Aha Moments: When Writing Met Digital

When did you realize that your reading and writing practices were beginning to take new shape in the digital age?

Here’s the start of our multimodal conversation, please feel free to share your AHA! moments in the comments below, or on Twitter with the hashtag #modigiwri (More Digital Writing, get it? get it?). We will be compiling these–eventually–into a Digital Is Resource. 

To kick off our multimodal conversation about digital literacies and contemporary composition Kevin posted this video:


Here’s my response, in kind:


So, what was your AHA! moment?

If you’re especially ready to get your contemporary composition on, create your own Vlog (my word for it) or one-sided video chat (Kevin’s word for it)! Kevin posted his experience creating a one-sided video conference here. Here’s how I made mine. First, Kevin’s post had the term AHA! in it, so immediately I had this song playing in my head. If you hit play while you read the rest you will know what was going on in mind throughout the entire process. (It’s more Uh-hu than Aha, but you get the idea.):


So, you can imagine there was a lot going on in my mind as I composed this piece. I am going to highlight just a few of those things here:

Prewriting: My composing process began while I watched Kevin’s video. I stopped halfway through, because I was already remembering moments that related to the moments he was sharing. So, I stopped the video, opened a notepad and played again. I did this in a notepad on my computer, because I was thinking that to make a video using my computer’s video camera, I would want to be able to look at the screen the entire time.

Rhetorical Concerns: If you can read the notepad, you’ll notice that I started like Kevin had with “Hi Kevin, and World.” I wanted to build in some continuity between our two posts, as we’re intending to have our posts build off of each other throughout this asychronous “conversation.” I then typed what I would say first, but as I did this, I realized that I wanted this to be conversational. I stopped typing “a script” and instead, started Kevin’s video again from the beginning and just jotted notes that I wanted to reference.

Getting Technical: To make it a response like Kevin would get if here were talking to me face-to-face, I went straight to video. I set my laptop on a couple of books so that the camera wouldn’t be angled up into my nostrils. I opened up QuickTime Player and chose New Movie Recording. A screen opened up the size of my computer screen showing me what my computer’s video camera could see. This is when I became particularly aware of my surroundings. I had some bags from shopping on the couch behind me and I needed to brush my hair. I turned on another light in the room, and worried I looked washed out, but I let the need to be conversational trump my vanity.

I hit record, stumbled over a few words, freaked out a bit and stopped the recording.

This is when I arranged my desktop as you see it here. I put the notepad under the video camera, so that when I referred to it, I would be looking as closely into the camera as possible. I made the video camera screen small and set it to the side so that I wouldn’t be distracted. I closed my eyes and hit record again and just let whatever happened happen.

Getting Technical, Part II: I really liked the layering effect Kevin had done with the pop up comments in his YouTube. I had seen this before, but had never done it before. (Note: Something I’ve learned about composing in the digital age is that the fact that I’ve never done something before shouldn’t slow me down or overwhelm me. Not-having-done-something is the new status quo.) I was surprised with how easy it was. Once you upload a video on YouTube, go to Annotations. A bottom panel shows up where you can pick a timeslot for the annotation. You can change the duration of the annotation by sliding the gray bar at the bottom. Like most things, you type the annotation by clicking where it says to click and type. Done and done.

The mistake I made was thinking that the annotations would be interactive. Most of my annotations were links, but you can’t click on them while you watch the video. I realized only after watching it that this is why people put an annotation pointing the viewer to the video description box at the bottom for links. If I had more time, maybe one of these weekends coming up, I will go edit those by putting the links in the description and pointing people to them.

Finally, I went to the video settings and chose to make the video only viewable if you had a link to it. I also didn’t open it to comments, unless they were approved. I wanted to leave and lead the conversation here. With that said, let’s converse!