Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 54 seconds
My daughter was playing on this Android app called Sketch yesterday, coloring in this image of zoo animals (the text is mine, not on the original)…when I noticed the pyramids in the background. And I wondered, are the illustrators stupid enough that they think that African wild animals like jungles, giraffes and elephants actually live in the same region as pyramids and palm trees? Because as far as I know, these animals live nearer jungles than palm trees. Or at least, I know firsthand that in North Africa and Egypt specifically you can find palm trees and pyramids in the desert… Where you definitely don’t find such animals. I wondered, though, if maybe what was in the background was a mountain range rather than pyramids? That would make more sense. It’s the paln trees that got in the way of it. Or my own projection of my own context and stereotypes.
It got me thinking about how #DigiWriMo is going. That’s Digital Writing Month – which is a month-long exploration of digital writing I am co-facilitating with Sarah Honeychurch and Kevin Hodgson. It’s really quite loosely facilitated in that almost all the content is coming from guest contributors and much of the activities people are doing come from these guest contributors and other participants. Not every guest contributor post will have an activity; some guest contributors wrote more practical posts, some more reflective. Some activities are individual, some collaborative. And some grow in collaboration into something different than what you expect.
One of the interesting and a little strange collaborations is the story jumpers one. It was an idea participant Bruno Winck suggested over Twitter a few days before November (DigiWriMo month) began. We (facilitators) took it forward, invitied others to participate and it’s turning into an exquisite corpse (is that what it’s called?) thing where each person writes part of the story and it’s passed on to another (latest installment by Scott Johnson here). It isn’t actually what Bruno meant when he suggested it BTW but it’s been fun. Ron Samul wrote about how it felt to contribute a part of this story then to have to let go as someone else turns it into something you cannot predict. For me, it’s been like reading a novel in installments…while having had only a small part to play in how it turns out. That feels more liberating than thinking of it as a collaborative piece of writing… It is more like what Kate Bowles calls a trace, than what Keith Hamon refers to when he talks about collaborative writing of the untext... And it has strong elements of writers as audience (Sherri Spelic’s focus in her #DigiWriMo contribution).
But Terry Elliot is right. It’s difficult for someone to sign up now. Not impossible but difficult (let’s call it not completely permeable). Coz it’s now on the…what..16th blogpost and it’s a lot of reading to catch up on (but it’s really cool btw if you think of it as a work of fiction and not a set of blogs, if you read it like chapters in a book and give yourself an hour to go through several and savor them). So it’s a lot of reading to do to get to now. Some people will be interested in joining (here is the signup) and some might be interested in reading along. Some may just totally skip it altogether and that is fine.
Some people may find the musical Roadtrip thing going on through Simon Ensor exhilarating (I do and I haven’t properly had a chance to contribute but it’s been my radio all weekend) and others will want nothing to do with it. And that’s fine.
Some people will enjoy our guest contributors’ posts and want to engage with them. Others want more time to work on their own thing and get feedback. And that is fine. Some may enjoy Terry Elliott’s suggested annotation activities which are conversational (updated here)
Some people will enjoy this week’s visual focus either because it fits their talents/interests or because it pushes them beyond their comfort zone…and others will want to do something else. And that’s fine.
We will never find an “everything” that works for “everyone” but we are trying to create a space where “everyone” can do the “thing(s)” they want to do while learning and having fun together.
I loved merging with #digped Twitter chat last Friday but I felt that people didn’t dwell too much on the importance of the questions about cross cultural digital interaction. It’s a big deal. It deserves its own blogpost. Think of that image above. It’s Orientalist and colonialist ignorance to put African jungle animals in the same image as palm trees and pyramids. I don’t even know if you normally find elephants and giraffes and lions in close proximity in someplace other than a zoo. Those are the kinds of misunderstandings and misconceptions that can occur online. Maybe the illustrator intended something else completely. How do I know?
Let us know if we at #DigiWriMo can do things better. Because I know my perspective may be different than yours. I may be seeing pyramids where you are seeing mountain ranges. The height may be a challenge or a deterrent. I may be intending inclusion yet behaving in exclusive ways. I may be asking a question out of curiosity and it sounds like an interrogation. I may be trying to make friends and instead seem intrusive. If you look at the map of storyjumpers and you see across how many countries we are telling this story…and layer it all with context… You may begin to see how complex this all is…but that’s just the tip of the iceberg (which btw is a metaphor i only get in the abstract coz…never seen an iceberg in real life…have you?)