Unleashing the Creative Klepto: The Final Digital Narrative

One of the aspects of writing for digital media I’ve been hoping to impress upon you all this semester, is that the realm of “the digital” isn’t so much a singular, discrete entity, but rather a series of interwoven bits and pieces — some digital, some physical, some embodied, some binary. We can see this play out in our study of narrative: digital media allows for intersections and engagements with story in ways that are often extensions or re-imaginings of the physical world, but are meaningfully changed in the shift into the digital.

All the characteristics of digital media we’ve studied — collaborative, remixed, interactive, location-based, and, to a lesser extent, public, multimedia, hyper-textual, nonlinear — these are not discrete narrative forms, but overlapping and interwoven ways of engaging with narrative.

That’s what I want your final project to be: a digital narrative that engages with multiple of these characteristics, whose goal is to present a multiple, intersecting, portrait of you (broadly interpreted and defined). This narrative should grow out of (or even combine several) writing projects you began in this class, this semester, though its beginning may have been as one of your four graded exercises, as a prompt in your creative kleptomaniac journal, or even as an idea in a blog post. The form this final narrative takes is up to you; it must be a digital artifact, but it can exist in any digital storytelling or multimedia format you find most creatively compelling.

Ask yourself: what is the story I want to tell? Who is the self I want to shape? Allow your decisions about the form, structure, and media of your final project to follow naturally from those answers.

As I said, I want your final project to be a demonstration of many of the characteristics we’ve studied this semester as possible. To that end, your project must be both public and multimedia (that is, it cannot be merely a digitized text), but it should also embody at least three of the other characteristics of writing for digital media we’ve covered in this class:

  • Hyper textual
  • Nonlinear
  • Interactive
  • Collaborative
  • Remixed
  • Location-Based

Whichever you choose, your implementation of these characteristics should be digital (that is, working with a group will not be enough to make this a truly digitally-collaborative narrative).

To brainstorm your digital final projects, I’ve asked you all to profile at least two people or communities whose digital spaces you admire, to see the ways in which other creators make use of these characteristics, and to see the media,  technologies, and creative processes they use to bring their fragmented, multi-faceted identity to digital life.

Today in class, you will share these reflective profiles with each other, as an opportunity to begin brainstorming some of the possible forms your final project may take, and some of the stories you already have waiting to be told. Since you may choose to work on a group final project (three people maximum), you can also take this time to connect with people who may be interested.

During next Monday’s class, we will participate in a series of activities, including revision and brainstorming exercises, along with mini-conferences with me to discuss your project ideas. By Monday, you should all bring to class a printed, hard copy of your answers to the following questions:

  • What’s the story you want to tell? What’s it about, but also, what kind of emotional response do you want it to create in your viewers?
  • What kind of personality do you want your project to have? What facets of your identity will be reflected in it — your likes or dislikes, passions, curiosities, concerns, struggles, hobbies, or ways of seeing the world? What kind of tone / language would you use to bring yourself to life digitally?
  • What forms of media (image, text, sound, movement, etc.) would you use to tell this story in a way that feels natural to your personality? What would each media add to the story? What would each teach us about you?
  • What design and visual choices would make sense for this piece? How would you characterize your visual style goals? What kinds of images or fonts or colors would you use?
  • What genre or style of writing do you imagine this story using? Is it fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction? Informative? Persuasive? Reflective?
  • What digital form or structure would this project most logically take? A video or podcast?  A website with networked or branching pages? An interactive text or game? A series of multimedia, or hyperlinked blog posts? A social media feed? Something else I can’t even imagine?
  • Besides the public and multimedia aspects, what other characteristics of digital writing (listed above) would your project most likely and naturally possess? Why? That is, how would each characteristic be connected to a crucial element of the story or your personality?

We will spend Monday discussing and refining and executing your final projects into early draft forms, and I will be there to offer feedback and direction. During Wednesday’s class, we will show a film designed to help us puzzle through questions of digital identity, and you may also use that time to work on your final projects.

During the last week of classes, you will each present your final project-in-progress to your peers, along with a brief explanation of your vision, goals, and intentions. This will provide you will an opportunity to explain the progress you have made thus far, and to discuss any obstacles you may have encountered. You will also have the chance to dialogue with your audience about what problems you need help solving, or any feedback you’d like to get about how the story is working or could grow / improve. This presentation is worth 5% of your final grade and should take about 5 minutes. These presentations are designed to function as draft workshops of your projects, and this time, you are in charge of running the workshop: the more work you have done towards your projects, and the more prepared you are with questions for your peers, the better your presentation will serve you.

You final project will be due by posting it to your website in whatever form makes the most sense, and then emailing Marissa a direct linkby Wednesday Dec. 13th at 4pm. Your project should be accompanied by 2-3 page artist’s statement (10%) that details your rationale, creative process, technology use, and digital characteristics. Basically, think of this as an extended response to the questions you answered when planning your project, that incorporates references to your various sources of inspiration, discusses your creative process, and reflects on how your ideas developed as you went through the process of creation. This essay may be included as a blog post on your website, or you may email me a link to a Google doc of the essay, if you prefer not to post it. In either case, your essay itself should include at least five hyperlinks and two images that help illustrate your vision, intention, process, or personality.

Clearly, this project is very broad and open-ended; this is because I want you to have full creative control, and because your final project should demonstrate to me your ability to make conscious choices about how best to use digital media in narrative construction.


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