Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Digital literature

Deb S. used the phrase 'crossing over' and I think I am on the same bridge. This week's resources were so inspiring, I'm not sure where to start. I viewed all the examples that Candance suggested and also CRUISING (amazing!) that Janice recommended on her blog, plus the Crayola video Deb mentioned. I'm beginning to see how creation of multimodal, multigenre pieces could be considered writing. For weeks, I was much more comfortable calling 'composing' since to me writing must include words. Then, especially in Jester's article, I began to see how tools such as storyboards, combined with strong visual images, could offer both structure and feedom. And once you call a graphic organizer a storyboard, well, they're used in movie and cartoon making and we're into new media. Chris Jensen's images tell a story once he explains the setting. I'm not sure where the documentary/creativity line is (I'm sure it's blurred), but I wonder if images alone are digital literature. Not being a gamer, I had no idea how powerful and lifelike the images in a video game can be; Heavy Rain, the Origami Killer looked realistic at some times and in some angles. I think this can be harnessed for good or evil.

I had a conversation last night with my daughter, who is in the MFA creative writing program at Syracuse. She was going on about how none of her novels would ever be on Kindle and how she wanted to work for a small PRINT press when she graduates. For her, visual images are something to be created in the mind, not handed to people so they don't have to visualize and use their own imaginations.

And I had a conversation today with a fourth grade teacher who said she was having to revamp one of her units that has a strong computer component because the labs were given over to testing. Now that I want to bring more digital work to my students, 20th century roadblocks seem to be multiplying. The school district has a way to go to make 21st century learning a reality.


  1. JoAnn, Thanks for the links to the game and NWP; the realism is astounding. Having watched Cal venture into and then immerse himself in the initial computer graphics in the 1970 it is mind boggling how wonderfully intricate the images are now. Doesn't it feel like we are living through an era that is as profound and more far reaching than the introduction of the printing press? Much to ponder and learn.

  2. I think you're getting pulled into the magic of the digital world JoAnn :) I often have the same thoughts you do...is this writing? Is it documentary? Is it film? Because if I think about digital storytelling as "film" or "visual arts" I sometimes have my inner voice pop in to tell me "remember, you're not good at visual stuff, so this will be hard; stick with plain words." We all have those stories we believe about ourselves, right or wrong, and my belief about my inability with visual arts restrains me. So I tell myself I'm just telling stories, and that makes it better. But like you I have been wrestling quite a bit with what to "call" these new forms of literacy.

    But...why do we have to "call" it something? Classify it? That's what I come back to as well. I want these things to fit into already existing genres, but the truth is digital stories blend and meld and move back and forth among all the things we know and believe about reading and writing. It's a brave new world :)

  3. Hi JoAnn,

    I agree with your comment about the availability of technology in our schools. We have a wonderful computer lab in our elementary school but it does get booked up quickly. At the beginning of the year we sign up for 1 45 minute time slot per week...but if you are working on a project this isn't enough.

    And don't get me started about the end of the year when EVERYONE is trying to get in and finish projects :)

    We are also lucky to have a portable laptop cart (w/26 laptops). These were recently replaced which has been wonderful since a few years ago it was more of a hassle to use the computers (slow, didn't start up, only had battery power for 20 minutes...).

    It's also hard with so many choices out there! Which projects to you take on? Which will be the most beneficial and will we be able to continue to use? Just in our digital writing class along we have been exposed to several different tools we can use...and I want to use them all!! It's always hard to stop, slow down, choose one and do it well :)