Revolution Lullabye

January 29, 2013

Buckingham, Digital Media Literacies

Buckingham, David. “Digital Media Literacies: Rethinking Media Education in the Age of the Internet.” Research in Comparative and International Education 2.1 (2007): 43-55.

Buckingham, a well-known media education scholar from the UK, argues that the notion of media literacy must be extended beyond a the idea of a functional skill set based on search and evaluation techniques and instead, move towards critical understanding of how information online is authored, produced, and circulated amid social and ideological forces. 

In order to help media educators build students’ critical understanding of digital literacy, Buckingham offers his own framework (2003) of key concepts through which to analyze digital media: representation, language, production, and audience.  He argues that this framework resists the reductive checklists that are given to students to analyze and evaulate the internet and digital media.  These checklists, Buckingham contends, assume that there is some sort of objective truth that can be found in digital media – that the Internet is a neutral tool.  Instead, Buckingham argues, educators need to teach students how digial media (like all forms of rhetoric) is inherently biased and socially and culturally situated.  He points out that the Internet is more shaped by commerical interests than other forms of media.

Buckingham also argues that in order to truly build complex, critical digital literacy, students must not only consume (or read) media, but also produce (write) it. Production, he claims, gives students a deeper understanding of how digital media is built and functions.

Finally, Buckingham complicates the definition of access to include not just physical access to digital technology (computers, software, space), but also certain cultural and social competencies and awareness of digital media.  For example, he argues that even in technologically-rich cultures (like the US and UK), boys and white children have more access and greater compentencies online than girls and minorities.

Notable Notes

His framework (page 48-49)

  • representation – media don’t report, they represent reality.  What is represented? What is not?
  • language – how sites are designed, constructed, and how they function rhetorically (for example, the rhetorical function of hyperlinks)
  • production – who/why are sites produced for? who (or what institutions) affect and shape the information and what you see? impact of commercialization
  • audience – how to readers access sites? who are sites targeted to? how is this interactive online?

has literacy been reduced to a set of skills? Is the term meaningless when juxtaposed with so many other words? (43-44)

differences between functional and critical literacy (44)

the internet is not just an educational tool; how is it really used and consumed by people? how can we draw on that understanding, these grounded behaviors? (45)

functional digital literacy skills quickly become obsolete (like checklists) (46) – we’re looking to build lasting habits of mind

focus of Internet literacy is often safety (esp for children) – European Commission’s “Safer Internet Action Plan” (46)

Buckingham sees digital literacy as an extension of media literacy, media education

create a heuristic?

sources: Bettina Fabos (2004); Ellen Seiter (2005); Nicholas Burbules and Thomas Callister (2000) (they argue that users need to understand how the Web functions as a system)

Internet’s architecture shaped by “commercial, governmental, and military interests” (from Fabos) (47). – connection to who has power, agency, a voice online

replace the focus on locating/evaluating/producing information – broaden that to understanding digital media as “a cultural form” (45)

what we want users to behave like vs. how they actually behave online (45)

Quotable Quotes

“Rather than simply adding media or digital literacy to the curriculum menu, or hiving off ‘information and communication technology’ into a separate subject, we need a much broader reconceptualisation of what we mean by literacy in a world that is increasingly dominated by electronic media. This is not by any means to suggest that verbal literacy is no longer relevant, or that books should be discarded.  However, it is to imply that the curriculum can no longer be confined to a narrow conception of literacy that is defined solely in terms of the medium of print” (53).

“Most uses of computers in schools signally fail to engage with the complex technological and media-saturated environment in which children are now growing up. For the most part, they are narrowly defined, mechanical, and unimaginative. The answer to this problem is not to import ever more fashionable or ‘child-friendly’ devices, or to sugar the pill of learning with a superficial dose of digital entertainment. Digital media literacy represents a more rigorous – but also more enjoyable and motivating – way of addressing the educational challenges of the digital age” (53).

Access needs to be seen not merely in terms of access to technology or to technical skills, but also to cultural forms of expression and communication, and it needs to be acknowledged that students’ access to (and familiarity with) those cultural forms is itself likely to be quite variable” (52).

“In the context of media education, the aim is not primarily to develop technical skills, or to promote ‘self-expression,’ but to encourage a more systematic understanding of how media operate, and hence to promote more reflective ways of using them” (50).

“Media literacy involves ‘writing’ the media as well as ‘reading’ them” (49).

“Nevertheless, it should be apparent that approaching digital media through media education is about much more than simply ‘accessing’ these media, or using them as tools for learning: on the contrary, it means developing a much broader critical understanding, which addresses the textual characteristics of media alongside their social, economic, and cultural implications” (48-49).

“Digital literacy also involves a broader awareness of the global role of advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, and how they influence the nature of information that is available in the first place” (48)…..”growing importance of commercial influences – particularly as these are often invisible to the user” (48).

“Digital literacy must therefore involve a systematic awareness of how digital media are constructed [designed/produced], and of the unique ‘rhetorics’ of interactive communication” (48). – rhetorical function of links

Critical information literacy: “This means asking questions about the sources of that information, the interests of its producers, and the ways in which it represents the world, and understanding how technological developments and possibilities are related to broader social and economic forces” (46).

“Literacy education cannot be confined simply to the acquisition of skills, or the mastery of particular practices; it also must entail a form of ‘critical framing’ that enables the learner to take a theoretical distance from what they have learned, to account for its social and cultural location, and to critique and extend it” (45) draws on Cope & Kalantzis, 2000

Literacy education “entails the acquisition of meta-language” (45)

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June 11, 2009

Wysocki, The Multiple Media of Texts

Wysocki, Anne Frances. “The Multiple Media of Texts: How Onscreen and Paper Texts Incorporate Words, Images, and Other Media.” In What Writing Does and How It Does It. Eds. Bazerman and Prior. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2004. 123-161.

Wysocki’s chapter addresses students and has three main parts: first, she lays out her basic argument for the visual, rhetorical nature of all texts, printed and onscreen; second, she introduces elements of visual texts that students can identify (typography, shapes, pictures, video, animation, and sound) and gives an outline about how a student might analyze a visual text; and third, she uses extended examples of visual textual analyses to argue that composing with images and visual features shouldn’t just anticipate and provide for easy audience reading. Rather, the visual nature and elements of onscreen and paper texts should be used rhetorically and deliberately to make points and challenge readers to consider the cultural and historical frameworks through which they read and interpret texts.

Quotable Quotes

move from making user-friendly, predictable texts that serve the audience’s purpose to “making visual and interactive compositions that ask audiences to question, first, how they came to have their expectations, and, then, the limitations and constraints of those expectations” (157).

learning to compose visually is “learning to observe well” (159).

Notable Notes

analysis: identify elements, name their relationships, and then expand to consider how those relationships and element connect to larger contexts and arguements

basic points: 1. all texts are visual in nature 2. a text’s visual nature gives a clue to its genre 3. a text’s visual components perform important rhetorical and persuasive work 4. cultural attitudes to visual elements change over time 5. choices in visual presentation have to be seen through cultural frameworks 6. composing a text means making deliberate choices for how to shape the page or screen to direct the audience. (123-126)

move from analyzing what’s on the page or screen to asking how that elicts readers’ responses, the cultural frames through which readers respond, why some texts are more accessible than others, the politics and economics of text production and circulation – who we are and who we will become

June 8, 2009

Logie, Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion

Logie, John. Peers, Pirates, and Persuasion: Rhetoric in the Peer-to-Peer Debates. West Lafayette: Parlor Press, 2006.

Logie addresses through rhetorical historicism five terms used to describe sharing in the peer-to-peer debates (hacking, theft, piracy, sharing, and war), arguing that in order to understand the basis of the arguments on both sides of the debate, we must throughly investigate the language through which those arguments are being made. He believes that current copyright restrictions, including DMCA and the TEACH Act, are limiting the potential of people to create new culture and ideas. Logie argues that the composition classroom, where students are taught about the social nature of composition, plagiarism, individual authorship, and intellectual property, is an important place to talk with students about the rhetoric, language, and arguments behind these debates and to teach them how they might argue for a copyright law that allows for the creative potential the Internet promises.

Quotable Quotes

“And while the stakes of intellectual property debates ultimately devolve to who gets paid how much and when, the mechanism for assuring fair compensation—a limited monopoly right—has profound consequences for the circulation and availability of cultural artifacts.”(8)

“Digital media offer opportunities to efficiently archive and access the bulk of artistic and intellectual work created since the dawn of humanity.

This is not an overstatement. The potential intellectual and social utility of these now-hypothetical archives is staggering. Our challenge is to engage in a principled argument about how best to achieve this goal. ” (21)

“[RIAA and other big media corporations] had persuaded most Americans that the act of downloading copyrighted material from the Internet—whatever the context and purpose—was illegal. This victory was achieved in large part because of the successful rhetorical strategies of the content industries. And once these industries had persuaded Americans that downloading was criminal, the logical next step was to ensure that it was perceived as

violent crime.” (66)

“The past decade’s major legislative amendments to copyright—in particular the Copyright Term Extension Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the No Electronic Theft Act, and the TEACH Act—collectively constitute a disastrous appropriation of rights, privileges, and opportunities formerly understood to belong to the public at large. At the very moment that the most powerful cultural tool in human history—the networked personal computer—has become both widely available and largely affordable, the U.S. is busily drafting laws that reinforce a copyright model optimized long ago for the circulation of print-based media.” (141)

Notable Notes

how ethos and pathos play into both sides of the debate, Burkean identification

no statistical significance on the economic effect of P2P sharing on record companies…Napster failed to show how most of its activity was not the theft of protected commercial property, but rather sharing of free culture for the public good

piracy = theft by force, kidnapping, murdering, violence

Napster, P2P file sharers aren’t targetted for downloading but for uploading – for distribution

sound quality of MP3 and CD – two different purposes

limits ability of cut and pasting with purchased Adobe e-books

June 6, 2009

Trimbur, Composition and the Circulation of Writing

Trimbur, John. “Composition and the Circulation of Writing.” CCC (Dec 2000) 188-219.

Trimbur argues that compositionists need to focus on and teach about the materiality of production, delivery, and circulation. Without an understanding of how writing circulates, composition courses and their students stay isolated from society, either in a strange father-child in loco parentis relationship with their teacher or investigating cultural artifacts in a cultural studies classroom, but remaining a reader, reporter, and consumer of culture rather than a producer or active participant. Trimbur uses Marx’s Grundrisse to explain Marx’s term circulation (which Trimbur uses interchangably with rhetorical canon of delivery after he explains the terms), which understands the circulation as a dialectic hierarchal power move, a deliberate distribution of knowledge and information, a relationship between labor and those in charge. Trimbur shows how he teaches about the circulation of writing in his “Writing about Disease and Public Health,” when he asks students to transform medical journal information to public news stories, which shows them how information gets changed and presented (in specific, political ways) in circulation.

Quotable Quotes

“Marx wanted to explian the various moments in the circulation of commodities – the cycle of production, distribution, exchange, and consumption – not as a series of separate events taking place in a predetermined order over time but dialectically, as mediation in mutual and coterminous relations that constitute the capitalist mode of production as a total system” (206).

“The process of production determines – and distributes – a hierarchy of knowledge and information that is tied to the cultural authorization of expertise, professionalism, and respectability.” (210)

“We cannot understand what is entailed when people encounter written texts without taking into account how the labor power embodied in the commodity form articulates a mode of production and its prevailing social relations” (210).

“Negating delivery has led to writing teachers to equate the activity of composing with writing itself and to miss altogether the complex delivery systems through which writing circulates” (190).

Notable Notes

delivery isn’t just technical (document design, Trimbur says) – it is political and ethical, can be used to democratize and circulate ideas, expand public forums (190).

exchange value v. use value – academic work in public channels

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