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DigiWriMo Founders Interviewed by NaNoWriMo

Excerpt from an article in The Office of Letters and Lights,
October 22, 2012.

This year, Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris of Marylhurst University conceived of Digital Writing Month to run concurrently with—and complementary to—NaNoWriMo. They are offering DigiWriMo to their students and would-be students, as well as any other writers who wish to join, as a way to acquaint themselves with the oddity and magic of digital writing.

The word-count goal is the same as that of NaNoWriMo, but the delivery of those words is entirely different. Rather than asking people to write novels, they're encouraging them to create texts of many kinds, all located somehow upon, within, and in relationship with the web.

Digital Writing seems to change the way we write. Do you think it changes the way we read as well?

Sean: I think absolutely. I think there's a lot more skimming that happens when we read online; but I also think that we learn to scan information for its relevance much more quickly than we do in print. We read for subtext during Twitter exchanges; we read for images on Tumblr and Facebook; and we browse information in a dynamic way that's never been possible before.

Jesse: I love what Sean says here about skimming. What the Internet lacks in depth it makes up for it by having a good deal more surface. Digital writing harnesses this broad surface by emphasizing collaboration, networks, and communal context.

How, in your opinion, has digital writing affected traditional forms of writing?

Jesse: I hear, like an incessant refrain, this notion that the internet is ruining us as readers and writers—that tools like Twitter and text-messaging are doing irreparable harm to our writing practices, our attention to detail, and (especially) our use of grammar. I believe strongly that we are becoming better readers and writers, because we are doing so much more reading and writing, and because, increasingly, we are doing that work together and for a much larger audience.

Sean: I want to make clear that Digital Writing Month never takes the stand that "print is dead". Instead, we want to show that digital writing can be an additional creative outlet for the world's authors.

I'm still very much a fan of paper books, while at the same time, I believe that online writing allows for a kind of energy and synergy that we're only beginning to understand. I know that digital writing, in what way it can, has shown up in our for-print writing—you see the texts of emails, text messages, and more in novels today—but digital writing is a lot more than just the medium upon which its coded, and a lot more than the types of writing we do there.

Digital writing is active, unpredictable, and living in ways that print writing usually isn't  It's also impermanent, unedited, and sometimes too immediate in ways that print writing doesn't have to be.

Jesse Stommel is the Director of the Marylhurst University English literature and new media degree program, the home of Digital Writing Month. He is also the co-founder and managing editor for Hybrid Pedagogy, an online journal of teaching and technology.

Sean Michael Morris is the Director of Educational Outreach for Hybrid Pedagogy, and a part-time faculty member with Marylhurst's English literature and new media degree program. He's also a three-time NaNoWriMo winner, a former creative writing teacher, and the "Head Hare-brain" behind Digital Writing Month.

Read the full article on blog.lettersandlights.org

More coverage of Digital Writing Month:

10 Reasons Why You Should Do Digital Writing Month
Chronicle.com, October 29, 2012


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