My Transliterate Toolbox

Here is a screencast talk about my transliterate methods of creating works of
electronic literature:

My Transliterate Toolbox from Christine Wilks on Vimeo.

Links to the works and sites featured in the talk:

Software mentioned in the talk:

Transliteracy and Me

Holdinghands2 We go everywhere together, do transliteracy and me.  We read books together, browse the
internet, go to the cinema, shop, people watch, enjoy art, listen to Debussy…
we do pretty much everything hand in hand, do transliteracy and me!


Extrapolating meaning from a variety of coded signals – from
text to hand gestures – is what enables me to do my job, engage in social
networking online and know from my partner’s face when it is my turn to do the
washing up.  It may all sound
mundane, but actually, transliteracy is an every day fact of life.


Professionally, I have to be extremely sensitive to
different levels of transliteracy. 
I was introduced to the concept whilst studying on De Montfort
University’s MA in Creative Writing & New Media, as it applied to my
creative work.  Since graduating, I
have moved on to create online resources to amplify conferences and convey
training courses, which involves considering the transliteracy of my audience so
that the resources I produce are intuitive and accessible.  I also have to be highly digitally
transliterate myself to navigate all the different tools and platforms
available when choosing the best ways to present my content.  The concept of transliteracy is
therefore fundamental to what I do.


For me, if there is some form of mutually understood code to
a set of signals, then it constitutes a literacy.  This is what allows us to include signing and orality in the
definition of transliteracy as:
“…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.”


Unfortunately, the word “literacy” is itself a coded sign,
with a whole set of mutually understood connotations and connections that make
it difficult for us to separate it from text.  The tight-knit relationship with the verb “to read” closely
aligns literacy with sight-based activities, whilst our social emphasis on
literacy also marks it out as a product of education, rather than an innate or
deducible skill.  These deep-set
cultural ideas about literacy make it difficult to explain transliteracy as the
movement across a broad landscape of communication codes including, but also
beyond text. 


Text is still very much the gold standard as far as literacy
is concerned.  I nearly cried when
I recently heard an academic at a conference explaining that students of the
future could be “a-literate”, by which he actually meant “not text-literate”.  “Why would students need to be able
to write a scientific methodology when they could just video the experiment
taking place and upload it?  As a
record of the methodology it will be more accurate!”
he argued.  Of course, he
was absolutely right, but his choice of language suggests that the lack of
text-literacy equals a complete lack of literacy, which is obviously completely
contrary to the argument of transliteracy.


My question going forward is whether accepting the notion of
transliteracy as the ability to move between types of literacy will enable us
to be less prescriptive about what constitutes a “literacy” or will our binding
to text-orientated language restrict us? 
Do we need to alter our definition to move away from the words “reading”
and “writing” to be replaced by “comprehending” and “creating” in order to be
more inclusive to the less graphical literacies?  And how will our understanding of transliteracy inform our