By Justin Hodgson
When I first saw this project, I couldn’t help but be struck by its aesthetic qualities. There is just something clean and approachable about the design of this project; it is very aesthetically-pleasing. But as I got into the work, I realized just how much this project was coming to fruition in the intersections of research-based writing, narrative as mode of delivery, design for effect and affect, image-based reasoning and user interactivity. It doesn’t necessarily do any one of those things excessively well, but Sara does more than justice to each of them; and what makes this project so good is that she is able to bring all of them together in a balanced way that creates not only an informative project, but one that is engaging to read.
There are, of course, a few moments in the project where things stand out as being a bit out of place—particularly the moments where we are invited into the homes of the individual lives we are being exposed to. In those “home” images, parts stand out as out of place, or visually at odds with the rest of the picture. And while these elements seem to intrude on the viewer, these displacing visuals actually work in favor of the project for the help to emphasize the technological components that she is drawing to our attention.
Also, the teacher in me can’t help but noticed a few minor production issues that could be polished for consistency—the kinds of things I would mark only because the major lines and even much of the minor lines of the work function so well. But the editor in me sees how leaving these very minor moments in the piece in a publication space like TheJUMP can be an asset to the work. We can use this project as an example where the issue and the argument being presented can be seen quite readily, and function quite effectively, even with these few issues (that is, if readers even notice these few, minor elements). But then we can also use these moments to talk about a closer, more refined approach to revision, proof-reading, etc., as we work to think about these kinds of course productions not just as “for class” creations but rather as for a larger, public, Internet audience.
These kinds of “finer” approaches to our compositionist and/or hermeneut “reading” processes is not to take away from these kinds of project creations, but rather to help raise students awareness to the attention to detail that readers may bring to these projects and thus how students may want to approach their own work—multimedia or otherwise—with the same attention to detail. But that to get to this level of focus or teacher-feedback—these one or two minor tweaks—is really a process of scale-oriented revision (one very much so needed for working in multimedia): we start on a large scale considerations, and with each pass we get closer and closer to the creation, closer to individual elements, closer to the finer points we would want to interrogate as authors. And I think showing a really solid work like this that also opens up for our discussion the potential of one or two more passes through this closer scale can be helpful for how we talk about multimedia authoring practices and the depth of revisions and editing we engage in as multimedia authors.