The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing


I have thoroughly enjoy ETEC 540 I wish I had more time to mull over some of the ideas- but taking 3 courses don’t allow for that pleasure.

For my connections I decided to look at different postings, commentaries, projects and papers on images and how these are changing the way we think. .

In the discussion forum people have lamented the decline in the prominence of text and the rise of the image. Comments like “ images tend not to promote higher level cognitive functioning”, or communication is suffering as a result of the rise in images reflect many people’s fears of the rise of the image. Bolter says that images lack “narrative power”. .

Personally I think we should celebrate the rise of the image and what an exciting dimension it will bring to our understanding of the world. .

Tracy Gidinski in her final project “The Holocaust and Points of View” begins with an image taken during the holocaust because it “allows for students to connect with the past with people who where roughly their own age.” The students could have read text written by students the same age- for example The Diary of Anne Frank, but I doubt it would provide the same impact this photo has. She goes on to say that it will also allow for students to see different points of view. This is interesting because often text does not allow for various points of view- only the one the author presents. Kress (2005) says that images are far less open to interpretation. Rich Biel says, “I would argue that images can be manipulated to highlight different aspects of the images and downplay others and thus lead viewers to interpret the images in a particular way. This requires viewers to interpret- a higher level thinking skill.!.

In a post supporting the image Maureen Coyne quotes Driscoll,” Graphic representations have been particularly effective in facilitating encoding and memory storage of information” (Driscoll, 2000, p.106). .

In addition, graphics help learners acquire “structural knowledge, which represents relationships between concepts in a content domain” (Driscoll, 2000, p.106). As a result, I think a decline in textual modes of representation is not such a bad thing considering graphics help learners learn easier..

Sarah Wood in her research project Photography :History and Cultural Impact says “Photography (image) is a more powerful medium than written or oral discourse to communicate messages of social importance. The visual stimulus forces people to look and decide for themselves what the truth is. I think this makes a very important point-even if text allows for more thoughtful consideration-it does little good if it doesn’t attract peoples attention. .

In the book On Photography Susan Sontag (2001)makes a valid point about the rise of the image or more what she perceives as the decline in print literacy. She says at one time reading and writing were activities for the elite. In order to democratize the world, the goal for universal literacy has been pursued. She feels that the only ones who consider traditional literacy to be superior are academics and so once again they will become a medium only for the elite. While I think there is truth in this, I believe that while traditional literacy is democratizing, I think visual literacy is even more so. Sarah Wood says “ Photography reduces language barriers and no longer requires the audience to be literate to decipher the message.” .

While I agree that the image is becoming more powerful that text I don’t think we need to worry. Just as we teach people to read and think critically about what they read, we need to teach people how to read images. I appreciate Caroline Faber’s post ,”While I do appreciate that there are times when the exclusive use of either photos or text is appropriate, it seems more that the coupling of the two results in the greatest degree of understanding.”.

Through the weeks we have explored the changes in communication from orality to hypertext. There is no doubt that each one has changed our culture significantly and so to will the next ones. And we will always have those who react to the change with criticism (which is not a bad thing). Change is what humans do best. We will perhaps stumble and make errors but ultimately we will adjust to the changes until the next one comes along.


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