I’m currently writing

I’m writing this in my kitchen this evening…

This week, I undertook the task before reading this week’s core text, so it was interesting to reflect on Fitzpatrick’s observations in light of my own experience of creating a multimodal text.

Reflecting on the possibilities which new forms of writing and the creation of open, collaborative texts might offer, Fitzpatrick notes that ‘such reconsidered writing practices might help many of us find more pleasure, and less anxiety, in the act of writing itself.’ (Fitzpatrick, 2011, p.3). As I noted in my blog post about the task, this was certainly my experience. Firstly, I knew that the media embedded within the presentation would carry some of the ‘weight’ of my ideas. I was able to relax and let the reader play with the connotations, creating their own reading of the text. Secondly, I didn’t feel bound by the structural requirements of a standard academic, written response. I knew that this was the start of an interaction with an audience rather than the end of a process of independent crafting; this was the start of an ongoing conversation, ‘The author is not operating – and has never operated – in a vacuum, but has always been a participant in an ongoing conversation’  (Fitzpatrick, 2011, p.7).

This was, for me, a far more compelling challenge than our first structured blog task; I felt less isolated and constrained ‘network technologies might help us feel less alone and less lost in the writing process…’ (Fitzpatrick, 2011, p.3).

Fitzpatrick cites Lawrence Lessig’s work which explores how ‘the networks of electronic communication carry embedded values within the codes that structure their operation, and many of the Internet’s codes, and thus its values, are substantively different from those within which scholars – or at least those in the humanities – profess to operate.’ (Lessig, 2006, quoted in Fitzpatrick, 2011, p.4). Online creation and communication offer space where we and our students can, perhaps, feel more comfortable than within the strictures and confines of traditional academic writing. The creation of a multimedia essay can be a freeing tool for us and for students; a medium within which we can more readily operate; we can engage in ‘more recursive, more nonlinear, more open-ended, more spontaneous (writing)’ (Fitzpatrick, 2011, p.5).

David Mitchell
Not that one either…
No, not that one

As Fitzpatrick goes on to note, ‘The technologies of a new literary system, in other words, are here.’  (2011, p.7) and these are beginning to be exploited within education. David Mitchell’s QuadBlogging project, for example, has exploited just some of the potentials of new modes of literacies to encourage, support and improve children’ writing. The process involves a class of young writers being grouped with other schools and organisations (such as MIT); these groups engage in a process of blogging, offering supportive and timely feedback on one another’s post. The children are engaged in a process of communication – they are writing for a ‘real’ audience and they themselves become ‘active readers’ (Bloch and Hesse, 1993, p.8).

Multimodal texts are also increasingly available, offering new ways for young readers to engage with their reading and to become active creators of the text. Earth: a primer is such a resource; readers become makers of the text and of the world itself, creating volcanoes, icebergs and their own meanings.

What is also of real interest is how, through digital media, we are able, as educators, to lay bare the process of creation, the hacking and slashing that happens, the false starts, the hesitations and the revisions offering, via this a model of the creative process for our students to engage with.

Such affordances allow the reader to ‘approach a text not just in a finished state, but throughout its process of development’ (Fitzpatrick, 2011. p.12) and thereby to see that writing is messy, chaotic, difficult and never finished. Even now.

Bloch, R. H., and Hesse, C. (1993) ‘Introduction’, Representations 42: 1-12
Fitzpatrick, K. (2011) The digital future of authorship: rethinking originalityCulture Machine vol. 12


This week’s mission required us to rework an extract from Plato’s Phaedrus:

week 10 task

The first step in this process was to modernise the original text. I did this in OneNote, working up my translation alongside the original:


This process of reworking and reinterpreting helped me to fully grasp the nuances of the original which, at first pass, felt a little impenetrable in places. Once this was done, I opted to use eMaze; if I’m truly honest, the rationale behind the choice of tool was that it was one of the first results in the list of sites which was returned when I Googled ‘presentation tools’. Our Moodle site was down and I couldn’t access the lists of recommended tools, so I opted for expediency.

This is the resulting presentation:

Powered by emaze

Fragments of a papyrus roll of the Phaedrus from the 2nd century AD

The aim was to suggest connections and parallels between Plato’s text and the internet. One of the things I was keen to try and achieve was to allow the images and the videos in the gallery to serve to critique Socrates’ criticisms of writing; I also hoped that the reader would be encouraged to play in the gaps between the text and the ‘paintings’ and develop their own response both to Socrates’ arguments and to the artefacts within the multimedia gallery.

My experience of creating the presentation was enjoyable; I knew that I could let the images and the videos do some of the work for me. I was crafting somethigapng academic but the crafting was more immersive and less pressured than writing alone; it was more more creative. I could exploit and revel in the gaps. I didn’t have to worry about creating a closed text, I was, instead, laying out the start of a discourse: I was inviting the reader into the spaces and they were going to have to do some of the work in creating meaning:





I’m currently writing this (at 21:00 on Thursday night) in OneNote, not in WordPress and, as I write, I’m panicking. I’m panicking because this has happened…Panic 1 I can’t access my blog; I can’t access the course pages, I can’t even access the Edinburgh University webpage.

Panic 2

I guess the servers have gone down and all will, eventually, be well. However, what’s of interest to me is just how disabling this is: I’ve lost all that I need to participate in the course: I can’t access the discussions; I can’t access the links to the useful tools I need to make my adapted version of the dialogue from Phaedrus.

And there’s the rub with online education. When the online disappears, so does the resource, the community, the notes, the links and the content. My class, my exercise book and my teacher have all disappeared. In a week where we’re contemplating and playing with a text which examines the negatives of an over-reliance on the written, my reliance on the multimedia hypertexts that comprise IDEL is exposed.

I’ll just keep shouting for help…