Are footnotes obsolete? Craig Dietrich at SCMS

Screengrab of Debra Levine’s DEMONSTRATING ACT UP Scalar project

Are footnotes obsolete? At this month’s Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, Craig Dietrich suggests crediting other scholars is still necessary, but it’s no longer enough.

The Still Water Senior Researcher and USC digital studies professor argues that run-of-the-mill citation methods don’t cut it in today’s connected world, where technologies like RDF can provide a far richer context and encourage reuse of online scholarship.

In Dietrich’s view, students should be taught that their publications will be archives for other scholars, and should take advantage of technologies that facilitate this connectivity. As Dietrich’s USC colleague and fellow panelist Virginia Kuhn notes on her blog:

Craig Dietrich interrogates the digital media asset: it can be contained by multiple paths within the same text (aided by relational, or in some cases, semantic databases), providing opportunities for remix, reuse, and multi-vectored narrative.

Thoughtmesh Logo Vectors@mParticipant Erin Copple Smith saw in the Still Water/Vectors project ThoughtMesh “an easy way to integrate scholarly content into public sector,” and tweeted Dietrich’s conclusion that we “must teach students to use media materials responsibly–not necessarily marrying ourselves to the model of citation.”

Kuhn’s own presentation questioned the venerated form/content dichotomy in today’s media ecology. Other participants include Vicki Callahan of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Sean O’Sullivan of Ohio State; and Anne Moore of Tufts. Entitled Teaching the Moving Target, the workshop was sponsored by the Media Literacy and Pedagogical Outreach Scholarly Interest Group.

The current mediascape–from authors, viewers, objects, to platforms of distribution–is in a state of flux, and this poses interesting challenges for university level teaching. This workshop examines the limitations and potentialities for engaging dynamic media objects, from serial texts, to digital archives, to the tools and underlying coding systems that render these “texts” widely accessible, but also leave them fluid and unstable with respect to established formal models of analysis. Participants will consider a range of strategies for approaching course processes as well as course products: we will consider not only what we teach and how we teach it, but also how we guide the production of student texts.

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