Reflections on EVO (2009 and later)

My first professional blog

Multiliteracies: Week Two Seminal Viewing

Posted by Mariel Amez on February 1, 2009

This video consists of a  debate between David Weinberger and Andrew Keen on the implications of social classification. Both make interesting points mainly on the question of hegemony, democratisation and culture. I would like to comment on an issue mentioned almost in passing by Andrew, which is mostly how democratic is a medium that has so very few members, and whether we are going towards a new medieval age of oligarchy. The fact remains that millions in the world are illiterate by any standard, and even more millions are “multi-illiterate”, if I may be excused the coinage. Having said this, let me make it clear that I am not suggesting we should just sit and watch and mourn this fact. As educators we have a duty to develp multiliteracies in students. But I also believe we should not delude ourselves that “the world” has been empowered by social networking, folksonomies and the like, when it is clear that today, perhaps more than ever before, some are more equal than others.


Vance mentioned an article called Is Google Making us Stupid . At first I couldn’t find the link , so I googled it and found it, only to eventually find the link….

Our puzzlement as to “where should we publish” the tasks set for this seminar illustrates some of the points made in this article and also raised by David in the video: the way our neural connections have to be re-shaped and how we are used to clasifying “physical” rather than digital material. 

I must confess I worry about the place of poetry and literature in general in an information-laden society with no room for “quiet spaces”, as illustrated in the quote from Foreman’s essay:

‘the replacement of complex inner density with a new kind of self-evolving under the pressure of information overload and the technology of the “instantly available”.

Another issue worth considering is :

“The faster we surf across the Web—the more links we click and pages we view—the more opportunities Google and other companies gain to collect information about us and to feed us advertisements. “

And going on with the business-side, you many want to check  “The Economics of Giving It Away” , referred to by Andrew in his blog:

“Just as King Gillette’s free razors only made business sense paired with expensive blades, so will today’s Web entrepreneurs have to not just invent products that people love, but also those that they will pay for.”

Finally, Joel’s Multiple Literacies wikipage provides a remarkable discussion of the video, and extrapolates the issues to academic publication. I agree that the potential for wikibooks to be reviewed is definitely an advantage, but I also see his point about the scarcity of reviewers willing to do the job “for the joy of it”  in an atmosphere of  credentialism.  I have also seen a pervading “relaxation” of quality standards when a paper is meant for digital publication as opposed to a printed version, which I suppose is what Joel means when he says

“I’ve read a number of articles recently that really aren’t ready for being reviewed”.

We can only hope this practice will be modified as digital publication of academic articles becomes the norm rather than the exception.


3 Responses to “Multiliteracies: Week Two Seminal Viewing”

  1. Hi, thanks for your posting, you cover a lot of points here. I am editing a column in Writing and Pedagogy called On the eSphere and for a number of sources I cited the main editor came back and asked what the page numbers were. These are digital articles; for example articles by George Siemens. They are not printed and have no page numbers. In another column I edit for TESL-EJ pdf files are made of all articles and paginated, but they are all pp.1-9, 1-13 1-something. I guess at least if there is a quote you can specify a page number. The point is two-fold though. This indicates that some highly regarded academic articles (George’s, good examples) are in digital format and commonly cited as such. As my experience here suggests, not all editors are happy with digital references and some are bothered by this lack of pagination. I hope they are a dying breed though. Actually there is a third point I intended to make, and that is a lot of these digital publications in blogs etc are created despite the lack of recognition for them (because the authors have something to say, in other words). People also comment on such works for similar reasons, as I am doing here. Andrew Keen might decry the lack of rigor in this process. David Weinberger would applaud the conversations arising from these interactions. I’m a David Weinberger sort of guy, I get a little riled when I hear Andrew Keen express his concerns, though he deserves respect for the cogent manner in which he expresses them, as does David Weinberger! I think there’s a place for what each espouses. I’m especially glad there’s a place now for conversation that was lacking in the kind of world that Andrew Keen seems to prefer.

  2. mamez said

    A lot of food for thought in your comments, as usual, Vance. I really appreciate your contribution.

    I was certainly not referring to citation when I mentioned the “relaxation of quality standards”, nor do I think that blog posts should share the features of academic articles. They are different text types, no matter whether they are digital or on paper.

    All the work you and the other coordinators are doing on EVO is a clear proof of the selflessness that characterises the true scholar, as opposed to the pettiness usually encouraged by academia.

    It is certainly a better world one in which there are so many conversations going on. It’s up to each one of us to find some quiet time for philosophy or poetry as well. Or so I think.

  3. […] that is the firehose metaphor Vance used in his comment. That is exactly what this course is about: a giant bush filled with berries. I will try to pick up […]

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