Thursday, January 29, 2009

Where's Hill at?

Children's literature isn't normally something that gets a look in on this blog. You could probably guess why. But in the process of looking around for Web2.0 material that is related in some way to formal education, I found this little gem. It's Eric Hill's contagious ebullience that really bowls me over. That, and the fact that he is decidedly unteacherly about the whole thing as he describes how he experimented with interactivity and modality in those famous Spot books. But where is Spot in the digital age, or has he gone virtual - that's what I want to know.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Flash mob futures

Rush hour Phnom Penh 1
Back in November I wrote a critique of Rheingold’s flash mobs and the whole idea of direct action mediated by new technology. I argued that it is hard to see how impromptu i-pod parties at Paddington Station or smart mob swarms in sofa shops fit into this vision. I suggested that they might constitute performance art or collective play, and certainly heralded a new kind of social participation, but weren’t so likely to transform society in any radical way. The French activist movement L’Appel et Le Pioche has just proved me wrong. You can read about spontaneous picnic parties in supermarkets here (their French blog) and the English press commentary here. Sounds great, but are things about change?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

KTV as new literacy

Mr Leang
Just for distraction, on those long bumpy coach journeys in Cambodia, you get plenty of Karaoke TV. This is mostly Khmer or SE Asian pop with subtitled words. The words, in true KTV style, are highlighted more or less in synch with the vocals, so you can sing along if you want to. But nobody does; at least, not on a public bus. But it just struck me that this is a powerful new technologically-mediated literacy practice, and not just a distraction.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Hey, I'm the proud owner of 284 of these personalised Snoopy stickers! This all started when I expressed interest in a sort of Kawaii thing that was going on with the Taiwanese students I was teaching a few years back.... and then I just received this delightful seasonal message along with the stickers. Lungshing is the company that does them (along with all sorts of Sanrio stuff). Maybe someone should look at the use of stickers and stationery in literacy practices, after all there's identity performance, multimodality, popular culture and stuff, what more could you want?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Literacies

Many thanks to Martin for pointing me to this video on YouTube which puts across familiar messages but makes more specific reference to younger children. These videos really pick up the heartbeat of new literacies. From another point of view here's Colin and Michele writing in a really interesting way about the writing of New Literacies. It's like a hall of mirrors, sometimes!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Back to work

Feather duster man
So it's back to the old routines again, and things are rolling along as usual. The Web 2.0 book is one stage nearer to publication and my piece Literacy in Virtual Worlds is now available here. Things are looking good for an exciting Special Edition co-edited by me and Vic Carrington (in this journal) and there are a couple of other exciting ventures in the pipeline. Watch this space!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Phnom Penh

After a long boat journey from Chau Doc we made it back to Phnom Penh, where it's hot and muggy. Spent the afternoon hanging out with the monkeys at Phnom Wat - that's about the quietest place out of the continual noise of the motorbikes! Tomorrow we'll be on the road again, heading down to the sea at Sihanoukville by air-conditioned coach. This is a four hour journey, although judging by how things run here it could be anything up to six hours. You always have to be on time at the start of the journey but it never quite works out to plan by the time you reach your destination. Still I'm not complaining, at least it beats the day job. May post from Sihanoukville, hope to have some original pics by then!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Sorry I forgot!

In the rush to get away just after Christmas, I forgot to announce a short break in my posting activity! So this is stolen picture of where I am at the moment, a shot over the rooftops of Chau Doc in Vietnam. It's great to be able to have a break and get a taste of what it is like on the Mekong delta, and I have to say it's rather different to Sheffield. For a start it's pretty warm; there's more motorbikes and bicycles than cars; and the standard of living is pretty low. Having said that you can still buy flat screen TVs and mobile phones! Yesterday I saw European tourists photographing Vitenamese kids on their digital cameras. The kids were fascinated to see their own images, pulling faces, making v signs and so on. This morning, outside the hotel in Chau Doc the situation was reversed as a Vietnamese teenager came up to a young German family and took pics on their mobile phones! Tomorrow we'll get the boat up to Phnom Penh and from their down to Sihanoukville. No promises about regular postings, but a normal service will be resumed mid January!