Monday, September 19, 2011

Reading the Visual and Preserving the Individual

As I read the selections for this week, three of which were in printed form (Kajer’s chapter and the two online articles) and one in electronic form (Bolter’s ebook), I found my mind organizing ideas and asking questions about the readings. One of these questions was whether Nicholas Carr makes a valid point in his, “Is Google Making Us Stupid,” article that printed texts and “quiet spaces” allow for the “undistracted reading of a book.” As I realized my mind was already wandering once I questioned this and that I was distracted by the people and noise that I share my space with, I came to the conclusion that no reading zone is free from all distractions and moved on from this question. My mind quickly moved to inquiries about reading, the importance of the visual and the relationship of body and technology.

Through the opinions offered in this week’s readings, it seems that people have varying interpretations of what reading is and whether or not electronic texts, whether they be electronic books, blogs, or text messages, count as “good” reading. Kajer’s example in her book, Bringing the Outside In, about her student, Gus, who tells her that he likes to read gamer codes and blog postings but states, “I know that stuff doesn’t count” (Kajer 5), poses the question, “ What is “good” reading and should we stem away from the idea that some reading is better than others?.”

In trying to state what “good” reading is and dismissing electronic writing that hasn’t appeared in printed form as bad, we seem to be isolating students from seeing themselves as good readers or readers at all. Gus’s response resembles Nicholas Carr’s acknowledgment in “Is Googling Making Us Stupid” that we are reading more than we did in the 1970s or 1980s but he calls it a “different kind of reading.” The word “different” makes it seem like it is not as good as what was done in previous years, making students like Gus see themselves as non-readers even though they may read in some capacity every day.

I was concerned with Gus’ response and asked my MCAS prep class, comprised of 9th to 12th grade students, if they struggled with reading and what they believed constituted reading. They had a hard time even telling me a name of a book they liked or disliked and told me that when they are told what to read, they become disinterested. I tried telling them that books are like people and that you may not like them at first, but when once you communicate with them, you may realize that you have something in common. But in thinking about my analogy later in the day, I realized that even I said books, subconsciously seeing that as the main form of reading and disregarding online postings and newspaper articles. Similar to Kajer, who points out in her book that she only saw reading as pertaining to learning how to pronounce words, some individuals associate reading with printed books that are part of a literary canon and have been deemed as classics. So again I return to the question, what is “good” reading and should this idea even exist in today’s world with students who struggle with reading comprehension (and do not need people telling them that what they read isn’t valid even though they’re reading)? Reading at even a seemingly low level, like that of reading a recipe, can provoke higher level thinking. As an individual reads the list of ingredients and thinks about which comes first, considering what would happen if step 5 came before step 3, or if the food was left in the oven too long, he/she is putting information together and thinking about relationships to one another. This meaning making process is what we ask students to do on a daily basis. If we encourage students to read, regardless if it is in printed or electronic form, we may allow them to see that reading is something they do for fun and do it without realizing it in their everyday life.

While there is the question about what good reading is, there is also the concern about how influential the visual is in reading and whether the text is being overlooked. Bolter states in Chapter 4 of Writing Spaces that the visual is becoming primary and the text becomes secondary with the addition of new electronic technologies. Newspapers now resemble web pages and include images at the forefront and brief summaries for the table of contents. This is evident in papers such as The Boston Herald that display a cover picture in color that is almost as big as the actual page, leaving little room for text. The reader’s eyes are drawn to the picture, pulling them into the cover story. But even though the picture is obviously large and in the reader’s face, is the visual taking away from a reader’s experience with reading text or making him/her less likely to analyze the printed word still?

Both articles that I read for this week’s reading included images that occupied a fair amount of room and came before the text of the article, but I did not find myself drawn to the pictures and forgetting about the text that I wanted to read. Below is the image from Jamais Cascio’s “Get Smarter” article and my reactions to the photograph:






Image: Anastasia Vasilakis (borrowed from the “Get Smarter” article in The Atlantic)


When I first saw this image, I noticed the swirl of colors and the man who seems to be free-falling into a fast-moving whirl pool. Upon looking at it now, I notice more of the shadows and how the colors do not have clearly defined lines. Even though I note these things, I honestly did not spend much time looking at this image before moving on to read the article, and once I finished the article, I didn’t think about the image that I first saw.
Although I note my reaction and realize that others may have spent more time looking at the image, especially those who are attracted to art or digital manipulations, I wonder how much images influence us or if we take images for granted. Nicholas Carr writes about the numerous Google ads that pop up as we surf the web and move from site to site, but when the ads are off on the side of the screen, the words and titles of web pages are directly in the viewer’s eyes. How many of us have clicked on one of the feature ads because we were drawn to them on the side of the page? Occasionally, I will click on an ad accidentally, but find myself closing out of it before I even have the chance to take a good look at it.


While Bolter states in Writing Spaces that images stand out on the page, “transforming us from readers to viewers” (56), they also serve to aid those who are visual learners and obtain knowledge best with pictures rather than words, which may seem to be jumbled together for those who have a reading disorder. Bolter does make a good point that we view images, in movies, billboards, television commercials, etc. and therefore are enticed by these. But these same images that may entertain us may help to provoke a student’s memory. Graphic novels is a good medium that shows how both text and image can be joined simultaneously, serving to entertain the reader but also provide the reader with a narrative for analysis. When I surveyed some of my students about graphic novels, they said that they liked reading plot details in a horizontal fashion rather than reading vertically down a page. For the visual learners, seeing the picture accompany text allows them to remember what happens in the story by visualizing the image.


Electronic technology has helped people rethink about reading and the work of the visual, but it also questions the relationship between the human body and technology. Cascio in “Get Smarter” speaks of augmentations through new electronic technologies, stating, “They’re very much a part of who we are today: they’re physically separate from us, but we and they are becoming cognitively inseparable.” It is as if our mind and thinking is joined with technology; we depend on technology to think and make decisions. Does technology really impact our lives to this extent and how should we feel? Cascio’s idea of body and technology being joined is similar to T.S. Eliot’s use of metonymy The Wasteland http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/18993, referring to the woman as the typewriter and using the word “hands” to refer to the sailor. The typewriter takes the place of the human and is able to increase production, but at the same time, T.S. Eliot makes it known that the human’s individuality is at stake. Similar to how people were concerned about industrialization causing the individual to lose its importance in the workforce, people, such as Nicholas Carr, who says that artificial intelligence would make thinking a “mechanical process, a series of discrete steps that can be isolated” (“Get Smart”), see technology as forming us to become mechanized without feelings. Although we may be ten, fifty, or a hundred years away from seeing artificial intelligence enacted in the masses, we are in a time where our electronic devices do seem to be a part of us. Many teenagers, and even adults, cannot go longer than a day or even an hour without their cell phone by their side. People constantly have their phone in their hands as if it is an extra appendage. The electronic policy at the school I teach at states that if a student is caught using their cell phone in school, he/she will have the option for a one day suspension or a week without their phone. Many students choose the one day suspension because they cannot imagine going seven days without using their phone, which they see as their contact to the outside world, especially for many who do not like to talk to others in public. It is as if electronic devices are a necessity rather than a luxury, but does this necessarily mean that the joining of body and technology is a bad thing? Those same students, who use their phone to gossip with their friends, may use the internet to play online word games or look up information that they do not know.


New electronic technologies have provoked much debate over what constitutes reading and whether the individual is losing his/her sense of self with new technologies. While there will always be many skeptics when something new is introduced, or something that enhances an older way, there are those that who will see these new tools as benefits. I like to think that new technologies can be used to help us in our daily lives when used in moderation, just like anything else.

15 comments:

  1. I find it interesting that your school offers such varied disciplinary actions for cell phone violations. While it seems extreme, I wonder if it is effective in curtailing interruptions. Do you find it’s effective?

    You make a great connection to The Wasteland in regards to the loss of individuality. It’s amazing how many students are willing to break the rules over seemingly unimportant text messages. At that point, it seems that students really do lose their own identity. The collective identity of Facebook bears more gravity than the independent organization of a classroom. The few times I have had to confiscate cell phones has rendered varied reactions. I’ve seen students smash their phones before handing them over and I’ve also seen girls cry over the loss of their phone. The actual rule doesn’t bother me as much as the reliance on technology for identity validation. I like to imagine that students in the 60’s and 70’s were fiercely independent compared to today’s technophiles. The only thing that could get today’s teenagers to demonstrate would be the loss of cell phone service or Facebook.

    It’s similarly amazing that so many students reject books for seemingly superficial reasons. You state that “They had a hard time even telling me a name of a book they liked or disliked and told me that when they are told what to read, they become disinterested.” I run into this problem a lot with all students. To me, it seems the daily routine of teenagers has become so disconnected from intellectual contemplation that reading a book no longer makes sense. Of course I generalize when I say ‘teenagers’ but for many that’s the truth. It also seems to me that the desire to get through a difficult reading has vanished for many a middle-track student. Five years ago I had no problem accommodating students after school in order to help them through Hamlet. Now, Sparknotes has taken that privilege away from me. If a student can’t find the answer there, it’s simply not worth their time. It’s not very often that any student stays after for any English teacher in order to get through a difficult reading

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  2. Thanks, Nicole (and Jay) for your provocative thoughts here. I have to admit that I'm very conflicted on the issue of artificial intelligence (if that is even a useful word or category). On the one hand, I take Cascio's point that search engines are just in their infancy and that they are already speeding up our thought processes and making our investigations more fruitful and productive. However, this comes a cost, doesn't it? If a machine enhances our intelligence (or becomes an extension of it as Marshall McLuhan influentially suggested), then isn't the text that we produce necessarily a kind of "cyborg" text? In other words and to get back to Nicole's question about individuality, how do we represent ourselves in text anymore? Is the distinction getting fuzzier? And does making the distinction matter?

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  3. Nicole, you raise a lot of good questions. You cut a swath, and isolating one to discuss may be a difficult for me. So prepare yourself for a journey! Through time! And space! And...mostly my thinly bound ramblings.

    You bring up the notion of quantifying books as "good" or "bad" and the habit of many to equate "printed" with "good". It's one I share but I'm trying to kick since it actively works against what I wish to be my ideological stance that electronic mediums will ultimately win out - for the most part - and so the question then shifts as to what to do with this technology and how we an harness it.

    The decision of "good" and "bad" being determined by whether or not something is printed as a novel, as a scholarly article, as a piece in the New York Times is an easy one to make. It's also somewhat lazy, and really riffing off of illusions and antiquated notions.

    I say illusions in the sense that frankly - things that are printed can very well suck. Sorry, layman's terms. What I mean to say is that printed materials can quite often fail to meet our concept of approved texts. There we go, some academi-speak. Think of all the refuse that is strewn across the landscape of the local Barnes and Noble. Most of that shouldn't be published, but it is.

    But it certainly isn't good.

    The same goes for online articles. We concede that print carries an "oomph", but it is erroneous. What is printed can be arbitrary, poorly written, or both. Conversely there is excellent work continuously pushed out online by dedicated scholars, actively famous writers, and talented enterprising would-be writers.

    As I said, it's not only an illusion, but it is antiquated. The Wild Wild West Internet Text Spectrum has quietly and without much notice coalesced into something respectable. Certainly it's an Echo Chamber filled with zealots and polemics. That's never going to change. Modern media of all kinds is filled with these people.

    But it's different. The notion is that you can print something on the internet and it doesn't have to be fact checked. Et cetera. Yawn. That's a tired trope as well. What people who champion this tired cause fail to mention is that internet readers are - I would argue - more active in their scrutinizing of one another's materials that in other sources. Even in something like the video game websites I frequent in raging dorkery there is active policing.

    Not only that, but there is active policing of essays written about video games that investigate the games themselves as texts. Mediums to be interrogated for messages and the such. Internet writing and video games: two oft maligned mediums coming together to produce something remarkable.

    Intelligent essays that are actively policed that wouldn't have a home anywhere else. Certainly not in print.

    So I've tipped my hands. I think the distinctions between "good" and "bad" texts drawn out of whether or not they're published never really had much merit, and certainly doesn't now. There is garbage puked forth onto paper, and there is excellence on the internet. But more importantly, there is good writing in both mediums.

    The quality of the writing should not be judged by whether it was birthed forth into an intangible or tangible world, but rather on the characteristics of the text itself.

    Great post, Nicole, great questions raised.

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  4. Jay,

    As far as the cell phone policy goes, I've seen varying levels of its effectiveness. Some students are better at keeping their phones off or in their locker once they've violated the rule, while others continuously disobey the policy and look for their parents to get them out of the consequences. I've never seen students smash their phones like you said; this is an interesting conflict especially because you mention that their cell phones are a source of "identity validation." It makes me wonder, what are they accomplishing by doing such a thing? What identity do they see themselves assuming through the use of technology?

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  5. There is no denying the change that has taken place in newspapers and webpages to increase the visual elements and limit the written text, unless you go looking for it. I feel it needs to be acknowledged that part of the reason for this change is that we as human beings in some general sense prefer it this way. An individual has the opportunity to decide where he gets his information from and he will inevitably choose the source that meets his needs, meaning, provides the information he wants in the fastest way possible. (Think about how frustrating it is when you attempt to search for information and google lets you down.) These information sources, such as newspapers and webpages, are designed so that at a glance a person can find the link he is looking for and find exactly the information he needs without having to search through pages and pages of irrelevant material. We like skimming over a newspaper, finding a picture of the mayor and quickly skipping to that page so we can read the information we desire most. In a world of competition, information producers will attempt to gain your business by providing a quick and easily navigable source, regardless if it is in print or electronic form.
    You could now draw general assumptions about how this need for immediate information is leading to a decline in humanity for no one takes the time to read anything any more. However, I feel we are tapping into a different resource that is allowing us to ‘read’ at a much faster pace. I find few who would disagree that it takes less time to glance at an image than to read a two-page article. What these ‘assumptionists’ don’t see is that the same information can be inferred from both. While we may not be ‘reading’ in the sense of words into our brains, we are ‘reading’ information. We are taking in all the associations and understandings we have of the image and putting it in terms of meaning. An image such as the following one (http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/Z57TrxFih-U/New+York+Jets+v+New+England+Patriots/MYv19BjglsM/Kerry+Rhodes) tells you your team scored a touchdown. You may ‘read’ into this further to also mean, your team won the game.
    In answer to your question Nicole, “is the visual taking away from a reader’s experience with reading text or making him/her less likely to analyze the printed word still?” I say no. If you are truly interesting in a subject, then the visual image will spur you on to more information. If you are looking to get a quick summary of the days events, then images and text blurbs are enough for you. If you desire more there are articles, websites and blogs you can sit down and take the time to read, something many people do. Including images does not mean that we will read any less, just that we read differently. In looking at images, we are making meaning of what we see, which is the same practice that takes place when we read a text.
    This inability to see value in what humans are capable of doing with technology, is the same problem I have with Carr’s article. He says, “as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.” If this were true, first Nicholas Carr would not have been capable of writing a 12-page internet article nor an entire book on this subject, for how can you have this much critical thought and analysis with an ‘artificial intelligence’? And secondly, no one would have read it. While there are people who may ‘rely on computers’ there are also other people who sit down and write, collect images and use their own intelligence to determine what the general population wants in a newspaper or webpage, something I feel reflects pretty deep thinking. Part of being human includes making meaning, something that we do naturally. Just because the medium has changed does not mean the depth of thinking and intelligent thought has changed, if anything it is happening faster, allowing for more information to spur on more thoughts.

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  6. Nicole, I really like how you pointed out Kajder's student Gus and how he loved to read gaming sites but didn't consider this "reading". Is it reading? I do agree with Nicholas Carr in that it a different kind of reading, yet it is still reading. I think that we are all so worried about technology affecting literacy that we don't stop to think about how these technologies can enhance and improve literacy. How can we adapt student interests into reading today? I mean, isn't this a huge point for students today? Don't they WANT to read what they are interested in? Of course, this isn't to say that academic reading especially the classics aren't important, but can't we find a way to incorporate both types of reading? You struggle with what is "good" reading and I think we all do. We are all accustomed to thinking of academic reading as good reading but times are changing and so is reading. I think if we can find a way to tap into student interests first, it would be easier to get students to read classics later once they are more comfortable with the act of reading knowing that "their" type of reading is also considered reading and it does count.

    Your point about becoming viewers and the importance of graphic novels interests me. I agree and disagree with this point because yes it would definitely help visual learners or students who have trouble comprehending or visualizing a text, but could it hinder other students who do comprehend it?? I know that when I am reading fiction, I like to visualize the characters, their expressions, their relationships for myself. I like to conjure up what is happening and what the scene actually looks like. This is exactly why I refuse to see a movie before reading the book. However, in academic reading especially a difficult reading I can see the benefits of having a visual in front of you so that you can see what's going on to help you understand it.

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  8. I have mixed feelings about this debate of "good," or "acceptable" reading. I generally feel that reading and writing, whether online or in print, is reading and writing. I think the main issue arises when we get into gray areas: informal writing and reading spaces (social networks, texting, blogs, etc.). One of the purposes of literary texts in schools is supposedly to model correct reading and writing. Isn't that what you're told when your grammar sucks: "Read, read, read!" (I do believe this works!) However, in society today we are reading, but through a different medium. I agree with Carr that the internet can be extremely distracting and it keeps your mind buzzing in a new way: "Even when I’m not working, I’m as likely as not to be foraging in the Web’s info-thickets' reading and writing e-mails, scanning headlines and blog posts, watching videos and listening to podcasts, or just tripping from link to link to link. (Unlike footnotes, to which they’re sometimes likened, hyperlinks don’t merely point to related works; they propel you toward them.)" Do we "trip from link to link," accidentally, or is there something innate within us "propelling" us "toward" other links? This is something I always think about: do I encourage / appreciate the distractions, or am I so used to them I don't even notice I can't stay on one page for more than a few minutes? It's difficult to answer, and I imagine that students face the same difficulty, except their situation is worse because they grew up with the internet. Can they imagine a world without it?


    Nicole said she asked her students what book they liked - since I started grad school I have been using the word "text" more often than the word "book." The reason for this is that the word "text" seems to be more accurate in today's society. Nicole, do you think that one word would make a difference to your class? Could it have led to a conversation about texts (I'm assuming they would have asked you, "What do you mean?"), and do you think this conversation could have given you wiggle room to start a Gus-like conversation with your students? Would that type of discussion be helpful to them? Would it give them confidence in their own reading and writing because they are constantly reading and writing, even if they're not aware of it?

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  9. It’s true that Smartphones can certainly be a distraction in the classroom. I always find it embarrassing when suddenly my Family Guy theme song ringtone is blaring in the middle of a lecture. Oops! Yes, there is a time and a place for everything. Yet, I wouldn’t necessarily reduce a cellphone or Smartphone as an entirely negative thing when thinking of it as an extension of our selves. If anything, platforms such as Facebook, Blogger, and Twitter are allowing for creativity and even individuality. Most of us when logging into Facebook for example, carefully combine text, images, music links, etc, to create a representation of our selves.These, are presumably informed decisions that require at least some critical thought. Although some representations may be more skewed than others, we have the control to manipulate our own digitally compiled fingerprint. These “fingerprints” then become very personal to us—we are exposing our selves or a part of our self for, at times, hundreds of people to see, and whenever they want to see it. If we choose to strip down our Facebook page for awhile, often times people will proclaim a sense of disconnect from the world—maybe even from their sense of self. I would then say yes, Nicole that electronic technologies have become a necessity,--a necessity to create, recreate, and access information that inform who we are on a daily basis.

    On another note, there is much fear over the future for our younger generations. . In the face of a digitized society, our students are supposedly more susceptible to “bad” reading. There is clear concern amongst literary scholars when looking to the younger generations. One literary expert, Maryanne Wolf, fears that children will not learn to deeply and critically think beyond what is being given from digital media. How then, will we as teachers and educators deal with this passivity in the classroom? Nicole and Jay both expressed a concern over this issue with their student’s ability to critically engage in thought and readings. So, how can we return to a time when students were more likely to engage in active and critical thought? Or, are we truly turning into a search overload nation? Bing claims to have found the answer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFE4paFMhmk&NR=1 If anything, Bing is fulfilling what Google is planning to do—perpetuating some kind of artificial intelligence that knows exactly what you are searching for. Still, Bing, is being marketed by Microsoft as a “decision engine,” where the likely hood of you turning into some robotic creep lost in search engine overload-world like the Dad in the commercial is no longer an issue. Instead if you use Bing, you’re brain will essentially function just as a normal human being--just like the little girl who wants a Smartphone (All I ever wanted was a pony, ugh). So, do we fall for this? Are we truly making informed decisions according to Bing’s key marketing strategy, where visual media interactions are emphasized? Clearly, we are in favor of a visual experience over a textual one. If this is true, then how can we adapt this notion in the classroom? Should we make the readings that we supplement in class more visually stimulating for our students who favor visual stimulation? If the visual experience is what students need to be stimulated, then not only must we remediate our technologies, but even perhaps remediate our teaching strategies to accommodate a new type of learning environment—one that necessitates visual experiences.

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  10. I like how Alem pointed out that in Grad School she used the word text more than book. I found I have been using the word text more than book since I started studying medieval literature during my senior year of undergrad. I started using it more when working with fragments of old poems and records, because they are not not books but they are still worth studying and a lot can be learned from them.

    Speaking of medieval texts, weren't those illuminated? Before the days of the printing press, the scribed who copied and wrote text spent lots of time creating detailed illustrations on the sides, tops and bottoms of the pages they wrote. These large images that are appearing on newspapers and websites are not a new trend but an old one reemerging.

    http://homepage.mac.com/mseffie/assignments/beowulf/book%20of%20kells/kell7.gif

    On a another note, I love the conversation going on about what counted as reading and what did not. I agree with Ian that there are good and bad texts in both mediums. When it comes to determine what is a good text and what is not, the medium is almost irrelevant. You can print something out if you don't want to read it on a screen and a printed book can be scanned and read online or on an e-reader. What matters is the writing and what the reader does with it.

    Some students maybe critically reading blogs and online articles with out us teaching them how. The trick is to get them to realize that and help them figure out how to apply those skills to other forms of text or literature. for the students that aren't doing it already, maybe it would be easier for us to start with the type of text they want to read, then move them from their text to ours, or the academy's...

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  11. Nicole, what a great analysis of reading that image. It's a difficult one.

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  14. Reply Part I

    When we say “good reading,” we almost have to qualify how we are using the term. Good reading might refer to the content and subject matter we choose, physicality of the medium, or how we go about taking on a reading project, such as through a critical lens. Lately, it seems that how we read is more important than what we read or through which means we read it. So it isn’t a question of whether reading images is less valuable to us than reading texts, or if it’s potentially harmful to literacy when the literate are to be faced with more images than texts. It’s a question of whether or not the act of reading images lends itself to challenges, questions, dialectic engagement, and any other activity that good readers of the world already participate in. I say images do lend themselves to such curiosities.

    Sometimes I feel we are holding onto relics as if this isn’t an exciting time to witness things unfold. And it may be as Jay David Bolter says: “the relationship between image and text is unstable” (48). But “unstable” may have unnecessarily bad connotations. As long as there are decoders of information, i.e. consumers, there will be those of us who encode. And until this ceases to be, the human race will write. Perhaps we will not “write” as we do now, which of course is not how we have always written, but we will write. To say that “writing itself is threatened” by a reemergence of communication through images is premature at the very least (48). We’ll still encode meaning and transmit meaning, and as natural processors of the raw data we find within the world, we’ll try to decode meaning. And maybe we find ourselves encoding and reciprocally decoding just as many--if not more for some of us--images than texts these days, and increasingly so as we become more receptive to these new options of making sense of things. But is this in itself bad?

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  15. Reply Part II

    It’s ironic that we developed alphabets from images we once used to represent what we knew of the world, and at our apex of literacy we can see reversion back to the image. Who are we to say we are not achieving the highest level of literacy, to eventually make sense of things through just image alone. We fill in ellipses from what we know of the world whether the holes are found in texts or graphics. And isn’t this the type of work, the type of dialectic ability we are worried about loosing? This type of work will continue for those of us who challenge the world--which is not now, nor has it been a hobby of the masses. And if this is a digression, let’s take a moment to let it bridge us with the realities of how literacy works. Literacy does not sit still: it cannot be contained in rule books, and held captive on the page as if it were ink. Literacy is not the medium, it’s the process. So I must ask, has the process really changed?

    What’s important now is how we consumers of mass media choose to take in the deluge of data we are faced with. What we need to worry about in this age of the fragment, while navigating through a world of interruptions and distractions, is how we stay active participants in experiencing our world. Nicole, you ask if “the visual...mak[es] [us] less likely to analyze the printed word,” and I want to answer with a humbly-affirmed “maybe.” But I want to follow up this maybe with another hypothetical: maybe this doesn’t mean we are collectively heading towards illiteracy, but rather we are absorbing new literacies because of the options technology affords us. And luckily for us, we have all these options when setting out to unearth new things. Not only do we have more options of what we read--and I mean not only genre and form but wether we want to read words or images or both--but the mediums through which we read it. It’s all becoming physically and intellectually accessible. Beyond conjecture, this is what we know has truly changed, our options. Perhaps neurologists can pinpoint how new media “re-wires” our brain, but has it changed the type of work we do when we manipulate meaning from images and texts and between images and texts? Do we not still compare and analogize, sort and categorize, and reflect and relate what we know of the world to new information we come across? This is the type of intellectual work that’s important for the future of literacy, and fortunately enough, it’s what we naturally do.

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