1. Thesis/Main Purpose
As the audience for writers change, so does the form in which writers create content and produce or sell it. In a digital world, changing books to digital format does change the content being produced. However, just because form changes content, it does not mean writers have to avoid it. In my attempt to turn Moby Dick into a blog and the characters as bloggers, I hope to prove that even though media changes the content, the different form sheds new light on how the characters interact and the themes the book produces; this in turn will demonstrate that in a world where critics write anthology upon anthology about the same literary classics, changing those classics into new forms of content will give new scholarly thought to the critic world.
2. Preliminary Exploration
I have posted here about the different ways Moby Dick has been presented in different forms of media. Here I wrote out my process of how I've gotten to pick this topic and the questions I'd like to explore. In my review of Understanding Media I have McLuhan's ideas (the man who started this question of media changing content) as a source to support my exploration of media changing content. I've also made Google+ updates that talk about authors and playwrights entering the digital age who utilize the digital world to produce their content via blogs, youtube videos, and personalized websites.
The idea that media changes content concerns authors entering the digital world, as well as all humanities students and professors who are adjusting from written formats/forms to digital formats. My intended audience is to reach those who are wary of entering the digital age in fear that their content cannot be academic, profound, professional, etc in the digital age. I would like to change the idea that having published books is the only way to be taken professionally. Though change is inevitable when writing in different forms, it does not mean authors should shy away from different forms of content, written or digital.
I want to create a prototype blog in which Ishmael is the main blogger with guest bloggers or comments by other characters in Moby Dick. The blog posts will reflect the story as closely as possible, to show how just format changes content, but does not take away the scholarship of Moby Dick. I will use this as an example for my formal paper which I will use to argue and explore my thesis/topic.
The Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature and the BYU English Symposium are both looking for researched papers. But I'm also considering submitting to Digital Humanities Now who are looking for exploratory papers of how the humanities fits into the digital world now, and "how do the digital and the non-digital differ" which is an idea I'm exploring in this thesis.
Curation of Content: I will use the online version of Moby Dick to quickly gather quotes from the text by all characters so that my comments by minor characters reflect their quotes in the book. I will also create a wiki where terminology can be defined and I can organize the important themes of Moby Dick into one source.
Curation of Secondary Sources: I will look at general publications and scholarly publications on project-based learning and authors entering the digital world, and how to do this successfully.
· Gabe Habash on “What Should Authors Do in the Digital Age?” in Publishers Weekly
· James Haynes on “What the digital age means to authors and publishers” on examiner.com
· Rob Eagar on “Authors Don’t Exist in the Digital Age” in Digital World Book
· Marshal McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
Curation of Community:
· Twitter: #digitalhumanities, #digitalauthors, #mobydick
· Google+: digital authors, moby dick
7. Social Proof
I received informal social proof from my homies talking about how the conventions of writing have changed over the years. What used to be limited to the spoken word and written books has expanded to twitter feeds, blog posts, articles online, eBooks, and so on. From my academic peers I have discussed a lot about how form will inevitably change content and meaning of works. But it could also be used to our advantage. By shortening something as complex as a novel, understanding a book can become more accessible. By putting it online or in blog form, there can be reviews by other readers and input from the readership on a global scale (comments on my post here were especially helpful). I've messaged different scholars and authors that are active online. Those who answered back believe it is beneficial to be online because it reaches directly to the readership. They can suggest topics or ideas to develop further in future content productions by these authors. Too often do people use the internet as means of distraction rather than means of getting into the world and curating content with everyone.
I plan on finding communities now that are really discussing how books are being put into the digital world and what they think of media changing content. I want to find more articles discussing this idea of content changing in the media and the pros/cons of this evolution. I can comment and Google+ these articles too to curate the content I’m learning about.
8. Next Steps
Now I need to make my prototype blog and see where that takes me in terms of social proof and response. I will have to curate content so that people can see my thought process and understand what this prototype is for. I'll also need to draft my paper and organize my already curated content to support my thesis. I need to get more social proof and feedback so that I can better form my analysis and know my audience better.