I’ve asked some of my students and colleagues to join me in a collaborative project called #walkmyworld.
My understanding of the project is that participants will share pictures and short videos over 10 weeks that represent what it’s like to “walk in their world.” The project will then culminate in the writing of poetry based on what we have shared.
I don’t need more details than that to get excited. This project immediately captured my imagination because it was instantly social and participatory, it challenged people to make intentional choices about representing themselves and their worlds, and it involved sharing and working with some really interesting folks I’ve come to know in person and/or on Twitter.
The project came at a good time as I was working on the syllabus for my Technology and Digital Media in English/Language Arts class for undergraduate, pre-service English teachers and curious English majors. I consider the class to be kind of a sandbox, in which we test drive projects like this one with a participatory ethos and critical digital literacies framing.
I’m thinking that this project will be an interesting lead in to the spatial justice project I conduct in this class that considers counter narratives of place. I’m thinking we can first consider what it’s like to represent and render our worlds in pictures, short videos, and tweets with a hopefully responsive audience via the #walkmyworld hashtag before we turn our attention to the worlds of our students. I’ll share more about the spatial justice project in future posts.
Meeting My Students
I met my students for the first time on Thursday. I decided to jump right into the project and save the syllabus talk for next week. They created twitter accounts and began experimenting with using the hashtags #walkmyworld (for sharing with the project participants) and #ENGL3241 (for sharing with our class). Kristy Pytash (@kpytash) was generous to respond to their initial tweets, demonstrating how to respond to each other on Twitter. Below is a picture of our class that I tweeted to get things started.
Kristy asked me what I was most looking forward to with the project, and I responded that I was interested in wrestling with issues of representation: what do we choose to share about our worlds and why?
After class, some of my students who were eager to start experimenting asked for further clarification on the challenge. I asked them to consider what it’s like to walk in their world and what they would choose to represent their world in a picture or short video. I asked them to consider themselves as a tour guide who chooses what is and isn’t on the tour of their world. I imagine that some of this will literally be representations of walking or commuting in their world. However, I also imagine that some of this work will involve sharing routines, practices, rituals, etc. that make up one’s world.
For example, I decided for my first attempt that I would document something I do countless times each day–let my dog, Xola, in and out of the back door. I wanted to experiment with Vine at Ian’s suggestion, so I shared the following tweet before class.
You now know I’m a dog owner and that my daily routine involves attending to Xola’s needs. Walking in my world involves opening and closing that back door many times a day and keeping Xola’s water bowl filled. You’ll also note that I recorded Xola’s “creepy stare” a second longer than the other takes. That was intentional to demonstrate that her creepy stare often lasts much longer than it takes to let her in. Welcome to my world. 🙂
I’m looking forward to seeing what my students and colleagues share in this project. Part of this is pure voyeuristic curiosity (that we all secretly have when considering each other on social media), and part of this is intellectual curiosity in the choices people make to represent themselves and their worlds. I’m curious how these representations are created, shared, and “read” across our differences. I promise not to look at what you share with Xola’s creepy stare.
Not on Twitter?
One More Experiment
Curating this other experiment from the weekend; this time with Instagram instead of Vine. I made this video on a ride near where I live in Georgia.
— Ryan Rish (@ryanrish) January 11, 2014