Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Do I Digitally Connect with Thee? Let Me Count The Ways...

Our CLAM bloggers are entering the course with a wide range of experiences in "Composing for New Media Sites" - ranging from the greenest rookies to the most savvy social networking veterans. And the choices for engaging new digital media are many, as well - ranging from the blogosphere (like this one) to Facebook to Twitter to Skype and more. The "thing" that we call "New Social Media" is not a single entity, but rather a growing network of multiplied connections. I'd say that New Social Media is less like a Tulip - and more like a lawn - made not of a single plant, but of a interwoven network of strands, roots, and runners. (CLAMmers, beware! You will hear this metaphor again!)

This is a picture of me with that most marvelous of inventions, the Paige Typesetter! Never heard of it? Not surprised. It failed magnificently and spelled financial ruin for its main backer, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain.) Twain was ahead of his time. Way ahead of his time.That is not always a good thing. The technology of the day simply couldn't support the creativity of his vision.

Many educators have looked for ways students could share work across great distances with their classmates and instructors. They looked for ways whereby students could share not only writing, bu visual, video and audio with the greater academic community. Some of these efforts may have faced difficulty because technology hadn't caught up with the creativity of the vision. But now, technology is available to carry our most visionary ideas of composition and communication. Today's technology doesn't punish visionary creativity in composition. (It does, however, put to shame small, unimaginative, shallow or boring approaches and makes them seem all the more impoverished. So, dare to dream big in your projects!)

Kudos on all the CLAMmers for braving the frontier of New Media, and for experimenting with photos, video, links, prose, and other elements of New Media Composition! Keep "learning by doing" both in your cultural engagement, and in creative use of these new sites for composition.

(Photo taken during the Summer 2007 NEH Landmark Study at The Mark Twain House in Hartford Connecticut.)

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