The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

Typefaces Galore

Typefaces Galore, originally uploaded by Kevin Lawver.

My name is Natalie Giesbrecht and I am a Distance Learning Program Development Specialist (aka the fancy name for instructional designer) for the online distance education unit at the University of Guelph. I work with faculty and instructors to design and develop online courses for degree students and adult learners. Prior to this, I guided a team of designers and copyright assistants to produce and distribute course materials. As for education, my degree is from the University of Guelph, where I studied photography, video, sculpture and art history.

Over the last 10 years I have developed a fascination for graphic design and typography. So when thinking about the words text and technology, for me the printing press naturally comes to mind. Thus the photo I choose depicts wood letterforms used in letterpress printing. Letterpress printing is certainly both an art and a craft – though now a dying skill.

Last summer I was lucky enough to get a tour of Coach House Press in Toronto, Ontario and an opportunity to try my hand at letterpress printing. From this experience I learned how much time and accuracy is needed in order to perfectly typeset a final printed product. Consideration is given to every aspect of each letter on a page. Most importantly quality checks on the finished pieces are always done to ensure that the reader has the best experience possible. With the speed and ease of computer publishing, I have a whole new appreciation for traditional ways of printing.

ETEC*540 is my 9th course! During this semester I am interested in exploring the convergence of old and new technologies and how this affects literacy – particularly printed books versus e-books. I am also interested in how new media, mobile and social technologies impact how we communicate – the way we read, write, find and understand information – and how this impacts online education.

With the variety of backgrounds and skill sets of all of us in this course, I think this will be a challenging and rewarding semester!

September 10, 2009   No Comments

Typesetting the old fashion way!

This is a blog posting from Jeff, one of your instructors. You’ve likely read some bio information about me in the course introduction already. I wanted to also post a blog entry here to get us all started with our class introductions.

This early 19th century photograph of typesetters nicely depicts the close relationship between literacy and technology. The two men sitting before rows of dirty lead type, have their hands covered in the industrial processes by which books or newspapers of the time were published. I now have in my kitchen a similar wood tray that was once used by typesetters such as these. It is an antique, an artifact from a different time when type had to be set by hand. It holds old corks and knick-knacks (and a lot of dust) and is a nice reminder of how dramatically can change the means by which we produce, reproduce and consume texts.

An historical perspective is essential in fast changing times such as these, particularly when we are perpetually told that all of our media are new, that books are going the way of the dodo, and that all of children are now digital natives of a country that we can only hope to visit with a visa and an accent. This course will challenge us to think about historical periods in which different technologies have impacted the ways by which people communicated with one another through different media. Hopefully some of the artifacts we encounter, as well as the social and cultural responses to these media, will help us to better analyze the changes currently underway in a world swept with digital media, convergence technologies and networked communications.

I look forward to exploring these issues with all of you in the course!

Jeff

September 7, 2009   No Comments