Colloque « Translittératies : enjeux de citoyenneté et de créativité » 7-9 novembre 2012

Symposium "Translittératies: issues of citizenship and creativity"

ENS-Cachan and Université Sorbonne Nouvelle
organized by
STEF (ENS Cachan) and CREW (Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3)
with the support of the French Commission for UNESCO, the INA and Vivendi

7-9 November 2012
Pavilion Gardens, ENS Cachan

Si les questions d’éducation aux médias et à l’information sont d’actualité, leur prise en compte nécessite une restructuration des approches actuellement suivies, pour profiter de la convergence des médias autour du numérique et répondre aux nouveaux défis de la mondialisation, notamment pour la circulation des savoirs. more

#AASL12 Fall Forum: Transliteracy and the School Library Program

AASLTransliteracy is the topic of this year's Association of American School Librarians Fall Forum in Greenville, South Carolina, taking place this week 12/13 October 2012. Transliteracy and the School Library Program  is "designed to help school librarians develop strategies for integrating transliteracy skills into subject areas across the curriculum. Discussions will articulate the range of skills known as transliteracy skills and highlight current research on how young people learn and play in the contemporary online environment." Definitely worth a follow #aasl12

‘On Transliteracy’, Presidency University, Kolkata, India 24/25 September 2012

KolkataTransliteracy is really taking off internationally these days. On Monday I'll be speaking about it at the 'The Digital Humanities in India: Remediating Texts and Contexts', a conference organised by Prof Shanta Dutta and my former colleague Dr Souvik Mukherjee. Sadly I can't get to Kolkata on this occasion, so the talk will be on Skype. But it's interesting to think about how to frame it for an Indian audience. 

Libraries and Transliteracy


The US-based blog, Libraries and Transliteracy, has put together an excellent 'Beginners Guide to Transliteracy', explaining the history of the concept and how it is relevant to libraries today.  

Thanks to Bobbi Newman et al for this useful brief guide.  

Infographic and Pinterest

Thinking about how Pinterest has garnered attention lately. Mashable notes that "most users are even spending more time, on average, pinning than they are on hanging out on Facebook". I thought this infographic would be of interest to readers:


‘A Million Penguins’ Five Years On

Well, without dipping into too many cliches about the passage of time, it is nearly five years since the DMU/Penguin wiki-novel experiment, 'A Million Penguins', took place.  The project ran from 1 Feb 2007 for five weeks, and all of us who were involved with it remember it as a time of chaos and great entertainment.  Yesterday I was down at Goldsmith's College, in London, where I was the external examiner for a PhD candidate, Amy Spencer; her PhD was on the Networked Book.  She built her thesis around three case studies of networked books that are also works of fiction, 'Paddlesworth Press' , 'The Golden Notebook Project', and 'A Million Penguins'. It's a solid and interesting piece of research.  

Reading Amy's thesis promoted me to look at the current status of 'A Million Penguins' online.  We heard early last year that Penguin was going to give up hosting the project, and we didn't have the time, or the resources, to figure out how to archive the massive wiki, with its many many pages, ourselves.  I regret this, though it is hard to see how we could have saved it in time.  So the original site no longer exists.

However, a good portion of 'A Million Penguins' was archived by the amazing people at the Internet Archive in San Francisco, and you can find these pages by searching for it via the Wayback Machine.  

During Amy's viva we talked a bit about the phenomenon of the networked book itself.  Amy pointed out that during the noughties there were a significant number of projects that called themselves 'networked books', both fiction and non-fiction, my own on-going project, 'Flight Paths: a Networked Novel' among them of course.  Amy wondered if the networked book concept has had its day.  I think that we are now seeing trade publishing approaching publishing fiction in a manner that owes much to the networked book concept, although of course, all in the service of marketing.  Social media marketing campaigns are now being built around books; these campaigns include bespoke web content, games, extra content, author interviews, etc.  These campaigns aim to foster reader engagement around a newly published book, whereas the networked books of the noughties all sought to foster creative engagement with text and other forms of media.  The networked book emphasis was on collaboration and contributing, whereas, of necessity, a trade publishing networked social media campaign is about sales.  

Can you do Twitter by post?


For one month, journalist Giles Turnbull explored this question in his Twitter By Post experiment, which replaced digital tweets with physical post cards.

“Twitter is the contemporary postcard – social updates that are limited by size, but not imagination”

Turnbull used the conventions of Twitter to share updates with fifteen friends via a stack of postcards and stamps. He shared comments, links, videos and pictures, exchanged @replies, re-tweeted some updates and favourited others. The Fail Whale even made an appearance!

When reflecting on the project, he noted: “We write long letters now because we hardly write letters at all, so we feel obliged to make them something special…This makes them long and tedious to write, which means we’re disinclined to write letters; so we don’t write any at all, and post on Facebook instead.”

He compared this to letters from the early 20th century, which were “often kept short and to the point… a bit like social media updates.” This was also true of the earlier correspondence of the 18th century. We often have romanticised, Austen-esque vision of letter writing during this period, but again, letters of the time were often very short. The materials of writing and the postage costs involved in sending more than a single sheet of paper made it prohibitively expensive for anyone other than the very wealthy to send a long letter. Again, there was effectively a limit on the length of a written communication imposed by the technology of the day.

As well as highlighting the historical prescendent for short social messages, Turnbull also reflected on the physicality of the project:

“Now I have a pile of conversations on my desk. I can touch them, or shuffle them.”

Not only is it a tangible conversation, but it comes complete with glue and staples attaching other physical objects to those conversations. This experiment effectively makes concrete what we are doing in a more abstracted way on Twitter. As a method of examining our internet interactions this certainly has appeal and highlights the imagination required to “attach” something and send it across the globe in a digital form.

As Giles reflects in his conclusion to the experiment: “Tweeting by post made me appreciate the online and the offline.”

Photo credit: @gilest