Work, Together

Our first digital project, beginning this week, will be an exercise in collaboration. Your group will work together to create a digital text that embodies one of the varied methods of collaboration endemic to the digital environment.

Any 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. That is, you can collaborate in any way you’d like, on any subject you’d like, in any digital medium you’d like.

Here are a few ideas for invention:

  • Create (or re-create) a narrative in a social media, making sure to explicitly invite participation, commenting, or disruption;
  • curate submissions (invited or unwitting) into a new digital narrative (this may take the form of a Tumblr like PostSecret, a collage essay like the Stillman piece, or other conceptual art);
  • perform in or disrupt a virtual community;
  • curate an informative piece or report on a subject or event via Storify, or Wikimedia;
  • participate (actively and substantially) in an ongoing collaborative project by contributing to a wiki, or finding artistic partners via a source like HitRecord.

This is not a comprehensive list, but a jumping off point: explore an idea that feels exciting to you. Whatever path you choose, I want to see you making a clear choice regarding the method / type of collaboration (conscious, contributory, or unwitting) and grappling with the challenges and possibilities that form of collaboration affords. The collaborative component of the narrative must reach beyond just your group members. That is, you must include other sources of information, or encourage social commenting and participation in interaction with your group’s work.

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 will discuss that together). If they are conscious, make sure you’re not being so controlling that you’ve circumvented collaboration altogether.

There are many methods for gathering collaboration: crowd-sourcing and social media are excellent methods for soliciting contributors, but your final project must be more than a crowd-sourced list. The material should transcend its component parts to become a new digital narrative that your group created, though I certainly welcome you all to play with the notion of what makes a text. Projects that are more performance or experiment than narrative are fine, if that’s part of your vision and intention.

Remember, as always, to keep the other characteristics of digital writing in mind, as well: embrace the ways in which your digital text may be made public, or incorporate multiple media, etc. The project may be non-linear, or hyper-textual, or interactive.

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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