3 Key Concepts
Concepts like technology, commerce, and culture are part of the idea tool-kit we can use to shape our work.
Video: Key Concepts (9:18)
We will use a set of six key concepts throughout the course. These mental tools, or lenses, shape how we will study and write about the technology of the book throughout history. This video provides an introduction to these concepts, and serves as an introduction to the readings for week 3. It is important background that will help you with the work for Forum 2 and Project 3.
Project 3: Literacy Self-Portrait
Project 3 template
Project 3 has two purposes:
1. To describe and reflect on your experiences as a reader and writer
2. To apply some of the key concepts from the readings in order to analyze your own literacy practices
Watch the "Key Concepts" video for an introduction to the ideas covered in the readings. Then read Introduction / Section 2, Communication Expands, and Introduction / Section 3, Key Concepts, in the Gadget Media mobile text.
In Section 2, the episode called "The Late Age of Print" ends with this sentence: "Two decades into the 21st century, we are deep into the late age of print, and we are surrounded by texts." Literacy practices of various kinds are so deeply embedded in our daily experiences today that we sometimes don't even notice. The literacy self-portrait project is an opportunity to explore and analyze your own experiences as a writer and reader. It will provide a chance to make visible some of the many ways the technologies of literacy are part of your daily life.
Gather and develop ideas: Forum 2: Literacy Diary
Think of Forum 2 as a kind of daily diary of your own literacy experiences. As you go through the day, take note of the different ways you use writing and reading. What devices and technologies do you use? What goals and tasks are you trying to accomplish? With whom are you communicating or interacting? What different mediums and genres are you using to compose texts? Include as much detail as you can, and define literacy broadly. Everything from casual texts to formal writing projects can be included. Think about the purposes literacy serves in your life: learning, completing tasks, doing work, entertainment. Try to capture all the different ways you use and interact with texts in one day and record that descriptive detail in Forum 2. This will form the raw material you can use to complete Project 3.
Compose a Literacy Self-Portrait: Project 3
Project 3 can be developed in whatever form you like. You can write it as a narrative, or an analytical report, or even as a kind of ethnography of yourself (writing about yourself as a sociologist or anthropologist might). Take the details you captured in Forum 2 and weave them into an essay that represents yourself as a consumer and producer of texts. (Texts can include visual and digital media as well as written words.)
Here are some questions based on the key concepts that you can use to develop ideas for your self-portrait. You do not need to answer all of them. They are meant to be suggestive. Take them in whatever direction you like.
Technology: What devices, platforms, and tools do you use to compose and read texts? Which of these technologies are analog (print, pencil, paper, highlighters, etc) and which are digital (Blackboard, other websites, laptops, etc). Do you associate specific platforms with different experiences? (Work vs play, create vs consume, relaxed vs stressful, etc).
Culture: How do you use literacy to connect to different people and communities? (Family, friends, coworkers, and others.) In what groups or subcultures do you participate via literacy? What institutions do you engage with? (UALR, work, community groups, church groups, etc).
Commerce: Which of your literacy practices are connected to paid work, or to developing skills you hope to translate into paid work? Which of your literacy experiences cost you money? (Tuition, subscriptions, bookstore purchases, etc). How many advertisements did you see when accessing the various platforms you used?
Reading and Literacy: How would you describe yourself as a reader? Are you a deep reader? A skimmer? Some of both? Do you discuss what you are reading with others? To what extent is reading a social experience for you? Are you a linear reader? Nonlinear? Do some technologies feel more comfortable and suited to your reading practices?
Authors and Writing: What different forms and genres have you composed today? How much of this was informal (social media, texts) vs formal (school projects, reports and emails for work, other professional correspondence)? Do you describe yourself as a writer? Why or why not? What writing skills are you trying to learn and develop?
Finally, try to think of a metaphor or analogy to describe yourself as a literacy practitioner. Think of Nicholas Carr, for example, and his use of the metaphors of the scuba diver and the jet skier. What image or metaphor comes to mind when you think of yourself as a reader and writer?
Your completed Project 3 should be delivered as a Google Doc in an embedded link on the Project 3 discussion board in Blackboard. Aim for at least 700 words, and feel free to go longer than that if you get inspired!
Blog Post 1 (Grad Students Only)
Grad students registered in Rhet 5326 are required to write four extra blog posts for the course. The first of these is due next week, Tues Sept 5.
For this first one, your assignment is to revise what you write for Project 3 so that it is appropriate for a wider audience—online readers as opposed to your instructor and peers in the class.
Ideally, you should publish these blog posts online for a live audience. You could use Blogger, Medium, or Tumblr. (You may already have an account with one of these; they are all free.) Publishing your blog posts live is a great way to get practice in writing and designing content for online readers. You can choose which platform and style you want to use. Take the assignments and adapt them for your own purposes, goals, and audiences. If you choose to publish your blog posts online, simply post a link in the Bb discussion forum so we can find them.
Let me tell you a story: In June 2016, I published a blog post about mobile learning on the Textbook and Academic Authors blog page. I didn’t know if anyone read those posts, but I was happy for a little practice and maybe some exposure. As it turned out, a woman named Jayme Heffler read my post (she did a Google search for “mobile learning”), and she contacted me. That is how I got connected with Gadget Software! You never know—post something on a blog and maybe you’ll get a job offer!
If you are not comfortable posting live online (yet), you can deliver your first post as a Google Doc, as we have been doing with the other Projects. I can edit and help you revise it and try to talk you into putting it out there on the Web!