Friday, May 24, 2013

About DMP, the Hands-Head Circuitry, & Someday the Heart

Celebration of Writing Day at EKD
You know how it is that sometimes you have a feeling, but it’s not solid enough to walk on.  I’m sensing it’s important to talk about what the engaged body brings forward, especially now in digital media production, in the making of images, moving them around on the timeline, mixing, messing around, reaching for the feel. 

Amid this, a signal’s beeping: You better make a meta-track!  We’re being summoned to theorize the practice, and do it now—right alongside when producing.  It’s crucial, right now, while bringing technology increasingly into our children’s hands that we companion craft with squeezing out the words and thoughts that want naming.  We need to select, even develop, applications that support our students doing this.

This is about the hands-head circuitry, with each bowing to the other instead of perpetuating the one-way, top-down cognitive dominion.  And let’s not flip-flop into mindless handwork that denies the potential genius of crafting. 

While most of me says “Go on,” I also feel smacked from two sides.  Is forcing words onto play a sacrilege, or is this an act of consciousness?  I suppose working at the edge of consciousness always carries an electric charge, like Zeus’ lightning strikes at anyone who might steal fire from gods.

Richard Sennett probes into The Craftsman.  Hair on the back of my neck tingled when metamorphosis, Acteon and Pandora, burst onto page 123, like the effect/affect named in Robert Bly’s Leaping Poetry.   Sennett argues plateau-leaps in craft cannot be adequately treated as “just so” evolutions: “The just-so account supposes that change has to happen in a just certain way, each step leading implacably to the next; the maker could do and think no other” (p. 122).

Not so, Sennett asserts.  He builds off John Ruskin’s defense of the craftsman as much more than a dim-witted mechanical worker.  “Ruskin’s sense of tradition is that the errors, imperfections, and variations that attend any practice are handed down from generation to generation; the mental provocation of these uncertainties is not rubbed away by time” (p. 123, emphasis mine).  The active mind patrolling for possibility runs along the potter’s fingers. 

Are Ruskin and Sennett suggesting that tacit hand-knowledge gets transmitted from user to user and that languaging the craft scaffolds the leaps?  When Brian Boyd builds the case that our cognitive evolution moves by storytelling and that this positions today’s civilization to cooperate, to make peace as never before, does this also mean that our digital media craft needs our mutual theorizing if we are to play our part in advancing peace and justice?

Wading in craftsmanship along with Sennett’s discursive explorations of it put water-wings under my crafting with digital media.  They buoy up my gurgling enthusiasm that wants words to make me believe DMP fits in the academy and in the composing community.  I’m trying to make the case that when we’re savvy professionals, we can tack onto our digital media production a track that articulates errors and imperfections into the “mental provocation of uncertainty” and forward into the imagination of social justice and personal identity.

Taking a mini-break from drafting this blog, I checked my twitter feed and hit on a recording from last night’s Connected Learning hangout in which danah boyd calls for social-media engagement to be recognized for legitimate knowledge-production.  It’s as important as traditional textbookish stuff. 

As we make our way through the resistances around CL, DMP, and all technologically-enriched 21st century learning, the linkage through hands, head, and heart must be clear.  I hear William Stafford’s lines: For it is important that awake people be awake, . . ./The signals we give . . . /should be clear:  the darkness around us is deep.