Embodied Hypertexts

As the traffic for Hyperliterature grows I find myself increasingly worried about the content that I post. I want to make sure I continue to entertain but not offend, and I’m constantly worried that too many personal posts will look unprofessional and way too diary-like.

I have noticed that everyone likes a good YouTube clip. Silly-ass clips from YouTube seem to cut through nearly every demographic out there, and so I find myself writing posts that not only benefit from video clips, but many of my posts almost necessitate them. Like, for instance, if I was going to mention the number of assholes I encounter on a daily basis I would probably embed this:

Since I’m a writing instructor I got to thinking about what my penchant for intermingling text and video means about writing in general, and more specifically what it means for information transmittance in the future. A lot of news sites have comments sections where readers can go and discuss the articles, and nine times out of ten people bitch if the article doesn’t contain images or videos. Go into a comment section on any news site and count the number of times you see “Post worthless without pics,” or “Post worthless without vids.”

The cynic in me wants to chalk those comments up to stupid or lazy readers, but truthfully, I gravitate towards stories with video and images, too. And I know I’m not stupid, so maybe there’s another answer. In the book “Embodied Literacies: Imageword and a Poetics of Teaching,” Kristie Fleckenstein argues that “[b]ecause imagery is an inescapable part of our psychological, social, and textual lives, it needs to be an integral part of our epistemologies and of our literacy teaching”¦[w]hat is necessary for our meanings and our classrooms is a double dialectic, a double vision of literacy as image and word, as imageword” (4).

Perhaps the images in texts and videos aren’t diluting our literacy, but are simply ways to further facilitate information transmittance and absorption. Fleckenstein would say that text is a kind of image as well, and a reader simultaneously pulls meaning from the word and from the image the word connotes. I suppose a thoughtful author would attempt to keep that in mind when composing. With the proliferation of news media broadcasting and publishing over the internet I imagine we’ll see a lot more articles which try to reach a balance between text and video.

No matter what any blog writer or teacher tells you, at some level we’re all driven by the desire to be respected and admired. My hope is that I can use my knowledge of text and image, and my talent to intermingle words and graphics, to endear my readers and students to me, so that when I look at them, or read their comments, I feel just like Mr. Keating:

Of course, now’s the time when the cynic in me pops up, and reminds me that most readers don’t really give a damn about any of that. They just wanna see some curse words and a few funny pics. The cynic also points out that my students probably give less of a damn than the blog readers, and while I’m up at the front of the class jumping around like a monkey most of them have already escaped to their Happy Place.

Oh well. I’ll still keep up that balancing act of entertaining/informing. And don’t worry; I’ll make sure that for every word like “epistemology” I use I’ll toss in a few “motherfuckers.” You know, just to balance things out.

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