CLMOOC #digiwrimo PopUp November 2016  

In our CLMOOC activities, we play with making; we draw on the visual & the aural, we use digital tools to make things move. We thought it might be fun to work together to make sense.

Below is a provocation for a slow chat. It’s slow because it will take place over the next 24 hours, on this GDoc, either in the body or in comments. Words, images, sounds-- all are welcome as a response to this provocation. At the end of 24 hours, we’ll post a curation to the CLMOOC G+ and Facebook pages.

Karen L (@klbz): I started thinking about this question of digital writing last summer, when my techie family told me the notion of digital writing as some unique genre was “hogwash”. I feel somehow disloyal saying this, but I am beginning to think a single image does not necessarily a piece of digital writing make. The digital, to me, implies a multiplicity of modes. Image plus words, I think...but I have to confess that I think in pictures and then express myself in words.

Sarah (@NomadWarMachine): I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and Karen L recently wrote a blog post that got me thinking about what makes a digital image digital writing, rather than just being an image. I don’t know that it has to contain words, necessarily, and I hesitate to talk about it needing to convey meaning, as this raises issues of whether the author’s intention is relevant (as in conversations about what makes something art), so … I dunno.

Simon (@sensor63) : this is digital writing.



Susan (@susanvg) I prefer the term text rather than writing. I think a photo is a text to be read just as writing is. Is it different if it is digital? - only, to me, in that it is so much easier for others to build on it and react to it.

Kevin (@dogtrax): This question of Image as Text is intriguing, along with its cousin: Is Image Digital Text? I am sure there are many compositional elements that go into taking an image, although many of just say “hey, that’s cool” and take a shot, share it out. Is that a digital text? Or does it need some sort of “larger plan” to transform an image into text? I don’t know. Or does it mean manipulating the reality of a shot, using layering tools or other bangs/whistles, in order to say that this visual is a text? I’d like to think that we go deeper into meaning we make/view images, but it all about context.

karen (@kfasimpaur) - As with so many conversations, this prompted me to go to the dictionary to rethink the denotative and connotative meanings of various words -- writing, text, composition. This search took me to thinking about “marks” on a surface and ones that aren’t necessarily words. Pictographs, pictograms, and other ideograms are

Re ideogram/hieroglypgh:

For example:                 from Ronald_2008’s tweet:

Susan (@susanvg) I think meaning always has layers - the intention of the creator, the reading of the viewer and sometimes the unintentional meanings. As to image being a text - I do think it is - and can be “read” by a viewer. The “larger plan” may create a deeper meaning as the creator may have a well-thought out intention. Just as simple writing is still text but there may not be much depth to explore. And sometimes photograph as text has more meaning as we distance ourselves in time or space. What does it say about the time etc.?

Todd’s tweet: “ I vote no separation and smash them all together anyway you can. Even in the analog we have solid examples.” 

Karen (@klbz) I’m reading a book by Frank Serafini called Reading the Visual: An Intro to Teaching Multimodal Literacy and he has some very specific grammatical elements to be used in “reading” image-- but he is also often talking about the blend of image and words.

Sarah (@NomadWarMachine) What does this image mean to you? (Buckfast)buckfast-tonic-wine-35cl-15-abv.jpg

Karen L (@klbz) Reminds me of cough syrup. That’s the shape of the bottle, I think. But meaning? To me it’s just a visual representation of an object. Green bottle, gold cap, orange lable with grapes. Labeled as a “tonic wine” and I don’t know what that is.

Is it a text? Yes-- I can “read” it. Is it digital? Yes. Is it digital writing? Dunno. That seems connected to the matter of “meaning”. How much of its “meaning” is tied up in the context or back story or your reason for sharing it? (Kevin’s point about context, above)

Sarah (@NomadWarMachine) to me it means ned culture - anti-social behaviour. If I post a pic of this to anyone from Scotland, they’ll get my meaning instantly. Not sure where I am going with this …

Paul (@pauljinks). I know Buckfast only from comedy portrayals of Scottish drinkers. I think it may have also been in the news at some point? Its picturesque origins as a product of Benedictine monks are not evoked by the image.
We bring our own context.

Karen L. Maybe that even though this is digital, a photo, and even has words, the meaning you are thinking of is culture-specific? So does it matter what we call it, i.e., digital writing, if we don’t get the significance (I’m trying not to use the word “meaning” here)?

Wendy (@wentale):    I like this option of Digital Object - From this post by @TerryElliott Perhaps we could also have:

Stephanie (@MrsLoomis) If you think about it, text can be pretty much anything that communicates. Cave drawings, smoke signals, flags, stained glass windows, music, dance, icons--- Text can be whatever it takes to communicate.  Digital or analog, text, in any form, is writing. Cliché’s illustrate; written in the stars, written on the heart.

Screen Shot 2016-11-30 at 3.00.21 PM.png

Julie Johnson (@jreaderwriter)

I find myself using the term “digital composition” when speaking of digital writing because I believe it encompasses so much more than text (just as others have mentioned above).  I think it all comes down to meaning making. What is the author’s purpose and intention?  When composing digitally, the author may use words, images, sounds, etc.  I remember the shift in my thinking when I read in Troy Hicks’ book Crafting Digital Writing that we now have to teach our students how to be sound engineers, web designers, etc.  The world of writing opens up when we add the digital (and maybe part of that is how our audience expands too, when we share digitally).  

karen ....after more looking up and negotiation of words, I’m thinking about the above suggestion of “composing” in favor of “writing.” Isn’t “composing” really “making?” And so this takes me again to the discussion of writing as making and making as writing! And relative to the above discussion, we also make our own meaning, often independent of anyone else’s. :)

Wendy: I recently attended a SketchNote webinar….it was huge fun but clearly pointed out that it is great for visual thinkers. Combining text with imagery. The need to have a library of images that represent a word or a phrase. Kind of like emoticons and emojis. Reading these representations of ideas and emotions can be so much quicker in a mix of digital and alphabetical. SketchNoting is kind of like that exercise you can do of writing a letter but inserting pictures along the way. Using globally recognisable icons/pictures a wider audience can be reached. This also reminded me of composing music (to karen’s point below), have a series of notes stand for a word or phrase. (I’m in the process of composing music to one of my poems. This is definitely an analog process but will be digital for ease of sharing and readibility.)

Karen L: I am a fan of “composing”. A rephrasing of the provacation then becomes, “Does a digital composition have to contain text?” I would tweak that slightly, to “alphabetic text”.

Tellio: wrong question, looking for keys where the streetlight is and not where you lost them.

Simon (@sensor63) : “I am illegible therefore I am.” T.Elliott.


I said something about curating this discussion, and it seems to keep evolving. At this point, I’d observe that we continue to wrestle with all the terms that traditionally have been associated with and used to describe expression/representation in words, on paper, using specific tools, i.e., pen, pencil, typewriter.

It seems that we are saying that the minute we add digital technologies to the mix, everything changes. Digital technologies explode the number and kinds of tools we can use to represent (media), all the different things we can do to represent (draw, paint, sketch, write, animate, photograph, etc. etc.), and the ways we can distribute our productions/compositions/makes. (No wonder we use the word “makes”-- it seems to capture ever form and tool and way of sharing.)

Do we keep talking about the terms because the act(s) of expression/representation are/is changing, evolving, exploding with so many possibilities that the traditional terms don’t fully capture these?

Do terms matter because we need for students to understand the choices they have in communicating as they use different modes so that their audience can travel with them? I think that might be so.

Is this part of the landscape we/others (specifically for me, teachers) need to learn about/experience in order to understand deeply, as creators/composers/makers and as guides (teachers) for younger learners? (Am I the only one who thinks this hasn’t been fully expressed in the push to take up digital/web-based activities?)