2 Digital Essay Conventions Worth Copying

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.


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4 Responses to 2 Digital Essay Conventions Worth Copying

  1. Antares,

    I wasn’t up for listening to an entire Fresh Air episode on Tracy Jordan, but it does raise the issue of how non-sequential forms, like interviews and many profiles, might transfer from page to screen.

    And your second example strikes me as a pretty clear example of a use of the web that does more than “embellish” writing. I agree with you that is the key and interesting question to ask of these emerging forms.


  2. Stephanie Dudzinski says:

    I loved the second digital essay about the Harlem Shake history. The videos significantly helped enhance the history that the articles text was referencing. Also, the 1-5 format is always reader friendly and makes articles seem shorter!

  3. Hannah Hayward says:

    The second essay you linked to is great — I agree with Stephanie that the numbered list makes it easy to read. Incorporating videos helped develop each argument in a way that was logical without being dry. I hadn’t considered a digital essay that was more argumentative than informative, and the Harlem Shake post has inspired me to consider this.

  4. Michael Moverman says:

    The second article was interesting. I like how it brought up the history of a current event that I hadn’t even thought of. However, I felt when reading it that I was overwhelmed with too much video and not enough text. I felt that I was on a website rather than reading a digital essay. I’m not sure if it was just me, but if the videos were a bit smaller, or there was more text, I would have felt a little more comfortable reading this. When I clicked into the page I felt that I only needed to watch the videos and did not need to read anything.

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