Changing of the Guard: Introducing the New Assistant Director

By Nick Brown

Hello,­­ and welcome to a new year here at the TCU New Media Writing Studio. My name is Nick Brown, and I have stepped into the Assistant Director position this year following Jackie Hoermann-Elliot’s two years of devoted service. We’ll continue to help students, staff, and faculty with new media projects, and to introduce the campus audience to the newest happenings at the intersection of writing­­­ and technology. I’m bringing my unique perspective to the Studio for what I can assure you will be an exciting year.

Wooden walkways intersecting on a grassy hill 

This may be my first year as the assistant director of the Studio, but this is my third year as a PhD student in the Rhetoric and Composition program at TCU. Typically, Rhetoric and Composition folk talk about writing, argument, teaching writing, and more writing. I, however, specialize in multimodal rhetoric and composition (or, the different ways that people are able to use combinations of visuals, gestures, language, audio, and animation to communicate ideas to an audience). I use this knowledge to create new media work that blurs the lines between art and scholarship and that often asks the audience to consider how comic books make meaning and communicate messages.

These interests, when mixed with my experience in studio arts, lead me to consider the ways that design in its myriad forms influences the ways that we interact with both our world and technology. I intend to bring this to the New Media Writing Studio.

When developing a new media project, it’s easy to get caught up in figuring out all of the best words to use, or learning which Adobe tool is needed to create something, or deciding that it is absolutely necessary to write your code from the ground up (hint: you don’t need to do any of this!). What matters is your willingness to experiment and play with your medium of choice, be it analog or digital.

Image macro featuring dog wearing glasses seated at a laptop. Caption reads "I have no idea what I'm doing"

My favorite part about working for the Studio is providing people with a safe place where they can fail. I know that sounds terrible, but let me explain: experimentation and play will take us far, but we really learn how to create something new when we break absolutely everything in front of us and then have to figure out how to fix it. The Studio provides a place to fail safely (and if you come in to our open lab hours when I’m here, I’ll definitely try to tempt you to destroy everything so that we can creatively pick up the pieces).

Some people claim that computers and technology have forever changed (or ruined!) the ways that human beings communicate. These claims may be grossly exaggerated, but they do provide a great excuse to learn something new. No technology is neutral, and we will become better communicators only when we realize that what we want to communicate is bound forever to how we choose to communicate it.

Photo taken from outside of the New Media Writing Studio

Image courtesy of the author

Be it through one-on-one consultations about a specific project, whole class tutorials introducing new students to what the Studio has to offer, or even a 5-minute conversation about what software is most appropriate for an assignment, we are here for you! The Studio staff can help you to figure out how to merge content and form so that you can create truly original, truly memorable, truly effective new media compositions.

What more can I say? How about, “Excelsior!”