The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing

Posts from — December 2009

Stories at the Edge of the Envelope

la beau sha shoo 1

In 1995 Métis author Maria Campbell published Stories of the Road Allowance People.  As Ron Marken relates in his Foreward to the book, it is a collection of stories “that have come a long journey to be with us from Mitchif[i] through literal translations through the Queen’s Imperial English and back to the earth in village English” (5).  Stories of the Road Allowance People challenges a host of conventions about such issues as purpose of print media, access to publication, language use, story ownership, and how text is read.  Although this is a traditionally printed work the debates it inspires extend to newer writing technologies in ways that may not be immediately obvious.

What is immediately apparent about Stories of the Road Allowance People is that it challenges accepted English usage for recognition as legitimate, and confronts the colonization of Native languages both in common use and (especially) in print.

Maria Campbell has not only used print to preserve the stories of her people but has also used the stories to challenge conventions of print, in order to reproduce and to privilege the authentic voices of the storytellers.  And – in a departure from mainstream print use – the reader is invited to become a listener and even a speaker in interaction with the text.  As Marken says, “we must do more than simply read [these stories] . . . it is essential that we read them with our ears first. Say them aloud.  Listen to them . . . light a fire and speak them to the children and grandchildren” (5).   While turning a modern literary form to serve the forms of a traditionally oral people, Campbell also brings Western print back in touch with its own early history when reading aloud was the norm[ii].

Many writers, not all recent, have departed from formal English to give verisimilitude to portrayals of characters and dialogue from various classes and places.  Of late the practice has prompted discussion – and controversy – about such topics as the motivation for, and the ethics and propriety of, presentation of language in idiosyncratic forms that may historically have been used to belittle or ridicule (dialects, pidgins, accents, etc.); whether using such elements of voice is a privilege restricted to members of the community that is “speaking”; and the effects and desirability of changes in language through adoption of idiom and vocabulary from other languages and from communities outside the mainstream.

But while academics debate, a multitude of ‘writers from the gaps’[iii] have been addressing these and many more questions through their work.  Even a very brief survey of significant titles from the past one hundred years or so shows a steady progression toward deliberate representation of idiomatic speech as an assertion of authentic voice – both characters’ and authors’.  This shift results from an increase both in interest among mainstream writers (and readers) in marginalized cultures, and in participation by traditionally marginalized people in published literature.

And although such discussions may seem to belong in the fields of comparative literature and anthropology, they in fact also need to encompass technology.  Personal computing has brought about many changes in writing technologies – or at least put a variety of such changes in the hands of a large and varied enough mass of users to make them take root and wing.  As a result, many voices that have hitherto been marginalized are gaining expression in the dominant and privileged form – published text – even as they find ways to challenge its traditional claims to supremacy.  Stories of the Road Allowance People provides an example of how this can be done, and its impact and implications are technological as well as literary and social – and show that all three are in fact closely entwined.

Increasingly as text and communications technologies are embraced by users whose needs, intents, and imaginations differ from those of the technologies’ originators, the technologies themselves must be – and are – revisited, reimagined, and reshaped.  In the process the very idea of the user –the ‘audience invoked’ – is reshaped.  Boundaries of common practice and ‘proper usage’ are thus continually changing.  And users become – individually or collectively – designers, thus contributing to changes in design norms – either directly by breaking into mainstream design and production (of software, etc.), or indirectly by creating and/or supporting alternatives that by their grassroots popularity force commercial companies to respond in their own interest.

Some functional aspects of writing technologies affected include spell checking, grammar and style checking, auto-correct options, languages supported, document layout options, and methods of publication.  In a basic example, word processing dictionaries are expanded – to recognize words hitherto outside accepted usage and add new technical terms[iv], but also to include as elements of language such things as company and brand names; this aspect of change in writing technologies could alone sustain a lengthy inquiry and debate.  (A commercial gaze always follows the expansion of boundaries, calculating the potential gains that lie beyond.)

As well, writers in a wider variety of languages are acknowledged and served.  For example, MS Word™ supports (though often only to a limited extent) more languages at each release, having added just between the 2003 and 2007 versions: Alsatian, Amharic, Bashkir, Bosnian, Breton, Cherokee, Dari, Divehi, Edo, Fulfulde, Hausa, Hawaiian, Igbo, Inuktitut, Irish, Kanuri, Kinyarwanda, Luxembourgish, Maori, Mohawk, Oromo, Papiamentu, Pashto, Persian, Quechua, eight additional variants of Sami,  Setswana, Sinhala, Tigrigna, Uighur, Wolof, Yakut, Yiddish, and Yoruba, among others.  Features previously only available in specific language versions are now available across versions, enabling creation of documents not only in multiple languages but using multiple alphabets.  Authors (working singly or collegially) can write across cultural and linguistic boundaries[v].  Market research is one factor driving such advances, but they are also led, pushed, and augmented by users and by smaller software companies that have through successive versions produced add-ons in languages not yet supported.

Document layout options have changed dramatically in recent  years, both as a result of greater flexibility within print-oriented software, and through the rapid growth of alternative methods of publication – or disbursement – of both commercial and private work, print and non-print.  Print media are influenced by digital media in their use of space and image; digital media are increasingly flexible in this respect, carrying aesthetic experimentation skipping across gaps geographic, cultural, political, and ideological.  Fonts have proliferated wildly, responding to both linguistic diversity and artistic inspiration.  Just as voice and language no longer must conform, the very letter itself returns to its individualized and illustrative roots, ranging from undisciplined scrawl to brilliant artistry.

Stories of the Road Allowance People also anticipated a wave of renewed interest in aural aspects of literature, which digital technologies have both ridden and driven.  As video and audio media increasingly supplement traditional written forms in both formal and informal work, writing and writing technologies have increasingly taken on spontaneity, informality and immediacy hitherto denied them.

Peter Elbow – writing in 1985 – contrasts writing and speech:

Where the intention to speak usually results automatically in the act of speech, writing almost always involves delay and effort.  Writing forces us not only to form the letters, spell the words, and follow stricter rules of correctness (than speech); we must also get into the text itself all those cues that readers might need who are not present to us as we write, who don’t know the context for our words… (68).

Comparing the spontaneity and celebration of learning to speak with the travails of learning to write, Elbow observes that “[s]tudents can never feel writing as an activity they engage in as freely, frequently, or spontaneously as they do in speech” (69).

Works such as Stories of the Road Allowance People directly challenge many of these conditions of writing, and the conventions upon which they are based, in ways that anticipate new writing technologies soon to follow.  Media, forms and environments that create context, provide cues, combine forms, and flout strict rules subvert conventions of writing not only in their form, but in their spirit.  The writing that may result can be nearly as “free, frequent and spontaneous” as speech.

la beau sha shoo excerpt 2 no checks bright

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[i] Mitchif, or Michif, is the language of the Métis. To hear a sample, visit the Louis Riel Institute’s website: http://www.louisrielinstitute.com/education/michiflanguage/24-grant-threebears-improved.mp3

[ii] See https://www.vista.ubc.ca/webct/urw/lc5116011.tp0/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct?JSESSIONIDVISTA=zYlfLSwS3nVMClQnWjL6dX6gyw31tGwj1Jb8nm9Q4YZh9QrZvRzj!-1364924364!node02.vista.ubc.ca!20001!-1!292784358!node03.vista.ubc.ca!20001!-1

[iii] An oblique reference to Voices From the Gaps, an excellent though rather erratically maintained resource on women writers of colour.  http://voices.cla.umn.edu/

[iv] An ironic example of a disconnect in this respect can be found in Jay David Boulter’s Writing Space, on page 74, in the heading to Table 4.1:  it is clear from the text that the table should be headed “Emoticons and Their Intended Meanings”… was this passed by a human or a digital editor?

bolter_emoticons

[v] My thanks are due to Chris Pratley, General Manager, Microsoft Office Labs, for providing information on the progression of language support in Microsoft Office.

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Boulter, Jay David. Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001.

Campbell, Maria, trans. Stories of the Road Allowance People. Penticton: Theytus Books, 1995.

Elbow, Peter. The Shifting Relationships Between Speech and Writing. Composition in Four Keys: Inquiring into the Field.  Wiley, Mark, Barbara Gleason, and Louise Wetherbee Phelps, eds. Mountainview, CA: Mayfield P Co., 1996.

Marken, Ron. Foreward. Stories of the Road Allowance People. Penticton: Theytus Books, 1995.

Pratley, Chris. Personal email. 1 December, 2009.

Rubenstein, Dan. Big Brother is Spell-checking You. http://www.alternet.org/media/11130?page=entire

December 3, 2009   No Comments

U-Learning

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U-learning seems to be another interesting terminology in the field of education. I saw it first time when I was reading “The World Is Open” book. In that book, Bonk (2009) states that U-learning takes advantage of the capabilities of mobile and wireless technologies to support a seamless and pervasive connection to learning without explicit awareness of the technologies being relied upon. In fact, if you are using technology to learn without reflecting on it, you are likely experiencing u-learning. With the increasing mobility, connectivity, and versatility of educational technologies, there is the potential to devise environments where learning is taking place all the time and for anybody seeking it. And when options for learner participation (not just learning consumption) are added in, learning becomes a more personalized and customized 24/7 experience.

By considering that similar definitions can also be found in other on-line learning fields, in fact, is U-Learning another charming terminology for online education to beat the classroom? Or is it a really new terminology that we need? When I was thinking about these questions I just remembered Bolter saying “hypertextual writing can go further, because it can change for each reader and with each reading”. He also mentioned that technology transforms our social and cultural attitudes toward uses of technology. I think Bolter had predicted today’s learning technologies in 1991, at least in principles.

On the other hand Bolter emphasized that “in the late age of print, however, we are concerned not that there is too much in our minds to get down on paper, but rather that there is too much information held in electronic media for our minds to assimilate”.

Have internet and online technologies, with too much information, changed our minds to assimilate? I also feel that the massive amount of information available to us, from time to time, doesn’t permit us to even think critically to select or make a decision correctly. Maybe, due to lack of time and daily increase in information we have to trust to limited sources or as Bolter said, assimilate our minds. My search in this topic led me to one of the most interesting articles in this area by Salomon and Almog (1998). They started a  discussion about “Butterfly” defect.

butterfly-deffect

Salomon and Almog believed that not all of the potential effects with and of learning by means of multimedia and hypermedia are likely to be positive. One of the outstanding attributes of typical hypermedia programs, as well, as the internet, is their nonlinear, association-based structure. One item just leads to another, and one is invited to wander from one item to another, lured by the visual appeal of the presentation. In fact, surfing the internet or hypermedia programs is a good example of a shallow exploratory behaviour, as distinguished from deeper search, a “butterfly-like” hovering from item to item without really touching.

11 years later, in “Lost in Cyburbia”, Harkin (2009) also notes that a problem in the online world is the quick nature of messaging and feedback on Web 2.0 sites. According to him the problem is that people pass on and respond quickly, often giving little time or attention to reflect on the information at hand. He furthers by commenting that users are often in a state of continuous partial attention.

learner

Similar ideas considering a generation of multi taskers who lack focus, can be found in different literature. Bolter, in someway or other, responds to these types of questions by saying “the supporters of hypertext may even argue that hypertext reflects the nature of the human mind itself-that because we think associatively, not linearly, hypertext allows us to write as we think”. He added that “Writing technologies are never external agents that invade and occupy the minds of their users”. New studies by Jones and Khan (2010) supports Bolter that web-based technologies facilitate collaborative knowledge building, development of new ideas and constructs by bringing people with divergent views together.

It seems that learners, and especially young people, should be exposed to all the options they have, learn a bit about each one and from each other and then choose the fields they would like to spend more time perusing  in depth studies of. In addition to being pretty democratic, this will also increase their perceptions of learning and motivation to learn. Perhaps, sometimes instead of classic learning theories, a fun theory ! is more appropriate to follow by young generation.

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References

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing Space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. Mahway, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Harkin, J. (2009). Lost in Cyburbia. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf.

Jones, N., Khan, O. (2010). “Using Web-Based Technologies and Communities of Practice for Transformative Hybrid and Distance Education” in Web-Based Learning Solutions for Communities of Practice: Developing Virtual Environments for Social and Pedagogical Advancement. Information Science Reference. USA.

Salomon, J., Almog, T. (1998). Educational Psychology and Technology: A Matter of Reciprocal Relations, Teachers College Record, no.2, 222-41, Wint ’98.

December 3, 2009   No Comments

Connections

In trying to make some final connections between my own research on Graphic Novels, increased literacy and multimodal texts, I read a few of the projects that seemed most relevant to me.  What follows are my thoughts. (Just pretend the italicized words are my thought bubbles.)

I just want to remind myself to consult Drew Murphy’s Wiki on using Digital storytelling for the reluctant reader.  It might be an interesting contrast to what I did for my project.

http://wiki.ubc.ca/User:DrewRyan#Creating_Classroom_Community_Through_Digital_Storytelling

I turned out his project was more about engaging students in storytelling using digital media, rather than getting them to read more.  I think that would be an excellent next step to promoting reading with graphic novels and other types of visual media.  As I thought when I read the title, this is an excellent example of a further remediation of text.  As Bolter describes it, one technology building on the other.  In the same way, the skills learned using multimodal texts allow the reader to progress onto the next, more sophisticated media.  The use of digital texts also allows even more input and creativity from the writer (consumer as producer).

This quote from Noah Burdett: “With the need for speed a literate person needs to be able to think critically about the material in terms of its relevance and its authority.”  NoahBurdett_ETEC540_majorproject  http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept09/2009/11/30/final-project-literacy-and-critical-thinking/

“To become multiliterate “What is also required is the mastery of traditional skills and techniques, genres and texts, and their applications through new media and new technologies” (Queensland, 2004). “from Learning Multiliteracies by Carmen Chan

Philip Salembier discussed the New Literacy and Multiliteracies in From one literacy, to many, to one.

He really explains how we have to be prepared as teachers and parents to understand that literacy means more than reading and writing and that digital literacy is not just understanding how to navigate the internet.  All of these are aspects of the new literacy, along with social networking skills.

Fun interactive story http://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:ETEC540/2009WT1/Assignments/MajorProject/ItsUpToYou by Ryan Bartlett.  Might use this style to get the seniors to do a research project on Social Injustice.

Finally, just because this one blew me away! From Tracy Gidinski http://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept09/2009/11/29/the-holocaust-and-points-of-view/ I hope I can use this style at some point either with my Marketing or International Business class or perhaps even a simpler storyline for an FSL course.

December 2, 2009   No Comments

Rip Mix Feed – Delphine’s Touch

View more presentations from Yassie.

Hi  Everyone

Though late in time, I am finally posting my RipMixFeed

I am so glad that I finally see how the slideshare could work in education especially in my department. Once we get the hang of it, it should be fairly easy to work with.

It’s just the story of an eventful year and half for me. I hope the narration will be audible.

Delphine

December 2, 2009   No Comments

Hyperculture

The last two chapters of Bolter (2001) were an excellent choice to close our readings.  As an aside, I would like to say how much I enjoyed the sequencing and intertextuality of the readings in this course.  Most courses I have taken offered carefully chosen readings around the key ideas and topics, but none linked them so successfully and recursively as was done here.  It was helpful to my own thinking and enjoyable to read Bolter on Ong, Kress cited in Dobson and Willinsky, and so on.  I could cite such pairings all the way back to the first readings.  It’s one of those subtle displays of good pedagogy that makes me wonder if I could do a better job selecting and sequencing the readings in my classes.

It was inevitable.

It was inevitable.

To return to Bolter, however, the argument that the technology used for writing changes our relationship to it (p. 189) seems almost self-evident.  I know that my approach to writing changes when the tool is a pen versus a word processor.  And it is largely for this reason that I avoid text messages.  I worry how typing on a tiny keyboard with my thumbs to any great extent would affect my relationship with writing (which is already sufficiently adversarial).  The discussion of ego and the nature of the mind itself as a writing space was also interesting.  I’m not sure that I can follow where Bolter leads when he suggests that if the book was a good means of making known the workings of the Cartesian mind, hypertext remediates the mind (p. 197).  That, it seems to me, accords too little to the ego and too much to networked communications—at least as they currently exist.

Bolter is certainly correct, however, when he asserts that electronic technologies are redefining our cultural relationships (p. 203).  This is especially true for my students.  Writing in 2001, Bolter preceded Facebook by at least three years, but he could have been doing Jane Goodall-style field research in my school (watching students use laptops, netbooks and handheld devices to wirelessly access Facebook) when he suggests that we are rewriting “our culture into a vast hypertext” (p. 206).  My own efforts at navigating the online reading and writing spaces of the course were, I fear, somewhat hampered by having lived most of my life in “the late age of print.”

I didn’t post a lot of comments, although I attempted to chime in on the Vista discussions.  What I realized late in the game was that I should have been more active in posting comments to the Weblog.  The strange thing is that I enjoyed reading the weblog posts—and especially enjoyed reading the comments people made about my weblog postings.  For some reason, however, that didn’t translate to reciprocating with comments in that space.  Perhaps it’s because I’m not a blogger or much of a blog reader outside of my MEd classes.  I still prefer more traditional (read: professional, authoritative) sources for news and opinion.  Though, truth be told, I probably read as much news and opinion online as in print. It doesn’t hurt that the New York Times makes most of its content available online for free and that I have EBSCO and Proquest access at work.  It might also be because the other online courses I’ve taken in the past two years tended to use the Vista/Blackboard discussion space as the discussion area, so I think of that as the “appropriate” space for that type of writing.  It’s fascinating to analyze one’s own reading and writing behaviours and assumptions in light of what we’ve read and discussed.  It also takes me again to my own practice as a teacher.  When I next use wikis, for example, with my students, I will try to devise a way (survey, discussion tab in the wiki, etc.)  to find out how they believe their previous online reading and writing experiences influence their interactions and contributions.

References

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

December 2, 2009   2 Comments

Social Media: Changing Perceptions of Authorship, Writing and Publishing

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With the advent of social media tools, such as webblogging, social bookmaking, social writing platforms and RSS search engines, our perceptions of writing, publishing and authorship are experiencing dramatic change.  How will these changes affect values placed on quantity verses quality, public verses private works, ownership and the ability to create static self contained works?  We are in the midst of a transformation which will have significant effects on how we view writing and authorship.  In her book, Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation,” Anne Gentle states that through participation in social media “where you can either contribute or motivate others to contribute, you are empowering collaborative efforts unlike any seen in the past.”  (2009, 105)  In a world of the Internet where anyone can publish and gatekeepers are few and far between, how will the effects of this transition be felt?

 Social writing platforms such as Wikis and multi-authored bookmark pages have moved value from individual work to group collaborative wisdom.  In these new forms of knowledge output, how will we see authorship and value expertise?  Wikipedia offers a collaborative outlet to knowledge demonstration and collection, but without specific gatekeepers regulating content in which “the writer can be the ‘content curator,’ someone who assembles collections based on themes.”  (Gentle, 106) 

Widely viewed and accessible, Wikis offer both closed and open formats, providing choices for creators in terms of degree of acceptable alteration. (Gentle, 2009)  Collaborative knowledge building is becoming increasingly valued as users are “drawing on the wisdom of crowds, [whereby] users contribute content to the work of others, leading to multiple-authored works whose authorship grows over time.”  (Alexander, 2009, 153)  The result of this co-authored collaborative writing is an experience not bound by physical or temporal limitations.  Anyone with basic technological know-how can create a Wiki page and author his work, as “starting a wiki-level entry is far easier than beginning an article or book.” (Alexander, 2009), and anyone with a basic technological know-how can infiltrate and alter content.  Modern social technologies may invite alterations and commentaries because the “bar to entry is lower for the average user.  A user doesn’t have to author an entire site-just proffer a chunk of content.” (Alexander, 2009, 40)

Shared knowledge online, open to micro-commentary or complete overhaul by fellow Web users, is becoming the norm.  Alexander argues that it is “probably inevitable that intellectual property holders will initiate lawsuits investigating perceived misappropriations.” (Alexander, 42)  The concept of author control is altered as self-publishers relinquish a large degree of control over their work to others who may be more or less knowledgeable on a subject and carry a varying view point on the subject matter.  Contributors in social media spaces need to be willing to restrain from complete domination and control over their writing. (Gentle, 2009)  The UBC Wiki site warns users to “note that all contributions to UBC Wiki may be edited, altered, or removed by other contributors. If you do not want your writing to be edited mercilessly, then do not submit it here.”  If users do not wish to have the content open to scrutiny and alterations, the UBC Wiki is not the place to post work. 

Web 2.0 (also referred to as social media and widget) technologies offer choices between programs best suited for individual user needs depending on the level of openness intrinsic to the technology.  Blogging technologies can offer completely open platforms for micro-responses, Google Docs require user invitation to join in the collaborative efforts, and while “a number of wiki platforms permit users to lock down pages from the editing of others” (Alexander, 2009), most Wikis offer open editing possibilities.  Creators can decide whether or not to create an online community, a discussion group, or a folksonomy of tagging.  (Alexander, 2009)  While not all Web 2.0 technologies can be considered online communities, defined by Gentle as “a group of people with similar goals and interests connect and share information using web tools” (103), Alexander (2006) argues that “openness and micro-content combine in a larger conceptual strand…that sees users as playing more of a foundational role in information architecture” in which participants benefit from the collaboration and sharing of information. (Gentle)  Levels of openness can affect both process and product by establishing credited contributors or allowing ‘free’ contribution, where “’free’ can mean freedom rather than no cost.” (Gentle)  Despite ‘free’ access intrinsic to many social media platforms, “particular types of users are more likely to seek out online communities for information-competent, proficient performers, and expert performers… [over] novices and advanced beginners.”  (Gentle, 106)

In terms of asynchronous collaborative writing, the development time line may be short or long, with time spans ranging from days to years, or without a definitive end date.  Wikis and other open-knowledge forums have a long end date that makes monitoring more difficult.  A Wiki created one year may not be altered until the next, making up-to-date monitoring a challenge.  This issue of long verses short term asynchronous communication allows technologies such as Wikis which can be altered indefinitely, very different qualitatively from asynchronous working documents such as Google docs.  Programs such as Google Docs allow for continuous asynchronous involvement but generally are developed with an end goal in mind and abandoned as goals are completed.  Does this alter the value placed on authorship between short and longer term collaborative writing forums?  I would argue the difference is felt in the degree of control the writers can feel in their writing and production. 

Online writing has also created a new forum for publishing both in terms of quality and quantity.  Writers used to have the option of sharing, but not necessarily publishing and reaching audiences was difficult without publication capabilities.  Online writing, in the form of blogging, novels, poetry sites, and article submission has opened the doors for writers in terms of quantity.  Alexander states that “[m]any posters to social networking sites publish content for the world to see and use.  The blogosphere is a platform for millions of people to write to a global audience.” (Alexander, 2008, 153)  Technological know-how can now allow for publication beyond the relatively closed circles of the past.  Authorship venues where writers can “voice an opinion, give an honest review, and build an article or diagram or a picture or a video, perhaps by taking on a writing role [allows writers to] feel autonomous and happiness follows.”  (Gentle, 110) 

Online writing allows for self publishing which ignores the gatekeeper role of publishing houses.  What will the implications be for writers who want to pursue formal publishing methods?  Formerly, in order to have your work read by a large audience, publishing, whether self of external, was the only means to mass distribution of materials.  Web publishing now allows for mass distribution without the quality control of publishing houses but will this make formal publishing increasingly difficult and selective as the quantity of formal publishing houses diminishes and publishing standards alter?

As auto-publishing explodes on the Internet, users are finding novel ways to personalize the Web, effectively ‘writing’ themselves into the World Wide Web.  Since the onset of the Internet, search engines have moved from an emphasis on macro searching to both macro and micro searching.  Searching on the internet is becoming more personal and independent as users utilise micro search engines such as Blogpulse, Feedster, and Daypop (Alexander) which search based on users’ interests.  As search engines move from massive searches, which result in millions of hits, to micro searches, resulting in hits limited to parametres set by the user, the Internet becomes more approachable. (Golder and Huberman)  In a sense we are raising the bar of effective levels of navigational abilities where users need to have a purpose in their Web navigation.  Programs that are limited to searching blogs, or are program specific such as the soon to be released Google micro-blogging search engine, allow for more user control, directed searching, and stream-lined responses. 

To make this point clearer I will use a bookstore analogy.  In approaching a bookstore and attempting to navigate within it, a visitor is aware of categories, subcategories and alphabetization.  These systems of organization also allow for micro searching based on subject and interest within the physical structure of a bookstore.  Micro search engines allow for a similar type of searching of materials.  Users can opt to search a certain category as well as response type.  Bookstores can also differ from one another qualitatively in terms of audience, geared towards a specific audience such as children, young adults, cooks, teachers, trades people, academics, sports fans, and fantasy enthusiasts.  A fantasy enthusiast is not going to look for fantasy material within a book store based on cooking.  Micro search engines allow for a similarly controlled searches.  Book enthusiasts may enter a mega bookstore which carries a wide variety of books from nearly every genre.  Once a specific interest is established, however, the book enthusiast may choose to frequent a more specialized venue, much the same as a micro search engine user may choose to search in a very specific manner over mass broad searches offered through such search engines as Google or Yahoo. (Golder and Huberman) 

With small scale search possibilities come other forms of individualized web applications such as social bookmarking and tagging.  Where “traditionally…categorizing or indexing is either performed by an authority, such as a librarian, or else derived from the material provided by the authors of the documents…collaborative tagging is the practice of allowing anyone…to freely attach keywords or tags to content.” (Golder and Huberman, 1)  Users are able to tag sites that are of interest, creating personalized collections through such applications as del.ici.ous, and allowing users to browse information that has been categorized by others. (Golder and Huberman, 1)  Web activity becomes more focused as these programs allow users to streamline their activities through sites of interests and applicability to personal interests. (Golder and Huberman)  Social media applications such as Tweetups, are effective in “enabling people to feel related to one another.” (Gentle, 110)  Social tagging draws upon collaborative authorship as users work together to tag images, sites, blogs, and ideas in terms of applicability, personal experience and developed networks. (Golder and Huberman) 

The formerly impersonal World Wide Web is becoming more personalized, creating ownership amongst users in a way that impersonal surfing could not allow.  Micro blogging allows users to comment in limited characters, tagging allows for personalized web experiences and collaborative writing allows for knowledge building which transgresses time and physical space.  While the World Wide Web is continuously expanding, new social technologies are allowing for increased authorship through co-authorship, freedom in terms of the ability to freely voice oneself, and individual responses through collaborative experiences. (Golder and Huberman)   Changes will occur in terms of mainstream traditional forms of publishing, knowledge acquisition and authorship, but it is the Internet user who is leading the changes through technological demands and adaptation of new technologies which reflect in a practical application manner, the needs of current Internet users. 

References:

Alexander, B. (2006)  Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning?”  Retrieved from: http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Review/EDUCAUSEReviewMagazineVolume41/Web20ANewWaveofInnovationforTe/158042

Alexander, B. (2008) “Web 2.0 and emergent multiliteracies” Retrieved from:  http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all?content=10.1080/00405840801992371

Gentle, A.  (2009)  Conversation and Community: The social web for documentation”  Retrieved from:  http://pegmulligan.com/2009/11/28/book-review-conversation-and-community-by-anne-gentle/

Golder, S., and Huberman, B.  (2005)  The structure of collaborative tagging systems.  Retrieved from: http://www.hpl.hp.com/research/idl/papers/tags/tags.pdf

Hayes, T., and Xun, G.  (2008)  The effects of computer-supported collaborative learning on students’ writing performance.  Retrieved from:  http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1599852&dl=GUIDE&coll=GUIDE&CFID=64333662&CFTOKEN=24459724

Rogers, G.  (2009) “Coming soon: Google’s micro-blogging search engine.”  Retrieved from:  http://blogs.zdnet.com/Google/?p=1450

Wikipedia: Social media.  Retrieved from:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media

Wiki:  UBC.  Accessed at:  http://wiki.ubc.ca/Main_Page

Image taken from: http://ibat.org/files/featured/techlounge3.jpg

December 1, 2009   1 Comment

Connections & Reflections: A Visual Learning Gestalt

Hello People,
Making Connections:
Unfortunately, I have not been able to post in proper sequences this term, so please forgive the late entry here. Also am hoping the size of the visual works better, it shows up fine on the preview….am hoping it does not shrink as it did on my last post[!]

An attempt at a visual gestalt: Reflections on ETEC 540

This is my attempt at constructing a visual representation of my own personal learning trajectory through ETEC 540. I really believe that the more complex the information, the more important the visual component [as a way of communicating] becomes.

Ideas around Connections: New Knowledge
The ideas I was working with here including trying to map out how course content [the four modules] and topic areas [the remediation of writing and the legacy of orality] tracked through western cultural and political history, fused with my own prior knowledge and with the incredible resources available [including other students and online media] to create new knowledge for me.

Fusion of Content:
Content is so rich in this course [including contributions from fellow students] that all that is shown here are broad strokes and highlights of major subjects, authors and texts within ETEC 540. It is not meant as a comprehensive representation of the course, but more as a visual aid, a conceptual window into one student’s personal learning path, reflections that fused with conceptual connections, to form a kind of visual gestalt.

Thank you! to everyone for all the information shared, learned a tremendous amount from those around me in this course, as usual.
Yours,
Barb
Here is the Visual:

ETEC540ConnectionsReflections09

December 1, 2009   4 Comments

Tragedy of the Creative Commons

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The title is a play on words based on a well-known puzzle.

December 1, 2009   2 Comments

Rip.Mix and Feed Animoto

I opted to use Animoto.com for my rip.mix.feed contribution. It’s a Web 2.0 tool that bills itself as “the end of slideshows.”  It allows the user to combine images and music (which you supply or choose from their selections) in a type of music video/mashup.  The site takes care of  transitions between the images using a variety of effects adjusting timing to the chosen music.  The free version (which I used) is limited to 30-second compositions.  All of the images I used, apart from the first one, I found in Flickr searches for images with creative commons licensing. (I have a list of all the Flickr URLs and if anyone is interested I can post it as an attachment.)  The start image was generated with the Bart Simpson chalk board generator.   The number of images one can squeeze into 30 seconds varies somewhat depending on the music selected, but is around 15-18.  Fast-paced tunes show the slides more quickly and use a few more images than slower ones.  The site allows for easy remixes, and it’s possible to add and remove images until the desired effect is achieved.  It’s also possible to get stuck endlessly tweaking while looking for the ‘perfect’ edit (don’t ask me how I know…).  I’ll post links to two versions that use the same images but different music.  The first, which I not very creatively called Text technologies 1, uses 30 seconds of a song called Finally by the Sunday Runners.  The second, Text technologies v.2, uses a faster indie piece called 1234 by Fake which I enjoy for its lyrics: “I’m just sick of my school, and my teacher’s a fool..” Certainly, many Web 2.0 tools are fun and engaging.  Every time I (re-)make this realization I tell myself that I have to get more creative about encorporating them into my lessons!

December 1, 2009   2 Comments

Making [Re]Connections

This is one of the last courses I will be taking in the program and as the journey draws to a close, this course has opened up new perspectives on text and technology. Throughout the term, I have been travelling (more than I expected) and as I juggled my courses with the travels, I began to pay more attention to how text is used in different contexts and cultures. Ong, Bolter and the module readings were great for passing time on my plane rides – I learned quite a lot!

I enjoyed working on the research assignment where I was able to explore the movement from icon to symbol. It gave me a more in-depth look at the significance of visual images, which Bolter discusses along with hypertext. Often, I am more used to working with text in a constrained space but after this assignment, I began thinking more about how text and technologies work in wider, more open spaces. By the final project, I found myself exploring a more open space where I could be creative – a place that is familiar to me yet a place that has much exploration left to it – the Internet.

Some of the projects and topics that were particularly related to this new insight include:

E-Type: The Visual Language of Typography

A Case for Teaching Visual Literacy – Bev Knutson-Shaw

Language as Cultural Identity: Russification of the Central Asian Languages – Svetlana Gibson

Public Literacy: Broadsides, Posters and the Lithographic Process – Noah Burdett

The Influence of Television and Radio on Education – David Berljawsky

Remediation of the Chinese Language – Carmen Chan

Braille – Ashley Jones

Despite the challenges of following the week-to-week discussions from Vista to Wiki to Blog and to the web in general, I was on track most of the time. I will admit I got confused a couple of times and I was more of a passive participant than an active one. Nevertheless, the course was interesting and insightful and it was great learning from many of my peers. Thank you everyone.

December 1, 2009   1 Comment

This is it!

I must be honest and admit that I simply could not take in all the assigned readings, the forum discussions, the wiki building, and the community weblog; however, I was able to learn a lot from what I could absorb.   Reading Ong and Bolter were some of my favorite activities in ETEC540 for a couple reasons.  The first reason was that I really enjoyed seeing the contrasting views of these two authors and the second reason was that the reading was on paper.  Even though I have a nice new monitor, my eyes could only handle so much digital reading and I found myself craving reading an actual book.  That was an interesting realization as we were learning about different writing spaces and the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Before reading Bolter, I found myself seeing eye-to-eye with Ong.  His great divide perspective about technological determinism is so black and white and makes sense.  Then we read Bolter and his humanistic perspective not definitively labeling a cause and effect relationship on the remediation of writing was slightly disconcerting at first.  Being more of a humanitarian myself, I have come to agree more with Bolters ideas than Ong’s.  By understanding their contrasting views of text technologies, I was able to gain a solid understanding of the implications of the evolution of writing all the way from papyrus to Web 2.0.  To be honest, I as slightly impatient learning about all this history while I was reading about it, but I am glad to have as good of perspective on writing as I do now.

The collection of material created by my classmates on the community weblog is incredible.  There are so many creative and innovative ideas incorporating much of what we have read about and lots of other knowledge brought to the table from outside this course.  Our blog is a good example of the wisdom of the crowds and thankfully most contributors have added appropriate tags and have categorized them accordingly making it easy to find connections in the contributions.  I only wish I had access to our community weblog indefinitely for an instant source of inspiration!

Thanks to all of you for sharing all your knowledge and making this a very enjoyable course.

December 1, 2009   3 Comments