At the very outset of this chapter I could feel my stomach quiver. Why do I feel so nervous? Writing has never been a problem for me. But writing on a Blog? Does anyone else feel like the internet is somehow taking all our little scholarly notions about what “school” is and bursting them wide open for all the world to see? I suspect I’m hurling headlong into some sort of Digital Narnia that will alter my thinking forever.
Here we go! The journey begins . . .
Chapter one defines not only what new literacies are (via Discourse), but does so by making the important distinction between what “technology stuff” (tools) is and what “ethos stuff” (meaning) comprises of. Historically, literacies have always evolved as per social practice. People make lists, write letters, keep records and so on, and utilize the technology that’s available to do so. The authors describe this as “ways of being together in the world” (as cited in Lankshear & Knobel, 2007, p. 4). As technologies have advanced there has been a new phenomenon that Lankshear and Knobel call a “fracturing of space” whereby new connections and meaningful exchanges are taking place.
This is where firestorm of thoughts flooded my mind. Is that what a Cyberspace is? This would require a whole other blog post to ponder and philosophical debates to inspire. But a “fractured space” made me think of walking down a sidewalk and looking down to see this little crack that leads to a whole other ecosystem. How wonderful it would be to shrink down and slip into that world. And when it comes to the internet, apparently I can! But not only can I slip into this space, I can use the technology to alter and express, to manipulate color and words and sounds…to make new and exciting worlds. Then share this all with thousands of others! One of the most profound statements made in chapter one is this:
“The World is being changed in some quite fundamental ways as a result of people imagining and exploring new ways of doing things and new ways of being that are made possible by new tools and techniques . . .” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2007, p. 10)
What does this mean? I don’t fully realize the implications myself. But I think a societal shift is taking place that is enabling people for the first time to create new things and connect in unique ways than ever before. They aren’t just using technology to do the same old things in the same repetitive routines.
As I was thinking on all these new ideas, my son came home from school yesterday very excited. He was going to meet up with five of his friends online in a new application called Discord that combines the voice/texting capabilities of Skype and TeamSpeak and enabled kids to create a central location to link up to all their mutual game platforms. He went on and on about how convenient it was and it was free! This app perfectly described to me the ultimate purpose of “maximizing relationships” as described by the authors. The tech is ever changing and refining to meet the needs of its collective users.
Somehow, with the advent of the World Wide Web, this new fracturing of space grew and resisted attempts for commerce to define it. It created its own meaning with several billion people molding and moving within it. Not with experts or people in authority, just our everyday selves following after the hobbies we love to share, collaborate, create and innovate with. No wonder I’m a little nervous. It’s way bigger than little me and will require a level of connection that will ultimately push me way out of my comfort zone.
Narnia, here I come!
Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2007). Sampling “the new” in new literacies. A new literacies sampler, 29, 1-24.