In her article, “At Last: Youth Culture and Digital Media: New Literacies for New Times,” Glynda Hull, Professor of Language and Literacy, Society and Culture, calls for
"… [an] urgent need: to expand our conceptions of what it means to be fully literate in new times. Ours is an age in which technologies for multi-media, multi-modal authorship proliferate, challenging logo centric habits of mind… In these new times, I want to suggest, a familiarity with the full range of communicative tools, modes, and media, plus an awareness of and a sensitivity to the power and importance of representation of self and others, along with the space and support to communicate critically, aesthetically, lovingly, and agentively – these are paramount for literacy now (p. 230)."
I believe Professor Hull’s acknowledgment of the power of digital representation is key to understanding digital literacy. If we recognize that our new communicative tools have the power to influence people all over the world, we should also work to be digitally literate. Without this literacy, a journalist could find herself breaking the law, according to Brian Carroll’s discussion of libel in Writing for Digital Media. Similarly, if the digital consumer is illiterate, the content he or she is interacting with can never be properly stolen. In his work, Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon notes that stealing and plagiarizing are different. Literate digital artists steal the motivations behind content they love; illiterate digital consumers publish someone else’s content as their own.
In order to better understand Professor Hull, I’ve considered my multimedia project a lesson in digital literacy. My project helped me identify the important digital literacies we need in this digital age:
- Identification of
- Personal brand
- Intended audience
Creating digital content requires a massive amount of respect for the digital medium. In order to be digitally literate, I’ve found that a great deal of time, energy, and passion must be present in each video clip, sound bite, blog post, and web page. Because I was involved in each part of digital production, I’ve begun to understand why digital communications is so important and marketable in this day in age. Digital content demands unwavering professionalism.
Before I made Millennial Voter Participation, my individual video project, a number of my classmates and professors shared with me their frustrations with student voter turnout at Furman. As a political science major, I was inclined to create a video that spoke to the problem that is too often blamed on millennials alone. I wanted this video to tell the story of Furman’s students– their frustrations with the voting process and inability to register to vote in Greenville County until the 2016 lawsuit. Therefore, every part of the video’s production was grounded in honesty. For example, in her interview, Claudia Leslie said that she did not care about voting because it was too difficult to request an absentee ballot. I believe this statement honestly reflects the priorities of busy college students.
While trying to afford the ROTC cadets the same candidness, I encountered my first taste of what it could be like to be a real journalist with the group video I helped produce, ROTC: A Story of Three Women. Our production group received some negative feedback about parts of our video, and we honored a cadet’s request to edit our original video. In Digital Communications class we’ve discussed topics such as the First Amendment and the Freedom of Information Act; I knew that our group had every right to include the original content. However, we’ve also discussed journalistic integrity in class. I wanted our video to tell the stories of the females in ROTC, so I chose to be an advocate for the three cadets we interviewed. Although I learned an incredible amount about the functions of Premiere Elements software, I believe that my unexpected lesson from ROTC taught me something more valuable. I learned that honoring the subjects of a video is more important that disrespecting them to get a good sound bite.
Group Podcast: Furman Major Stereotypes
After spending so much time editing two videos, I found editing audio difficult. The
combination of audio and visual elements can bring a story to life. I discovered that a podcast can have a similar impact on a story, but the editing process requires much more attention to audio detail. I mistakenly thought that because I was skilled at video editing, I could also expertly navigate Audacity software. I was wrong. It took me longer than expected to edit the audio interviews, and the process tested my patience. For example, I found that editing the volume of music clips to balance with the interview audio takes a lot of time. It was through this assignment that I really developed my respect for digital creators.
Skills and Competencies: My Blog and Personal Website
I’ve grouped these two sections of my multimedia project together because they taught me how to represent myself online. I’ve always been naturally good at interpersonal communication and public speaking, but the online platform works in an entirely different way. Instead, I had to develop my writing skills. I found it tricky to write for both an informational Politicollege blog post and an About Me blurb on my website. While both must be concise, they must also reflect the intended audience. Before this class, I never thought about how I could develop and market my personal brand online. I found that the key to doing so it to understand who you’re writing to. Personally, I’m writing to future law firms and/or policymakers in Washington D.C. I want my personal brand to be approachable yet professional. In my opinion, my blog reflects that I am passionate about my community and knowledgeable about my area of study. My website exemplifies my content design abilities and conveys that my skill set it versatile. I will regularly update my website and showcase my blog in interviews because I intend for the skills I’ve learned in this class to help carry my professional career.
Sources and Image Credit
Steal Like and Artist and Image ~ Austin Kleon
All other images ~ Shannon Cherney