What Are We Doing Here?

This is the question we’ll be taking during this semester’s first class meeting, but I’ll give you a preview of the answer now: no one really knows.

That’s an exaggeration. What I mean, what we will discover and explore in discussion tomorrow, is that there are so many answers to the questions “What is digital media?” or “What are the digital humanities?” or “What kind of writing do you do in the digital environment?”

Hopefully the fact that there are so many answers is exciting: it means YOU get to decide how you want to answer those questions, and what kind of work you do in this class. It means you are the captain of your fate.

But the real question, for us, is WHY: Why should we learn how to write for digital media? What’s wrong with the old way?

Nothing, of course. But just because the old way works fine doesn’t mean we don’t owe it to ourselves to study the new way. When digital photography was developed, we kept shooting and developing on film. When the electric guitar was invented, people still played acoustics. But I think we all agree that taking and editing photographs digitally, and playing the electric guitar are nonetheless worthwhile pursuits.

Our real goal in this class, then, will be to try and manage both. To explore, play, and experiment with these crazy wild emerging hybrid forms of digital writing, all the while maintaining a focus on what good, strong writing has always been. We’ll never abandon language, style, structure, metaphor — we’re just painting with a different set of brushes, now.

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