Expression, Ecology, Identity

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stealing, Welding, Making (a Mess)

My final project on digital storytelling for CLST 355 Visual Research Methods is due soon. I’m fishing around online for digital storytelling about which I might want to write, my insecurity – I mean, er, self-reflexivity – is flaring. In particular, I feel the tension between writing about things other people have made and making original work. Why am I commenting on other people’s work instead of making my own “original work”? Or, is making original work what I’m doing here?

What it is that I can say about people’s blogs that the blogs themselves are not communicating? And, even if my comments on the digital storytelling of others are valid, are they useful? Am I offering anything new to the conversation about digital storytelling? Or, are my comments just a mash-up of pre-existing concepts – the blogs I’ve researched, what I’ve read for this class, other people’s comments in class – remixed in a peculiar way? Is this blog, for example, like a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox and the ideas with which I’m working have less and less integrity each time they’re are reproduced?

Or, is my remix more than the sum of its parts? Does the stealing and welding and reshaping of ideas I’ve found interesting form something unique – an original work?

In my search for the blogs of digital storytellers, I happened upon the site of one artist who would say “yes.”

In class, we discussed the possibility of using a blog as a place to try out ideas, to have unfinished thoughts, to make a mess. At the beginning of this blog, I made a post about how uncomfortable I was using this space that way. I was loath to post anything that wasn’t “finished;” as soon as it was “out there” it could be graded and judged. I didn’t see the blogosphere as a place where I could ask dumb questions, or sift through ideas without having fully articulated my arguments. But Kleon’s blog – for better or worse – made me feel a little more free to think of ideas as a jumping-off point for mine; to not wait for perfection before making something – even if what you make turns out to be a mess.

Messes – the many, many awful ideas you try out before reaching one you think you like – seem a necessary part of the creative process, but it’s one I think the schools I’ve attended have encouraged me to keep to myself. The web offers thinkers the opportunity to do the opposite. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet, but I’m giving it a try. I’m basing this take on my academic work on the suggestions of a non-academic. Here’s to letting everyone see you sweat.


  1. Hello

    I think you should take Alex's advice about posting to 10 blogs as your paper. I'm also glad that you want to collaborate with the other bloggers instead of keeping them in the dark. Being an academic and reading from the ethics book in media it's important to have some type of integrity; although many others don't. Will you be posting your conversations on your blog? Or building a separate website? Good luck

  2. Hi Tamara! :)

    This is really interesting! :)
    It's partly why I named my blog Eco Experiment - cause I was just blimmin' experimenting with it all!! :) lol!!

    Seeing other blogs-in-progress helped me go ahead and post even if I 'wasn't perfect' in my eco pursuits and wishes and ideals... And other bloggers gave me support in this too, which was VERY important! :)

    I've seen other bloggers ask questions or 'be imperfect' and I thought, 'hey, what about this?' or 'they could've done it this way...' When my comments/ideas/suggestions to them were as long as blog posts I realized I need my own eco blog lol!

    By doing this you are giving the blogs new readers and new audience - I mean, honestly, how many eco professors or PhD students do you think read my blog?? (I am not deluding myself!! Okay, maybe I could be surprised?? lol!)

    I am deeply honored (and partly very much horrified) to be part of this experiment! :)
    (But so are most worthwhile things in life!!:)

    Where did you find my blog & what made you choose it as part of your experiment? It would be interesting to know! :)