mashing message

Via Mind the Planet, “Yes We Can” by Will.i.am, performed by Will.i.am and others:

This past Friday I was at Writers House at Rutgers talking with Richard Miller, Paul Hammond, Darcy Gioia, Elin Diamond, Carolyn Williams, and a few others about the future of the humanities, what Richard is calling New Humanities. Part of that future is the construction of multimodal video compositions. These compositions ask students to engage with a range of Web 2.0 technologies and challenge their understanding of composition, writing, authorship, scholarship, collaboration, text, as well as the role that computer applications play in determining the shape of the composition. Richard and Paul demonstrated the way that Final Cut Pro can be used to compose multimodal, multilayed texts by re-naming the application’s functions to map onto stages of the writing process that are often discussed in composition classes: pre-writing, research, storing citation, writing the text, reviewing, revising, and so forth.

The above video is one that is consistent with the kind of writing that we discussed: borrowing a source’s words/ideas that were presented in one medium and mashing them up in the medium in which the student is working and for the point that the student is trying to make. Will.i.am’s mashing up of certain phrases from one of Obama’s speeches with others saying, singing them in unison recasts Obama’s message to the other. The borrowing of his words (and the image of him saying the words) results in significant questions that can lead to classroom discussions of distributed authorship: Is Obama speaking the words that we have been saying? Or, are we recasting those words as our own because we believe in them?

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One Response to mashing message

  1. Jim says:

    Do you ever listen to Radiolab on NPR? They had an episode on “musical language” that makes me look at this will.i.am internet meme in a whole new way. The basic idea is that language (and in particular, certain languages that rely on tone to communicate meaning) actually have musical qualities that we aren’t always completely conscious of. However, I have to think that Obama’s musical language is a huge part of his appeal. Check out radiolab if you don’t already (my favorite podcast):

    http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/episodes/2006/04/21

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