how I might interpret their designs through poem and song. This part of an extended conversation about writing digitally (and you are invited). We are using the hashtag #modigiwri (more digital writing) on Twitter.
I first used Sheri, Anna and Terry’s images for poems, adding words as a layer of interpretation, and then moved into capturing what I was seeing in their art into short song loops. It’s a musical interpretation of a visual idea about a writing concept.
Which was an intriguing process, of looking deep into the images and trying to figure out, how do you capture an idea in music? I hope these three friends find my attempt interesting.
If you share your image, I’ll do my best to do the same for you.
Peace (in sounds of static),
About six years ago, in 2012, my friend, Anna Smith, and I had a conversation. A chat about Digital Writing. Through digital writing. With meta-explanations of how we write digitally, pulling back the veils on our process notes. Others, like Terry, joined in. We wove this all together, somewhat through our blogs and through the National Writing Project’s Digital Is site, and curated the conversation through a site called Jog the Web.
Like many other tools, Jog the Web is now dead, and with it, our curation conversations. Digital Is is gone, too, morphed into The Current. Someone came along and ate most of our breadcrumbs.
Anna kick-started another call for conversation this week, referencing our previous collaboration, and that had me working to find things that had gone missing — our digital writing was now so dispersed, it was hard to find.
Maybe this observation is where we are at now, with digital writing tools. We write in many places, across many platforms. We make media over here and post it over there. We add comments and then forget where those comments were left, so any response is hardly seen. We’ve distributed ourselves with technology to the point where we can’t hardly find ourselves anymore.
Spurred on by Anna’s recent wondering and Terry’s reactions (and his deep-dive start into new explorations), I began to go through different places to find our old stuff. I wish I had done a better job of backing up our Jog the Web (which was really quite useful, as you could “walk” through our posts in a sort of timeline-like effect. Oh well.)
This effort will have to do. I won’t pretend these are in completely chronological order … maybe it doesn’t matter anymore.
Here we go:
Peace (in the lost chatter),
I wasn’t sure if other people would follow me up on my invitation. But I knew I wanted to annotate with Hypothesis the opening article in the NCTE journal — Voices from the Middle — about the future of digital writing, by Troy Hicks. Then, I saw a tweet from a friend, Gail, commenting on the article, too, and I knew I had to go ahead and start up a crowd annotation project. I wasn’t the only one wanting to engage with the text.
So, I sent the link out a few times over the weekend, and got some folks to engage with me (including Troy, and I can’t say enough how important it is to a reader to the have writer engaged in the margins in a conversation about the text they wrote.) By midweek, there were nearly 40 annotations — a mix of words, image, sound and video.
You see, this was not just about reading about Digital Writing. It was also an act of using Digital Writing to make sense of the piece about Digital Writing. Sure, a bit recursive, but an important insight. We can talk and write in text all we want about what writing should be. But when the opportunity comes to write with media, to write in the margins of an online text, you need to take the invitation forward.
A few days in to the annotation activity, Terry asked this important question to me and others on Twitter:
I am enjoying the conversation. Intrinsically valuable. Have to ask the question implicit in every annotation mob? Of what use is the conversation going forward and beyond an intrinsic one? Is intrinsic value enough? What could be curated and shared out beyond mere response? — https://twitter.com/telliowkuwp/status/1003632172698361856
I think curation/context of the margins should be next … It would be neat to have different people reflect/curate. I know that is prob unlikely. Still, surfacing ideas is important part of the process. Orphaned comments seem contrary to activity. — https://twitter.com/dogtrax/status/1003745466708832257
So, here I am, aiming to pull out some of the many threads from the conversation in the margins in a way that helps me make sense of it all, and maybe gain some reflective insights. If you do the same, please share your link. We can then be linked together.
Some distinct themes emerged from within the margins of Troy’s text. Here is my sense of the topics that resonated most clearly:
The beauty of Hypothesis is that the annotation doesn’t have to end now. It can restart anytime you arrive and make a comment. So, whether today is today (my time) or a year from now (your time), please do come in and add some thoughts. Reflect. Connect. Write about writing.
See you in the margins.
Peace (upon reflection),
I had purchased The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue and the Way We Tell Stories by Frank Rose on my Kindle app during the first week of the first Networked Narratives, thinking that Rose’s text might be a nice dovetail to NetNarr. (Admission: this book review has been sitting in my draft bin … for some time. Interestingly, it still holds together with some of the projects I did in the second iteration of NetNarr)
I got caught up in some of other things — including some intriguing NetNarr projects — and only returned to Rose’s text later in the course itself. I’m glad I waited, for I think that our discussions in NetNarr helped frame what I read in the book. Rose examines the way that digital media, and the Internet in particular, is transforming the entertainment field, through technology and other elements of immersive storytelling. He brings years of reporting experience to his insights.
I’ll admit: I didn’t ‘deep read’ this book. I power-read it, slowing down in sections that caught my attention and interest, and then pulling out quotes that seemed to connect not only with my personal inquiry around the changing nature of digital storytelling but also in connection to some of the interactions I have with folks in NetNarr, CLMOOC and beyond around technology and composition.
Overall, Rose does a nice job of exploring all sorts of terrain, mostly from the entertainment standpoint. I, of course, am curious from the education standpoint, but there were plenty of places where those perspectives overlap. In particular, knowing a bit about where storytelling might be going (no one ever knows for sure) gives teachers a bit of an insight into the skills that might be needed for that kind of landscape.
The Art of Immersion is worth checking out, if only to get a glimpse of the world unfolding for our students, particularly those who are becoming interested in media production, where the tools are both complex and simple to use, and the possibilities for bending stories through different prisms, and for different audience experiences, is fascinating to think about.
Or, it is for me.
Peace (written in story),
PS — a little promo from Frank Rose
(image via Andrea Phillips)
A conversation recently unfolded on Twitter about Transmedia Storytelling, in which author and transmedia storyteller Andrea Phillips joined in, adding an interesting wrinkle to the discussion.
The context you may be missing: there’s a long tradition of using social and digital media as if they were a real thing — people or organizations on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn.
— Andrea Phillips (@andrhia) April 8, 2018
She voiced concern over the ethics and responsibility of digital storytellers, particularly those who use media to trick/entertain viewers to enter into the story from different angles. (Transmedia is the idea of a story unfolded over different media, technology and platforms — the pieces joined together to tell a story, although each piece could stand on its own.)
(image via Pinterest)
Andrea then shared this Ted-style talk she did on this topic, and I think it is worth viewing, if only to remind ourselves that there is a fine line between reality and story, and between responsibility and creativity.
Meanwhile, I got Andrea Phillip’s book — A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling — out of the library and dove in last weekend, reading as she shared her experiences as creating Transmedia experiences and interviews with others. She brings a lot of great insights into the mix.
I enjoyed the inside look, although I came away with the notion that Transmedia pieces are mostly geared towards selling a product — a movie tie-on or a commercial aspect or marketing campaign.
Perhaps this is because that is her job — and if companies are the ones paying your fees, you make what they want you to make — but it struck me as unsettling, that my naive idea of “story for the sake of story” might be out of sync with the world.
Peace (sharing it responsibly),