The New Literacy - Scholarship Review

Chapter 1of “Sampling ‘The New’ in New Literacies” by Lankshear & Knobel main thesis is defining the ‘New Literacy’ in the digital age from basic reading and writing to a more fluid and dynamic model writing and reading. The authors argue that in the modern age reading out of a book written by a specialist is changing to a more participatory model though the use of online technology. One clear example of this is the transition from the Encyclopedia Britannica that all older people can remember to the modern Wikipedia written not by specialist but by crowd sourcing, The quality was not diminished but rather improved by the intelligence of the masses.

My main take away from this reading was the idea that writing itself is undergoing and transformation because of the new “Technical Stuff” mainly the rise of the internet. But what really hit home was the new “Ethos Suff” that values user engagement with the content just as much as the content. I never really though about that before, I’ve always looked at writing as a one to many medium not an on going conversation that is rich and dynamic. I also thought about the tool Hypothsis and how the tool itself was so inline with what the authors were discussing as new literacy.

The authors introduced the ideas of primary and secondary discourse. Primary being the fist discourse that you learn as a child in the privacy of your home and the secondary discourse is the discourse that experience as you get older and experience the world of school, work and peer groups. This made me think about how minorities in this country must reach further from their primary discourse to their secondary discourse when engaging with school and work environments. We call it “code switching” when we attempt to communicate with people of the outside group. The better you are as a minority at code switching into the dominant White American discourse the more successful financially you will become. I starting thinking about this a lot as I have been interviewing people for a job and noticed that the minority candidates do not connect with my entirely white department as well. I could tell they were doing their very best to fit into the discourse of our workplace.

This reading is highly academic and sited a lot of works. It was dense and at times I found myself rereading the passages. This writing to me was intended for an academic audience, ironically written in the traditional frame of the sage on the stage tell us, the reader what the new literacy was all about while not being in a format of the new literacy. What I did like was the new Hypothesis tool, because I was the fist to annotate it was unable to see the other students comments. But I will go back on Sunday and see what they have said about my annotations. I wish there was an up vote button in the annotations so we can have a way to see who was agreeing with me. I feel that this reading was not in the vane of the new literacy because it was not delivered on a platform that would allow for sharing and feedback. It was a static PDF that was not screen reader accessible. What made this part of the new literacy was the wrapper of Hypothesis.

I’m very curious to see what Lankshear & Knobel would make of the web 9 years after writing this paper. Since then at lot has changed, Twitter has taken over blogs, Snap Chat and Instagram are taking over the photography scene and mobile technology now out numbers desktop computers. Everything is served in bite sized packets designed to be digested while walking or waiting for he bus. How to the condensing of written content change the way we think can 140 characters tell a story? It can change a country in what we discovered with the Trump run from presidency.

I’ve watched a youtube video recently for a CS class I was building at University of California Riverside where they talk about computer code as “The New Literacy”. I wonder how that would fit into Lankshear & Knobel model of the new ethos. Is code something totally separate from the discourse that we are discussing or is code an extension of the open ethos that they expounded upon. When every student in China is learning code as a language that means one in 5 people on this earth will be writing in common language.