Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Temporary halt

I won't be posting again until the beginning of September. I'm away in Spain until then. In the mean time feel free to read and comment on my posts and archives, and use my links .

Monday, August 07, 2006

Defining moment

To add to the discussion on digital literacy initiated here and continued on Dr Joolz, I wanted to set out the view that for me the focus (or definition) of the term is reading-with and writing-with new technologies - technologies which involve the semiotic of lettered representation, alongside other forms of representation. In this sense digital literacy extends out of print literacy despite the fact that the processes, tools, surfaces and spaces of production and consumption are different. So the common ground is alphabetic writing and this I believe, is helpful and important, particularly to educational and developmental debates. However, when we consider the texts and contexts in which digital literacy is located there is a much larger shift of emphasis. These could be categorised in the following ways:

1. A move from the fixed to the fluid: the text is no longer contained between the covers or by the limits of the page.
2. Texts become interwoven in more complex ways through the use of hyperlinks.
3. Texts are revised, updated, added to and appended (and often archived).
4. Genres borrow freely, hybridize and mutate.
5. Texts become collaborative and multivocal with replies, links, posted comments and borrowing.
6. Reading and writing paths are non-linear, knowledge and information structures are rhyzomic.
7. Texts become more densely multimodal (as multimedia allows for a rich interplay of modes).
8. Roles of readers and writers overlap.
9. Textual interaction and collaboration often result in shared authorship.
10. The communicative space is shared as the local fuses with the global.
11. The impression of co-presence and synchronous engagement increases.
12. Boundaries begin to blur (work/leisure; public/private; serious/frivolous)

So the transformation is in terms of new possibilities for texts, easier combinations of semiotic systems, new communicative relationships and some other things about speed, publication and audience. But we should be able to ask, without the danger of being branded as a conservative, how far we could get with new literacies - or to be more specific technoliteracies – without alphabetic literacy.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


We had a great time in – where was it – Hanwell? I particularly liked walking down to the Brent River locks (Grand Union Canal, built 1880) and I found this sign in Ruth’s garden house. On the reverse side it says: “Should this become soiled rub lightly with a clean moist leather”. I like that as much as the use of underlining and exclamation marks on the front (don’t the colours remind you of Mars bars?). On Saturday we went here to see Thomas Demand’s large, hyper-real photographs. Mostly they are interior spaces that are exquisitely crafted out of cardboard, coloured paper and glue – but they look just like real kitchens, offices, and so on. As another visitor loudly pointed out, the only difference is that there are no logos, brand names and so on. I resented hearing that, but it’s true. Maybe he’d read an art book or knew what he was looking at. Maybe not.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


This video is the funniest I've seen in ages. I'm not sure who these OK Go guys are, but its seems like they're big in the States.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Cool dudes

The end
I must say that I was surprised to see that my article “Digikids, Cool Dudes and the New Writing” is listed as Number 2 in e-learning’s list of most downloaded articles. Of course, this doesn’t itself mean much (it could be that the same people keep loosing it; or it’s on somebody’s reading list; or it’s popularist garbage; or it’s free). It’s no big deal - but now that Dr Joolz has pointed out I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t look at the page frequently to see how it’s getting along! That’s one take on academic self-image for you. On a related note, it’s great to see Angela Thomas’s chapter in “Uses of Blogs”. You can look at the content and even download the introductory chapter here. Finally, the Barnsley Virtual World design progresses in fits and starts, but now features a fancy-looking hilltop manor house modeled on Burton Agnes (near Driffield I think). I expect this work will carry on while I’m offline and away in Spain….

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Civic and social

word stencil on brick
Here’s Simply Clare reflecting on some of the subtleties of social participation before taking a well-deserved break. Meanwhile Ideant gives us a lengthier exploration of social media and civic participation. The post (or is it a mini-essay?) works really well as a way of teasing out the themes in the debate and nearly manages to unmask the ideologies that underpin the more extreme positions. By that I mean the new age of total participation envisioned by cyber-evangelists and the dumbing-down culture crash views of the technophobes. The analysis helps to identify themes, but really does little more. It seems that there is some evidence of the potential for civic participation - that’s promising, but it’s as far as it goes. As for dumbing down, that’s the same old moral panic that has always haunted new media.