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Reading Notes: 4/16

Reading Assignment:     Electronic  Journals


Computers and Composition Online




Some Thoughts:

When I first read that we would be looking at online journals, I thought I knew what I would find. I thought that I would be looking at digital versions of print journals. It was eye-opening to discover that these particular journals include so much more than just print articles online.

It was interesting to work through Technologies of Wonder by Delagrange around the same time I was looking through the journals. She advocates for the exact thing that I saw in the journals: the visual, non-linear, non-print based product made with technology. Delagrange argues that New Media scholars must not only write about technology, but they must also work with technology. They must produce something and be fluent in the creation of digital objects. Scholars must also make use of the digital platform, which has the power to make different rhetorical points than print alone.

For example, in "Television and the Yuletide Cult" by Ernest Mathijs published in Flow, the author utilizes embedded video and images that color the argument in ways that merely describing the films would not.

Screen Shot from "Television and the Yuletide Cult"
But perhaps even more to Delagrange's point is the following multi-modal presentation by Daniel Anderson published in Kairos. Unlike the article above, this presentation has no print equivalent. It is a highly visual experience. As Delagrange notes, these kinds of products emphasize the process over the finished publishable "Paper." It involves the body and allows the viewer to move through with a sense of wonder, letting the information wash over the body as opposed to digesting it through reading it in a linear form.

It comes down to the key concept of interactivity on many levels. The electronic journals allows more interactivity through greater access. They are not holed up in a library, or digitally secreted behind a library page log-in like JSTOR articles. The visual forms, the ability to link out to follow other thoughts as they occur to the viewer, not necessarily intended connections by the writer, create an interactive experience.

I am reminded of advice a fiction workshop teacher once gave me. She told me that I needed to leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. I shouldn't try so hard to tell them what I wanted them to think about the characters or events. It strikes me that these journals allow for the viewer/reader to follow his or her own path through the material. They are like Wunderkammers where we are free to physically occupy a space and pay attention to whatever captures our interest and sense of wonder.

I am left to ask myself how can I produce something for publication that is not print-based? It is a challenge both in my relative novice abilities in technology and in my creative ability to think it up. Do I have the kind of mind that can produce something like the Anderson presentation? I have serious doubts. I think in linear ways. I prefer the outline to the concept map (although I had a lot of fun making that poplet for the research project...). Maybe this is just the beginnings of my own paradigm shift. The digital work will only continue to grow in importance to scholarship, and I either get on the wagon now or be truly left in the dust.

It's a brave new world out there. I think I'll go join it.