banner image presenting the title of the webtext: Click to Add Ideas by David M Sheridan


While teaching a media workshop in Fall 2013, I asked my students to produce short videos. The main stipulation was that they needed to tell a story. I decided to compose alongside them, creating an animated story that I ultimately called Click to Add Ideas.

Hoping that Kairos readers might appreciate this experiment, I offer here—in addition to the video itself—an account of its development, viewed by turns from my perspective as a teacher, composer, and technology-user.

Illustration of a butterfly over a lake.  This is a modification of imagery used in the animated video.

Click to Add Ideas: The Video

This is the video that resulted from my attempt to make something alongside my students. It tells the story of one composer's struggles with (and within) PowerPoint, a metonymic interface of digital composing.


Partial image of a pie chart, bar graph, and line graph.  This is a detail from a still in the video.

Pie Charts and Butterflies:
A Story about Composing a Story about Composing

This is an attempt to place the composing process depicted in the video in dialogue with the composing process that resulted in the video. Both processes are characterized by struggles, and those struggles are in turn characterized by the friction generated as ideas emerge—as they always do—from a soup of contextual debris: previous texts, interfaces, heuristical strategies, representational systems. All of this, finally, feeds into my ability to teach.


Detail of a screen capture of Photoshop's interface showing the animation timeline at the bottom and the layers at the right.  A still frame from the video is visible.

Tech Sheet

It is ridiculous to pretend that technologies are incidental to compositions or to the composing process. In this section, I come clean with my own efforts to assemble the right tools: tools and interfaces for making music, for recording the spoken word, for generating the illusion of movement, for drawing, filtering, sequencing, layering, etc.


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David M. Sheridan
Michigan State University