The reading that most inspired me in our Writing for the Web class this semester was about remediation in digital culture. The article by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin intrigued me as a historian. The idea of remediation involves taking old media and recreating it or taking new media and infusing with the old. I tried to take this concept to my blog by bringing together old historical figures and writers and infusing them with new media. My multimedia project, Black Power to Black Lives Matter, focuses on briefly communicating the black experience utilizing pieces of new media combined with text written throughout history. The text may be old or even an older format in media, but the combination of stand-up comedy, music selections, and recolored videos add to the project, providing my interpretation of remediation.
We learned that there are different types of remediation that usually serve different purposes. I experimented with various types from aggressive remediation and hypermedia to a more complex form of borrowing that does not seek to recreate completely but to emphasize various elements. Therefore the content of my blog contains other mediums for learning about the historical figures I have attempted to highlight. My blog has consumed the media that was left behind by different historical figures and attempts to repurpose it for use by a new audience. While I understand culture’s attempts to remove all traces of remediation after they have I occurred, I hope to draw attention to the stark differences between my old media and my new material because it is in that difference that the ‘historical purpose’ can be found. I am looking forward to bringing my skillset to a place where I naturally create interaction between my readers and the digital world that I have created for them.
Another key concept in digital media that I was drawn to is the openness that digital storytelling and the interweb create. For my entire childhood the best way to publish your writing and story was through a third party that critiqued and changed the word you wrote to fit what that publishing company wanted to publish. This can be restricting in subcultures and particularly in black America. I wanted to provide space on blog to people that we do not often hear from. “Milt the Great” is a young black brother from small town, country, rural Georgia with a college degree working in the penal system reforming the youth and preparing them for the future. He introduces narratives previously unheard of because the internet has provided him the forum. There are problems with this level of openness on the web and copy right and fair use are some that I learned more about through this project.
Because of remediation, it is hard to know what is original and what is not original on the internet. I tried to usurp some of these issues by creating custom imagery for some of posts or by making sure to refer to the academic nature of my reuse. One blog post, “Blood in the Water“, features a remixed image from a historical account of the prison rebellion in Attica, New York in the 1970s. It is one of my favorite pieces of the project and the blog post that went with it perfectly captured the spirit I envisioned.
Some of the challenges I faced when pulling my vision together were software limitations and complications and bringing the whole project together as one. Marshall McLuhan has been credited with the quote: “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” My visions were often grander than my knowledge of the platforms to create them. It is the equivalent of imagining a table already designed and beautiful in its finished stages but having no knowledge of carpentry skills or furniture making in order to bring this idea to fruition. My multimedia project is an effort to tell a short story about the black experience that involves pacing and narrative while still being graphic and attention grabbing. I was inspired by the article “How We Made Snow Fall” the most. It really combined storytelling and technology in a subtle but exciting way. The natural flow of information and navigability is enviable. Scalar is an exciting platform but my limited knowledge and the limited amount of time that I had to learn the program definitely affected my final vision. I am proud of my multimedia project but I recognize the fraction of completeness it represents to my visions and that is a continuing theme I found in digital creation and theory.
I rely on videos, audio, and pictures as much as I can in the writing of all the materials for this project because of McLuhan’s chapter, “The Medium is the Message.” It really made me wonder whether the future of history and collection will be a return to oration and the recording and cataloguing of that oration. Some of the most influential people in history are beginning to have audio files as we move forward in time. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Stokley Carmichael are featured in my Multimedia Project as an example. The involvement of mass media and entertainers in sub-culture bring to life the realities of griots.
It is enough to question whether our children will be watching their history texts on iPads or reading books or scrolling through their tablets reading? History has always been about telling stories and oration. In the same manner that we find ourselves scrolling again, I believe we will find ourselves seated around campfires… or tablets… listening to the most important stories and lessons of all time.