Today marks the last official day of Digital Writing Month, which has been quite an adventure. I’ll reflect more this weekend when I have time about the ways I tried to push some boundaries and take part in the activities, and what I think of it all. This morning, on the last day of the sharing, I have another meta-comic called Worlds Within Worlds. It echoes one I did earlier in the month, with ideas folded into ideas. But I think it captures a question that I often wonder about: how writing and ideas can take root in digital spaces, and remain there, in ways that are different from non-digital writing.
Thanks for visiting during the month. I hope you tried out a few new things here and there, too.
As part of Digital Writing Month, I am refashioning an old multimedia poem piece using the YouTube annotation feature. With that tool, you can embed links in a video to other videos — in this case, all of the poems as videos are connected together in one larger project. I’m not sure if this just gets too confusing to experience.
This has been me this week, as our Internet has been down for three days. I’m writing now in a cafe during a pitstop to a conference, and while I am enjoying the downtime (and yes, we are doing plenty of reading), my ideas keep on needing a place to sit.
I’ve been playing around with audio as part of Digital Writing Month, and wondering how I might be able to “layer” in multiple voice tracks for a poem about multiple aspects of personality. I ended up using Audacity, and tinkered with the pitch and effects setting to differentiate the layered voice — so that one is low, one is high and the main one is smack dab in the middle. A fourth voice gives a little echo to some of the lines of the poem. It’s very odd to compose this way, and yet, it is fascinating, too. It was as if I were splitting me apart and then reconstructing my voices back into the whole, but on different points of the spectrum. (although at times, it sounds like the Borg talking)
And actually, it’s pretty fascinating to see how your words become waves when you are using audio files in a system like Audacity. The peaks and valleys – the gaps of silence – all remind you that our voice is really nothing more than sounds on the audio spectrum.
Those voices I hear
have become a chorus in my mind –
reverberations of an identity:
the confident me
the meek me
the analytical me
the poetic me
tapping into tools that may move me beyond
the pen and out into the wider world
with our voices
I speak from this space (space, space)
with those voices in mind (mind, mind)
I hear them reply to my query (of course, you don’t say, what did you expect)
as if my questions were nothing but mere tangled wires,
nodes of information running through these veins
away from my brain
down deep into my heart
where logic has long since been forgotten
Yes, they are me
Yes, we are one
Yes, these strands become me
when we share this same page together
Try not to pull too hard on me
as I close my eyes to dream
of how this fabric that rips so easily by the barbs of
words and wonder
can be woven back together again
in order to make me whole.
I finished up the video game project for Digital Writing Month, and I want to invite you to play it and see what you think. You’ll notice from the above level map (which I shared yesterday) that I used the letters of the #DIGIWRIMO hashtag as the foundation for the game play, so your player has to move through and around the letters to get to the end, and collect jewels (nuggets of wisdom?) along the way.
Have fun. Don’t give up. I purposely did not make it too easy, but I hope I didn’t make it too difficult, either. (hint: use the letter Z to portal from one spot to another, and the space bar shoots freezing ice rays, and get all of the jewels. There are checkpoints throughout, in case you die or get too lost.) And I would love to get some feedback from you about how it went. And of course, this kind of activity raises the larger question: is my creating a video game a form of digital writing? Is your playing the game a form of digital reading? Where does gaming fit in our exploration of digital composition. I have some ideas but I would really love to hear from you.
This really is what happened to me with my video game project for Digital Writing Month. I had begun to create a game in which I was seeking to represent some of my ideas around digital writing. I was two and a half levels into the game design when I realized: this is not working. If you have never dipped your toes into game design, the use of symbolism is important, and here, as I tried to “represent” digital writing within a video game format, it just fell apart on me.
So, I rebooted.
I deleted all of that work and sat back down with an empty piece of paper (interesting how a digital project originates from the tried and true, isn’t it?) and came up with a new idea. This one has to do with a single level, in which the letters of the hashtag of #digiwrimo would have to be navigated. Each letter would have some sort of challenge but the player would have journey through or over the letters themselves. Meanwhile, I would add a bonus level down below the main game where one could experience Twitter vs. Zombies, and also a place of collaboration with sprites helping the player through a maze.
It worked, and I am still tinkering with the game, so it is not quite ready for primetime. BUT, check out the map that the site I use — Gamestar Mechanic — has added as a feature. This new tool allows you to get an image map of the levels of games that you create. Which is perfect for sharing in this case, since you can clearly see the DIGIWRIMO letters that form the centerpiece of my game.
A number of years ago, I remember reading an odd story told entirely in cancelled bank checks. I was inspired and created my own version of it at one time (need to find it) and this week, as part of Digital Writing Month, I thought about how we might use the format of text messaging to tell a story. I had this idea of a girl texting her parents about “losing it” – a phrase that brings up a few different connotations — and letting the message unfold until the meaning becomes clear.
Honestly, I don’t know how successful the story is. I had to add something later to the beginning, which may have ruined the flow of the story as I first told it. I am hoping the late addition added to it. But I did like how I had to think in terms of character, and medium, and the nuance of conversation in this format. It made for a tricky tale, told quickly with lots of narrative gaps. And the text message generator gave me a chance to write and kick out images that look like it really did unfold on a cell phone.
I really enjoyed a session at the National Writing Project Annual Meeting called Composing the Web, which began with a neat “toy hacking” activity and then moved into exploring the Mozilla Foundation’s suite of tools for remixing and creating content on the web. Using one of the activities on Thimble (a webpage creator of sorts), I created this quick “shout out” project using a claymation video my son and I had made.
What I like about these tools is that it puts more agency and understanding into the hands and fingertips of users (ie, our students) and can make clear the underlying code structure of our media-saturated world. Use Hackasaurus Xray Goggles, for example, and you can make visible the coding strategies of a website designer, AND then remix it for yourself. Thimble allows you to create and publish a website in minutes, and the new Popcorn video system is a robust video editor that opens the doors for all sorts of remixing content.
Which brought up a long discussion about copyright, ownership of content, and more in our session. In the end, there was some agreement (I think) that these tools are part of what digital literacy is about, and that we do a disservice to our young people if we don’t find ways for them to understand and use the web for creation. I don’t think we all agreed on all points, though, and that points to continued confusion over the remixing/hacking world in educational circles. (I am not clear, either).
But I am going to be bringing these tools into my class as part of a unit I am starting around media criticism — using Xray Goggles to hack a news site and then maybe Thimble to create an alternative news site, and then maybe even Popcorn video editor to annotate a news video. The ideas are still unfolding here ….