Pondering Remix: A #CLMOOC Reflection
This is Make Cycle #2 in the summer 2016 CLMOOC experience. The theme is connecting through reciprocation and appreciation of one another’s work, artistry, humanity, trials & errors, etc.
“Everyone wants an encouraging audience for their work! How do we actively “listen” to others in digital spaces? How can we invite more connections? How can you honor the work of another? How can you show that you closely read and absorbed what someone else wrote?”
The task is to connect through and with making. The intention is to attend to another’s thoughts
“…by explicitly remixing, re-mashing, reflecting, or reciprocating your work that is validating. The same can be said of the other end — of “closely reading” what someone else has shared, and validating it with a response that honors the voice and words and intentions of the writer.”
“There’s a feeling you get” when your work is valued in that way, says the description of the Make Cycle.
I love this. The notion of peer editing that is so prevalent in schools makes me crazy. That focus is on correction; it assumes writing emerges not only fully formed, but also full of errors and that the writer must be enough of a dolt not to see them. Au contraire, Pierre. The first job of a reader is to pay attention, to the work and to one’s personal response to that work. The second is to respond in a way the writer requests. Peer response is about co-working a piece of writing until the writer says, “Thanks, I think we’re done here for now,” and heads off to do what’s next.
As I tell my students, “You don’t have to like the writer, but you have to love the work.” That is, to love it enough to want it to become its fullest.
All that being said, you’d think I’d approach this Make Cycle with gusto. Instead, I’m stuck on the remix.
I enjoy seeing how people remix stuff to make new new stuff. I understand theories about remix and digital composition, and I’ve encouraged my pre- and in-service teachers to experiment. But recently, when someone honored my Tweets in a randomly-generated remix of a poem, I was surprised at my response. First I was tickled pink that someone picked me. Was it me or my words they thought worthy of attention? Then I got a kick out of the poem that emerged from the Tweet poem-generator. Then I was taken aback. I’ve been thinking about that response ever since. Some of my thoughts, in no particular order:
- English teachers worry about plagiarism, a lot. Think of all the mechanisms that exist to catch people who steal other people’s work. Think of all the lessons and units that try to teach kids to cite, not cheat, not use other people’s work. Where does remix fit? (How does a teacher explain why it’s OK to use another person’s Twitter feed to compose a poem when he or she has just required students to submit all their papers through TurnItIn? Why isn’t Melania Trump’s speech just called a “remix”?)
- Is it the words, the way the words are put together, or the meaning ascribed to the words that matters? In terms of the poem-generator, if what we are remixing is just words, then why start with someone else’s composition? Why not random words from the dictionary?
- Is it the poem generator that is the “writer”? Is it me, as the composer of the tweets? What makes someone a writer? (Great way to kick off a workshop with reluctant writers….)
- In kid-talk, who says you can take someone’s words and mess with them?
- What does it mean to “own” something composed we’ve composed? If we are remixing someone’s composition, then where does that ownership begin and end? Does it matter? (If not, why is intellectual property law such a booming field?) Is ownership in the intention or act of communicating? In the product?
- Is remixing with video, images, or sound less or more objectionable than with language-based compositions? Does it matter?
- In a venue where people sort of “know” each other, remix seems like a deeply personal way of interacting. What happens to individuals’ relationships, to each other, to the shared activity (eg., CLMOOC) as remix occurs? What happens to individuals’ perceptions of their works as they are remixed? What happens to participants’ feelings of connection? What effects might remix activities have on individual composing processes?
- Somehow I think we can’t engage in remix without thinking about its impact on ourselves as creators, as individuals who make meaning of others’ compositions, as people who become visible to one another in unexpected ways.
What does it mean to be visible?
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