Thursday, May 30, 2013
Monday, May 27, 2013
Friday, May 24, 2013
I'm really enjoying the Fifth International Roundtable on Discourse Analysis with its focus on Digital Practices. Presenters have brought a wide variety of perspectives to a wide range of topics. There have been different takes on discourse itself and work that's focused on mobile technologies, machinima, MOOCs, Flickr, 'netspeak', virtual worlds, self-quantifiers and the comment genre - to mention just a few. Today is the final day and there's the unknown dimension of what themes will arise and what new questions will emerge. I always find that an interesting process. At the moment all that I've heard re-inforces the view that thinking about the online/offline binary is unhelpful. In some way's David Barton's notion of 'writing spaces' works a little better for me. The whole debate also confirms my belief that studying practices without a close look at people and things leaves out the complex and messy nature of the work that gets done. So materiality, embodiment and affect seem to me to be important emergent themes. But, as ever, what I think may well be modified by what others say; if it isn't, perhaps that's not discourse.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
simple phone too, so that they have at least one thing that works well. That's all very well, but as I pack for a trip to Hong Kong it's a logistical nightmare making sure I've got my phone, my camera, my iPad and my laptop and all the various leads and cables (each being completely different, of course). So, actually I'm a big fan of convergence technology, just because it makes life simpler, but it does seem that there's a way to go.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
All fingers and thumbs
I've just been writing another paper about toddlers and touchscreens, and it returns to the same themes about gesture that I explored before. Essentially, looking at the video data we have, you see how hand gestures and pointing are woven into adult-child conversations and that they also appear to extend quite naturally into taps and swipes on the touchscreen. Often someone starts off pointing at something on the screen and then ends up tapping - it becomes part of the interactional flow. And the toddlers (see index finger in pic) often seem to have their trigger fingers at the ready, perhaps mimicking adult gestures or maybe in readiness for when they need to deploy them. I'd been using the word 'index finger' so often in the writing that I began to wonder about its origin. For one feverish moment I thought it was connected to print literacy, being the finger that turns the pages at the index. But in the end I was convinced by this account, which simply connects it with indicating or pointing. Well even that is enough to confer on it a very significant place in human communication. I reckon there's a book to be written about the role the first finger plays in human culture. Someone's probably already written it, though.........no, just got lost at Amazon only to discover that someone called Al Fingers has written a book on Clarks in Jamaica (bring on Vybz Kartel). How random!
Monday, May 06, 2013
Adam Nicholson - a historian with impeccable qualifications - who dazzled viewers with his take on literacy in seventeenth century England. It was, or so the title goes, the century that wrote itself and he had lots of quirky examples to illustrate this idea. Although very entertaining, the major shortcoming was its rather narrow determinist view. That's the way we became modern: through literacy, through individual expression, from discovering the power of writing and so on and so forth. Major social, political and religious changes were relegated to the sidelines in these programmes- as if they were simply caused by literacy rather than intimately bound up with it. Power, and that century's particular shifts in economic and civic life were always hovering in the background: class, gender and race reared up as another version of how we became modern. Nonetheless this is better than a lot of TV, and if you're in the UK you might still catch the series on demand on iPlayer.
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