Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Book Reviews
What Video Games Have to Teach us about Learning and Literacy James Paul Gee: Palgrave Macmillan (2003) ISBN 1-4039-6169-7
New Literacies: Changing Knowledge and Classroom Learning Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel: Open University Press (2003) ISBN 0-335-21066-X

See Literacy 38:2 July 2004

Monday, December 15, 2003

This is the all new UKLA website done by my next door neighbour Simon! UKLA � United Kingdom Literacy Association
To the best of my knowledge, only a few people have looked over this blogspot...and most of them are me or related, but probably more will (hi Cathy), so I thought a few more links would jolly things along. This is Colin's blogspot Everyday Literacies. Now I haven't yet figured how to get links on the right handside but hey its early days yet!
and of course there's alwayscheesebikini?: The "Last" Flash Mob

Sunday, December 14, 2003

This my current favourite in the music arena. In a sense Jagjit invented the ghazal as song. It's crooning par excellence. His early work was a powerful influence on Bhangra...what's that song Zorba the Sikh? - Jagjit singh - It's all about Music

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Re-reading Marie Clay's 'What did I write?' I discover that her argument about mark-making and writing principles is more complex than I remembered - there are at least 7 and that's if you don't count the sign concept and the message concept. Way back - was it 1930 (?) Vygotsky wrote in Mind and Society about young children's meaningful mark-making. Although Clay doesn't reference this, what she is really doing is elaborating on Vygotsky's observations. Now we need to refine the idea of writing principles in the light of changing technology.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Reviewing Jim Gee's new book. There's some really good insights into the nature of identity in learning. It's also great that it gives validity to gaming at the same time. Perhaps some of the most entertaining bits are Jim's descriptions of gaming scenarios.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Randy Bomer's article in the new JECL is one of the best I've read in a long while. I love the idea of objects as 'frozen labour'. Must try to track this down. What's really good is the broad scope on tools to write with.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Red stuff
I've been looking into what Marx says about technology. This is really fascinating, there's a really comprehensive archive at and stacks of good local colour. For sheer entertainment value you have to look Marx's letter to his mate Engels at
Technology describes the ways in which we make and use tools (or machines) to increase our control and understanding of the material environment. The Vygotskian view that a sign can also function as a tool extends this definition in useful ways (Vygotsky, 1978). So, for Vygotsky, verbal language, gesture and concepts can also be described as tools. Writing then, is a kind of technology, a technology that amongst other things allows us to represent or remember (Vygotsky referred to this as the use of ‘mnemotechnic symbols’).

But writing is also a physical act, a way of leaving a mark on our physical environment, and this act of mark-making involves the use of writing tools. From this point of view, writing has a long and intimate relationship with technology. Ong (1982) in an early exploration of writing and the new technology argues that writing is technology – in the way that it involves:

‘…the use of tools and other equipment: styli or brushes or pens, carefully prepared surfaces such as paper, animal skins, strips of wood, as well as inks or paints, and much more.’

(Ong, 1982, pp 81-82)

It seems clear then that technology is writing in two senses. Firstly, in the sense that it is a primary artifact (Wartofsky, 1973) which we use to gain control and understanding of our environment and secondly, because all writing involves the use of tools or instruments for mark-making. Writing on screen can now be seen as new writing resulting from the use of new tools.

Phenomena such as text-messaging, selecting menus on cable television and exchanging e-mails are all forms of the new writing, writing with new technology, writing that is characterised by the use of the screen. This writing uses new surfaces and media, new tools and instruments, and involves new ways of handling and using these tools. There are also well-documented changes in orthographic conventions such as the adoption of new symbols, alternative spellings, and specific words and phrases (Werry, 1996; Shortis ,2001; Merchant,2001). Beneath the surface of writing we can also see changes in the roles and functions of writing practices, some resulting from the increased interdependency of communicative modes, and others in notions of textual authority, publishing and originality (Lankshear and Knobel, 2003).