Stage 1: The Set-Up; Final Project, Disproving the Adage, “You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks”

5 Dec

I had intended to utilize my final project on digital storytelling to explore the growing acceptance of tattoo culture in this country.  But the day before class I had another idea that involved more of my personal life. It had an appealing quality in light of some of the class discussions about digital storytelling and other emergent forums for publishing. As a class, we have consistently made an effort to acknowledge that access to the tools of production is by no means universal. We had emphasized financial and cultural capital as determining factors for access to computers, the internet, etc…, but rarely thought to incorporate age. I hadn’t realized how important age was to these discussions, at least not until I thought about the language I was using to convey several of my original final project ideas to my peers.

As I mentioned, I had fully intended to focus on tattoo culture.  As I was explaining my idea to a peer,(and asking if he would let me record him being tattooed) I heard myself utter the following: “This is a visual research methods course and my final project is on digital storytelling.  I want to find stills of tattoos using Google images, then record the process of an individual being tattooed, but I could just use Snapz movie on a YouTube clip of LA Ink or something.”  A few months ago, I would have had a difficult time understanding what that all meant (mostly the Snapz reference).  And that’s when it hit me.  I could talk to a number of people about what I was working on for this class without having to explain myself too much.  But I could not as easily share the experiences with my dad.

Why not?  It had nothing to do with our relationship. I talk with my dad all the time. The real issue is the language difference.  Because of my early and continued exposure to computers and the internet, I have a working technological vocabulary that many older generations do not.  So when I talk about a YouTube clip I saw that hat more than 2 million hits, when I talk about writing a new blog post and publishing it to my blog, when I discuss how Snapz was central to my video essay and documentary, etc., I am speaking to a large, but also largely limited audience because many people in my life have had limited exposure to online interactions.

None of this is intended to suggest that my dad is internet or computer challenged.  He hasn’t been living under a rock for the past 20 years. He’s online regularly, participating in sports fantasy leagues, checking e-mails, booking flights, using Google Earth and various search engines. So he certainly has a working knowledge of how to navigate the internet. But some of what I have come to understand as basic terminology is still not part of his everyday language (web-address line, flash drive, tabs, links, cookies, etc…) Things like YouTube, blogs, Skype, iTunes and even Facebook remain unexplored territory for him.

So, in an effort to bridge the generation gap, I have decided to utilize my final project as a means by which I can expose my dad to some of these online resources/tools while simultaneously recording our mutual experiences and sharing them with others through various blog posts. I received quite a bit of positive feedback for this idea from my classmates when we presented final project ideas last week.  I have already asked my dad if he would be willing to participate since that point, and he has assured me that he is.  We have set up several times to talk on the phone this week (since he lives across the country), and I plan to take him on a verbally guided tour of YouTube and Facebook, have him explore my blog and comment on a post, and to have him download Skype, create an account and call me.  Our Skype chat will serve as a post-mortem discussion on the entire process and I will record and post it in my final blog entry for this project.

I will be including my own reflections on and reactions to this process, as well as my dad’s, as we progress.  I will attempt to incorporate multiple forms of media in the posts that follow this one. By the time this process is over, I anticipate that we (my dad and I) will have a greater understanding and appreciation of one another, that my dad will have an improved understanding of these online resources, and that we will have created an interesting, insightful, and educational digital story together.


2 Responses to “Stage 1: The Set-Up; Final Project, Disproving the Adage, “You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks””

  1. peter driscoll December 5, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    want to thank my daughter for leading me down this strange path. very interesting first experience with youtube was very enjoyable as i learned new terminology for some of the moves that i make with the computer even though i didn’t know what they were called. i’ll probably use youtube more often now that i have a better understanding of the components. also, this is my first blog so please bear with me while i go through the learning process with my daughter.

  2. see more May 16, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

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