I wrote a thing. I called it “Embedded Together: Artists and Audiences and YouTube.”
It’s one of many responses to a bigger question on the thick, rich site MediaCommons: “What is the role of the digital humanities in transforming and responding to the arts?” (Was the word humanities always there? If so, I wasn’t thinking of it in my answer; I was just thinking of intersections between DIGITAL and ARTS. Oh well.)
You can read it if you want; I like it. But what I’m thinking about here is the effect of time on how we view revision. Because that piece went through a lot of revising. The original draft was probably twice as long as it was supposed to be, and then I worked really hard to get it down to a place where it was only 2/3 too long, and then I cut out my entire heart to finally get it down to where it is now. (I thought about counting the number of comments I went through with smart editor Alex Nielsen, but it’s too many to count. He’s a good editor; I’m perhaps too insistent on my rambly style. Good job, Alex.)
So reading it this morning after weeks of actually forgetting it even exists (and prompting this post), I was wondering this basic question: does it feel empty, short, sad, in its final form?
Mostly, no. It holds together, even though it feels very different from the genre of the other answers to the question (which I’m fine with). I’m proud of it. Here, in this blog post, I’ll tell you all about it, look at me, not ashamed.
But the one thing that feels off: I’m not giving a lot of time/space here to my friend Ian Scarfe, who spend so much time on smart, long emails to me about these questions. He got cut a lot; in editing the piece, I edited him. And even with the distance of time, it’s hard for me to get a sense of if he sounds the way I want him to. Is he more of a soundbite, a quotable, a few links, then let’s move on to the other stuff? Or are there hints of the real human that speak up under my edit, the sounds of his piano drifting through the screen?
Of course, I ask because of other projects: I’m editing a longer piece (the introduction to an edited collection), which currently means editing out a lot of the voices that I’ve collected. Where do those voices go after I hit delete? Where do their ideas go after I’ve stopped listening?