Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Seth Godin's Big Old Thing

After Steve Braunius shared the “Bring Me Stuff That’s Dead Please” blog post by Seth Godin, I have been mulling over what it means. Seth has somehow encapsulated my approach to integrating technology by calling out the “bleeding edge” for what it is. There’s nothing wrong with it. But it moves on, like the grocery shopper at a sample cart. That kind of innovation introduces us to novelties, to what’s next, to reconsider the accepted. But we also need time to savor. (Am I still trying to make that sample cart metaphor stick?)

I’m a slower thinker. I like to mull. To contemplate. Possibly to appreciate.

In a day when the equivalent of antiquing in the tech world is still subscribing to NetFlix and actually watching dvds, it’s no wonder that the fear of irrelevance or becoming obsolete is very real. We have a false sense that if we aren’t staying current with the fast noisy world of whatever the internet equivalent of mtv is . . . we’re missing out on true tech integration. Yet, contemplative hive-like conversation is happening inside the honeycombs of online and offline communities.

For example, I have been rethinking digital storytelling with my students. It already feels a little tired. Worn. A PowerPoint Plus—not in a revolutionary way, but in a retread way. I’ve been thinking of jazzing it up with the use of Prezi. Troy Hicks, a thinker and professor at Central Michigan University, who presented at a Digital Writing Workshop a few of us attended, introduced the idea of kinetic moving type ( Flashy. Witty. Visually intelligent.

When we learn a new tool or take up a digital genre, we think differently about composition. Our composition ideas are sifted while locating the font editor and determining the options for movement. As in Prezi, we begin to think less linearly and more web-like. We’re closer to the moment when we didn’t know how.

At the same time, all quality work begins with thoughtful planning. Several of my students’ digital stories did not reflect careful thought or even precise research. The focus was on the product--and it feels good to click "play" and watch and hear your effort ready-made for an audience. There's value in that. Yet, I need to think more deliberately about visual literacy and communicating this to students. In conversations with Kip Holland-Anderson, Lisa Shears, Mary Shannon and Troy Hicks (and others in the future, I'm sure), I’ve been able to reflect on the process. Troy's book deliberately privileges the words "Writing Workshop" on its cover.

Let’s go thrift store shopping. And in this way, be transformative. PowerPoint is dead. But it’s definitely a viable option for composing kinetic moving type.