Creating for Ourselves

by Sam (Admin) ~ January 21st, 2010. Filed under: digital storytelling, ds106, Student Posts.

I have to be honest, when I was listening to Gardner Campbell give his talk to our class on skype I was rather jarred. Half of me was thinking “Uh… what?” while the other half was thinking “Oh, wow! I’ve never thought of it like that!” So I just sat there taking notes. Perhaps I was tired, perhaps his recently read paper hadn’t sunk in yet, the world will never know. But the more I looked at my notes, the more I began to understand the concepts he was trying to put forth.

One of his most poignant concepts, at least to me, came when Gardner (talking about Alan Kay) said that “a computer is an instrument whose music is ideas.” What a powerful image, that a computer can not only play literal tunes of music, but that it can help you create and realize your ideas and dreams. It can help create life-changing relationships, it’s possibilities are endless!

His second point that stuck out to me was that computers aren’t just for crunching numbers or for huge corporations but that people can use them to create solely for themselves. I know I do! I have always been interested in computers and networking. I have been blogging for years on (at last count) six separate blog accounts on different topics. I have been filming movies and graphically editing them on my computer for years as well. I am also a musician who edits my music on the computer. In the last case, the computer is literally an instrument in some cases. And that’s not even to talk about my Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter habits!

Perhaps the  most meaningful idea to me is that of a digital identity. As Campbell rightly states the usual idea of “digital identity” (making sure you are the right person to be, for instance, accessing your bank records) needs to go out the window. We can’t just sit around saying “well, I’ve learned enough about computers, now I’m gonna sit back and watch other peoples’ identities form.” As Campbell said “If the computer makes music, we must all be musicians.”

At the same time, though, who we are, what exactly our digital identity is, is meaningless without some sense of community. Campbell said that a domain is simply a “utility unless it comes to the next stage” and I completely agree. It’s like a snapshot of what sort of person we are and what we are interested in, what drives us. We are both creating and publishing ourselves in a way.

This was a big thing for me. While I have been creating, filming, blogging, and playing music for years, for some reason I never thought of the computer in this way. Or perhaps rather, couldn’t find a way to express what I was feeling. We all need to create our own digital identities and begin “mastering the language that has enormous expressive powers that is our selves.”

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