After looking through digital essays for a while, I haven’t found an essay that successfully uses the affordances of the web. Aside from prezi or pure video (which aren’t really digitial essays), the uses of the affordances I’ve seen are inessential embellishments or detract from the communication of the idea.
With that in mind, there are two pieces I’d like to point out that use interesting conventions:
First, a piece about Tracy Morgan by NPR. What I like about this piece is that it’s text/voice-based, yet doesn’t require sequential exploration of the information. That essays are typically sequential is to me one of the major barriers to taking full advantage of the affordances of the web. I want to create a non-sequential digital essay.
Second, a piece on the history of the Harlem Shake and an analysis of its viral-video dance-meme incarnation. This piece is insightful yet accessible. I like how it uses Buzzfeed’s “5 things that blah blah blah” format to both keep the reader interested and at the same time being so smart. I want to analyze something unpretentious but make it worth talking about and interesting to talk about.