First day back at work after the summer holidays and I had some thinking time in the car. At the time it felt like a had a rush of reasonable ideas, but we've been before. Nevertheless, it was good to have the space to think creatively and imaginatively about things with only She and Him and fellow traffic as distractions.
Once again, I began to question the format I'm taking in representing my ideas within this dissertation. A website is fit for purpose but isn't particularly interesting. It could prove to be polished, but it won't be clever. I just keep coming back to the fact that however imaginative the different components within the website might be, I'm stuck with the same -largely conventional canvas. It's still a website, even it includes video, photography and sound.
I started then - just for a bit of fun - to think about how, in an ideal world, the presentation of ideas could be really imaginative. A thought flickered for a moment of making the whole thing a film. This wouldn't be 15,000 captioned words pasted over photographs. It would rip up the conventions of a dissertation: the images would stand alone, rather than needing detailed explanation. The soundtrack would be an genuine soundtrack, not some music to listen to whilst reading text on the page (and the more I think about that idea, the less convincing it becomes). It would be playful, personal, engaging.
That would be great. In an ideal world.
Back on the road in EH14 - without the luxury of time the above approach would require - it struck me that this is one of the challenges (for the student/author/composer) of taking a digital multimodal approach to the representation of ideas. Here's the cold reality of the situation: I could have had this dissertation finished and submitted some time ago if I'd decided to present it in traditional format. I could have gone on holiday with the anxiety about needing to submit and the compulsion to spend time writing ideas (enjoyable as this was). The thousands of words within this blog that are dedicated to the form of my dissertation are testament to the time penalty of taking an alternative approach to the presentation of my ideas. Without question I've spent hundreds (and counting) of hours thinking, drafting and experimenting with how I might represent my dissertation ideas: these aren't concerns for the student who elects to put their ideas in the form of a traditional text-based dissertation.
So maybe there's a point here to feed into my dissertation at some point. Taking a non-conventional, digital approach offers greater creative and communicational freedom, but it also poses some difficult questions. By abandoning a traditional representational form I'm taking on more responsibility and putting myself under more pressure. If I'd gone for a straightforward essayistic approach, where the format is predetermined, I wouldn't have to make decisions about how the dissertation should look (or sound) and how best to represent my ideas. Taking a traditional text-based approach would be easier, but it would also be less interesting (for author and audience).