Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Clive Thompson on YouTube vs. Clive Thompson on Medium

Image source

Ah yes, the joys and frustrations of preparing syllabi for the upcoming semester.

Since the subject and debates about the best approaches to note-taking frequently come up in my classes, I'm definitely assigning Clive Thompson's presentation, "The Pencil and the Keyboard: How The Way You Write Changes the Way You Think," which is available on YouTube. It's a good way to get students thinking about...wait. Rather than that YouTube version, perhaps I should have students read Thompson's "The Joy of Typing: How racing along at 60 words a minute can unlock your mind," which was published on Medium.

For a couple of my classes a year or so ago, I used the YouTube version and a transcript from the talk. At the time, I was unaware of the Medium version. Since then, I caught up. Now, confronted with two discussions on the same topic by a single author, I began wondering about the one I should use.

Then...I figured, why not use both? That way, beyond the subjects of taking notes, writing, and typing, we can in addition discuss what it means to present ideas through different modes. The YouTube version will give students a clearer sense of Thompson's humor  (i.e. his side points about pencil sharpeners) as well as his interactions with an audience. The piece on Medium includes links and different visuals.

Studying alternate book covers for, say, Richard Wright's autobiography and novels by Octavia Butler has helped me nurture my interests in versions of common texts over the years. More recently, I identified different versions of poets presenting their poems, like Gwendolyn Brooks reading "We Real Cool" here, here, here, and here.

Hopefully, covering these versions of a single writer focusing on writing vs. typing will lead us to discussions about Clive Thompson vs. Clive Thompson, our presenter selves vs. our writer selves, speeches vs. essays, YouTube vids vs. blogs, and maybe even revision vs. remix.

Class notes
A Notebook on Clive Thompson's Smarter Than You Think

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