Returning to my (their) MA (whose course is it anyway?), the core concepts of Module 1 seem to be:
My grouse is about an assessment that privileges one kind of academic literacy (the essay) and doesn't appear to wish to license exploration to explore other (e.g. digital, possibly multimodal) forms of constructing academic discourse or other ways of being academically literate.
A blog is a form of exteriorized psychology. It’s a part of you, or of your psyche; while a titanium hip joint or a pacemaker might bring technology inside the corporeal you, a Weblog uses technology to bring the psychological you outside of it. [emphasis mine]Clark is articulating the Romantic view of writing as expression, an exteriorisation of an already fully constituted interiority (my inner self, psyche or the "Real Me").
Deconstructing “You’ve Got Blog”
Grint and Woolgar (1997) suggest the intriguing notion that technologiesshould be treated as ‘texts’which are ‘written’ (i.e. configured) in certain ways by their developers, producers and marketers, and have to be ‘read’ (i.e. interpreted) by their users or consumers. The writers of these technology-texts may seek to impose particular meanings on the artefact, and to constrain the range of possibleinterpretations open to users.Users, by contrast,may seek to produce readings of the technology-text which best suit the purposes they have in mind for the artefact. It is in the dynamic between these processes that sociologists can begin to locate themeaningful social reality of technologies. Neither the writing nor the reading of technology-texts is determinate: both are open, negotiated processes. Although there may be ways that technology-texts have ‘preferred’ readings built into them, it is always open to the user to find a way around this attempt at interpretive closure. A good example is the telephone. As Frissen (1995) points out, one of the early ways that the telephone was marketed to a mass audience (‘written’, in Grint and Woolgar’s terms) was as an instrumental tool useful for business negotiations (for men) and the management of household services (for women).However, women in particular began to ‘read’ this technology in quite a different way – as a tool for sociability, for chatting – and after a while the manufacturers, sensitive to this new reading, began to market what was to all intents a ‘different’ technology to the one they had begun with. (Hutchby 201: 445)... different technologies possess different affordances, and these affordances constrain the ways that they can possibly be ‘written’ or ‘read’. (Hutchby 201: 447)... the range of possibilities for interpretation and action is nowhere near as open for either ‘writers’ or ‘readers’ as the technology as text metaphor implies. (Hutchby 201: 450)My aim has been to argue for an acceptance that our interpretations and usesof technological artefacts, while important, contingent and variable, are constrainedin analysable ways by the ranges of affordances that particular artefacts possess. Thesocial constructivist consensus has usefully brought to the forefront the recognitionthat social processes are involved in all aspects of technology, and not simply in itseffects upon society. But we can become too fixated on the social shaping of technology at the expense of an equally pressing, though differently framed, concern with the technological shaping of social action. (Hutchby 201: 453)The affordances of an artefact are not things which impose themselves upon humans’ actions with, around, or via that artefact.But they do set limits on what it is possible to do with, around, or via the artefact. By the same token, there is not one but a variety of ways of responding to the range of affordances for action and interaction that a technology presents.We can analyse the development of those responses empirically, but in order to do so we have to accept that technological artefacts do not amount simply to what their users make of them; what is made of them is accomplished in the interface between human aims and the artefact’s affordances.(Hutchby 201: 453)
There's also a forthcoming 'Facebook phone' that will offer much cheaper access:
The wiki fallacy
Keen spends a great deal of time attacking Wikipedia, and its founder, Jimmy Wales. As Keen writes, "Wikipedia ... is almost single-handedly killing the traditional information business." (p127-8). I take it not even Wales would exaggerate the importance of Wikipedia like this. And again, implicit in Keen's argument is the efficiency fallacy mentioned above.
But the real error here is betrayed in the following:Since Wikipedia's birth, more than fifteen thousand contributors have created nearly three million entries in over a hundred different languages—none of them edited or vetted for accuracy (p4)."None of them edited or vetted for accuracy"? On one level, of course, this is absurdly false. Wikipedia is constantly edited, and attributions constantly vetted for accuracy. Indeed, for many of the articles, the level of editing and vetting is vastly greater than any article published in any encyclopedia ever.
But on a different level, what Keen must mean is that it is not "edited" or "vetted" by experts. Or exclusively by experts (for again, experts certainly participate in Wikipedia). This is related to Keen's obsession (indeed, I'm sure if he has one, his shrink must have a field day with this obsession) with "experts" and makers of "taste." So central is this to Keen's argument, it deserves its own heading.
... dozens of weblogs have an audience of a million or more, and millions have an audience of a dozen or less. (Shirky 2008: 84)And it's easy to deride this sort of thing as self-absorbed publishing - why would anyone put such drivel out in public? It's simple. They're not talking to you.(Shirky 2008: 85)
We misread these seemingly inane posts because we're so unused to seeing written material in public that isn't intended for us. The people posting messages to one another in small groups are doing a different kind of communicating than people posting messages for hundreds or thousands of people to read. More is different, but less is different too. An audience isn't just a big community; it can be more anonymous, with many fewer ties among users. A community isn't just a small audience either; it has a social density that audiences lack. The bloggers and social network users operating in small groups are part of a community, and they are enjoying something analogous to the privacy of the mall. On any given day you could go to the food court and find a group of teenagers hanging out and talking to one another. They are in public, and you could certainly sit at the next table over and listen in on them if you wanted to. And what would they be saying to one another? They'd be saying, "I can't believe I missed you last night!!! Trac talked to you and said you were TRASHED off your ASS!" They'd be doing something similar to what they are doing on LiveJournal or Xanga, in other words, but if you were listening in on their conversation at the mall, as opposed to reading their post, it would be clear that you were the weird one. (Shirky 2008: 85)
Shirky, C. (2008). Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations. New York: The Penguin Press.
The first mindset [newcomer/outsider] assumed that the contemporary world is essentially the way it has been throughout the modern-industrial period, only now it is more technologized or, alternatively, technologized in a new and very sophisticated way. To all intents and purposes, however, the world on which these new technologies are brought to bear is more or less the same economic, cultural, social world that has evolved throughout the modern era, where things got done by means of routines that were predicated on long-standing assumptions about bodies, materials, property and forms of ownership, industrial techniques and principles, physical texts, face-to-face dealings (and physical proxies for them), and so on. The second mindset [insider] assumes that the contemporary world is different in important ways from the world we have known, and that the difference is growing. This is related to the development of new digital electronic internetworked technologies and new ways of doing things and new ways of being that are enabled by these technologies. (Lankshear and Knobel 2006: 33-4)
Academic bloggers differ in their goals. Some are blogging to get personal or professional grievances off their chests or, like Black, to pursue nonacademic interests. Others, perhaps the majority, see blogging as an extension of their academic personas. Their blogs allow them not only to express personal views but also to debate ideas, swap views about their disciplines, and connect to a wider public. For these academics, blogging isn't a hobby; it's an integral part of their scholarly identity. They may very well be the wave of the future.
Why are so many academics beginning to blog? Academic blogs offer the kind of intellectual excitement and engagement that attracted many scholars to the academic life in the first place, but which often get lost in the hustle to secure positions, grants, and disciplinary recognition. Properly considered, the blogosphere represents the closest equivalent to the Republic of Letters that we have today. Academic blogs, like their 18th-century equivalent, are rife with feuds, displays of spleen, crotchets, fads, and nonsenses. As in the blogosphere more generally, there is a lot of dross. However, academic blogs also provide a carnival of ideas, a lively and exciting interchange of argument and debate that makes many scholarly conversations seem drab and desiccated in comparison. Over the next 10 years, blogs and bloglike forms of exchange are likely to transform how we think of ourselves as scholars. While blogging won't replace academic publishing, it builds a space for serious conversation around and between the more considered articles and monographs that we write.
 From looking at blogs and perhaps drawing from your experience of blogging, do you consider blogs to exemplify new literacy practices?
 Do you think that it is possible to keep a blog and still be of an ‘old’ mindset?
 I think blogs simultaneously exemplify 'new' and 'old' literacy practices.
Blogs are over a decade old now (Happy Blogiversary) and there are now millions of them used for very different purposes.
It's inaccurate to homogenise blogging as a practice that can be ascribed to any one particular mindset. Like the term literacies, blogging probably needs to be conceptualised as a set of contextually defined practices (note the plural).
Some - but not all - uses of blogging might be said to exemplify new literacy practices where the text-making processes incorporate some features of digital textuality as defined by Guy Merchant (linking to other texts, embedding media, blurring of generic boundaries etc.).
 In spite of the affordances of blogging software, there is no reason why a user should not use his/her blog as a tool for verbose reflection (i.e. for monologuing, sounding off, one-way traffic) in an 'outsider/newcomer' mindset way without reader comments, links, quotations, blog roll, tags or embedded media content.
The possibilities for social interaction may well be bypassed by some blog users who see the tool as an online word processor - a bit like Word, or, more accurately Google Docs. For example, an undergraduate might use a blog to make reading notes that will be integrated into a essay; a tech-savvy postgrad might make notes of conference papers attended on an iPhone or ultracompact laptop.
My own use of blogging is more 'outsider/newcomer'; I use it to 'bookmark', tag, selectively quote from articles I've read, web sites I've found etc. that I think will be useful in my professional life. These notes could then be cut and paste into emails or discussion board posts, or I could send a link to the post to interested colleagues. For example, I've mentionned the Michael Wesch videos to a couple of people recently. I probably need a blog post with links to them that I can share quickly.
Speaking in a brief interview as part of a larger article on the iPhone and iPod touch’s role in the industry, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that the devices may become viable options in the mobile gaming market. “I think the iPhone and iPod touch may emerge as really viable devices in the mobile games market this holiday season,” Said Jobs, noting that around a quarter of the 200 million App Store downloads thus far have been games. “Games sold via the App Store are the most profitable in terms of any of the formats we work on,” added Simon Jeffery, the U.S. president of Sega. Interestingly, Nintendo indicated that it already saw Apple as a competitor prior to its move into the mobile gaming space. “Whether you chose to play on your DS or listen to music on your iPod, we’re already in the same competitive space for time,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo’s U.S. division. Meanwhile, John Carmack, founder of Id Software, said that although he doesn’t see the iPhone and iPod touch as direct competitors to Sony and Nintendo’s handhelds, Id is developing at least two iPhone games. “I don’t expect them to displace DSs and PSPs,” he said. “I think they will be a fairly robust market all by themselves.”
A more sophisticated form of analysis must consider both the social forces and agencies responsible for the development and implementation of new technologies, and the properties and potentials inherent in the technologies themselves. [emphasis mine]Potts, J. (2008) Who’s Afraid of Technological Determinism? Another Look at Medium Theory. Fibreculture Journal . 12. Accessed from: http://journal.fibreculture.org/issue12/issue12_potts.html
M. Wesch: The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version)
Here are my thoughts ...shootin' from the hip ... thinking out loud ... not 100% sure I'm on the right track ...
Literacy events must surely precede literacy practices; characteristics from literacy events are abstracted and aggregated to construct an 'ideal' literacy practice (e.g. 'ideally' shopping lists are structured according to the shops or aisles from which products are to be selected so as to facilitate a more efficient shopping experience, they also indicate quantities of produce required etc.).
The idealised literacy practice must be realised - instantiated, exemplified, made text - through an individual communicative act that draws upon both the ideal characteristics of the literacy practice as well as from local resources (e.g. that individual's interests, their context etc.).
So, every literacy event is, potentially, a making new of a pre-existing literacy practice, e.g. a child may add stickers to her mum's shopping list or draw pictures.
I'm drawn to Street's assertion, cited by KP, that "literacy … is always instantiated, its potential realised, through local practices."(Street 2003:8).
I think I understand 'local'; insofar as all literacy events are socially-specific instantiations of literacy practices, they are local (i.e. deploying resources from, are meaningful in the context of, a specific scenario).
I'm guessing that 'local' doesn't just mean 'locale' and refer solely to geography but invokes other factors (class, ethnicity, gender, generation, myriad other individual factors)?What's the 'global' bit about though?
Here's an example to see if I'm the right track ... - south-London boys using lexis of US hip hop and/or elements of Jamaican patios in their text messages to one another? 'Global' here = influence of migration, popularity of black music/dance culture (mainly from US) on what we might think of as 'indigenous' varieties of (southern, metropolitan) English.
Not sure what 'indigenous' might mean now ... (the historicity of a group's association with a region?).
The constitution of a linguistic market creates the conditions for an objective competition in and through which the legitimate competence can function as linguistic capital, producing a profit of distinction on the occasion of each social exchange.(Bourdieu 1992: 55)References
Various attempts have been made by linguists to classify CMD [computer-mediated discourse], starting in the 1980s and early 1990s. Accustomed to dealing with two basic modalities of language – speech and writing – these linguists first asked: Is it a type of writing, because it is produced by typing on a keyboard and read as text on a computer screen? Is it “written speech” (Maynor 1994), because it exhibits features of orality, including rapid message exchange, informality, and representations of prosody? Or is it a third type, intermediate between speech and writing, or in any event characterized by unique production and reception constraints (Ferrara, Brunner & Whittemore 1991; Murray 1990)?
Herring, S. (2007). A faceted classification scheme for computer-mediated discourse. Language@Internet, 4. http://www.languageatinternet.de/articles/2007/761/Faceted_Classification_Scheme_for_CMD.pdf
The constitution of a linguistic market creates the conditions for an objective competition in and through which the legitimate competance can function as linguistic capital, producing a profit of distinction on the occasion of each social exchange.(Bourdieu 1992: 55)
The dominant competence functions as linguistic capital, securing a profit of distinction in its relation to other competences only in so far as certain conditions (the unification of the market and the uneven distribution of chances of access to the means of production of the legitimate competence, and to the legitimate places of expression) are continuously fulfilled, so that the groups which possess that competence are able to impose it as the only legitimate one in the formal markets (the fashionable, the educational, political and administrative markets) and in most of the linguistic interactions in which they are involved.
It is for this reason that those who seek to defend a threatened linguistic capital, such as knowledge of the classical languages in present-day France, are obliged to wage a total struggle. One cannot save the value of a competence unless one saves a market, in other words, the whole set of political and social conditions of production of the producers/consumers. (Bourdieu 1992: 56-7)
Part of me is revelling in the new-found ability to articulate my own opinions (I'm usually using boards as a moderator/facilitator where I have much less freedom to have my say).
My literacy practices these days are predominantly technology-mediated.
Typically, in a day, I:
Because these literacy practices are technology-mediated and asynchronous, I'm engaging in them at various times and places: home and office, working hours and early mornings or evenings.
It's difficult, given the informality of my working environment and good relationships with colleagues, to differentiate home literacy practices and work-related literacy practices. The domains may be different but I'm not sure the literacy practices are massively different.
I'm with Barton on the porous nature of domains:
The practices leak from one domain to the other and there is much overlap.
(Barton 1994: 40)
Barton, D. (1994) Literacy: An Introduction to the Ecology of Written Language. Oxford: Blackwell.
On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re a Dog.
Peter Steiner. The New Yorker, page 61 of July 5 (Vol.69
(LXIX) no. 20), 1993. (graphic)
"The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." John Gilmore (EFF). [source: Gilmore states: "I have never found where I first said this. But everyone believes it was me, as do I. If you find an appearance of this quote from before March '94, please let me know." Also in NYT 1/15/96, quoted in CACM 39(7):13. Later, Russell Nelson comments (and is confirmed by Gilmore) that on December 05 1993 Nelson sent Gilmore an email stating, "Great quote of you in Time magazine: 'The net treats censorship as a defect and routes around it.'"]
Wikipedia has now transcended the traditional functions of an encyclopedia. Within minutes of the bombs going off in the London transit system, someone created a Wikipedia page called "7 July 2005 London bombings." The article's first incarnation was five sentences long and attributed the explosions to a power surge in the Underground, one of the early theories floated before the bus bombings was linked to the Underground explosions. The Wikipedia page received more than a thousand edits in its first four hours of existence, as additional news came in; users added numerous pointers to traditional news sources (more symbiosis) and a list of contact numbers for people either trying to track loved ones or simply figuring out how to get home. What was conceived as an open encyclopedia in 2001 has become a general-purpose tool for gathering and distributing information quickly, a use that further cemented Wikipedia in people's minds as a useful reference work. (Shirky 2008: 116-7)
Now that our communications technology is changing, the distinctions among those patterns of comunication are evaporating; what was once a sharp break between two styles of communicating is becoming a smooth transition. Most user-generated content is created as communication in small groups, but since we're so unused to communications media and broadcast media being mixed together, we think that everyone is now broadcasting. This is a mistake. (Shirky 2008: 87)
Shirky, C. (2008). Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations. New York: The Penguin Press.
Quick postscriptum - a nice new term for UGC is "indigenous content"
This entails the recognition of multiple literacies, varying according to time and space, but also contested in relations of power. (Street 2003: 77)
What the rise of Web 2.0 has done is simply to bring everyday, private sphere dialogue driven literacies into the public sphere in a very obvious way.Ware, I. (2008). Andrew Keen Vs the Emos: Youth, Publishing, and Transliteracy. M/C Journal, 11: 4. Accessed from: http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/41
I think it is a great thing when amateurs create, even if the thing they create is not as great as what the professional creates. I want my kids to write. But that doesn’t mean that I’ll stop reading Hemingway and read only what they write. What Keen misses is the value to a culture that comes from developing the capacity to create—independent of the quality created. That doesn’t mean we should not criticize works created badly (such as, for example, Keen’s book…). But it does mean you’re missing the point if you simply compare the average blog to the NY times.What a great, no-nonsense ripost to all those who claim blogs, YouTube etc. are drivel.
To a rationalized, expansionist and at the same time centralized, clamorous, and spectacular production corresponds another production, called "consumption." The latter is devious, it is dispersed, but it insinuates itself everywhere, silently and almost invisible, because it does not manifest itself through its own products, but rather through its ways of using the products imposed by a dominant economic order.
(de Certeau 1984, xii-xiii)
I have to admit that there is no text, nor any institution that can ever take the place of, or compete with, the distant murmur that can be heard coming from machines, tools, kitchens - the thousands of noises of creative activity. Innumerable lexicons, strange vocabularies. They grow silent as soon as the museum or writing seizes fragments from them in order to make them speak their own interests. (quoted in Rigby 1991, 18)I think one interesting development of the so-called digital age that I'd like to follow up is that this 'other' production is becoming more visible and less silent.
These sections of the Web break away from the page metaphor. Rather than following the notion of the Web as book, they are predicated on microcontent. Blogs are about posts, not pages. Wikis are streams of conversation, revision, amendment, and truncation. Podcasts are shuttled between Web sites, RSS feeds, and diverse players. These content blocks can be saved, summarized, addressed, copied, quoted, and built into new projects.
ReferencesAlexander, B.(2006) Web 2.0: A New Wave of Innovation for Teaching and Learning? Accessed from: http://connect.educause.edu/apps/er/erm06/erm0621.asp
Merchant argues that the production and consumption of digital texts is very different to that of print-based texts. He lists the following characteristics:
The frontiers of a book are never clear-cut: beyond the title, the first lines and the last full stop, beyond its internal configuration and its autonomous form, it is caught up in a system of references to other books, other texts, other sentences: it is a node within a network... The book is not simply the object that one holds in one's hands... Its unity is variable and relative.
(Foucault 1974, 23)
[text is] ... woven entirely with citations, references, echoes, cultural languages (what language is not?) antecedent or contemporary, which cut across it through and through in a vast stereophony. The intertextual in which every text is held, it itself being the text-between of another text, is not to be confused with some origin of the text: to try to find the 'sources', the 'influences' of a work, is to fall in with the myth of filiation; the citations which go to make up a text are anonymous, untraceable, and yet already read: they are quotations without inverted commas.
(Barthes 1977, 160)
Do digital texts reveal more explictly the ways in which all texts are constructed? Is the really fantastic thing about them the ways they expose how all texts are produced?
Barthes, R. (1977) Image - Music - Text. London : Fontana.
Foucault, M. (1974) The Archaeology of Knowledge. London: Tavistock.
Merchant, G. (2007) Writing the future in the digital age. Literacy 41:3, 118–128
“… the precedence of written, over spoken texts with a hierarchy of importance topped by the analytical and expository skills of essayist literacy, which still dominate modes of assessment in higher education (Lillis, 2001). It is based on the reaffirmation of a standard, written, national language, transmitted largely through a print-based, linear pedagogy.”
Are things really that fixed? I'm always delighted by the creativity of the environments I see in my children's schools and nurseries (colourful work plastered on every wall, welcome messages in 15 different languages etc.).
I'd accept the claim that "essayist literacy" is probably still the default mode of academic discourse expected in HE - even on this course apparently ;-) - but is it the same in schools? I read Clare Dowdall's article on dissonance at about the same time and was struck by how the school-based writing activity ('Knightly Norman') encouraged pupils to engage in a degree of linguistic/stylistic play (news report on events of 1066) - some degrees removed from "essayist literacy".
I wasn't sure of the connection between Millard's advocacy of fusion literacies - essentially to support reading and composition - and her conclusion in which she cites Giroux's conception of literacy as "an emerging act of consciousness and resistance" (which sounds a bit like Paolo Freire). Literacy defined here sounds like the ability to uncover the mecanisms of ideological manipulation and discover the real relations of power at play. At what age could/should children be expected to engage with texts at this level of sophistication?
What is New Literacy Studies (NLS)? How does it map onto existing academic disciplines?
Twenty years ago Becher (1989) argued that disciplines have both a cognitive and a social orientation. So, a discipline is about particular ideas or issues and it also exists in and through the network of individuals based in departments, publishing in and reading specific journals (Literacy?, Discourse?), participating in particular conferences or strands in conferences (examples?).
It sounds as if NLS constitutes a discipline (some might prefer the term 'field') that straddles a range of other disciplines and sub-disciplines:
Alexander, B. (2006) Web 2.0: a new wave of innovation for teaching and
learning? Educause Review 41(2)
Last accessed 22 January
2008 from: http://www.educause.edu/apps/er/erm06/erm0621.asp
Anderson. P (2007). What is Web 2.0? Ideas, Technologies and
Implications for Education (JISC)
Last accessed 22 January 2008 from: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/techwatch/tsw0701.pdf
O'Reilly, Tim (2005) What is Web 2.0?: design patterns and business
models for the next generation of software
Last accessed 22 January
2008 from: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/news/2005/09/30/what-is-web-20.html?page=1
Wesch, M. (2007) Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us
accessed 22 January 2008 from: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE
Finally, here are some useful articles:
Bristow, R. (2005). 'Beyond email: wikis, blogs and other strange beasts'. Ariadne, 42. Accessed 23 January 2008 from: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue42/beyond-email-rpt/intro.html
Pixy Ferris, S. and Wilder, H.(2006) 'Uses and potentials of wikis in the classroom'. Innovate: journal of online education 2(5). Accessed 23 January 2008 from: http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=258
Lamb, B. (2004) 'Wide open spaces: wikis, ready or not'. Educause Review 39(5). Accessed 23 January 2008 from: http://www.educause.edu/pub/er/erm04/erm0452.asp