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:
- Anna began with a Screencast Challenge of sorts. And she later posted a follow up.
- I responded with my own screencast, but sought to go a bit further with using the tool for writing as much as for capturing writing, and supplemented the work with a comic showing what I did and how at my blog:
- This led us to put out a public call for others to join in the conversation. We did this via Digital Is and the post now lives at The Current. We wrote: “One of the many potentials of the shifts in envisioning writing in multimodal spaces is the chance for new conversations — for stretching out thinking beyond your own physical space and joining in discussions about the changes now underfoot.“
- At some point, I made a vlog video about digital writing:
- Not long after, Anna posted this video reflection:
- Not content to let her video site, I moved her video into Vialogues, which allows for annotation. You can still annotate her video today. (Take that, Jog the Web!)
- At some point, we shifted over to Voicethread as a platform for interaction, and Terry joined in the mix (he may have been in the mix earlier. I don’t recall). He is also in the mix now. Which is cool.
And I added the obligatory comic reflection:
- Anna responded with her own Voicethread, as well as a deeper reflection on the practice of audio and image, and then Terry followed up on that with a presentation riff, which I had forgotten about and was quite happy to rediscover.
- Following another line of thought — one that has rumbled deep enough into the present for many of us to mostly abandon the “digital” of “digital writing” and just call it “writing” — Anna pondered the question of “Where Isn’t the Digital?” She played with an infographic, too.
My infographic response, as a sort of argumentative push-back:
- I had written about this topic, too, with a post about the “naysayers.” Complete with comic.
- And then .. I’m not sure … Where did the conversation go? We always meant to bring it to an ending point but I don’t think we ever did. There may be loose parts that I have lost. Probably so. But Anna and I, and Terry, and others, have continued to explore writing digitally over the years with CLMOOC, and DS106 and others. I even once made a Modest Proposal about Digital Writing (as part of an online conference session). I wrote: Digital Writing …
- is more than just words typed on a screen. A simple blog post is not really digital writing;
- potentially crosses mediums, so that words might mix with sound might mix with video might mix with other media;
- narrows the gap between writer and reader by giving more agency to the reader than traditional relationships, and so, the writer must plan for that changed relationship;
- can have deeper associative properties, particularly when thinking of how hyperlinks embedded within the text might connect one text to another, providing options and trails that move away from the main text itself;
- may or may not harness the possibilities of the underlying yet mostly hidden “writing” — the computer code of the page that we read that has been represented as text but is actually not text;
- provides for possible collaborations beyond the writer, and sometimes without their permission or notice, such as the margin annotations on a website page or a remix of media.
- Maybe we will keep going forward … maybe you will join us?
Peace (in the lost chatter),