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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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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Confess to being plumb wore out right now.  Lots of things seem
to be
are going awry, which is an expected feeling around the fourth
week of a demanding semester.  And yes, one self-monitor cautions me to
buck up, chill out, keep it steady, and another self-monitor–Disrupter–takes a
more rancorous tenor, blares like a high-and-whiny siren.  And another….

Instead of pining over a lackluster day and a stack of work among other
stressors, I suppose I ought to wrap this back into broader issues (from
classes, of course) about network literacy and identity.  I think my only
point for now is that finding a rhythm is just one tender, deceptive sliver of
living the interconnection; rhythm-finding is obscured by ease, yes?  When
the process/system (of blogging, since, what the heck, that’s under the
micro-scope) is least visible, it is susceptible to
disruption. Writing is easy, not easy. What I’m trying to work through is the
extent to which the bumps are explicit or the extent to which the strain of
doctoral study makes its way into a space frequented by colleagues whom I see
every day at work.  And so I suppose this gives an opening to theorizing
the network as wrought with dynamics I still don’t understand, new and
unpredictable avenues for being placed into
statements.  The schizo-network
(made possible by meeting twice or doubly), as a consequence of competing,
overlapping and near-simultaneous representations, is
vulnerable and, perhaps no matter how widely distributed, somewhat degraded. 
Yeah, that’s what I wanted to say.  It knows woe; it
interpolates absence, it senses strain, recovers quietly.

The unbinding can become so overpowering that it colonizes subjectivities
and tears them apart; with no guarantee of either a stable past or a connected
future, it is impossible to believe in the unity of a single, stable
subject–the subject of our previous discussions of literacy. (Wysocki and
Johnson-Eilola 365)

Network Captives

I admire Jeff R. and
Will R., read their
blogs like clockwork; their exchange(s) over the last 24 hours have been worth
following, if you haven’t been keeping up.  I’m here giving nods to the
naming contentions as we slide between the print paradigm and electracy’s
futures.  In that slide, some folks pack heavy, others pack light.  I
suppose there’s a way of taking up the rift that contends, as Jeff often reminds
me, the new media/digital turn doesn’t need the lingo of literacy (or
even the name).  As necessary and tricky as it is to re-vocabularize
rhetorical agilities in a digital age, I wonder what–if anything
substantial–is at stake.  It is, of course, about more than the
terminology; it’s about what we do and what what we do does.  Jeff’s

of the high stakes are fair, clear:

In composition, I don’t think we are anywhere near tackling this issue
because it will undermine and reconfigure many of the truths we have accepted
and hold so dearly. If we are to recognize that literacy no longer exists,
what will become of composition studies which bases its identity on the ways
writing empowers individuals to be productive members of society (see Brandt,
Rose)? What will happen to topic sentences and Writing Centers, professional
writing, or the first year textbook? Serious damage.

I can imagine this angle–in retrospect–shedding light on the grand
transformation from orality to literacy.  Switch in and out a few
indications of oral traditions giving way to Guttenberg’s giant, and, perhaps
from some perspectives, you have "serious damage" or at least wreckage,
abandoned traditions, even widespread human cognitive re-patterning. 
Forgive me for jabbing in the dark here (since I’m not well studied on Ong, for
one), but one must preclude the other.  True?  Why must electracy
unravel literacy as literacy unraveled orality?  Is it because electracy is
meanwhile enfolding a textualism of all, braiding realities and programs
and tunes…"I don’t know why she swallowed the fly, perhaps she’ll…."  Maybe
I haven’t read closely enough; maybe effacement is inherent in these

[Long hesitation…reading list has grown by twenty or so titles (Ulmer,
Graff)…having Friday fun…blog decorum…where’s that coming from?]

I set out to make notes on Will’s
mention of
.  My first thought is, Yes!, we are on collaborative
ground with weblogs and wikis.  Open texts, and so on, just as Jeff sets
them up as places where "writers and readers tap into, alter, appropriate,
confiscate, download, share, etc."  But then I keep thinking these few
thoughts about what I haven’t seen blogs do:  1. Blog entries are rarely
revised.  2.  Blog entries are rarely written collaboratively, perhaps
because most blogware doesn’t configure easily for partnering or group

The tapping and commenting and fisking–linked, interested, etc.–seem more
prevalent than the sort of sharing and appropriating, which is to suggest that
blogging as spontaneous media doesn’t prefer to wait.  Entries are often
buried in a matter of days, comments with them, and the temporality machine
rolls, calendars overturn.  I get the feeling that blogs play the moment,
invite the rush; whereas collaborative efforts can be slow and laborious, blogs
thrive on freshness, vigor, never expiring. 

This is a jumble of (unfair, perhaps) assumptions.  I’ve been
thinking lately about the expenses of collaboration, the problem of
over-collaboration, of turning always to meetings about meetings, of everyone (including the ambivalent and disenchanted)
having a say and of feeling like that just takes toooo loooong for some matters. 
In part, I’m feeling jaded by the call for collaboration because I’m seeing it
done in a way that turns to wheel-spinning, indecisiveness, and gross, endless
shifts of leadership and agency to the (idle, vacationing, phone-message
ignoring) network.