Texts to have read: the course description Writing to turn in:

  • (at start of class) survey about other coursework, tech comforts and discomforts, etc
  • (at end of class) letter to Ben about your habits, expectations, and goals as a composer of digital media

1. Introduction to the course and to each other

I'd like to know more about you! Head on over to and fill in the first page or two. (I'll give you time to work on the rest later, so please leave the tab open for now.)

When you’ve done that (or after about 5 minutes), please:

  1. Take out a piece of paper and fold it in thirds. In the middle, write your name in letters large enough to see across the room.
  2. On the top, please write down an animal.
  3. On the bottom, please write down a fruit or vegetable.
  4. Set up your name on your desk when you’re done, so I can (try to) see (around these monitors) when we’re all ready.

EXT: If you’ve done all that and you’re waiting, do an image search for your chosen fauna and flora.

Wait for it Now describe yourself as the animal, and your interest in composing digital media as the fruit/vegetable, or vice versa. If you have time, use an image search to help you notice or help us remember the many aspects of these new avatars. Metaphors can be a powerful way of extending our thinking. It's also a memorable way to meet each other! Take 2-3 minutes; when everyone's done, we'll all share. I'll do it, too.

2. A letter from Ben

It’s part of the syllabus.

3. Write a short letter back to Ben.

You can do this on the third page of that same survey, which you should still have open.

Some considerations you might address include:

  • What were your expectations for the course coming in? What were your goals? If they’ve changed at all after reading / hearing my letter, how?
  • What, if anything, surprised you in my letter? Why? If you have any questions or concerns, please ask them!
  • If anything in my letter particularly excites you, or helps you, please let me know that, too!
  • What are your habits as a reader? Do you like to read? What do you like to read? Where do you do your reading? When? Has this changed, that you’re aware of?
  • What are your habits as a writer? What assets do you bring to the class that might help you or your classmates? What challenges do you think you’ll face?
  • Consider telling a story or two about a particular experience with reading or writing, multimodal or otherwise, that helps clarify something you want me to understand. Use concrete details to make the story present to me; help me get to know this memory through your eyes.

Don’t feel that you have to answer every single one of these questions, and especially don’t feel you have to answer them in order. Similarly, don’t feel your letter must be limited to only those questions covered in the bullet points.

  • EXT: If you finish early, think about making the letter multimodal. What images would you want to add? How might you arrange the images and text?
  • EXT: If you finish that, too, consider audience: how might you want to change this letter for posting an introduction to yourself on the course website?

4. Homework preview

One of the tasks for homework will be to post a brief introduction to yourself on our course discussion forum. We’ll be using GitHub Issues for this purpose; I’ll demo quickly, in case you haven’t seen this before.


  • Before you leave, please:
    1. submit the info form and letter
    2. take the grading contract
  • For next time:
    1. Read syllabus and grading contract, and either initial-and-sign it, or come back with suggested changes. (But bear in mind that all bargaining over the contract must be collective – we have to achieve consensus on any revisions.)
    2. Read Madeline Sorapure’s interactive webtext, “Five Principles of New Media: or, Playing Lev Manovich”. After you’ve finished the Flash version, skim the pdf version.
    3. Watch Michael Wesch, “Information R/evolution”
    4. Respond to the Tech Comfort Survey if you haven’t done so in class
    5. Join GitHub if you haven’t yet, and
    6. post a brief introduction to yourself on the issue queue. Feel free to excerpt from the letter you wrote me today, or to adapt it for the wider audience, if you want; you should receive a copy at whichever email address you used on the form.