Thursday, October 15, 2015
New mobile literacies
my talk on Sunday. It's called 'New Mobile Literacies' and here's a bit of a taster. ....Mobility is one of those signature themes of early 21st Century living. On a macro scale we are preoccupied with the movement of people, whether it takes the form of the ‘migrant crisis’ that has tested Europe’s ability to act with humanity, the contagion and spread of Ebola that has troubled the medical community, illegal border crossings and their generational legacy, or the carbon footprint left by mass tourism and big business. Within liberal democracies we agonise about social mobility, about the rising gap between rich and poor. At a local level about the ability of the transport infrastructure to get people from A to B, and with our growing sensitivity to disability, and ageing, how access and mobility can be enhanced. None of these are new to the 21st Century, but a concept of ‘mobilities’ sensitizes us to how we put ourselves about, how we get around, who moves where, and how. So how do any of these instances of mobility connect with our idea of literacies? Perhaps the answer lies in something that has always intrigued me, the other dictionary definition of communication. It’s the second in my Concise Oxford, in which communication is described as ‘a means of connecting different places, such as a door, passage, road or railway’. Then communication, by whichever definition, always implies a sort of movement, whether that is a movement of people, things or ideas. Yes, a mobility. And if this holds true we could argue that all literacies are in some way mobile. If that is the case, no need to go on, except of course, for the fact that we see rather a lot of people wandering about holding these things, these rectangular objects of different sizes – talking to them, tapping them, stroking them as if they were pets. Maybe you do the same, temporarily stashing a phone in your back pocket as you walk along or rummaging around in the dark recesses of a bag to locate the pulsing feel of an incoming call?