Monday, February 13, 2012

Literacy as digital practice: the extra-textual

When I find myself constantly gnawing at an idea, it usually means its got something to offer me. This is the case with Cathy's notion of how, in literacy as a digital practice the textual, the material and the connected inter-relate. Her articulation of this is the best starting point, but I wanted to just try out my thinking around these ideas, which I'd like to suggest constitute something of an 'extra-textual' dimension. I'm saying extra-textual to make a distinction between, on the one hand those factors that are traditionally rendered as contextual (following, for example Halliday & Hasan), and, on the other, those that constitute the text itself (grammar, multimodal design and so on). Straight off, then, there's a bit of a problem, because one the dimensions is actually called 'textual' - so for me that might work better as the point of appearance of the text, the interface, place of inscription or surface. But essentially I think this is a sort of 'where' question. Where is the text? The next dimension is the material dimension. This the 'what' - the thingness or physicality of the text, the mobile window, the sheet of paper, the hinged screen and so on - and, of course, all those things that surround it. Finally, the connected dimension is about how the text connects to other people and other spaces. Now, I have a feeling that you could apply these extra-textual dimensions to non-digital texts, but that would be a further elaboration of the basic idea. At this point in time I just want to get my head round the basic notion.

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