As an academic in English Studies, I’ve found that one of our greatest struggles is taking away words. As much as we try to deter our students from adding fluff, our jargon and verbosity sometimes translates as our academic signature. Digital compositions (on Twitter, Facebook, WordPress blogs, and all the other manner of forums online) give voice to composers, who lose themselves in the generic, prestigious text of the written book word, and give the audience accessibility to different meanings and messages. Users, who are part of the academe, find connections and outlets to produce texts in their field and send it to an academic audience. Users, who have gone through traumatic events, find therapy and support online. Users, who are looking for love, find significant others online. And the possibilities go on. The Internet and composing online is an area where participants of various and multiple cultures are able to build their identity and be societally active.
By way of personal example, in a low stakes, public environment, I am able to convey myself as a member of whichever group I choose, whether as a scholar, as an educator, as a friend, or as a woman in her twenties. As I do this, I change the forum, moving from a blog to Facebook to whatever media suits my purpose. I change my compositions, from high-end words to colloquial, from words to images to songs. I change my persona, from a contributor of scholarly discourse to an instructor working with students, from a friend with a joke to a stranger maintaining distance. My compositions change and my person adapts as I compose and my audience changes.
As a group, we hold true to our glorified book form of scholarly discourse, but we are also starting to negotiate how we convey and interact online, and how those personas connect and break the limitations our history as scholars has confined us to. Compositions change as we change them as composers, but composers change as they compose different pieces in different places for different people—and the Internet gives us a greater array of options for what we want to make, and who we want to be as we make it. How do we change online? And why? This Digital Creations blog, from the perspective of an educator and scholar, explores the possible answers to these questions, as well as the new questions generated from this query, and the rhetoric of composers composing online.