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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Cinderella’s Online

September 30th, 2009 1 comment

More and more people are changing the way they think of reading and text.  Tools such as The Kindle and sources such as Google books and Project Gutenberg allow us to access more titles more easily than ever before.  With digital text becoming more and more popular it is no surprise that other companies are jumping on the proverbial bandwagon.

According to the New York Times article Disney Tries to Pull the Storybook Ritual Onto the Web by Brooks Barnes The Walt Disney Company is launching a new subscription based website that will offer hundreds of Disney books. Previously Disney only offered a few titles on Kindle and Leapfrog.  Media analyst for Forrester Research, Sarah Rotman Epps, states “They are the first to say, we’re putting our whole catalog online in this one place, and we’re selling it straight to parents.” The site is organized into age groups and levels of reading skills.  Starting with a “look and listen section for beginning readers, where the books will be read aloud by voice actors to accompanying music, with each word highlighted on the screen as it is spoken.”  For children who can read on their own, there is another section and if they find an unfamiliar word they can “click on it and a voice says it aloud.” For teenagers there are chapter books and trivia.  The vice president of digital media, Yves Saada assures concerned parents that “this isn’t going to replace snuggle time with a storybook…We think you can have different reading formats co-existing together.”

Reading this I found myself wondering how this will affect future generation’s perception of digital text.  There is a certain romantic notion to the physical printed book.  People have libraries in their homes and refuse to throw them away.  But if we are conditioned to read digital text from childhood will these nostalgic notions still be there? What will that mean for printed books? Does it matter?

Computers and Rhetorical Acts

September 23rd, 2009 2 comments

Over the last couple of years, I have become increasingly interested in the types of rhetorical acts that computers can facilitate. Electronic literature, leveraging digital technology to attain the same goals of print literature, is one medium that relies on computers. Videogames, which can simulate how “real and imagined systems work,” is another medium that leverages digital technology to facilitate its rhetorical acts (Bogost 2007). In “Rethinking Web Usability for Web 2.0 and Beyond,” William I. Wolff explains the time when he began to see the connection between web design and writing: “The purpose of the course, it seems to me now (and despite what might have been on the syllabus), was to suggest that designing a Web page was a rhetorical act fraught with real-world implications” (Wolff, Fitzpatrick, Youseff 2009). With this connection in place, I am beginning to understand more and more what it means to be a rhetorician in the digital age.

Before the advent of digital technology, rhetorical acts were greatly restricted by technology: we could speak or we could write with pen and paper. But if we think about putting down visual information or making a presentation, or designing a website, or even drawing a map, we are doing “writerly” things, we’re just using more than one or two different technologies.

First, however, we must overcome the barrier to entry. Not everyone knows Java, Pearl, Python, or Basic. Most of us don’t know html and css, and if we do, we’re not very adept at it. But once we do get a handle on html, or get a hold of Dreamweaver, NVU, or some other similar program, we can be well on our way to engaging in a highly rhetorical act. When we design a document of any kind, we have to make lots of authorial choices, such as what information to include, what information to exclude, how the information is to be arranged, the medium with which we will work, and who sees it. This is not unlike what writers do when they write an essay: they too need to decide what information will work, what information doesn’t, whether the work will be published online for free, or whether it will published in a book, for a fee. When we draw the connection between “traditional” writing and authoring in a virtual environment or website, it’s easy to argue that technology, not content, is the only discernible difference.

what if…

September 22nd, 2009 3 comments

… we took a digital camera and created a still life photo of technologies from the pencil all the way to an iphone (pencil, pen, newspaper, open paperback book, cell phone, computer keyboard, digital book, cell phones, iphones, ipods, etc.)? We could use that still life as the header of a the wordpress blog page to represent the technologies we are discussing.

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.