Archive

Archive for the ‘reading response’ Category

Procedural Literacy– “Reading” Games

December 7th, 2009 No comments

Since I was introduced to the concept in the Summer of 2007, I have been smitten with the idea that games can make arguments.  After all, this was a seeming justification for a medium which I always believed was superior to film for entertainment purposes, but lacked the depth that writing enjoyed for more intellectual pursuits. Since then, I have learned to not think of which medium is better or worse, and instead have learned to think of what medium’s affordances can be leveraged best for a particular purpose. Our class has focused on how new media, broadly conceived, sheds new light on literacy or otherwise makes obsolete previous notions of literacy. Previous notions of literacy, based on an understanding of alphabetic text alone, do not account for visual mediums, such as videogames, which can certainly convey information.

Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, presents a coherent approach to “reading” and interpreting games, based on his notion of procedural rhetoric. Ian Bogost argues, first, that games can be and are expressive human artifacts. He states that previous notions of rhetorical traditions, such as visual rhetoric, can only shed so much light on games’ rhetorical value; the notion of procedural rhetoric must be employed to explain rhetoric in games more fully. Procedural rhetoric, to the author, describes the computer’s (and in turn, the game’s) ability to simulate a rule system, which can be imbued with an ideology. When taken this way, the “games as container” metaphor can take on a new shape. Games are not simply a site for education, but a medium with real cultural currency, an abstraction of a real-life system that can be filled with any message the designer intends.
One book that discusses the rhetorical capacity for games is Ian Bogost’s Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. The book presents a coherent approach to “reading” and interpreting games, based on his notion of procedural rhetoric. The author argues, first, that games can be and are expressive human artifacts. He states that previous notions of rhetorical traditions, such as visual rhetoric, can only shed so much light on games’ rhetorical value; the notion of procedural rhetoric must be employed to explain rhetoric in games more fully. Procedural rhetoric, to the author, describes the computer’s (and in turn, the game’s) ability to simulate a rule system, which can be imbued with an ideology. When taken this way, the “games as container” metaphor can take on a new shape. Games are not simply a site for education, but a medium with real cultural currency, an abstraction of a real-life system that can be filled with any message the designer intends.
This sounds really abstract, so I played one of the games produced by Bogost’s company, Persuasive Games. His games have appeared on the New York Times website and various government agencies. The game I played, Windfall, discusses some of the challenges energy companies face.

This screenshot shows the game’s interface, which is present all the time. The icons on the left represent the various actions the player can perform. The information on the right shows the player’s funds, popularity, and the amount of energy being generated.
Because games are different from prior media forms, a new means of interpreting and critiquing them must be devised. Ian Bogost performed such a work in Persuasive Games. He argues that, “videogames open a new domain for persuasion, thanks to their core mode of representational mode, procedurality” (p. ix). This new rhetorical approach, procedural rhetoric, is defined as, “the art of persuasion through rule-based representations and interactions rather than the spoken word, writing, images, or moving pictures” (p.ix). Bogost explains that “procedural rhetoric is a technique for making arguments with computational systems and for unpacking computational arguments that others have created” (p. 3). It is this trait of computers, procedurality, that “fundamentally separates computers from other media” (p.4). Thus, if we take this assertion seriously, we cannot ignore this element of videogames that make them unlike other media. It is a “form of symbolic expression that uses process instead of language” (p. 9). This lengthy summary is in place to flesh out this novel idea that may at first sound foreign to those with humanities backgrounds. It may be helpful here to discuss a particular game that represents these ideas, Windfall, a  “A strategy game about building wind farms to create clean energy profitably,” according to Bogost’s company’s website, Persuasive Games.

In this game, the player is charged with building windmills for particular geographic location. The view is top-down, like other strategy games such as Civilization. The player uses the mouse to pick and action, on the right of the sceen, to “Research”, build a windmill, build a power line, or “recycle.” The game’s recycle feature allows a player to buy back a windmill or power line that he or she bought for half of the original price. On the right of the screen are icons, which indicate the various actions the player can perform. There is an optional tutorial in which the game teaches the mechanics of the game. Normally, there is clock that runs for “three years” in the game’s time. During this time, the goal of the game is to reach a certain energy output. But, there are a few rules to keep in mind. First, that a windmill must be connected to a powerline, which must be connected to the transformer. Also, there are some places where windmills cannot be placed, such as on hills, sidewalks, touching bodies of water, or on other buildings. And there are suggested rules, such as, “Be careful. Nobody likes large windmills in their neighborhoods.” The player can, in fact build large windmills in neighbords, even next to houses. But, when that happens, people will protest, which will affect your company’s popularity. If your popularity decreases because the people are unhappy with your actions, namely, where you are putting windmills and power lines, they will protest, which will actually cost you money in the game. Popularity is tracked with an icon the right side of the screen. Under the icon, the player’s popularity (or lack thereof) will be translated into a loss in dollars if the when the player’s popularity dips below 100%.

Players can choose to make small, medium, or large windmills. The larger the windmill, the more it costs, but it will generate more energy. People, however, resent the larger windmills more, forcing your company to incur political costs, calculated in real dollars.

This shot shows how the “research” function works. Players can pay a small fee to conduct research on a certain piece of the grid. The “windier” the location, the more efficient a windmill placed in the location will be.

The player can perform “research” on a particular block, as the game is laid out in a grid-like structure. For a price, this research will reveal information about the earth, such as how much wind the area garners. Making this small investment is worthwile to player, which ranges between $100 and $200 dollars. By putting the windmills in the most advantageous places, the player will acrue the most revenue. The player essentially has to balance multiple interests. He or she wants to first, make money by building windmills. But there are times when the player must decide whether he or she will opt to build near neighborhoods if the land is particularly desireable or it he or she is better off keeping the people happy. When the people are unhappy to the extent where it is no longer politically expedient to keep a windmill and its adjecent power line in the same location, the player can recycle the item. This will provide the player with half the value of the item, and will raise his or her popularity in the game. The game makes a claim about the complexities of the energy business. Businesses have a job to do, and sometimes this upsets people. Those who run businesses must decide where his or her priorities are. However, when businesses realize that they are upseting people, they can compromise, to make the make the people happy, and improve the bottom line, even if this entails taking a momentary hit to the bottom line. Instead of being an overtly political game, this game, through the abstraction of a simulation, evokes the spirit of the real-world system, while keeping it simple enough that one can learn how to play the game very quickly.

Reinventing Cinema and Youtube

November 21st, 2009 No comments

Reinventing Cinema; Movies in the Age of Media Convergence” by Chuck Tryon, discusses our understanding of film and how that understanding has needed to change in light of new technology.  Tyron talks of how once distinct and different forms of media have been incorporated into one another so to provide a more effective experience.  Tryon spends some time discussing the changes to the movie watching experience that have been brought about by the ability to view movies outside of theaters. He points to VCRs and now DVDs and the user’s ability to fragment the text.  This has given consumers more control over the movie and increased the number of those Tyron describes as “movie geeks” (p. 16).  He states, “…at home we are able to master the flow of cinematic images, while in the theaters we are forced to succumb to the temporal rhythms of theatrical projection, which require moviegoers to arrive at the theater at a specific time” (p. 25).  Tyron also talked in part about the issue of piracy in the film industry which provided a more well rounded view of this issue when combined with Siva Vaidhyanathan’s Copyrights and Copywrongs; The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity, which mainly discusses the issue as it relates to written text and the music industry.

I was very interested in Tyron’s discussion of movie Mashups and the dialogue that is created between what might, but not necessarily correctly, be called the consumer of movies and the entertainment industry.  I say that the term consumer is not entirely correct mainly because of the manipulation of professionally produced films, among many other things, that are displayed via website such as Youtube. Tyron states that,“…Youtube not only materially but also metaphorically keeps all texts available for reuse and recycling into new narratives.” The use of DVD’s and the “principle of incompleteness” has allowed an infinite number of movies, shows, and clips to be made available to individuals to “ripped apart and reassembled in playful new ways” (p. 151). Examples of such texts include “Shining”, “5 Second Movie”, “Scary Mary Poppins”, “Brokeback to the Future”, and many many more. Similarly, other such videos attempt to make political statements such as “Hillary’s Downfall” and “Baracky” or compilation videos such as   “100 Movies 100 Quotes 100 Numbers”, “Seven-Minute Sopranos”, and “Women in Film”.

User-generated video, such as the before mentioned, maintain and promote the discussion about the films, shows, and clips that they take their content from.  Therefore, some studios such as Twentieth Century Fox have attempted, with mixed results, to harness this free advertisement.  While others such as Viacom, also with mixed results, have “attempted to contain these fan productions” (p. 173).

Tyron explains the importance of such user-generated content and its ability to connect individuals with similar cinematic tastes or providing an avenue for discussion for those with different tastes. Individuals are given the ability to comment on products of the entertainment industry, politics, the news, or anything else for that matter.  Such texts promote the idea that “anyone with a computer is a potential producer, able to remix, rewrite, and reinterpret Hollywood movies” as they see fit (p. 173).

Thinking About Viral Culture and Time-Shifting

November 15th, 2009 No comments

I’m not sure where I stand on this viral culture thing. On the one hand, I appreciate its myriad distractions; on the other, I curse these distractions as they help keep me from getting work done.

Lost in the shuffle of our discussion of Bill Wasik’s “And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture,” was Wasik’s mention of the all-too-useful “time-shifting” (p. 185). Time-shifting is a term to describe the delaying of one’s gratification for a cultural nugget to be consumed at a later date. By employing this mind-set, we can combat the ephemeral nature of popular culture today. I wonder why the notion of delayed gratification is not so well discussed in popular culture anymore, as if Fundamental Christianity somehow held the patent on such behavior.

This technique, I believe, can be of particular use to myself for all manner of entertainment, for example. Why buy that new videogame today, for $60, when it can be had in two or three months for $30 or $40? The same could be said for new books, movies, or music. While Wasik was primarily arguing for time-shifting’s use as a way to get away from the hype that surrounds the release of a new cultural diversion, I think this type of action is useful for other reasons.

By employing time-shifting, we can combat the flakiness that is plaguing popular culture. I think this is what Wasik was getting at when he discussed Indie music in such detail. Cultural works should not need to be so emblematic of a particular era of time, or they risk becoming irrelevant very quickly. As writers, we can probably appreciate this aspect of Wasik’s discussion.

***

Also, I came across an article by Simon Dumenco that was laid out in bullet-point fashion that discussed Wasik’s book. I liked the article because it shed some light on the book, and it was a quick read, with seemingly little time wasted in the normal intricacies of professional feature-writing. One of the comments for the article complemented the author on how this bullet-point style was appropriate for the subject matter. It also made me wonder how much my attention span has been compromised from spending so much time on the web.

One of the things that caught my attention in this article is that the Flash Mobs were a metaphor for the vapid nature of viral culture. This makes me think that Wasik was not at first convinced of his argument until the end of the book.

Anyway, here’s a video of Larry Lessig pwning Andrew Keen on the merits of amateur Internet culture. It’s germane to the topic because Keen despises consumer-produced media, which Lessig champions it.

Viral Marketing

November 13th, 2009 No comments

Found Bill Wasik‘s And Then There’s This pretty fascinating. Given the PR and marketing classes and work that I have done, I was particularly interest in the concept of viral marketing.

We have all seen short films on TV in the past – many are created to market an upcoming show and I see from Wasick’s book and my own research that many viral marketing short films have been created to promote different products. I found the following Wired article discussing how viral marketing across many mediums is a proven method. I particularly remember seeing the BMW short film featuring Clive Owen that is pictured in the article Organized Chaos: Viral Marketing, Meet Social Media.

Organized Chaos: Viral Marketing, Meet Social Media

 This viral marketing by BMW using Clive Owen appeals to women due to his raw sex appeal; it also appeals to men due to the action content. There were several short films made by BMW films that, when linked together, do produce a somewhat cohesive story, but viewed alone, enhance the product. This is an example of viral marketing done well.

 Below is just one of the films in the multipart series:

 

While the above was a serious BMW film, the one below is a more comedic variation that probably never appeared on TV like the other one did due to some adult language. It features both Clive Owen and Madonna

While the above viral marketing ads did not make me want to run out and buy a BMW, they did interest me enough to go searching for all of the BMW viral marketing films. So, in one sense this form of marketing was successful due to the fact that watching one, made me want to watch more.

 

And Then There’s This: An Overview

November 13th, 2009 No comments

Bill Wasik in And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture states that one of the goals of the text is “to consider political smear, meaningless fads, perishable bands, momentary celebrities, and disposable narrative” in a more realistic and accurate light.  He begins with an example of what he describes as the nanostory.  He refers to Blair Hornstine, a high school senior and valedictorian from Moorestown, New Jersey who was scheduled to attend Harvard University. However, the superintendent of the district ruled that Hornstine must share her valedictory honors with the second place finisher, whose score was only lower due to a technicality.  Hornstine, whose father was a judge, sued to be named the sole valedictorian and for 2.7 million in punitive damages. The U.S. district judge ruled in her favor however a local paper “discovered that she was a serial plagiarist” and so “Harvard quickly rescinded” her acceptance (p. 2).   Wasik provides this example to show readers “the trajectory of her short-lived fame” or as he later describes it, meaning because of how her story was “fit handily into one of the various meanings imposed on her…” (p. 3-4).

Wasik continues on to talk about viral culture which he describes as seizing, elevating, and spreading ideas as meaningful, significant, or representative of “something about the moment” (p. 64).  He saids that “viral culture is based on a new type of sudden success- a success with 4 key attributes” (p. 8). These are “Speed”, “shamelessness”, “duration”, and “sophistication”(p. 8). Wasik explains that “success in viral culture is interactive, born of mass participation, defined by an awareness of the conditions of its creation” and is built “upon what one might call the media mind”(p. 8).  Further on in the text Wasik states that the media mind refers to when individuals market and promote themselves in the hopes of making meaning and gaining followers which would then change the way they speak, how they act, and how they see themselves (p. 12-13). Wasik explains his ideas on viral culture in the video Bill Wasik’s new book: The view from atop the spike of viral culture.

Wasik discusses his flash mob experiments which he states were brought on by boredom.  With the help of e-mail, Wasik was able to gather people together in specific locations and then on the day of the mob give them directions on where to go and what to do.  This idea he said would work because “it was  a self-conscious idea for a self-conscious culture, a promise to create something out of nothing” (p. 19).  Wasik’s mobs occurred in several different sites in NYC but inspired others to create mobs in other cites as well.  These mobs were described as meme: “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture” (p. 25).

Wasik goes on to talk for some length about an indie rock band called Annuals who was swept up in what Wasik calls niche sensationalism. The band’s rise and fall provided a perfect example of nanofame, with the added benefit of the band’s name itself accurately portraying viral culture. Wasik states, rather poetically, that title was a “melancholy vision of a beautiful band built constitutionally, to die” (p. 62) The author provides us with another experiment in viral culture in which he tried to “neutralize or reverse” the buzz of the band Peter Bjorn and John.

Wasik goes on to talk about the Huffington Post Contagious Festival in which he enters a site called “The Right-Wing New York Times” using the pseudonym Will Murphy and ultimately wins.  He acts as both a participant in the contest and a journalist interviewing the other prominent contests and so is able to show readers a more complete picture of the creation of a meme

The author continues on to corporate agents and word of mouth marketing.  Here companies attempt to engage consumers and turn them into proponents of the company’s products or services. The reward often times for this the agent’s feeling of being an insider.  Wasik talks about how this changes the individual’s relationship with the company and the product.  Wasik created Bill Shiller “the ideal viral consumer” to better show this point and had Shiller actively seek out companies and products to support and promote including giving demonstrations and recommendations of products to friends and family (p. 123).

The author finishes with a discussion of how nanostories effect politics. He shows how false or embellished information can “Swift-boat” a candidate’s campaign (p. 153) . Wasik also created a bipartisan cite called OppoDepot that provides “decontextualized negative stories” about the candidates (p. 159).  However the cite was not as successful as he had hoped.  Wasik points to the rise of Youtube and ads such as “Vote Different” and “Chuck Norris Approved” saying that the online 2008 political campaign was “defined by Youtube more than by blogs” (p. 175).

The book ends with a conclusion in which Wasik looks critically at how as a culture we have become hyper connected to technology.  He proposes that we unplug from our devises be it the internet, iphone, television, etc or at least come to some sort of compromise.  He warns that we should become less enthralled with nanostories and become more “judicious controllers of our own context, making careful and self-reflective choices about what we read, watch, consume” (p. 186).

History of copyright

October 25th, 2009 No comments

I noted that more than a few of us were fascinated by the historical aspect of copyright presented in Siva Vaidhyanathan’s  Copyrights and Copywrongs.

Vaidhyanathan says in his introduction, “The chief goal of this work is to explain how essential the original foundations of American copyright law are our educational, political, artistic, and literary culture.” (p. 5) Vaidhyanathan, proceeds to not only explain the history of copyright, but also proceeds to give us concrete examples through the entire text. This enhances our understanding of copyright as well as helping us to question our understanding of what fair use is and how long a copyright should be in place.

In never knew, or even thought about, what the roots of copyright are. According to Vaidhyanathan, “American copyright emanates from the U.S. Constitution, which directs Congress to create a federal law that provides an incentive to create and distribute new works.” (p. 20) Motivation to create was brought up by me during the discussion in class regarding copyright. While some in class discussed abolishing copyright or shortening, drastically, the term of copyright, I brought up the fact that creative people may have no desire to create if they are unable to protect their creations from pirating. The framers of the Constitution, according to Vaidhyanathan, saw mass production of existing works that were pirated from works by British authors. There was little incentive to create something new in the United States as pirating works was so common. The following should be noted: “Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution … power to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to the respective Writings and Discoveries.” (Vaidhyanathan, 2001, p. 44-45) Copyright does give authors the incentive to create without fear of pirating. Note also, in this post, I use quotes and credit the author for his work. This is done, not only because Vaidhyanathan holds the copyright to his words, but also out of respect for the author and his creation.

It is also important to remember that the United States was not necessarily the originator of copyright. Copyright law was changed multiple times over the course of history. According to Vaidhyanathan, “…the U.S. Congress in 1998 extended U.S. copyright to match the European term [life plus 70 years]…” (p. 25) Earlier in history, the U.S. made the effort to join the international community with regard to copyright protection. Vaidhyanathan states, “… the United States agreed in 1891 to share copyright protection with the British Empire…” (p. 160) and “European countries in general have afforded broader and deeper protection to authors and publishers than the United States has.” (p. 160-161)

Vaidhyanathan has opened our eyes to how copyright came to be as well as to considerations and debate regarding length and protection. I would not consider for a moment that Vaidhyanathan should not be protected for his creation of any written work, including Copyrights and Copywrongs. Though Vaidhyanathan seems to advocate shorter copyright protection as created by the framers of the U.S. Constitution, I would consider it unfare for Vaidhyanathan to have to continuously reapply for copyright of his works. Though some of my classmates may disagree with me, respect for this author, and any other who creates an original work, should give us some foundation for understanding of the need for copyright.

Sign-making

October 17th, 2009 No comments

There are many tangents one can go off on with regard to Gunther Kress’ Literacy in the New Media Age. I have chosen just one of those tangents: “reading as sign-making,” especially as it relates to childhood writing. Adults make the erroneous assumption that children learn to read and write wholly as imitators and copiers of existing adult writing. Kress states, “notions of ‘copying’ or of ‘imitating’ … ensure that we ourselves misread what is at issue … whatever else the child’s sign might have been, it was not a copy…” (p. 143) He then goes on to discuss his daughter’s attempt to write “thank you” after he has written it on a page for her. There are randomly written letters on the page, but below the words “thank you” that he had written for her, there is a symbol below it that she drew to represent his words. A graphic image of that early writing can be observed on p. 144.

Kress goes further to relate sign-making by adults as well. He states, “outward production results in signs which are visible, audible and communicable.” (Kress, 2003, p. 145) Kress relates this version of sign-making to drawing a picture of his car – he basically admits that his drawing of the car would only be a “partial representation” and “representation is always partial.” (p. 144) So the imperfection of represenatation exists not only with children, but also adults.

Kress returns to early childhood writing or sign-making. He states, “the sign made outwardly … is based on the sign made before, inwardly, as the result of the ‘reading’ made.” (Kress, 2003, p. 145) Kress says this gives us a basis for understanding early sign-making in relation to reading and learning.

This discussion by Kress was meaningful as I have seen such ‘sign-making’ with my children and with young relatives. My daughter was continually creating signs by scribbling on paper random mixes of letters from the time she was able to hold a crayon in her tiny hand. Books were always present and being read in our house. It was my assumption at the time that reading to her so often, nurtured her abilities to transform random scribbles to letters. Perhaps it isn’t just being read to that creates this ability with children – it is also the pervasive culture of TV, especially children’s programming, that teaches the first instinct regarding writing letters. Whether those letters come together and make sense or not, the child has still created a sign that is just a taste of what is to come later.

Perspective and Style

October 10th, 2009 No comments

In Lingua Fracta: Toward a Rhetoric of New Media author Collin Gifford Brooke invites readers to rethink the traditional canons.  He explains that the canons are not static and that they should be rethought in light of new technologies.  I was particularly interested in Brooke’s discussion of perspective and the canon style and how they influence our understanding of new media and literacy.

Brooke states that “style has probably been the most productive canon for explorations of new media” (p. 113).  He explains the important relationship between media and style and states that “scholarship has focused on the inextricable combination of visual and verbal elements within new media” (p. 113). Brooke asks us to “consider what style might look like when we consider it in terms of interfaces rather than static texts” (p. 114).  He explains that new media interfaces use the canon style to change our perspective on the text.  They “help us move from the abstracted, single perspective of the reader of a static text or the viewer of a painting to the multiple and partial perspectives necessary for many forms of new media” (p. 114).  Brooke suggests that we “restore style to its place in our ecology of practice” (p. 114).  He suggests that we “move style away from its place in an Aristotelian ecology of code” (p. 126).

He points us to “the desktop metaphor in most graphical user interfaces” as an example (p. 133). Brooke asks the question of whether “the desktop is something that we look at or through” and concludes that the answer depends on “where we look from” and our “level of comfort with the various metaphors operating there” (p.134).  Another example he uses is the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, World of Warcraft.  Brooke explains that the interface in this game changes depending on the level of the player and the function they are trying to perform.

Brooke offers readers some background on the understanding of rhetoric and perspective.  He does this to provide a “backdrop against which we might begin to explore what art historian James Elkins describes as the practice of perspective” (p.123).  This practice he describes as having been “subsumed by mathematical perspective and one that will prove important for reconceiving style for the interface” (p. 123).

Brooke goes on to invite us to look at metaphor.  He prefers Aristotle’s use of the word and states that using metaphor in that way “reveals some interesting connections- connections suggested both in the transmedial development of perspective and in more recent attempts to gather media under the umbrella of polymorphic or multiliteracies” (p. 125). Aristotle defined metaphor as a “movement (epiphora) or displacement, from one term to another” (p. 125).

Brooke goes on to talk about the other canons and how they should be revisited with new media in mind.  He ends the book on a humorous note with a list of questions that he attempts to answer about the book’s purpose and what research is still needed in this area among other things.

Lingua Fracta and Brooke’s view on research

October 9th, 2009 No comments

In the second half of Lingua Fracta, Brooke discussed many issues in composition. One that I found most compelling was his discussion about research.

In a portion of the Performance chapter titled “Delivery as Performance,” Brooke discusses sources of information, online sources in particular. He discusses how easy it for students to turn to the internet for information and how “… educators, even those of us who advocate for information technologies … have tried to get a handle on the proliferation of electronic sources and resources…” (Brooke, 2009, p. 182) I can well imagine how a professor might cringe when credible sources are not utilized. To enhance credibility, Brooke further discusses the importance of choosing internet resources that show the author’s name and he quotes one source as saying that the posted research shouldn’t be created by a group or person with a “vested interest.” (p. 184)

Part of Brooke’s discussion revolved around Wikipedia. Students have received some mixed messages regarding usage of Wikipedia. While some professors have not banned Wikipedia from being a utilized resource, others have banned it. Brooke says, “no particular expertise is required to contribute to Wikipedia, although inaccuracies and misinformation are not likely to last long…” (p. 188) Brooke, however, takes a generously balanced approach to Wikipedia. He says, “what many commentators on Wikipedia accuracy fail to acknowledge is that there are other forms of distributed credibility of work on the site. Each entry on Wikipedia is, in fact, the tip of a much larger iceberg of activity.” (Brooke, 2009, p. 190) He further says, “…credibility is not delivered prepackaged at Wikipedia, it is performed … the result sometimes can be messy. But it also can represent the kind of opportunity that traditional encyclopedias can never dream of providing.” (Brooke, 2009, p. 191). Though Brooke doesn’t necessarily advocate the use of Wikipedia in scholarly research, he does present a compelling discussion about how it may be credible.

Stuart Selber “Multiliteracies for a Digital Age”

September 18th, 2009 No comments

College professors are the expected audience for Selber’s book. He says, “This book was written to help teachers of writing and communication develop full-scale computer literacy programs that are both effective and professionally responsible.” (Selber, 2004, p. xi) Selber goes on to say that, “…too few teachers today are prepared to organize learning environments that integrate technology meaningfully and appropriately.” (p. 1) As we discussed in class, Selber also sees some resistance on the part of professors to learn and utilize technology.

Selber indicates that students are more apt to be prepared for the world of digital media than some professors are. He states, “…students will undoubtedly know a great deal.” (Selber, 2004, p. 19) He goes on to give students credit for a certain knowledge base with regard to computer programs and usage. Selber states, “In many instances, students will actually know more than their teachers about operating computers…” (p. 19) He also says the following, which I have found to be true to my own experience: “In academic settings, students tend to learn about computers on their own, with the help of their peers…” (Selber, 2004, p. 30) Further still, I see computers in the classrooms in elementary and secondary schools are playing a large role. My children are comfortable with any computer situation or program and are not fearful of the new technologies as they develop – a situation that is not all that common with older students and professors.

Selber concludes that his mission is to “…help teachers envision a full-fledged program that integrates and emphasizes functional literacy, critical literacy, and rhetorical literacy … even if some departments are rather fearful of technology.” (p. 183-184) Perhaps, if we raise the bar for muliliteracies, then our colleges and universities will become more literate in this growing and evolving computer age.