Kress – Literacy in the New Media Age (2003) II

In Literacy in the New Media Age, Gunther Kress settles into a gradual
progression from long-held presumptions about alphabetic literacy to an
increasingly hybridized and "multimodal" literacy based on the screen. The
screen’s proclivity for combining images and text has profound consequences,
Kress argues, for the temporal/sequential logics of letter, word and clause as
units of meaning. Kress contends that syntactic complexity is compromised
as the frenetic reading pathways of the screen condition readers and writers to
mixed-mode framings that, in turn, impact how they read and write.
Contrary to my expectations, Kress is none too sour on this trend; in fact, his
movement through dense sociolinguistic explanations of literacy, genre and
punctuation as framing are impressively nuanced. Yet, very little of the
first two-thirds of the book is explicit about the ways in which new writing
technologies are entangled in the shifts he describes, and in this sense, I find
Kress to be frustrating in how patiently he advances his back-analysis on
traditional alphabetic literacy (replicated in formal Western schooling)–while
the matter at hand–screens as a site of particular kinds of changed
writing activity–hovers as a given. This book is far more about
"Literacy" than about "the New Media Age;" it inches toward actual discussions
of interfaces, and finally, near the end of chapter eight, offers a screen-shot
of a web page with eleven (by Kress’s count) "entry-points" for reading.
Kress’s point with the screenshot: "’reading’ is now a distinctively different
activity to what it was in the era of the traditional page" (138).

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Kress – Literacy in the New Media Age (2003)

I’m just eight pages into Gunther Kress’ Literacy in the New Media Age.
I’ve read the chunk before the preface (what is this thing, a superpreface, an
antepreface, pre-preface?): "The Futures of Literacy: Modes, Logics and
Affordances." This much is clear: image and text function according to
distinctive logics. With text, word follows word. It’s sequentiality
involves a distinctive commitment, both for writers and readers, to paths
and naming. Text inheres time, whereas image inheres space, Kress tells
us. Image involves a kind of commitment to location, and while Kress hints at
the importance of perceptual paths for readers of images, that point doesn’t get
extended early on. Next, Kress discusses media and affordances; these few
lines are a sample of what he’s got going here:

1. Multimodality is made easy, usual, ‘natural,’ by these technologies. (5)
2. The new technologies have changed unidirectionality into bidirectionality.
(6) (i.e. with the email, you can send and receive)
3. Writing is becoming ‘assembling according to designs’ in ways which are
overt, and much more far-reaching, than they were previously. (6)
4. The affordances and the organisations of the screen are coming to (re)shape
the organisation of the page. (6)
5. It is possible to see writing becoming subordinated to the logic of the
visual in many or all of its uses. (7)

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Before a full week cycles around, I wanted to tack up a few notes about the
Digital and Visual Rhetorics Symposium hosted at SU last Thursday and Friday. 
Each of the talks was stimulating/evocative; w/ these notes: I’m going for a patchwork of what was said and what it got me
thinking about (highlights plus commentary).  Fair enough?

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Tufte – Visual Display/Quantitative Information (1983)

Excellent graphics are simple, clear pictures of numbers, Tufte argues in
this "landmark" book,
The Visual
Display of Quantitative Information
.  Basic graphical designs–"box plots,
bar charts, historograms, and scatterplots" (124)–have in common principles of
functional simplicity and clarity. Note the review comment attributed to the
Boston Globe: "A visual Strunk and White." I read the first edition, and it’s
currently out in a second edition, so these notes should be so-understood. 
They reflect the 1983 edition–the version that later needed an update for one
reason or other. 

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New London Group, “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies”

We’re on with four articles for Wednesday’s meeting of 691: Crafting
Researchable Questions
.  We broke up responsibilities for
question-bringing, two or three primary respondents/discussion-framers to each
of the articles, but I have brief notes here on each of the articles (something
I can carry to class, search later, etc.).  My lead article, however, is a
chapter from the New London Group’s Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures
The citation says the book was published in 2000; this chapter–"A Pedagogy of
Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures"–was circulated as early as 1996, I
think.  Roughly, the chapter–the opening chapter in the book–sets
up the what and how of a pedagogy of multiliteracies (many-literacies,
a lifting the lid from monoliteracies…yes?)–the multi- that "allows
[learners] to participate fully in public, community, and economic life" (9).

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A site for playing with colors. Nice tool for straining color sets associated
with an image. Apparently, it’s got a tagging feature, too.  Users can key
word and phrase associations with a designated color.