Archive for October 4th, 2009

I think in week 3 we’ll start to explore the visual. I’m looking forward to it but looking back has made me think just how textual my interactions have been to date.

Today is the start of a more multimodal lifestream:

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My intention is to make – or to share – some images or videos this week which I’ll use to make some kind of comment about digital culture and my participation in it. Thinking about Jen and Sian’s curating metaphor got me thinking about a book I love by Jon McGregor called So many ways to begin. The main character’s a curator and each chapter has, almost as epigraph, the decription of some object of significance. In one chapter, for example, it’s the torn photograph of a father recently returned from the war, which speaks of the family disturbances of this ’stranger’ re-entering the settled dynamic of family life after 2-3 years on the field.

I want to find or make something that plays a similar role in illustrating or opening up wider issues about the digital. Today’s example – a quick video made on my phone about a bowl made of an old vinyl LP – sort of hints at what I want to do. Records, and the physical gestures associated with then – e.g removing record from sleeve, reading sleeve notes, placing on turntable and lowering arm and stylus onto the vinyl – have now pretty much passed into history. They were a big part of my memories of being a teenager and the bands I loved when younger, first girlfriends etc.. Now it’s just a novelty item playing on my own sentimental nostalgia.

An interesting post from Jen and Sian on the lifestream earlier this week but I’m not sure I accept either of the two metaphors used.

I tend to view curating as a purposeful assemblage of contextualised artefacts for an audience. Use of the Eduspaces (Elgg) presentation tool for collating blog posts for IDEL a year or so back seemed a better example of curatorial activity (retrospective sense making, selection and organisation).

As for automatic writing, I still see it as a surrealist experiment with accessing/making public the unconscious – ça parle (the id speaks) . However quickly composed, I don’t think anyone’s Twitter feeds constitute écriture automatique in the sense that Breton, Man Ray and assorted misogynist 30s pranksters would understand it.

So, how do I see the lifestream? More mixed metaphors coming up as I think we engage with the digital in laminated or layered ways and we leave a trace or residue of that engagement which is partially visible and can be made more so.

For example, I’ve engaged with the digital as a consumer; in the two weeks of this course I’ve shopped online (the new Lorrie Moore novel and Alekander Hemon stories from Amazon; some Richard Hawley songs and a series of Peep Show from iTunes). I’ve also purchased digital games for my children (FIFA10 for my 10-year old son). I don’t feel like adding them to my lifestream for others to see as I don’t think they add to intellectual debate (or boost my image as hip 40 something!).

I’ve operated within the digital to contact my partner – currently in Chicago – emailing photos of our children who I know she’s missing. I’m going to upload some videos of them to YouTube later and email or txt her the link. Phone calls are expensive but media-rich content uploaded and accessed online costs nothing (well nearly). I see technology as helping be ‘more human’, in this case, going soe way to meet the emotional need for connection with absent loved ones (hence my irritation with Social Network for 2’s platitudes).

Another layer of my digital engagement is as an HE professional, I’ve sent emails, collaborated on Google docs, advised colleagues on various technologies – including Twitter. Part of my professional interaction with peers is conducted online – often using my @anthonymcneill Twitter account or other services like Cloudworks. I’ve been a bit of a consumer here too, buying iPod Touches and Twitter apps for colleagues as part of my LearnHigher Twitter project.

Finally. I’ve been engaging with the digital – as theme and as platform – as a postgraduate student on this course; using WordPress to blog, a second Twitter account (@digitialanthony) to tweet. These two technologies have provided the bulk of my lifestream to date but I think this will change as the course moves to consider the multimodal.