Before you read this, read this.

mmm (sips coffee)

mmm (pets dog)

mmm (eats banana)

Are you back? Did you read it? Man, I love when people like Terry do that … pulling back the curtain on digital composing. As I was reading his piece it occurred to me … we work differently. I was reading as he talked about the lists he makes, the lines he draws out, the resources he has at his finger tips, the thoughtfulness that goes into what he composes (in this case, with Zeega). He’s got a system.

He leads with the brain, and reaches for the heart.


I start at the heart, and aim for the brain.

What I mean is that when I do what Terry explains he is doing (honoring someone’s blog post by remixing it with digital media via Zeega), I dive in and let the muse take me to where it will in a person’s piece. I’m searching for anchor phrases and trying to find the center of the blog post. I hate to admit it — but I don’t think too much about it. I trust my instincts to find where it is I need to go.

Mostly, it works. I think. And Terry’s process? Oh yeah, it works, too. Both of our methods work, and there are probably a myriad of others out there (what’s yours?) but mostly, they seem a mystery to your audience. Doing as Terry has done — showing what he is thinking about as he composes and the tools he is using to compose what he is thinking about — is a valuable analysis, providing insights to the writer.

Here’s a Zeega I did this week in honor of Jim Groom’s fantastic piece about connected learning called Connected by Design. My composing process?

  • I read Jim’s post quickly once after finding it in my Twitter feed (via #ccourses)
  • Went back, read it again
  • Opened up Zeega
  • Picked phrases and sentences that resonated with me. Interested that he had also chosen some phrases and ideas from others, using those as anchors in his text. So I am anchoring my anchors in his anchors. Recursive anchors?
  • Considered fonts. Spent more time in fonts than anything else. Not sure why. Seemed important. How does shape of letters inform our composition? Not satisfied with fonts but gave up on it after a time.
  • Used the Zeega search engine to find animated gifs as background (struggled here for a stretch … what’s too busy? what’s evocative? what pushes up against the words?) Thought, what about still images? Fell back to animated images. Seems more Zeega-like.
  • Did a search for “connected” on Soundcloud. Replaced one track with another when I noticed the Stereo MCs in the mix. Like the shuffling hiphoppiness of the track. Connects to the freeflowing ideas of Jim’s post (in my mind, anyway).
  • Published Zeega and posted and shared with Connected Courses.

Peace (in decomposing the composition),

  1. We need to put this into Digital.Is as a…resource?

    This is proof of concept for the Biblical throwing of bread on the water. I know you do it all the time, scattering widely and wildly all the good work from that amazing mind of yours.

    You have a wonderful capacity for helping other people to shine that is the sign of good leadership and of being an empathic person.

    My method and yours have more in common than you might think. For one, there is an awful lot that occurs in the blank spaces between the letters and words of our respective workflow descriptions. For example, I do the “resonation thing” with music even though I have never thought to search for music by keyword. I usually have to hear it first before I even give it an audition in my zeega.

    Anyway, what is truly grand is that I can make these permanently half-baked assertions here without feeling like I need to be proving anything. For that I will always be grateful. Thanks for the gift of your voice, your attention, and your words. They matter.

    (In keeping with my crazy fascination with your captcha phrases, today’s anti-spamity is “blob flex”. Now that is…unexpected and weird. Love it.)

    • I know we share the same wavelengths … that’s what happens when CLMOOCers become roommates in Seattle … I agree that the exploration of composing processes is interesting and important work … more so when we think of digital literacies, it seems to me, as the composing practices veer off in different directions … how to unscatter the fallen leaves is part of why we should reflect on what we have done or are doing or will do …

  2. Hi Kevin and Terry, I find this dialogue really interesting, it prompted me to look back at posts in which I reflect on composition.
    If I were to summarise I would say that what I do mostly is immersive, theatrical play. Not much conscious thought is involved. I would say that it’s more like Kevin’s process on the surface but there is a lot of thought, image, textual collection going on before hand.

    Now I come to think about it, this Driftwood Curiosity best represents this magpie like preparation process. I suppose that is a less apparently ordered palette than what Terry describes.

    Maybe the ‘narrative is cyclical’ …

  3. There is a ton of unconscious nonsense (and I am seriously positive about the term nonsense) going on in my work. For example, I just created a holiday zeega that has the word “suppose” in it. I had been stumped as to a way to imagine that into the zeega’s frame so I just stuck a gif of Donald O”Connor and Gene Kelly dancing in “Singing in the Rain”. Only later did I realize that the silly song in that scene is called “Moses Supposes…” Unaware at first, I am made aware at last. What other dark and secrets lie in the middle?

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