The Future Writer: Creative Collaborator

The Future Writer: Creative Collaborator

Take a look at an article I wrote for Descant magazine’s blog about the future of the writer and virtual micro-communities!

An introduction is provided by Descant‘s own Lesley Kenny.

Leave a comment here or on the original post, or tweet to @NLikare or @DescantMagazine.


TEI and {Wikisource} / Doubt and Imperfection

TEI and WikiSource

Taking on the responsibility of a work through TEI markup is daunting because a detailed markup can yield so much information about a text and a basic markup proves, largely, irresponsible.

Wikisource Proofread

It was odd using TEI Markup language to reinterpret the English language.  Firstly, I was learning a new language.  That was humbling.  Here I am, an English student and would-be writer attempting to do all I can to improve my manipulation of the English language and suddenly another language is required of me?  My immediate response: I am too old for this!  But of course this is completely untrue.  What really helped with learning TEI Markup was beginning with WikiSource.  Although TEI is more detail oriented, the foundations of the language can be learned through WikiSource.  Proofreading/Validating is the most logical move from print edition to digital edition.  The two are literally side by side and all you have to do is make one edition look like the other while paying attention to the medium you are operating in (for instance, reading WikiSource’s proofreading guidelines is helpful).  Transclusion provides you with the necessary shock.  A lot of anxiety comes with working with digital editions and the act of taking all that you have done and doing it all over again definitely punches you in the face with ephemerality.  Because you are forced to guess who your readership is, annotation continues this feeling of uncertainty and introduces the important tag brackets: < and >!

My initial resistance to learning the TEI language leads me to: secondly, Continue reading

Solitary Genius

Authorship in digital humanities brings to light just how wrong Roland Barthes was in his essay “The Death of the Author”.  I would argue the title should be “The Death of the Engaging Third Person Omniscient Narrator”, but that is a matter for another day.

The “solitary genus” of the author has not gone out of fashion only into question with the emergence of digital technologies.  Reading through what my peers have discussed in the earlier posts I wholeheartedly subscribe to the importance of collaboration, as well as making collaboration visible.  Collaboration has always been a part of print technology, but this collaboration is left to the imagination when faced with a material item that states a singular author on its cover.  Seeing how many people are involved in a work and opening a work (an example of opening a work is Fitzpatrick‘s suggestion that scholars should publish first and peer-review later) to as much collaboration as possible destroys the notion of the solitary genius and encourages further collaborative and even interdisciplinary scholarship.

Another issue that is being discussed is the increase in the responsibility of the reader and the lack of “justification for editorial conflation” in digital publications.  In digital editions editors are intruding less on the text leaving the responsibility of sorting through the material largely to the reader.  This means that “a broader spectrum of institutional relations, and widening networks of production” has evolved.  A broader spectrum of relations that disadvantage those with “traditional” modes of education or degrees (discussed here). Continue reading

Text, Wiki, Hypermedia and…Icebergs?

Ed Folsom, in his article, discusses databases, but his argument fits more comfortably within the hypertext debate.  Interestingly, as George P. Landow explains, “[h]ypertextuality, like all digital textuality, inevitably includes a far higher percentage of nonverbal information than does print.”  Hypertext and text are not equivalent, then.  A new interaction of information such as that found in hypertext does not conform with the old print technology jargon.

Hypertext in Practice

Let’s assume your research question involves researching The Wikimedia Foundation and Wikisource.  If you search Wikimedia in the Bing search bar the internet page “Wikimedia Foundation” is the second result.  You click on it.  You may or may not read the entire page before moving onto the next research question topic: Wikisource. Continue reading

The Social Edition: Old and New Not Necessarily Something Blue

The social edition—combining social media, scholarly production and the “electronic form”–for example The Devonshire Manuscript—sits among the same chaos, uncertainty and ineffective censoring plaguing all the World Wide Web.

Ray Siemens et al. in “Toward modeling the social edition: An approach to understanding the electronic scholarly edition in the context of new and emerging social media” (as well as in Pertinent Discussions Toward Modeling the Social Edition: Annotated Bibliographiesbring some strong, rational points to the pro-social edition debate.  Social editions offer tools that make,

  • text fluid,
  • collective,
  • include “many readers/editors” instead of “a single editor”,
  • and all together “broaden the editorial lens as well as the breadth, depth, and scope of any edition produced in this way.” Continue reading

Useful Tricks for Writing and Avoiding Indecision (1d)

New Picture (4)

I’ve written short stories, but have not finished the one I’ve been craving to explore.  Time and again some ‘thing’ always stops me from getting very far.  Usually, it’s been my indecisiveness.  I often ask myself:

“What if I make this character more troubled than I was originally thinking?”

“What if this new species I invented suddenly has this unique trait?”

Or I write a scene and can’t decide if it’s any good so I stop working on it.  I’ve only taken two writing courses, by my first writing course taught me some important tricks.  If you feel passionate about an idea, whether it’s for a few hours or days, it is worth documenting.  That’s not the trick though!

The Trick is in the Editing

When you look back on that one poem about that rabbit you saw you may or may not fall in love with it all over again, but you’ll have a better sense of what part is a good idea and what does not work.

When you come back to a work after some time has lapsed it is a lot like getting a second opinion.  You’re not in the same space you were in a month ago, and you’re new look might uncover something worthwhile. Edit the piece until you are satisfied then take a break from it for a couple of days and edit it again.  Or take it apart and use some of it in another work.

The bottom line is you must go back to your previous writing and give yourself the opportunity to make something great!  Things don’t come out that way. This way you won’t be giving up on yourself. 

The Trick is in the Writing

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Getting Your Inspiration Back (5d)

frustrated As I eat this wonderful chocolate chip cookie, I feel uninspired.  If you asked me why I couldn’t really give you a direct answer.  Maybe I feel this way because I’m eating yummy cookies when I’m trying to eat healthy.  Maybe it’s the shelf in my room–the one that holds the notebooks and folders filled with my ideas–that has grown eyes, and a mouth and is saying: “You never finish anything so why start trying now?” A smart woman once sang, “Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead.” Instead of thinking about all the ways something cannot be done, I am choosing to make a post about how I can, practically, get them done.

Getting Inspiration

Usually getting inspiration is a process that is incredibly personal.  In other words, the reason I lose inspiration in the first place is because of something that’s happening in my life. Then there are those things that are beneficial to more than one person.

  1. Writing on white boards, lined paper, blank paper or opening up a brand new document on word.  Sometimes changing up the way you write can make you realize you have the ideas all along you just need to change how you express them.  Large blank spaces especially tend to bring out some of my creativity.  These spaces remind me of looking at a stretch of untouched snow in the winter time.  When you see that snow you just want to mess it up somehow, by playing in it or making a snowman.  Even if you end up writing or drawing nonsense, the feeling of filling up a space and getting inner ideas out can be comforting. Continue reading

Character Outlines: How to begin and What to Avoid (3d)

Plot springs from character…I’ve always sort of believed that these people inside me–these characters–know who they are and what they’re about and what happens, and they need me to help get it down on paper because they don’t type.  ~ Anne Larnott

I have been working on a character outline for a while now. Call me traditional, but when it comes to one of my characters I want to know everything.  I even lined up my Barbie’s by age and played with them in that order before I could get to the one I actually wanted to play with!

It is so difficult not to replay a character’s history before getting to the present one wants to write about.  Here are some tips that have helped me along the way to my ideal outline.

How to Begin

Having a character outline allows you to have a good idea of how your character will respond in any situation you put them in.  It prevents your characterization from being false, i.e. if the character isn’t believable the reader will lose interest. Getting a character’s life down depends on a lot of factors. One must consider their past, present and future simultaneously. It’s like being a real psychic—you need to see glimpses of that person’s life to understand them and their future.

Before you begin, remember: the character outline does not have to be perfect.  It can be worked on again and again like any scene you would edit.  As long as it’s the general or main idea of what you need to know about your character.

Mind Map

I would recommend using a mind map before you outline.  Looking at a series of questions is always daunting; better to start with a blank space and a circle. Write down everything and anything even if it is obvious to you.

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In Your Early 20’s: The Quarter-Life Crisis/Before Sunrise (2d)

So many people ignore the trials and tribulations of the 20-something.  And I get it.  No matter what we complain about an older person can say, “Trust me, wait ’til you’re my age.”  But there has been some recognition of what we go through. Some going as far as coining this point in the Westerners life with the term Quarter-Life Crisis; analogous to the popular Midife Crisis the quarter-life crisis generally refers to those in their late teens to early thirties.

Exchanges between early 20 something’s and ‘mature’ adults can be pretty tiresome from the former’s–and possibly the latter’s–perspective. A hypothetical situation:

You and a few older family members and/or friends are sitting around the dinner table.  Let’s say they’re talking about the bad state of the job market and how some guy is changing careers to a job that will increase his job security. 

You bud in and say, “God I don’t want that, you know, having some job just to make money.”

They look at you with a small knowing smile, shaking their heads unconsciously.  They say, “you do what you have to do to live comfortably.”

Perhaps you have been in a similar situation?

If you’re anything like me, at that point you feel an overwhelming dread sweep over you. Maybe they’ll be right in the end. Maybe in three years you’ll end up choosing the cushiony job instead of the one where you could help people.

There are just too many ifs.  We’re constantly told, “You have you’re whole life ahead of you.” But what does that mean exactly? Are we living for now or for ten years from now, and what constitutes really living?

Culture and The Quarter-Life Crisis

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