Saturday, September 12, 2009

Today is Saturday, the day after September 11

Hello! I am new to this blog thing and probably wouldn't be doing this except for my class on Digital Writing. I hope that the prof doesn't mind if I expand on my reflections to include tangential current events.

Today President Obama is coming to Minneapolis to promote his health care agenda at a huge rally. Mr. Obama's use of technology during his campaign was quite impressive (email fundraising twitters), but it is interesting that he still feels the need to appear in person. I guess there's something important about the human touch/real person affect and effectiveness. Another reason I want to write about the president's visit is that it is taking place in a time when civility--common courtesy, it used to be called--seems lacking in our culture. The fact that a Senator would blurt out in the middle of a formal speech by the leader of the country appalls me. However, it supports the concern I brought to class last Thursday: the lack of self-censure in speaking and writing in today's society. I am very concerned that today's speech will be marred by protest. Related to protest is the use of digital media by minority political groups whose purpose seems to be to slam and disrupt and overwhelm thoughtful conversation and debate. That traditional media--TV, radio, newspapers--extol the protest sound bites over the substance of the issues is also of concern. I am a huge believer in the potential benefits of a flat world, but I am increasingly aware of its perils.

Now, to get back to the prof's question. What are some things I want to learn to do with d.w. in this course? The first is to figure out this blogging thing. Another is to learn more about online social networking (I don't do FACEBOOK, etc.); a third is to explore this multiplayer game media (several TV shows I've watched talked about avatars; I had to figure out what that word meant). I see that the syllabus includes Digital Storytelling. I've been a storyteller for years, so that intrigues me, too.

I have done a fair amount of creative writing and memoir for my personal purposes (processing a friend's illness; celebrating birthdays; recording experiences from which I hope to make meaning; writing collaborative plays with my Sunday School class). I am wondering if 'going digital' will enhance the content and effectiveness of my writing, not just give it bells and whistles.

As a teacher of writing, I think this course will be valuable because it will expose me to and give me experience in using some 21st century tools. I also know that technology is changing so rapidly that the tools will become obsolete. When my oldest went off to college, we began to use email to stay in touch, far different from my phone call home on a land line shared by fifty other young women on every Sunday morning; today's college students text message or Twitter so they're not tied to the computer in their backpack. Hopefully, my own technological expertise will expand and I'll be ready for the next round of innovation!

So, I feel I need to prepare for not just contemporary but future technology. It was about 20 years ago that I read Donald Graves and began using 'the writing process' with my students. I'm not sure that anyone has come up with a different model that is better. I can see how access to information has changed and therefore students' writing content may have improved. (I could write volumes on this topic alone, but that's for another post!) I am interested in seeing how other elements of writing might be affected.

Now, we're supposed to include a resource link. We didn't talk about how to do that or what the link should be about. Here is YouTube video featuring Donald Graves.


  1. I wonder how the writing workshop will look as we move toward these other forms of writing. I am so attached to my pencil and paper, but that increasingly feels like clinging to something that is less and less relevant. I encourage my students to draft directly on a computer, but I wonder if we still need the pencil and paper for brainstorming, prewriting, etc. I would love to see how the writing process works for someone who really "lives" in the digital world. How is it the same? How is it different?

    p.s. I like the Donald Graves snippet. And somehow the background music reminds of a Peanuts special :)

  2. JoAnne, I think that you'll find both blogging and digital storytelling, if you decide to learn more about that, to be very creative and colorful routes to explore your personal interests in writing. The ability to so easily add images, moving and still much intensity to our communication practices.

  3. I agree that the technology is changing faster than we seem able to keep up with it. Yet, that's also what makes this so interesting: there is always a new way to do things, an improvement over the previous version. Remember when we received the first computers in our classroom that could do this thing called email? Who would have thought that a few short years later we'd be able to hear and SEE each other as we carried on live conversations across the globe? We've come a long way from Eudora to Skype! Sometimes I stand back and wonder: what will we be able to do next? It's all about communication. And communication is all that: the writing, the multimodal formats that keep us engaged, the ever-evolving technology... I hope ultimately the journey will take us to a place of better understanding and tolerance rather than the protests you talk about.

  4. I couldn't figure out how to post this comment, although I had no trouble with Debi's. So I'm pasting it here so I can retrieve it later.

    Dear Janice,
    You are asking the practical questions. I hope we find answers we can use. I'm going to check out your thinkquest site, too.

    I want to be wary that we don't turn tools into toys and that we don't throw our babies out with the bathwater. As Graves says in the video clip I posted, then you just write.