Reflection on Digital Indoctrination by Jordan Link
This project was both fun and incredibly frustrating. Fun because of the medium and the unorthodox nature of this assignment. As a computer science major, I found the assignment to produce a digital composition challenging, thought provoking, and rewarding. Frustrating because of the tools required to create, edit, and finalize the project—namely, my personal computer and various software programs. I have been given the unique opportunity, thanks to the editors of Queen City Writers, to share my story with other students. This story is not one that I am particularly proud of, but it’s one that should be heard and should be heeded as a warning to everyone who produces digital work.
I had recently built a new PC and was in the middle of transferring files when, due to a Windows activation error, I was required to wipe my hard drive. This was very early in my computer’s creation, and at the time I thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until later that I realized I had only moved my files over rather than copying them, resulting in the loss of about 200 gbs of data. Included in that loss were the revised and original versions of my QCW project. A lesson that is frequently taught in my major is to ALWAYS back up your data. Technology is extremely fickle; it has tendencies to fail, and it’s important that when it does you have the necessary backups to continue whatever work you’re doing. Understand that had this been a regular text-based document, I could have easily retyped it or retrieved the original I had sent to QCW in order to work on a revision. I knew my original submission was not perfect, but I just couldn’t put my finger on exactly what needed to be done. Luckily for me, the reviewers evaluated, searched, and validated the aspects of my video that needed to be worked on in two different ways. My first reviewer chose to point out the time intervals within my video that really worked, and to use those as a model for the rest my video. He or she gave me the useful advice of adding music to my video. At first I thought that wasn’t such a good idea, but after some thought and some tests I found a very useful spot for it near the middle.
My second reviewer not only gave me a good evaluation, but her/his positive attitude and appraisal reassured my sense of the project as a whole. This reviewer identified some of the inconsistencies and generalizations I made throughout the video, some I didn’t even realize I had created. This became tremendously helpful when I started rewriting the script. I thank both of my reviewers for the time and effort they put into the analysis of my piece, and apologize that none of their suggestions are reflected in the published version. Those imperfections persist in this version.
This project was unlike any project I had ever done in my academic career. For me, composing with digital tools becomes more logical than emotional. It’s the difference between creating an algorithm and writing a story. It’s about understanding the abilities of the computer; the potentials of the video, audio, or picture to be edited into a comprehensible piece. Those who view my video see the finished product, not the hand-drawn slides, the pitch-altered voice files, or the editor that pieced everything together. Though the process for visualizing a digital and physical piece is similar, the actual creation process is extremely different. I had the ability to create my hand-drawn slides by computer, but I wanted to test my drawing abilities and show how even physical creations can become part of a digital composition.
As a student in a technological field, digital composition makes me happy to see the shift from physical to virtual. Many grade schools now require students to have a tablet device, and I applaud that. Digital composition must be taught, both because it’s an innovative use of technology and because it requires a higher level of thinking to create an effective piece. Students who wish to compose digitally must understand a computer’s possibilities; they must understand that there are an unlimited number of concepts and ideas to explore and an equal number of ways to explore them when using digital composition. It is quite literally the sum of every possible form of composition.
Jordan Link is a third year computer science student. He created this piece as a final assignment for a course in digital composition. He says the style emulates a web series called Extra Credits. Jordan says he had never created a video like this, so he “jumped at the opportunity to create it.”