...is really, really hard.

I thought it would be a good idea to actually try and do the things I ask my students do, even though one of the great perks of being a teacher is avoiding homework. And I realized that creating a digital essay is ridiculously, insanely, exhilaratingly hard.

One of the issues is that no one's really sure what a digital essay looks like because the form is in it's infant stages. Probably the best examples out there right now are the net neutrality video, Master Plan (how Google will take over the world), Human Lobotomy, and of course Did You Know...What all of these exemplars have in common is...well...nothing.

The grammar of a digital essay is still in its infancy. Do I need to assume a certain level of visual intelligence? Should my references be pop cultural or statistical? Who would my audience be? How do I establish a thesis? How do I visually explain points that before would have been explained in words and quotes? What are the rules for short clips when I have no expectation of making money? Is it the same as if I were to quote someone as if I were to capture a small clip of the subject talking?

Also, writing words is laughably easy next to the project of finding images (and video? don't get me started) that are appropriate to the subject. For example, in my project digital essay (about digital essays, mama didn't send me to postmodern school for nuttin') I wanted to make the point that the 5 paragraph essay is stilted and confining. I searched for 15 minutes before I found the perfect video of North Korean Kim Jong Il-niks marching in time...It was exciting and amazing and blood-pumping when I found it, but that was for one 10-second clip. I need 17 more of those before the essay is done. At least in writing we have a thesaurus, but in digital essays we have the entire world to look up. And Google is beautiful but it...doesn't...read...my...mind.

Anyway, the real bummer is to realize that my students are already better than I am and I have to catch up. See what they've already done and then think, could I do that? Very humbling...

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