Collaborating, Narratively

Our first conceptual unit, beginning this week, is on collaborative digital texts. Your task will be to create a digital text that explores the nature of collaboration in the digital environment.

And of the texts that we’ve read, discussed, referenced, or anything that any of what we’ve read reminds you of, is a valid source of inspiration for this project.

A few ideas for invention:

  • Create (or re-create) a narrative in a social media;
  • curate submissions (invited or unwitting) into a digital narrative (in the form of a Tumblr, or other conceptual art);
  • perform in or disrupt a virtual community;
  • curate an informative piece via Pinterest, ThingLink, Storify, or Wikimedia.

This is not a comprehensive list, but a jumping off point: explore an idea that feels exciting to you.

For this, as for all assignments, you are encouraged (though not required) to work in groups. If you choose to work with others, the collaborative component of the narrative should reach beyond just your group members. That is, you should try to include other sources of information, or encourage social commenting and participation in interaction with your group’s work. Your homework for Wednesday will be to contribute your ideas for a collaborative text to this Google doc, as a potential place to find in-class participants.

There are many methods for gathering collaboration, and most are fine: crowd-sourcing is an excellent method for soliciting contributors, but your final project must be more than a crowd-sourced list; you should do something with the material to transform it into a cohesive text.

Think about what form of collaboration you find most compelling: conscious; contributory; or unwitting. While all are fine, each one comes with its own set of challenges, limitations, and advantages. Make sure if your contributors are unwitting that you are being respectful of their privacy and working to maintain their anonymity (there’s a line between unwitting participation and exploitation and we should discuss it together). If they are conscious, make sure you’re not being so controlling that you’ve circumvented collaboration altogether.

Above all, work to make sure your collaborative text grapples with the particular issues of partnership, and think about balancing the collaboration so that it benefits both the authors (you) and the participants.

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