YouTube Writing (May 13, 2008)
NOTES: Origins and Context | See Also
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Origins of this content
This 2008 blog post about writing comes both from my reflections about teaching digital rhetoric to my nonproduction media studies students (who were required to make YouTube videos instead of traditional papers without learning traditional production skills) and the impact of my own blogging about the course as a form of changing- or quasi-academic writing.
Composition/rhetoric is transforming to include competency in new media technologies. Writing studies sometimes now includes the "teaching and learning of language and literacy in multiple contexts and multiple modes, including print, digital, and visual."[cit] A similar change is occurring more broadly in teaching and scholarly writing within the humanities. Often called the digital humanities, this work occurs "at the intersection of the Humanities, computing and other emerging digital technologies."[cit]

Nicholas Carr blogs: "pundits have, for about two centuries now, been eagerly proclaiming the imminent death of the book. And, over and over again, they've been proven wrong. Today's book lovers may take comfort from that fact, but they probably shouldn't."[cit]

This publication (LFYT) has been supported by a Mellon grant, Scholarly Publishing Initiatives, that evidences a growing concern, and related inventive efforts, about academic publishing given new technologies. See, for example, Hacking the Academy: A Book Crowdsourced in one Week, and also, MediaCommons, which does "not simply shift the locus of publishing from print to screen, but will actually transform what it means to 'publish,' allowing the author, the publisher, and the reader all to make the process of such discourse just as visible as its product. In so doing, new communities will be able to get involved in academic discourse, and new processes and products will emerge, leading to new forms of digital scholarship and pedagogy."[cit]
It's trite to observe that words fail us when we speak of images and sounds.

And now we don't need to use words to describe videos (hence my YouTube analysis).

So who cares about thick description and careful exegesis? Let it go!

It's worth noting, of course, that during LFYT my students and I often most desired to write papers about what we learned because this was the most precise and accurate way to convey academic analysis.

Further, if I ever figure out how to write this up for a (real, paper) book, that word-version (which can't use the video) will have different readers, a permanence, and a different context than it has online, and that's not insignificant. (If I were not a full professor, I'd also say it'd help me with promotions, etc., but I am lucky enough to get to think outside this chilling logic.)

Face it: this writing really shouldn't be in a printed book. It demands the link, or at least a video.