Back in January I posted a video created by Richard Miller and colleagues at Rutgers that described what they are calling the new humanities. Part of that future is in the form of video compositions. This morning Richard posted a new video called WOW (as in, OMG! No Way! not World of Warcraft) in which he details the distributed effect of the distribution of the New Humanities video. It takes its model from Michael Wesch’s ground-breaking "The Machine is Us/Using Us" and builds on his work by incorporating invented writing spaces, Google Earth mashups, and images of the video on multiple blogs (disclaimer: including this one). Take a look.
He announced his video to the WPA List, a post that was forwarded to the techrhet list—(virtual) reality imitating (virtual) art imitating (virtual) reality, in a way. The list has, as lists tends to do, immediately taken a negative view, labeling it self-aggrandizing and self-promoting. Perhaps because I have known Richard for over a decade I cannot help but think that something else is going on. That the WOW is just as much about the fact that Richard is doing this kind of work as it is with the impact that his New Humanities video had on his career, travels and Rutgers English’s evolving reputation.
The WOW is also to show other not-as-tech-savvy faculty the impact that new media technologies can have on the distribution of information in so short a time period (and, hence, on their own careers). I also think it is about play—playing with new ideas, new technologies, new techniques. A kind of play that was just beginning at Rutgers in the days when as their first director of Instructional Technology in the Writing Program I, for example, began playing with web design and created their first web site—a web site that was woefully inadequate, but it was the first time we had attempted such a thing, just as these videos are his (their) first foray into video compositions. Our reaction to the web site: WOW. My reaction to the fact that I built it: WOW.
The imitation is homage here and is used just as we would use in writing and new media classes. We ask students to take a look at what other, more experienced folks have done and as a way of getting to know the technologies, imitate their methods, modes, and processes, and then see what you come up with. Often a student’s reaction is just that, WOW.