Unfamiliar Tools

So, last week I presented my 2nd year new media class with unfamiliar tools in the hope that they would think more deeply about their practice. We aimed to produce a publication that fills the gap left by the lack of an SU campus magazine.

Here’s some quick notes about what they (and I) made of the typewriter and what they did to overcome the limits of their tools:

  1. You need to think before you type. We’re all wired into the idea of having a delete key and of editing after we type. The typewriter doesn’t work like that.
  2. Press harder. Damn you need to push these keys hard. That makes typing quite tiring and makes things take longer generally to do.
  3. We have one typewriter, that’s a production bottleneck  when there are 8 of us trying to work. We need to do something else.
  4. Collage offers a solution: other people’s type is clear and easy to read, we can use that. Immediately after we started two students left the room and raided the SU for leaflets. These happened to offer us lots of clear headline text that suited our own subject matter (the university, the culture of the campus). This also added some subversion to our final piece: we are using the SU’s own publications in our reconstruction of a campus magazine.
  5. A logo: in another act of subversion, the students decided on a name that references the name of the old SU magazine Spaghetti Junction. The students called their publication Alphabetti Spaghetti. A logo was constructed using alphabetti spaghetti which was mounted onto acetate and photocopied to create a photographic image that can be mounted onto all editions.

By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jonhickman Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: http://interactivecultures.org