Essential Silence

Chris Friend (@chris_friend) teaches first-year writing classes, manages Hybrid Pedagogy, produces the podcast HybridPod, and needs to give his personal website its first facelift in three years. He lives near Tampa, Florida, USA.

flickr photo by Thomas Leuthard http://flickr.com/photos/thomasleuthard/8660104345 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

flickr photo by Thomas Leuthard http://flickr.com/photos/thomasleuthard/8660104345 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

(Audio version by Chris embedded at the end of this post.)

I attended a funeral last month. I wanted to speak, but I couldn’t — not for the lump in my throat or the tears in my eyes or any of the affective, funereal reasons. No, I didn’t speak because of logistics. When the officiant asked for volunteers to step forward and offer their remembrances, she made eye contact with That One Brave Soul who said before-hand that she would talk. Once she was at the podium, the speaker dazzled us by donning a feather boa and a festive costume hat (the deceased loved Halloween). The speaker made us laugh with character descriptions that were just on the truthful side of slanderous. She made us cry with confessions of missed opportunities to share her feelings in time.

Then she stepped down from the podium, and The Silence set in.

We’ve all seen it. We’ve been in rooms that are awkward and pensive, where people are contemplating what, when, and whether to speak. Or we’ve been in rooms where the general noise of chatter inexplicably fades to momentary silence, shattered by shards of tension-releasing self-conscious laughter. Or perhaps we’ve attended a concert where the applause holds off for a moment or two after the final note fades away. That one moment — that pause, that stillness, that calm before the storm — is electric, filled with anticipation, bursting with emotional awareness.

When the funeral service was afflicted by The Silence, the officiant decided to keep things moving. She took the silence as a lack of participation. For many in the audience, it may have been time they needed to build their confidence or their composure. I was waiting for the right moment, and for a couple more ideas to fall into place, before offering my thoughts. But that “right moment” never came; the officiant moved along without me.

And that’s the trouble with group conversations and speech: Timing is everything. The way we build in and work with natural pauses in our thinking and storytelling can help or hinder the audience in profound ways.

Readers can create those pauses whenever they need; they simply stop reading for a moment. One strategically placed finger lets a reader take all the time they want to think, to process, to digest, to respond, to take notes, or do practically anything else before returning to the same spot and resuming the story.

Listeners, though, especially those listening to material being broadcast, don’t have that same ability. Pausing the radio isn’t as simple. And while pausing a podcast is technically simple, it may be difficult — many people listen to podcasts while driving or doing other things that keep their hands busy at the time. Recorded audio is like conversation with an invisible — but very present — audience. We have to keep their needs, their thinking, and their timing in mind. That means adding a pause when the audience needs time to process. Or repeating something if it’s easy to miss on the first go-around. Teachers do this all the time with their live, in-person classes. But authors/composers owe their future audiences the same consideration.

With both text and audio, the pacing of what we say has to be carefully crafted to help the audience process what we’re saying. Marks of punctuation serve critical roles in helping readers understand the flow of our words and ideas, providing stage direction and speed limits for our inner voice to navigate. Working with audio, though, the speaker has almost exclusive control over that navigation, and we cannot forget that responsibility.

Audio is far more intimate than text. The vibrations of our vocal chords shake the air that shakes a microphone. Recreations of that sound through speakers or headphones then shake the air that then shakes listener’s eardrums. As Anne Fernald explained in the “Musical Language” episode of the podcast Radiolab, “sound is kind of touch…at a distance.” The more we talk, the more we share that touch with our audience. But sometimes, we have to slow down, to back off, to give our audience space.

This is something I often struggle with as I create episodes of HybridPod, the podcast extension of Hybrid Pedagogy. (Coincidentally, HybridPod grew from an experiment I conducted during DigiWriMo 2014. But I digress.) When I interview people for the episodes, our conversations follow a natural rhythm, pausing and accelerating as needed. But when I edit the conversations together into a single story, I have to consciously include the right amount of time for where breaths and thoughtful contemplation should go. When I create an audio story, I have to create space for the audience’s reaction. I really have to attend to the timing needs of my future listeners.

Even though I still struggle to create the right pacing, I want to provide a simple example of how quickly silence can draw attention to itself and how effectively it can be used.

In an episode of 99% Invisible (a podcast about design, architecture, and the built world around us), producer Roman Mars helped a reporter describe the structure of CitiCorp Tower, a building that was the centerpiece of the episode. Mars tells about several unexpected features of the building, making it sound like the thing shouldn’t be able to exist. The design sounds magical…or physically impossible, with structural supports in the middle of walls, rather than their corners, and with massive amounts of open air beneath the solid mass of the building. He ends the setup this way:

“It does not look sturdy. But it’s gotta be sturdy. It’s gotta be safe, or they wouldn’t have built it this way…right?”

That momentary pause, that fleeting hesitation — the one I’ve represented with an ellipsis — lasts only a fraction of a second, but it’s enough time for listeners to stop, take notice, and predict that the worried “Right?” is coming. For a show all about design, questioning the safety of a structure is kind of a big deal. (The episode’s title is “Structural Integrity” for that very reason.) That pause allows just enough time for listeners to reach the kinds of conclusions and skepticism and discomfort that the reporters want at that moment in the story. Basically, at just over two minutes in, they wind us up. Then they spend another twenty minutes bringing us back down again.

Things can unfold in the opposite direction, as well. Audio stories can be so personal, so intimate, and so raw that they unavoidably evoke a visceral reaction from listeners.  Uncomfortable or unpleasant stories take an emotional toll on us, and we need time and opportunity to regain our composure.

I recall one episode of Radiolab — a podcast I respect and admire — that included a segment about “yellow rain” containing a deeply unsettling interview in which the interviewee was brought to tears by difficult subject matter and inappropriately callous interviewing practices, and she called off the rest of the conversation. The producers knew her frustration and breakdown were hard to listen to, so they included five full seconds of complete silence after the interview concluded to help listeners recover. Those five seconds of “dead air” — an eternity for audio producers — were an essential means for showing respect to the anguished voices in the show and to give listeners an opportunity to grieve and recover before moving ahead with new ideas. The audience needed that time to process, and any sounds would have shattered the moment.

Silence isn’t only for emotional recovery. As with the flexible, nuanced pacing of everyday conversations, silence in audio recordings serves a variety of purposes. A few that come to mind:

  • Adds suspense
  • Shows discomfort (say, of an interviewee at a pressing question)
  • Provides transition from one thought/segment to the next
  • Emphasizes intensity
  • Encourages others to participate/speak
  • Allows listeners time to process

That last point can be crucial. It’s a gesture of compassion for listeners if the storyteller slows down for a bit. After a particularly intense moment (emotionally or intellectually), a pause allows listeners to finish their thinking about a segment, reach their conclusions, and “gather their thoughts”. Anyone who has helped another person learn something new has seen the importance of a well-timed pause to allow things to “sink in”. As you write/create, remember to allow for those moments in your audience, too. In whatever you’re writing this month, pay a little extra attention to the pacing, the punctuation, or the pauses. What’s not there can at times be even more helpful than what is. Embrace the silence and let it speak for you.

“No word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” — Mark Twain

We hope you will share your work across the various Digital Writing Month spaces that you inhabit. That could be right here at the Digital Writing Month blog; at your own blog or writing space; on Twitter with the #DigiWriMo hashtag; in the DigiWriMo Google Plus Community; at the DigiWriMo Facebook page; or wherever you find yourself writing digitally.

Your Voice: Another Dimension

Wendy Taleo (@wentale): I’ve got a curiosity that keeps me coming back for more. For DigiWriMo I’m ready for anything. I’m looking forward to connecting with the DigiWriMo community. My guest post is focussed on adding your voice to your writing and my other ongoing investigation is around the human aspect of writing and learning online. I’m happy when trying out new tech tools or new ways of doing things. I have a geeky side, poetry side, crafty side, funny bone and human side (*phew*). Apart from Twitter my blogging is split between here and here.

 Coloured bubbles of liquid

flickr photo by Cyberslayer http://flickr.com/photos/cyberslayer/3757514403 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

What Am I?

Insulator

by Wendy Taleo 2015

 

 

I am made of British Porcelain

Travelled to Australia circa 1870

I hang out on the top of poles

I am a terrible conductor but with me

Your message goes the distance

Incoming Message

 

 

 

I am

an insulator used in The Overland Telegraph
“one of the greatest engineering feats”

Listen to this post here (7 mins)

Telegraph

Early 18th century: from French télégraphe, from télé- ‘at a distance’ + -graphe ‘written’

The Oxford Dictionary definition of the telegraph (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/telegraph) is applicable as I am writing this at a distance, to go a distance. It must have been amazing in 1872 to finally be able to send a message from Southern Australia to Darwin (3,200km) and across the continents to England in a matter of hours instead of months. As I tap this out on the glass like surface of a tablet the digitally enhanced clicking of the keys reminds me of sending pulses down the wire. Some of the 36,000 overland telegraph poles still stand in the desert lands as a silent monument to the lives of many that built and maintained this form of communication.

While we have dulled our sense of wonderment of such things, it’s still incredible to me that this article could be read all around the world from the time it’s published. Digital writing has gone well beyond only the urgent and important messages and now gives our stories freedom to be shared across the seas.

In hospital with a fractured finger and arm [I pick up the phone to record] I wonder how I can do my blog post for Digital Writing Month. I think about Simon Ensor’s post where he decides to record first and then transcribe as a way of making sense.

In order to really grasp what is going on, I resort to typing out transcripts of my audio captures.” Simon Ensor, 2015.

I find that my thoughts are not joined or developed enough (or maybe that was the pain killers working) but it did allow me to record ideas while eating my hospital lunch. I’m recovering at home now and it’s time to put these ideas together.

There are many ways to add sounds to two dimensional writing and to the online learning experience. In this post I’m concentrating on the most available and low tech tool – our voice. The journal article by Ozubko and MacLeod (2010) suggests a concept called a ‘production effect’. This shows a ‘substantial benefit to memory of having studied information aloud as opposed to silently’. They looked at people’s memory recall of items from a list of words after reading half a list silently and half a list out loud.  By speaking the words rather than just silently reading it the brain can recollect these items better. The produced text can stand out from the crowd of words that we read. By using our own voice to read aloud we can activate the words, make them distinctive and add another dimension to our learning.

What happens when we record our digital writing? Is it important to do so?

One benefit is the concentration required as we are aware of the collection of our voices ‘on record’. We can play it back and perhaps read along with it (that brings back memories of broadcast sing-alongs in school). It’s also available to share and our communication net is widened. More than just an accessibility function the recording of texts can play a critical part in developing writing.

Hearing your own writing brought to ‘life’ adds another dimension. In this recent example, Maha Abdelmoneim chose to record a reading of a blog post. On listening to her recording she said:

mahatweet

The sharing of the recording had impact not only on the author but others that listened. I listened to this before I saw the original post and it stayed with me. Kevin Hodgson commented: kevintweet

When I asked the author, Simon Ensor, whether he would change anything of the original piece after hearing the reading he said:

wendy tweet

Remix is another dimension that we can add to our writing. Visual, audio, video, more writing – it’s another way to examine our thoughts from a different angle.

From the forthcoming book chapter entitled “Academic Writing as Aesthetics Applied: Creative use of Technology to Support Multisensory Learning” (Lian, Kell, & Koo Yew Lie. 2015) this quote struck a chord with me.

The way we write is reflected in the way in which we speak written texts. Writing is not separate from the spoken text, nor are the prosodic structures simply pasted onto the writing in order to create spoken text. (Lian et al. 2015)

The study used a mechanism of examining the recordings of students reading their own academic writings as a way of improving their writing. The report concluded:

Students, therefore, are likely to benefit from tools that tap into their multisensory meaning-making systems and enable them to examine, in more than one way the communicative impact of their own texts. (Lian et al. 2015)

This is what we can strive for by using audio in the online context. Make it multisensory, make it more available to the mysterious process of sensemaking for each individual.

Woodblock

In this work I took words from a video transcript and turned them into sound. See the process for this exercise in this post. Does this add any value to the sense making? While it was fun to do and it may have some artistic application, it would need a decoder for this to assist with any communicative impact of the original message (like the Morse code/decoder process). The following examples are more in line with the ability of sound, in particular the voice, to enhance, create and aid sense making.

Mindful: Mary Oliver

In this collaborative work started by Scott Glass, I wrote a poem and later returned to record a number of segments written by others. I also recorded my own poem and linked it on the Padlet wall. The authors that I recorded felt ‘honoured’ that I had spent the time to do this. In the online world we can suffer that all encompassing malaise of silence from our digital writing. By recording the written word I could add another dimension to this already multifaceted work.

Armchair travel

http://etalesandstories.tumblr.com/post/123531901825/armchair-travels-scene-setting

In this example the recordings came first. The #adhocvoices project as part of the Connected Learning MOOC 2015 (#clmooc) encouraged participants to record their voice or environment as a way to connect with others. There were four recordings that I chose. They were immediate, evocative, environmental and from various corners of the world. I used this sensory input and wrote a poem to tie them all together.

Horizon

A beach at sunset with the words of the haiku

Perhaps my favourite example of multisensory work is Horizon – A Journey in 5 Parts where I take a haiku poem through a few different iterations and collaborate with others to add sound and visuals.

An Inspiration: Make Writing … Digital

I’ve shared the above works as examples of how to add your voice to your digital writing. A mixed bag of ideas, for sure. What you do depends on what you might like to achieve.

  • Do you want to make a piece of writing more memorable? Read it aloud. Do you want to honour the author in some way? Record and share it.
  • Do you want to improve your academic writing? Read your own text aloud, record it and listen to it.
  • Need some inspiration? Listen to a recording or sound track and then write your story.
  • Have a story but not in a place to write it down? Record it and transcribe later.

Until we figure out how to transcribe touch and smell into 1’s and 0’s we can use our voice to tap into our multisensory system and help the learning process. Use your voice and add another dimension to your learning.

We hope you will share your work across the various Digital Writing Month spaces that you inhabit. That could be right here at the Digital Writing Month blog; at your own blog or writing space; on Twitter with the #DigiWriMo hashtag; in the DigiWriMo Google Plus Community; at the DigiWriMo Facebook page; or wherever you find yourself writing digitally.

References

Lian, A.B., Kell, P. & Koo Yew Lie. (2015, forthcoming). Challenges in global learning: International contexts and cross-disciplinary perspectives. Cambridge Scholars Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

Markman, A. (2010) Say it loud: I’m creating a distinctive memory.

Ozubko, J. D., & MacLeod, C. M. (2010). The Production Effect in Memory: Evidence That Distinctiveness Underlies the Benefit. Journal Of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory & Cognition, 36(6), 1543-1547.

The Overland Telegraph

Resounding Silence

Simon Ensor aka @sensor63 aka Dodger (deceased) is an exiled Francophile Blackpudlian who writes wrongs and other  puzzling stories.

His blog is the largely self-composted Touches of Sense

Dark image with some waves of blue across it

image of Bull Inn Pub Gents WC wall by @Sensor

Resounding Silence

Writing aloud.

Microphone

Transcription.

“How do you like to write?”

This is a question that I’ve been asking myself recently.

“How do I like to write?”

Well, there was a time when I would only really pick up a pen and a scrap of paper and I used to love feeling my weight, on the nib, on the paper, to such an extent that I almost made holes in it…scribbling on it.

Over the past couple of years I’ve found blogging has come naturally to me, which was quite a surprise.

I have a space in which I am comfortable.

There are times when I just sit down and I know that I want to blog.

I open up the laptop.

Words come to me.

At other times, there are pictures that I have in my mind, or a story.

They come either in a rush or they just emerge…but quite recently, I’ve been trying to find other ways to make my life more of an adventure.

Messing around with sound.

That’s what I’ve been doing.

Messing around with sound.

Sound offers all sorts of new compositional difficulties.

Time.

Time.

The time I am taking to do this…

The pauses…

The breath…to open up the next sentence…to give you…

All of that is quite unprepared….

There’s no writing going on before.

But, being literate, I’ve no question that this is writing.

This is writing with my voice.

It’s a bit more dangerous…writing like this.

You can hear the hesitation…

You can hear the doubt….

You can the frustration…

Huh!

“I”ve got nothing to say.”
“It’s not going to be profound.”

Somehow with words and bold and italic it seems…it seems to wipe away…the hesitation.

I can just ditch it.

It’s less painful.

“Open mic.”
“Live.”

No space to hide.

I was using Soundcloud. Then, one day…I was trying to go back to Soundcloud with which I was familiar…went to the same old button on the screen…what did I find?

Impossible to log in!

What a bloody nuisance!!

Well, I really had something to say, it seemed…or else I had nothing better to do apart from to speak to an iPhone!

I ventured into Garageband.

Never been there before.

It all seemed a bit worrying: music, musical instruments…

That wasn’t for me.

And yet, as a compositional space, there are all sorts of interesting possibilities.

“What if I recorded my voice in a large room?”

What would that do to your understanding of it?

What would happen if I took your writing and transformed it with my voice? Now that’s a question, I asked myself.

Over a few weeks now, I’ve been delving into the depths, trying to work out…a path, a plan..

Trying to find my voice, in this new…new…new…new…game?

I like that risk.

I can’t put bold. I can’t choose the font. I can’t change the size of the text.

All that will have to come after.

It’s like the first blog.

It’s like the first poem.

I’m an amateur.

I’m fairly sure this is writing…writing anew…writing aloud

I invite you to join me.

I’ve no idea what’s going to come out of it.

Maybe nothing at all.

Maybe I shall continue alone.

No matter, I’m having fun, here, I’m discovering new vistas.

This is my voice anew.

This is my voice aloud.

An Inspiration: Make Writing … Digital

Try one or more sound activities – adapt – remix – invent – play!

Before starting you can take a look at these posts from Flipboard.

And/or listen to these #adhocvoices recordings on Soundcloud.

Hashtag all your recordings with #digiwrimo

Some ideas

1) Use a sound recorder as a writing tool.

Try to treat it as you might a page.

Don’t stop recording. Play with the silence.

Possible Sound recorders – Audiocopy on IOS/Android/Audacity on PC

Upload sounds to Soundcloud.

2) Try using a sound/music editor like Garageband to compose.

Rather than use silence try using a note, a beat, a noise, a piece of music.

3) Try recording somebody’s blog post and share it with them.

4) Play with existing sounds – make transcripts – make collages – make remixes.

In all cases please share your process and reflections with all at #digiwrimo.

Sounds difficult?
Shout for help!!! :-)
Nobody might offer an answer.

We hope you will share your work across the various Digital Writing Month spaces that you inhabit. That could be right here at the Digital Writing Month blog; at your own blog or writing space; on Twitter with the #DigiWriMo hashtag; in the DigiWriMo Google Plus Community; at the DigiWriMo Facebook page; or wherever you find yourself writing digitally.

Creating audio: an interview with Ron Leunissen

Ron Leunissen (@Ronald_2008) has several academic degrees in psychology and medicine. He works as a senior advisor in the Nijmegen University Medical Center in The Netherlands. Ron has over 20 years experience with designing & implementing medical education and integrating education with Information Technology in the form of Educational Workflow Management Systems and E-learning.

A drawing of a gramophone with the Words Audio and DigiWriMo2015

flickr photo by Ron Leunissen http://flickr.com/photos/93065039@N03/22583611066 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Audio recording of the interview (rough transcript text below that)

Transcript

  • Introduction

    • Sarah: I  asked Ron Leunissen to be a guest collaborator for #DigiWriMo audio week. We decided on a structured interview by me of Ron as a way of introducing him and his work. This is done by Ron and I Skyping each other and me recording it using Audacity. Ron then cleaned it up.
  • Who are we?

    • Ron
      • I work at the University of Nijmegen helping teachers to develop medical education – we train doctors, dentists and health scientists. One of my hobbies is making music, another is making photos and another for the last 2 years is making digital art.
    • Sarah
      • I work in the Learning Technology Unit at the University of Glasgow, but I am not from a technical background – my first 2 degrees are in Philosophy and I still tutor that a little. I was a church chorister as a child and played in school orchestras – all the sorts of things middle class English children do. I really started producing digital art during my 1st cMOOC, #rhizo14, when I found a bunch of really talented, creative people to collaborate with.
  • (Sarah) Why digital art?

    • (Ron) It’s cheap, and you can throw away the ones you don’t want. Later I started making movies with my iPhone and using the dictaphone on my phone to make audio. I started sharing it on the internet about 2 years ago. The first MOOC (massive open online course) was EDC-MOOC: Education and DIgital Cultures, organized by the University of Edinburgh. That was in January – March 2013.  It ran on the platform of Coursera (www.coursera.org) One assignment was to make a digital artefact and that’s how it all started.
  • (Sarah) Tell us about the music you do online

    • (Ron) Well, it started with something Sarah said on Twitter about playing ukulele alone  Kevin and Ron both responded at the same time and that’s how our audio collaboration started – by Kevin singing and playing guitar and Ron doing keyboards, Sarah playing ukulele and singing, and Maha singing.
  • (Sarah) Tell us how that song was recorded.

    • (Ron) We recorded it using Soundtrap, which is a free online music studio that allows asynchronous collaboration. Kevin started by writing the tune, recorded himself singing it and playing guitar and imported it into Soundtrap. Later Ron added some drums and keyboard, Sarah recorded herself playing uke and imported it, and also recorded herself singing and imported that. Maha recorded herself singing and sent it to Kevin to import. Kevin sorted all of the timings and uploaded it to Soundcloud here. We used Soundcloud for our songs in rhizo15 and later I (Ron) used it with Rochelle. In a fairy tale we wrote we had a big fight scene.
    • (Ron) DS106 started as an open online course at the University of Mary Washington in the USA. DS stands for digital storytelling, that’s what the course for the students was and still is about. 106 stands for the code of the course in the curriculum of University of Mary Washington. Every day there is a small assignment that only takes about 20 minutes to do. I share them on Flickr and there is a collaborative community that help each other by sharing hints and tips. We now have an imaginary family – the Burgeron family from Bovine, Texas. We have made animated Gifs from The Prisoner (a UK TV series in the 1960s) and invented a transporter to link to our family.
  • (Sarah) Tell us about John and Mariana’s radio show.

    • (Ron) They do something called the Good Spell show on Sunday afternoons, based on Mariana’s 106 statements about digital art – each Sunday they cover one of these. It’s broadcast on DS106 radio. For example we did a short inbetween project on Goldilocks. We divided the text lines, loaded them on Google Drive as MP3 files and mixed them in Audacity, which is available as a free download.  Sound effects were added last. Even Rochelle’s grandson played a part, the part of the little bear and saying “The End”.
  • (Sarah) Tell us about your collaborative poetry.

    • (Ron) We did something in Rhizo14 that Simon (Ensor) started. The poetry form we used is called Little 11 and we collaborated to make a poem that Kevin mixed together in Soundcloud. It is not difficult – the hard thing is deciding what to do and getting started, That’s where Ds106 helps – doing their daily creates a few times a week helps you to practice – like making up your own version of Happy Birthday. The point is not to be perfect – it’s about sharing a bit of yourself. It is really important to feel safe to try new things – and communities like DS106 are very safe. When somebody shares something I like it, or favourite it – not just because I like it (I always like it!) but to encourage others to go on making digital art. That’s the beautiful thing about these virtual communities.
  • (Sarah) How does somebody get started in collaborative digital art making?

    • (Ron) A good way to start is by getting used to making digital art through participating in online assignments to lower any “fear” for producing digital artifacts and sharing those. DS106’s daily assignments could be a good start. Or the little 11 poems  I mentioned, or to take a fairy tale and collaborate with others to record it.  It might not be perfect, but that’s part of learning. Becoming a member of the open community on Google Plus is good to do too because there one can share artifacts even outside the daily assignments and ask for help from other community members.

An Inspiration: Make Writing … Digital

Write a little 11 poem and record yourself saying it out loud. Share it online (maybe by uploading to Soundcloud).

Can’t write a poem? Why not take one somebody else has written and record it in your own voice? Don’t want to record a poem – why not write one for others to record?
We hope you will share your work across the various Digital Writing Month spaces that you inhabit. That could be right here at the Digital Writing Month blog; at your own blog or writing space; on Twitter with the #DigiWriMo hashtag; in the DigiWriMo Google Plus Community; at the DigiWriMo Facebook page; or wherever you find yourself writing digitally.

Working Out Loud: Listening To What We Write

By Sarah Honeychurch

A close up photo of a Soundcraft Series Five 56 channel mixer at Vineyard Columbus

flickr photo by fensterbme shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

As we go about our day to day lives, we are surrounded by sound. Often we take this for granted, and although we hear the sounds, we forget to listen to them.  And, likewise, when we publish our digital writings all too often we limit these writings to typed words and digital images – we forget to add the power of sound. When an author speaks her words out loud it adds a whole extra layer of meaning to her message; when a musician puts his words to music he gives them a new interpretation; when we select a melody to accompany our moving images we elevate them to a different level.  We are creatures who talk, who listen, who sing, as well as creatures who think and write – and it is important to remember that during our digital explorations.

What We Have In Store This Week

This week, for Digital Writing Month, we are focussing on the ways in which we can use sounds in order to enhance or translate our written words and digital images.

We hope you keep your ears open. Listen to the way that voices help to tell a story. Think about the ways that sounds and tunes can be used to change the ambience of your words. Which sounds form the backdrop to your everyday life – which ones do you love and which to you dislike?  Which ones are so familiar to you that you barely notice them, and which would you miss if you could never hear them again? As I type this the Jayhawks are playing in the background and I can hear my cats crunching on their evening meal – sounds that mean Saturday evening to me. Which sounds define you and what you do?

Our Guides On This Audio Adventure

Our guest contributors this week, and the source for each post’s Daily Inspiration, include:

  • Ron Leunissen, who explains how his passion for creating digital media was inspired by DS106.
  • Simon Ensor, who talks about messing around with sound.
  • Wendy Taleo, who talks about how sounds can bring two dimensional writing to life.
  • Chris Friend, who reminds us of the importance of the pause and silence when we write.

And you. You are also guest contributors. We invite you to open your mouths and ears this week and get excited by the power of sound.  Get inspired to share your creations with the Digital Writing Month community. Collaborate with others if that’s something you like to do.

International Working Out Loud Week

By a strange coincidence, as we move into thinking about audio during Digital Writing Month, we discovered that November 16th – 23rd is also International Working Out Loud Week (#WolWeek). I’m not exactly sure what this is – I think it’s actually about sharing work with a community at an early stage and getting feedback about it, but what a lovely bit of serendipity it is that we have found out about it.