Born-Digital Fiction and Non-Fiction

Having read little of born-digital fiction and non-fiction, I am very excited to explore this topic further and contemplate how this could be incorporated in my classroom to expand students’ literacy experiences beyond born-print literacy. On this week’s agenda:

The Silent History

Fish: A Tap Essay

Snowfall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek

The Silent History is an intricately organized (and intricately developed) multimodal literacy experience. I am fascinated by the development of this piece. How did the creators and contributors come up with this idea and design it with so many people contributing to a shared vision? Initially, after reading the testimonials, what I found interesting is that my own lack of patience drove me to read the narratives first, then go back and figure out what this text was, or what I thought it was. This is when I discovered the field reports component that I unfortunately did not have access to, but I still think it is an incredible piece of this text. I haven’t yet decided if this impacted my understanding or perception of the text, however. It wasn’t until just now when I thought about how I was going to even write about this text, to go back and do more investigation. I found it interesting that in order to learn about this experience, I had to select the gear icon. Typically, the gear icon is available to change settings, so I was just a little thrown off by it’s purpose in Imagethis app, but that opened up a whole window into understanding what this text is and what it is trying to accomplish. When I have more time (not sure when that will be, stay tuned…), I plan to go back and purchase the subsequent historical timelines.

Snowfall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek was definitely interesting to read. I also love that there is a large collection of discussions out there to comment on, critique and extend this text. Again, I plan on exploring these texts at a later time (even another text: The ‘Boys’ in the Bunkhouse). I am definitely thinking about this for my own students. Texts like these can expand my students’ literacy practices and aid in the teaching of digital literacies that the Common Core and NCTE promote and expect of teachers.


Finally, Fish: A Tap Essay is an attempt to define what it means to really love something on the internet when “liking” something is being used in exponentially increasing ways. What does it mean to love something? In this essay, Fish discusses how some applications, digital tools and platforms are now implementing the “love” button. I appreciated Fish’s definition of what it means to love something: it is something we return to. According to this definition, then, is Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters. I read it once every summer and have done so for the past 17 years, or Romeo and Juliet, which I read at least four times a year with all of my freshman students, and each time I discover something else, some new revelation or literary epiphany. I am curious: if more sites and technologies are implementing the “love” option, will that make its meaning less significant or change its meaning? And we will have to come up with a new term to mean more than love? Just curious.


7 thoughts on “Born-Digital Fiction and Non-Fiction

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t notice the gear icon’s purpose right away! I don’t think the field notes would have impacted my initial reading of each essay unless I read them first. I’m also curious as to what the field notes look like within the app and why they are something we have to pay to access. The essays are so rich, I’m surprised they didn’t make the entire app more expensive and give us complete access with the purchase. It may have something to do with compensating the work behind writing these essays, but I’m not sure if the reasoning for charging was clear in the app.

    • Perhaps also the initial cost of the app being so cheap hooks readers into joining the following. Now that I’ve read the first time period selection, I know I will return to read the rest when I have time (as you have also mentioned here, Bree), but if the initial cost was much higher and I was discovering this text on my own outside of class, it is less likely that I would join in the experience. Just a thought.

  2. Bree,

    I’m wondering about the sort of irony at the end of Fish: a tap essay. Because the act of “loving” the essay paralleled the word choice used within the essay, but contradicted the notion of the author’s definition of “love”. I ended up “loving” the text (via the button we would similarly find as “like” elsewhere), but I have yet to return to the text beyond the two times I visited on the day I read it.

  3. I loved your description of “working through” The Silent History and encountering different levels of frustration and illumination as you moved between reading, navigating, and writing. It’s almost like you have to *experience* the app, rather than just read it from A to Z. I, too, waited to go back and watch the video clips until I’d read the first round of oral histories, but in some ways I think my disorientation really added to the thrill and delicious creepiness of the text.

    Have you assigned any of these kinds of born fiction/non-fiction to your high school students? I’m just wondering how they’d respond to them!

    • Katie, I love the words, “delicious creepiness”! I have not even thought of incorporating this into my class until this unit. I really want to for next year. I am wondering, would the Avalanche piece be too graphic for freshman? Also, has anyone read “The ‘Boys’ in the Bunkhouse”?

      Are there other examples of born-digital fiction and non-fiction that any of you would recommend?

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