you’re a blockhead, @charliebrown

In 2007, I gave a presentation at The Aesthetics of Trash: Reassessing Animation and the Comic at MMU about the internet and comics.

I
was less concerned with 'webcomics', which are essentially the
reproduction of print comics or panels on the web, but with the idea of
comics populating the web, using the unique qualities of both forms to
create new stories and engage the reader in new ways. I was interested
in the use of comics graphical style and character design as a way to
link a number of media together to create an expanded 'universe'
through using a mix of blogs, flickr sets, websites, tweets, video and
print to tell their stories, develop characters and create worlds.

In Understanding Comics,
Scott McCloud uses the term 'closure' to describe the way a reader is
guided from panel to panel on a comics page, hopping the gaps or
gutters between images
. Like a film editor or writer, McCloud suggests that the spaces
between the panels are as important as the panels themselves, the
spaces being where we as readers take the conceptual leap from one
moment to the next, fill in gaps and reach a better understanding of
the story and characters we are encountering.

I decided to look at McCloud's six types of closure and to expand
on them to attempt to create a possible framework for telling stories
online.

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REMINDER Deadline for abstracts 1st December 2009 for the 2010 Transliteracy Conference

Phoenix

Don't forget to submit your abstract for the 2010 Transliteracy Conference on 9th February at the new and very swish Phoenix Square Digital Media Centre. Presentations should be 10-15 minutes in duration, and can be used to show work or deliver a short paper. The Conference Panel will group presentations together thematically in sessions scheduled to include time to explore the issues and ideas raised through discussion. Deadline 1st December. Full details here.

What is Transliteracy? Yes, I’m asking again!

The detailed “Working Definition” that I see to the right of
the latest post every time I visit Transliteracy.com only goes some way towards
answering this question for me, but raises many more questions along that way.
Of course, I’m not the first to ask these and some transliterate
gurus have provided some pretty good answers to some of them… but the
discussion isn’t over yet, so raising them again may elicit some useful
perspectives.

Transliteracy is the ability to read, write and interact
across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through
handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.

 The context of and need for this emerging definition are
documented by seven highly qualified writers in the article Transliteracy:
Crossing divides
suggested as Background Reading for this blog. I’ve read it, a few times. So
why my need to grapple? With all the work that’s already gone into it and
especially if, as the article states, transliteracy is not a new behaviour, why
is it still a “working” definition?

Perhaps it’s because this comprehensive statement uses so
many words that signify more than one thing; suggesting so many required skills
that I wonder if anyone can ever be truly transliterate. It seems to start off
simply….

Read? Yes. Write? Yes. Interact? Yes. Across a range of
platforms? Er… ye-es…. Wait,… how many platforms? All of them? All the time?
Some of them? Some of the time? Which ones? Simultaneously? Consecutively?
Transformatively? All of the above? And what exactly are these platforms, tools and media?
Signing? As in hieroglyphics, or signing for the deaf, or iconography, or traffic
signs…? Come to think of it… Read? Write? Technically? With or without
spellchecker? With what levels of comprehension and intent?

Full of these thoughts, I tweeted on Mon 26 Oct 2009 … “Is
multiliteracy different from transliteracy?” Toby Moores aka sleepydog replied that
“transliteracy is transient – it helps to be multiliterate to see transliterate
opportunities which then become new literacies”.

Is transliteracy partly an attitude then, rather than an
accumulation of a minimum number of skills? Is it the willingness and desire to
transition between media, learning what one needs to know as one goes, to
create or interpret content that is as close as possible in form to the
original content in the original medium, while accepting that it must
inevitably be different and differently apprehended in its new form?

I say “form” deliberately. The article notes that “the word
‘transliteracy’ is derived from the verb ‘to transliterate’, meaning to write
or print a letter or word using the closest corresponding letters of a
different alphabet or language.” This does not mean to “translate”. For
example, one might transliterate the Hebrew word “רוח” as “ruwach”. This would enable those who use Latin rather than
Hebrew script to say the word, but not to understand it.

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