Gesturing Towards Transliteracy?

Recently, I was asked to blog professionally for Frontline Books – a transliterate endeavour no less. I'm adding the post here as my musings have been influenced by our PaRT group discussions.
I have spent the past week mulling over the thought-provoking comments to last week's blog post. I've also been pondering the various responses to the "Web 2.0: The Machine is Us/ing Us" video. Ranging from tangible enthusiasmto a general (see the comments attached to this link – not the post) malaise towards all things with the suffix two point oh, to wary placations that "we still have day jobs," I'm left wondering why there are such (seemingly) divided reactions. The "us" and the "them?" Marc Prensky says "digital natives" are born into technology and thus are "'native speakers' of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet." Prensky also has a term for those of the Luddite persuasion; "digital immigrants" might adopt "most aspects" of the techy environment but will always retain their "accent." So, no matter how fluent one might get in technospeak, it'll never sound like its "natural." Hrm…I would have to disagree with both the idea and the terminology employed (are we back in the dark ages?!). As an aside, to what conclusions might one leap when noticing that Prensky's blog hasn't been updated since early Sept. 2006.

bloom_taxonomy2Previously, my ideological position has been that literacy *must* be taught. The idea that there is a graspable notion of what literacy is and armed with plenty of teaching supplies, even the most reticent student will *learn* to appreciate the pleasure of the printed page. Not to sound too dogmatic… What about transliteracy? How can it be taught, explained, fathomed, when we’re still attempting to understand it as it unfolds?

literacy_blossomsBut times and technologies change and so must we. And so, this week I’ve relived my own first forays into the technologically designed world. I remember the curiosity the glowing green screen provoked and the initial one-to-one sessions (between the computer and I) I experienced as more of a devoir rather than a pleasure. How times, and I, have changed. I now adoringly caress the slight indentations I’ve created on my oft’ used keys. I smile at the thought of the measureless hours I’ve spent at the computer, the smudged stickers and worn sheen as evidence. The computer now is much more than a device that allows me to follow academic guidelines (no handwritten essays accepted) but has become a mode of communication.

look out for the blackberry about 3mins in – yay Canada!


The point of this interlude into my consciousness is to highlight the necessity of time and collaboration inherent in most learning.  I do not think that transliteracy can simply be *taught.*  From the comments and responses to the web 2.0 video that are flowing online, I’m envisioning transliteracy as more of an evolution between collaborators (person-to-person, person-to-computer, person-mode), a testimony to the level of comfort one might have with the various modes available. Perhaps certain examples can be given (Chris Joseph and I are currently working on this) to help elaborate the different modes at work (as mentioned in last week’s Frontline post: visual, aural, kinaesthetic, textual) but like any literacy, transliteracy will come with time, experience, and comfort. Additionally, transliteracy suggests a sense of a wider world. While you might only see your reflection in the screen, there are millions of others online with you. In this sense, transliteracy engenders a collaborative and participatory ethos (such as commenting on a blog post or folksonomy). We can read across modes, but we can also interact and communicate in various ways and in/at different times. Literacy might have an “i,” emphasising the subjective process, however, the “i” is not solitary.

Perhaps one point of agreement: transliteracy is distributed and participatory. How do you, born digital or not, read, write, and think across networks and modes? What are you earliest memories of digitalis? Have your initial feelings given way to others? Do you have an accent?


[wdl’s frappr map]



One thought on “Gesturing Towards Transliteracy?

  1. The more I read this post, the mroe I get from it. You ask about feelings about the digital? First encounters were programming a small Spectrum that had a brilliant rubber keyboard (already the tactile interface eh?) My feelings ebb and flo, sometimes I love what I read in a digital context, certain stories or even blog posts or video move me. Sometimes I despair of it and have to hide in a corner and doodle with oil paints and canvas to avoid the screen. That probably comes from working on creating pages and content for the web for a living. Overdose and can’t escape it, I guess.

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