The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing


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.

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

“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 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 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

Negotiating Spaces and Making Connections

Throughout this course we have interacted with several spaces for reading and writing: our course wiki, the community weblog and the discussion boards. We have also engaged with several spaces outside of the course through peer projects that make use of websites, videos and Web 2.0 technologies. For me, this course has really been about how reading and writing changes within each of these digital spaces.

Bolter (2001) states that “the reflexive character of each technology permits writers to find themselves in the texts they create and therefore to know themselves in new ways” (p. 189). The discussion forums were an essential reflection tool for our course. In the Digital Literacy and Multi-literacies forum, Kathleen Cavanagh reflected on writing in online forums and provided a list of best practices on creating postings that grab the attention of the digital reader (Do Web Browser Affect Literacy, Nov. 21, 2009). In the same thread Erin Gillespie pointed out the importance of generating community for knowledge creation. She also mentioned how ‘the personal touch’, ‘shared insights’ and ‘co-construction of knowledge’ are what makes discussion forums motivating and engaging (Nov. 24, 2009). Drew Murphy followed up by stating that “posting[s] could become a very intense learning experience when people’s ideas are squeezed into a small, community space” (Nov. 24, 2009, para. 2).

Within the short 13-week span of our course, I believe we have built a learning community through simultaneously making use of multiple digital reading and writing spaces. Though work-related challenges limited my participation at times, this environment for me, extended my understanding of the course concepts as my peers provided unique points-of-view. Through individual postings, we collectively pulled together ideas and in turn each person could come away with a new understanding of themselves.

Online, our thoughts can be hyperlinked and thus be flexible, interactive and quickly disseminated. This made me think about how the spaces within our course shift our writings from being informal (discussion threads or weblog comments) to being formal (assignments posted to the weblog, wiki, etc.). However regardless of what is posted, in these content spaces we continually move between being consumers and being producers. Just look at the Community weblog to see exactly how much content, we as a group have generated in such a short amount of time. Then look at all the links we have generated!

In terms of readings, I particularly enjoyed Bolter’s chapter “The Breakout of the Visual” as well as Dobson and Willinsky’s article “Digital Literacy”. With the proliferation of images in multimodal realms there is a need for students today to be multi-literate. In the Multimodality and the Breakout of the Visual forum, Dilip Verma stated that he sees graphic design skills as eventually becoming “as valued as spelling and grammar in the 21st century” (Nov. 5, 2009). In another thread entitled “Visual/Textual?” Kelly Kerrigan reflected on how visual representation has become prominent in society today and that MET courses reflect this transformation by encouraging students to explore different modes of representation. ETEC540 supports this claim as we have had the opportunity to present our work in shared digital spaces, leaving room for us to make use of hypermedia and hyperlinks. It was interesting to peruse the projects where people took a more visual approach:

Final Project – Graphic Novels, Improving Literacy
Catherine Gagnon

A Case For Teaching Visual Literacy – Bev Knutson-Shaw

Pen and Paper Project – Ed Stuerle & Bruce Spencer

Navigating the Hypermedia Sea – Marjorie del Mundo

Hopscotch and Hypertext – Liz Hood

I thoroughly enjoyed this course and appreciated the opportunity to engage frequently in the various spaces of the course.


Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

November 30, 2009   2 Comments

Major Project – E-Type: The Visual Language of Typography

Typography shapes language and makes the written word ‘visible’. With this in mind I felt that it was essential to be cognizant about how my major project would be presented in its final format. In support of my research on type in digital spaces, I created an ‘electronic book’ of sorts, using Adobe InDesign CS4 and Adobe Acrobat 9. Essentially I took a traditionally written essay and then modified and designed it to fit a digital space. The end result was supposed to be an interactive .swf file but I ran into too many technical difficulties. So what resulted was an interactive PDF book.

The e-book was designed to have a sequential structure, supported by a table of contents, headings and page numbering – much like that of a traditional printed book. However, the e-book extends beyond the boundaries of the ‘page’ as the user, through hyperlinks, can explore multiple and diverse worlds of information located online. Bolter (2001) uses the term remediation to describe how new technologies refashion the old. Ultimately, this project pays homage to the printed book, but maintains its own unique characteristics specific to the electronic world.

To view the book click on the PDF Book link below. The file should open in a web browser. If by chance, you need Acrobat Reader to view the file and you do not have the latest version you can download it here:

You can navigate through the document using the arrows in the top navigation bar of the document window. Alternatively you can jump to specific content by using the associated Bookmarks (located in left-hand navigation bar) or by clicking on the chapter links in the Table of Contents. As you navigate through the pages you will be prompted to visit websites as well as complete short activities. An accessible Word version of the essay is also available below.


Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

To view my project, click on the following links:

E-Type: The Visual Language of Typography (PDF Book)

E-Type: The Visual Language of Typography (Word Version)

November 29, 2009   4 Comments

Commentary 3 – text will remain

Hi everyone,

Hayles explains that sometime between 1995 and 1997 a shift in Web literature occurred: before 1995 hypertexts were primarily text based with “with navigation systems mostly confined to moving from one block of text to another (Hayles, 2003).”  Post 1997, Hayles states that  “electronic literature devises artistic strategies to create effects specific to electronic environments (2003).”

Bolter and Kress both contend that technology and text have fused into a single entity. That is, in the latter half of the 20th century, the visual representation of text has been transformed to include visual representations of pictures, graphics, and illustrations. Bolter states that “the late age of print is visual rather than linguistic . . . print and prose are undertaking to remediate static and moving images as they appear in photography, film, television and the computer (Bolter, 2001, p. 48)” Cyber magazines such as Mondo 2000 and WIRED are “aggressively remediating the visual style of television and digital media” with a “hectic, hypermediated style (Bolter, 2001, p. 51).” Kress notes that “the distinct cultural technologies for representation and for dissemination have become conflated—and not only in popular commonsense, so that the decline of the book has been seen as the decline of writing and vice versa (Kress, p.6).” In recent years, perhaps due to increased bandwidth, the WWW has had a much greater presence of multimedia such as pictures, video, games, and animations.  As a result, there is a noticeably less text than what appeared in the first web pages designed for Mosaic in 1993. Furthermore, the WWW is increasingly being inundated with advertisements.

Additionally, text and use of imagery is also evident in magazines that also use visual representations of pictures, graphics, and illustrations as visual aids to their texts. Tabloid magazines such as Cosmo, People, and FHM are filled with advertisements.  For example, the April 2008 edition of Vogue has a total of 378 pages.  Sixty-seven of these pages are dedicated to text, while 378 pages are full-page advertisements.

While there are increasingly more spaces, both in cyberspace and printed works, that contain much imagery and text, there still exist spaces that are, for the most part, text-based.  This is especially evident in academia.  For example, academic journals, whether online or printed, are still primarily text. Pictures, graphics, and illustrations are used almost exclusively to illustrate a concept and, to my knowledge, have not yet included video.  University texts and course-companions are primarily text as well.  Perhaps, as Bolter states, this is because “we still regard printed books and journals as the place to locate our most prestigious texts (Bolter, forthcoming).” However, if literature and humanistic scholarship continues to be printed, it could be further marginalized within our culture (ibid).

Despite there being a “breakout of the visual” in both print and electronic media, Bolter makes a very strong argument that, text can never being eliminated in the electronic form that it currently exists.  That is, all videos, images, animations, and virtual reality all exist on an underlying base of computer code.   What might happen instead is the “devaluation of writing in comparison with perceptual presentation (Bolter, forthcoming).” The World Wide Web is an example of this.  The WWW provides a space in which millions of authors can write their own opinions; Bolter is, in fact, doing this for his forthcoming publication “Degrees of Freedom”.  The difference between Bolter’s text and others is that he uses minimal use of imagery and relies almost entirely on his prose to convey they meaning of his writing.  Be that as it may, Bolter contends that the majority of WWW authors use videos and graphics to illustrate their words (forthcoming). Text will remain a large part of how we learn absorb and communicate information, however, “the verbal text must now struggle to assert its legitimacy in a space increasingly dominated by visual modes of representation (Bolter, forthcoming).”



Bolter, Jay David. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Bolter, Jay David. (forthcoming). Degrees of Freedom. Retrieved November 28, 2009 from

Hayles, Katherine. (2003). Deeper into the Machine: The Future of Electronic Literature. Culture Machine. 5. Retrieved, August 2, 2009, from

Kress, G. (2005). Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning Gunther Kress. Computers and Composition, 22(1), 5–22.

November 29, 2009   1 Comment

Capzles – Rip.Mix.Feed

My original plan was to have a short animation re-invention video presentation on Ahead but the application proved too frustrating to use. I kept the link for anyone to see on my website which is run with WordPress. Ahead is similar to Prezi, which I am more familiar with. However, when I went to the Prezi website to create my project, it was down for maintenance so I resorted to restarting something else in Capzle. The Capzles project contains a slideshow of photos from my recent trip to Hong Kong in late September.

If you cannot see the embedded slideshow above, view my Capzles project here.

November 22, 2009   3 Comments

RipMixFeed using

For the RipMixFeed activity I collected a set of resources using the social bookmarking tool Many of us have already used this application in other courses to create a class repository of resources or to keep track of links relevant to our research projects. What I like about this tool is that the user can collect all of their favourite links, annotate them and then easily search them according to the tagged words that they created. This truly goes beyond the limitations of web browser links.

For this activity I focused on finding resources specifically related to digital and visual literacy and multiliteracies. To do this I conducted web searches as well as searches of other user’s links. As there are so many resources – too many for me to adequately peruse – I have subscribed to the tag ‘digitalliteracy’ in so I connect with others tagging related information. You can find my page at:

Use the tags ‘Module4’ and ‘ETEC540’ to find the selected links or just search using ETEC540 to find all on my links related to this course.

A couple of resources that I want to highlight are:

  1. Roland Barthes: Understanding Text (Learning Object)
    Essentially this is a self-directed learning module on Roland Barthes ideas on semiotics. The section on Readerly and Writerly Texts is particularly relevant to our discussions on printed and electronic texts.

  2. Howard Rheingold on Digital Literacies
    Rheingold states that a lot people are not aware of what digital literacy is. He briefly discusses five different literacies needed today. Many of these skills are not taught in schools so he poses the question how do we teach these skills?

  3. New Literacy: Document Design & Visual Literacy for the Digital Age Videos
    University of Maryland University College faculty, David Taylor created a five part video series on digital literacy. For convenience sake here is one Part II where he discusses the shift to the ‘new literacy’. Toward the end of the video, Taylor (2008) makes an interesting statement that “today’s literacy means being capable of producing fewer words, not more”. This made me think of Bolter’s (2001) notion of the “breakout of the visual” and the shift from textual to visual ways of knowing.

Alexander (2006) suggests that social bookmarking can work to support “collaborative information discovery” (p. 36). I have no people in my Network as of yet. I think it would be valuable to connect with some of my MET colleagues so if you would like share links let’s connect! My username is nattyg.


Alexander, B. (2006). Web 2.0: A new wave for teaching and learning? Educause Review, Mar/Apr, 33-44.

Bolter, J.D. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext and the remediation of print. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Taylor, D. (2008). The new literacy: document design and visual literacy for the digital age: Part II. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from

November 14, 2009   2 Comments

Pioneer of the Visual

I do admit, I love Steven Jobs!  Here is a clip about a new book on his presentation secrets.  Note that he is called a master storyteller (back to our oral roots?) and that he uses visuals (slides) to create maximum impact (the breakout of the visual?).  This seems like a perfect example of multimodal communication where our use of visuals is allowing us to return to orality.

Secrets of Steven Jobs

It’s a shame the book does not actually include interviews with Steve Jobs.  (I wonder if the book is available in an electronic format?) 🙂



November 5, 2009   No Comments

Telegraph – the old information super highway

The telegraph can actually be considered the grandfather of the data superhighway – the telegraph operated on a digital format (on/off mode).  (Lubrano, 1997, pg. xiv)

Ancient writings and pictograms of civilizations long gone are forms of communications that existed and provide clues to the intricate workings of a society.  As a rule, these forms of communications have long been abandoned by cultures which now fill history books.  These inscriptions, like most primitive dialects, were only effective in reaching those peoples that encountered and could interpret the material.  The ability to distribute knowledge was limited to the geographical location of the text.  Ancient writings, employed for knowledge transfer, have impacted all societies to some extent; if only as the result of cultures colliding in an increasingly smaller world.  As with most messages, these writings were created to transfer the thoughts and knowledge of a society.  It is this desire to “spread” the word is that is in essence the arching goal of communication; achieve a faster and more efficient means to transfer the message.  Amazingly, this desire to expand knowledge was not always embraced.  Much like the history of the Internet, prior desires to communicate across space and time are filled with progressive steps and changing literacy. 

 Literacy is defined as the ability to read and write.  Reading, as described by Ong is the conversion of a text “to sound, aloud or in the imagination, syllable-by-syllable”.  (Ong, 1982, pg.8)  Imagine if text could exist in the form of finite signals and codes that could be “read” by a viewer and transcribed or transmitted for others to see.  Imagine the origins of distance communication and the impact upon societies isolated by time and geography.  Thus begins the story of telegraphy.  

  Telegraphy, as detailed by the Encyclopaedia Britannica is “derived from the Greek words tele, meaning “distant,” and graphein, meaning “to write.”” (Encycopedia Britannica, 2009).  While we normally identify the telegraph to be an electromagnetic based system of transmitting dots and dashed (Morse code), this belief is flawed.  Telegraphy existed long before in the simplest forms of distance communications.  Early forms of telegraphy, describe in Iliad, included smoke and fire signals used to communicate during daylight and night times.  

 Fire signals were used extensively by watchers and scouts.  Unlike other signal types, they did not normally serve to transmit orders but were instead used to convey simple messages, and they were considered to be quite valuable in this role. (Russell, 1999,  pg. 146)

 The earliest forms of telegraphy employed a simplistic code as a means to articulate the message.  Often times, due to the geographical limitations and rudimentary technology (i.e. blanket, fire and fresh grasses) of the telegraphy, the message was pre-arranged to define only important events such as ‘danger’, ‘victory’ or a ‘summons’.


Without Sound. make Signals

Without Sound. make Signals


Image downloaded From Flickr 28 Oct 09

Another form of visual telegraphy that impacted society was signal flags used mainly by government and mariners worldwide.  The optical telegraphy or semaphore is “is an alphabet signalling system based on the waving of a pair of tower constructed or hand-held flags in a particular pattern.” (Croft, Unknown)  Used extensively by the French government during the French revolution, and by naval fleets (still employed by use of hand held flags), the semaphore system provided distance communications thru a series of sequential stations that conveyed the messages.   As the alphabet was the “code” of semaphore, the message could be as complex as required to effectively convey significance and importance.  Given these new advances in complexity of the transmitted message through the use of the alphabet, limitations did exist including the time to record the signal and retransmit to the next station and the requirement to have a constant vigil for incoming signals.   The semaphore system was eventually abandoned as a “law was enacted imposing jail sentences and stiff fines (up to 10,000 francs) on “anyone transmitting unauthorized signals from one place to another by means of the (Chappe) telegraph machine.” (Neuman, 1996).  Besides fears of rising public opinion, the semaphore system “required extensive manpower and was expensive to operate.  Stations were seldom more than eight miles apart and were subject to interruption due to adverse weather conditions.”  (Lubrano, pg. 10)   


Signal Flags


Semaphore flags in background.  Electrical Bolt symbolic of electric telegraphy.

Picture curtisy of

In addition to the prehistoric visual telegraphy, audio telegraphy was used to gap distances beyond line-of-sight.   In Africa, drums were (and still are) commonly used as a means to convey messages across distances to both humans and gods.  Among the Ashanti people of Ghana, two styles of drumming: signal and speech exist for communications purpose.   Communications by drumming employs of two drums, one high tone and one low tone, which is used to “to mimic the highs and lows of the local Twi language, a tonal language.” (Wilson, unknown)  

As society’s reliance on rapid communications grew, better technologies were developed.  The geographically limiting visual and audio telegraphy was remediated by the faster methods.  Research and trialing of electronic signaling was wide spread.  As Nonenmacher reports:   

The science behind the telegraph dates back at least as far as Roger Bacon’s (1220-1292) experiments in magnetism. Numerous small steps in the science of electricity and magnetism followed. Important inventions include those of Giambattista della Porta (1558), William Gilbert (1603), Stephen Gray (1729), William Watson (1747), Pieter van Musschenbroek (1754), Luigi Galvani (1786), Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta (1800), André-Marie Ampere (1820), William Sturgeon (1825), and Joseph Henry (1829).  (Nonnenmacher, 2001)

In 1884, Samual Morse, with his assistance Alfred Vail trialed a telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore, transmitting the now famous message “What hath God wrought?”  (Today in History, 2007)   Morse and Vail had developed the technology to allow the required break in the electrical current; pauses in electrical current which provided the foundation for the code.   Remediation of visual by electronic telegraphy had begun, resulting in sweeping changes in communications methods. 

The electrical telegraph transformed society by achieving the goal of increased efficiency and effectiveness in communications.  Long distance communications within short timeframes reduced the size of a country and connected nations.  This increased speed was not the only change; the language of telegraphy was also transformed. “Morse Code”  was credited to Samuel Morse, but his assistant Alfred Vail is suspected of perfecting the code that exists still today.   This code is an alphabetic language created with the use of “dots and dashes [corresponding] to letters and punctuation in the English language. This cipher, which is still widely used today can be equated as to an early form of digitization, as all words, numbers and punctuation are comprised of two “dot” and “dash” symbols.” (Kanderovskis, 2007)

Electronic telegraphy influenced society in much the same way that the Internet influences society today.   From this birth of rapid, long distance communications, the foundation for standardization of journalistic style and mass communications began.  Information could be gathered, reviewed, transmitted and distributed across a nation with little effort.  Local papers began to focus more on national affairs and less on local opinion.  This flow of information affected all aspects of society; resulting in an increased awareness to national and international affairs, within shorter timeframes.  Even fiscal policies and practices were affected.  Yates argues:

the telegraph encouraged the growth and efficiency of markets by reducing communication time and costs and that it encouraged the growth and vertical integration of firms by forwarding the emergence of national market areas to absorb local and regional market areas.  (Unknown)

The telegraph linked businesses across a nation and across international boundaries.  Through the electronic telegraph, society was provided a venue to share and prosper; but like the Internet, the venue was not accepted by all.  “Russian Czar Nicholas I was likewise terrified by the telegraph’s potential to spread information. Fearing that the broad use of the telegraph would prove “subversive,”(Neuman, 1996) Nicholas refused to conduct business with Morse to create an effective communications system across Russia.  This fear of progress resulted in substandard communications for the military during World War I.    

Progress in communications, specifically electric telegraph affected all institutions: political, social and governmental.  “Embassies connected by telegraph to their home foreign ministries …long used to operating on their own, increasingly received instructions about pressing issues from their home office.”  (Papp, Alberts, Tuyahov, 2002)  Financial markets could deal in commodities and set prices at a national vice local market.  Distance and time melted away first with smoke, progressively advancing technology towards each dash and dot transmitted across the vast electrical lines; the earth successively reduced in size.  Access to national and international events resulted in the standardization of journalistic reporting and realization that ‘others’ existed outside or the local confines.  This path towards ‘globalization’ in communications, while benefiting many, resulted in some fears concerning the spread of knowledge and public opinion.    From an internet of electrical lines with dots and dashes, the desire to communicate to all people at all places would drive the next generation to find the internet of ones(1) and zeros (0) and remediate the electrical information highway.      


Croft, J.  Semaphore Flag Signalling System.  Retrieved online 21 Oct 2009 from the World Wide Web:

International Code of Signals.  (2009).  In Microsoft Encarta.  Retrieved 15 Oct 2009 from the World Wide Web:

Kanderovskis, K.  (2007).  Telegraph.  Retrieved 19 Oct 2009 from the World Wide Web:

Lubrano, Annteresa. (1997). The telegraph: how technology innovation caused social change. New York: Garland Pub.

Library of Congress, (2007).  Today in History.  May 24 What hath god wrought?  Retrieved Oct 18, 2009 from the World Wide Web:

 Neuman, J.  (1996).  The media’s impact on international affairs, than and now.  Retrieved 10 Oct 2009 from the World Wide Web:

 Ong, W.J. (1982). Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London: Methuen.   

 Papp, D.S., Alberts, D.S., & Tuyahov, A.  (2002).  Historical impacts of information technologies: An overview.  Retrieved 18 Oct 2009:

 Russell, F.S., (1999).  Information gathering in classical Greece.  Ann Arbor University of Michigan Press.  Retrieved 18 Oct, 2009:

 telegraph. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 24, 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online 19 Oct 09 from the World Wide Web:

 Wilson, B.  (Unknown).  The drumming of traditional Ashanti Healing Cermonies.  Retrieved online 18 Oct 09 from the World Wide Web:

 Yates, JoAnne, (Unknown).  The Telegraph’s effect on nineteenth century markets and firms.   Retrieved Oct 16 from the World Wide Web:

November 1, 2009   No Comments