Writing Digital Media

by Gerald Lucas

Writing (about | for | on | through | because) Digital Media (#WritDM). All posts by @drgrlucas.

Read this first

Defining Digital Humanities

 Version 2.0

What we call Digital Humanities (DH) remains somewhat slippery. Here I outline the top ideas and practices that begin to describe this elusive discipline.

The Digital Humanities remediates art(ifacts) through a digital lens. DH stands at the intersection of art and science; it makes technology explicit in our understanding and interpretation of culture. DH makes clear that the humanities and technology are inseparable. It calls our attention to form and function as it rearranges the traditional atoms of humanistic study into remixed bits for our consideration and play.

Humanists of print culture are academics, researchers, writers, teachers, and critics. Their main tool is language, inscribed on the pages of journals and books. Their club was exclusive: professors with Ph.D.s building a canon of knowledge through years of research, nuancing and debating their analyses and

Continue reading →

Writing Digital Media (#WritDM)

An etextbook for a digital paradigm, WritDM teaches strong writing and documentation skills for digital platforms using social media. The new writing is for the screen.


A friend of mine recently asked: “Isn’t all media — by definition — social?” My instinct was to answer in the negative, thinking of the “old media” that permeated my life as I grew up, like television, film, and radio.

However, after considering the question a bit more, I must admit that because of networked digital devices and the Internet, all current media has been influenced and continues to be influenced by what we call “social media.” Even if these old media cannot be called “social,” networked culture has certainly had an impact on their production, dissemination, and importance. We’re not living in the twentieth century anymore.

Nearly one in four people around the world use social media everyday

Continue reading →

WooThemes’ Sensei: A Review

I’ve been a fan of WooThemes for a while now. I generally like their designs for Wordpress: they are functional and most have a minimal aesthetic that I find pleasing and functional. They recently have begun developing plugins which seems to have taken their emphasis away from the themes, but when I saw Sensei announced, I knew I had to try it out. What follows is my short review after having used it to teach two courses this summer.

My needs for course management are pretty straightforward, so Sensei seemed like a good fit. It has to align with my current teaching philosophy and practice, and not get in the way too much. What attracted me to Sensei is its asynchronous nature, its WordPress integration, and that its developed by WooThemes.


I didn’t get Sensei when it first launched, but waited to test it for my two fully online summer courses: Digital Humanities and Writing for

Continue reading →

Social Media and BYOD

I recently attended one of those mind-numbing meetings that all of us academics are summoned to from time to time. In order to mitigate the meeting’s effects, I brought along my iPad, so I could take notes and respond to my students on Twitter. Before the meeting began, I was tweeting away when a tie-wearing colleague from the IT department sat down in front of me. I looked up and greeted him, and he pointed to my iPad: “Man, if I could just convince my students that those are tools and not toys my life would be a lot easier.” I considered this for a moment and replied: “Can they be both?” Before we could continue our discussion, the meeting began, but I’ve been considering his statement ever since.

If I want to incorporate the use of digital devices in my classroom to encourage students to participate and to explore, the best way to achieve this, it seemed to me, was to encourage them

Continue reading →

The Classroom in the Cloud

Sugata Mitra’s approach to education embraces digital media. In his award-winning TED Talk “Build a School in the Cloud,” he discusses the Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE). He argues that children who are given access to computers connected to “the cloud” – on-demand data and applications – will educate themselves on how to use them and then put these tools to use exploring what interests them. Beginning with his Hole-in-the-Wall experiment, Mitra has observed that students will teach each other with little need of an instructor’s guidance. Given big questions to explore, students do just that.

Mitra uses the term “cloud” rather than the “Internet” to suggest a curated form of information and services, what the computer industry breaks down into different services based on infrastructure, platform, software, and network. While the implementation of cloud computing services is

Continue reading →

Obsolete Education

In a new, digital world, why is education still firmly part of an old one?

Sugata Mitra argues that the educational system invented in the nineteenth century by the Victorians had as a primary goal the maintenance of a global colonial empire. Because instant communication was impossible, education had to produce functionaries who all thought and worked in a similar fashion in order to support the empire. This system needed to sublimate individuality and promote homogeneity in thought and practice to manufacture workers for empire. Even though the empires have fallen, the twentieth-century’s increasingly corporate world found the Victorian system compatible with its goals, so education changed little throughout the last century: factories churning out products, rather than schools educating citizens.

The classroom and its traditional tools are products of this process: grids of desks

Continue reading →

Educational Tweeting

I have to admit, I didn’t find much use for Twitter for a long time. I’ve been a member almost since its founding in 2006, but didn’t use it too much. Until now.

This semester, I’m teaching Writing for Digital Media. I’ve approached this course differently in the past, but since then, I have had a couple of epiphanies that pushed me in a new direction. I decided to teach foundational literacies of digital media: (1) strong writing, and (2) the unique aspects of doing it for the screen. The latter forms the basis of my approach: I’m not teaching writing using digital tools that will wind up in print, but specifically tools writers use to compose for the screen. Word processing and desktop publishing are out; Wordpress and wikis are in.

Now, these tools are always in flux. However, one of the writing tools I thought was necessary to teach is Twitter. While many love to lament what

Continue reading →

Writing Today

Perhaps traditional academic writing no longer serves our students? Maybe new media offers better alternatives.

Danny Rubin, guest writing at Lifehacker, makes my point very well. I think the days of traditional academic writing are over. Maybe they have been for a long time, yet many academics seem to be blind to the fact.

I’m a displaced English professor, now teaching in what is essentially a media studies program. In my former life, I often taught first-year composition: a course that supposedly taught students the writing skills they needed for college. The main focus of the course was the college essay. Now, freshmen usually had no trouble with the form of the essay; they just struggled with the content. Grammar issues aside — these would usually work themselves out during the term — so the main focus could be composing an argument in a logical way. This fact usually separates

Continue reading →

The Post-PC Project

A proposal for supporting face-to-face education with mobile computing devices.


In a world heading quickly toward the post-PC, higher education has the opportunity to take a leadership role in developing savvy participants in this growing digital community. Computing is quickly heading away from the desk-bound personal computer and into our pockets. The popularity of devices like the iPad, Kindle Fire, and iPhone signal a trend toward a more interactive, book-like interface for using content.

We hope with the implementation of the Post-PC Project, we will

  1. increase the digital literacy and digital authoring skills of NMAC majors in developing original and interactive content using iBooks Author, and
  2. provide unique digital access to course content for students that takes advantage of the course creation and dissemination software of iTunesU and iPad hardware.

We intend

Continue reading →


 (Re)Visioning Literary Education Online

And first Hephaestus makes a great and massive shield, […] /
the god creates a world of gorgeous immortal work. /
There he made the earth and there the sky and the sea /
and the inexhaustible blazing sun and the moon rounding full /
and there the constellations, all that crown the heavens. […] /
And he forged on the shield two noble cities filled /
with mortal men. (Homer XVII.558, 564-567, 572-573)

I see the future of education, like Achilles’ shield: a detailed and exciting world that runs the scope of human progress. If critics like Janet Murray see their visions of tomorrow come to fruition, virtual education — alongside how we experience literature — will eventually encompass all the nuances of humanity. In her 1997 work Hamlet on the Holodeck, Murray theorizes the future of arts and entertainment: an immersive virtual experience

Continue reading →