The Fourth Wall and the First Person

April 19th will be our Engage Workshop for the Great Writer’s project – and as a little ice breaker, we’re all being encourage to bring our favourite book. Riffing on an OER theme – does choosing a favourite book bring up some issues with OER? As an example, I’m quite keen on some of the futurist poetry such as Zang Tumb Tumb, but I do worry that Zang Tumb Tumb’s author Filippo Tommaso Marinetti is also involved in Facism. After our first Great Writers Event, the writer who inspired me to read their work was Ezra Pound, who turned out to be a facist as well. I think you can appreciate the work without that as an issue, but when you come to say “this is my favourite book”, it might not be the best way of introducing yourself to someone.

So what is my favourite book, well it’s the no-sniggering-at-the-back “Christy Malry’s Own Double-Entry” by B.S Johnson.

Still here? Probably still sniggering (the double-entry is a reference to book keeping).

So how does this relate to OER? Well attribution is a keen element of OER – we are always keen for the author to be accredited and cited – as the licence often requires us to legally. However, how we might find or discover the OER may also be tied to the author – and we might be more likely to reuse OER if the author was someone we knew – or someone we believed was held in academic esteem. Like when choosing your favourite book – there is an issue that you are conferring, or embedding some of yourself in the reputation of A.N Other. There is an innate risk in this approach, and with risk will come fear, and possible recalcitrance and reluctance. OER means we need to have some relationship with the author.

So what does Christie Malry do which relates?

Let’s look at how B.S Johnson describes the lead character – taking 6 chapters to do so

What writer can compete with the reader’s imagination! Christie is therefore an average shape, height, weight, build, and colour. Make him what you will: probably in the image of yourself. You are allowed complete freedom in the matter of warts and moles; as long as he has at least one of either.

Johnson himself appears in the text several times, distinctly appearing as the author.

So the text is quite open (stop groaning), but it also breaks the fourth wall – questioning the roles of audience and creation. Is OER breaking an academic fourth wall, turning the lecture theatre via remixing into more of an Academic Commons / Academic Bazaar where the ecosystem, and not the individual author is important? A commons where attribution isn’t important perhaps risks less contributions – but Github commit graphs and the twitter conventions of /via and /ht perhaps suggest that a community that is communicating with each other adopt different attribution conventions, and because they are explicitly communicating with each other – you perhaps won’t need attributing, as you’ll know you’ve been reused.

Attribution as the lesser issue to knowing you’ve been used? And reuse as the confidence?

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