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Week 2: Literacy Narratives and PowerPoint Experiments

I think we got off to a great start during our first two class sessions, and I hope we can maintain the same level of participation and interaction throughout the semester. Next week, we’ll make sure that everyone in class is up to speed with our reading assignments, then we’ll dive into our first project, the Digital Literacy Narrative. Here’s a breakdown of how we’ll spend our time in class and what you need to do before we meet:

  • On Monday, we will discuss the reading assignments that some of you weren’t able to complete this week. If you haven’t received your copy of Net Smart yet, please download, print out, and read this PDF of the Introduction (pp. 1–33) before you come to class. If you haven’t received your copy of The Social Media Reader, please contact one of your classmates (our class hashtag on Twitter would be perfect for this) and borrow the book so you can read danah boyd’s “Participating in the Always-On Lifestyle” (pp. 71–76) before you come to class. When you have finished the readings, add a comment to this post proposing a quote or argument from one of the readings that you would like to discuss in class. (Please add your post no later than Sunday night so I can see them all before class.) Last but not least, come to class ready to share a rough draft (not a complete essay, but more than a few sentences) of your Digital Literacy Narrative with your classmates. If you have multiple ideas for this project, that’s great — you can sketch out two or three ideas to share in class.
  • On Wednesday, we will begin thinking about how to turn a written essay into a narrated video slide show. By the time you come to class, you should have a complete draft of your literacy narrative that incorporates the feedback you received in class on Monday. In addition, please read the following short articles about PowerPoint:

Finally, consider this one last reminder to sign up for Twitter, create a Dropbox account, and add a comment to last week’s post if you haven’t done so already.

If you have any questions about our plans for next week, please stop by my office hours on Monday morning (8-11 a.m. in 427 Shanks Hall), send me an email, or contact me on Twitter. Otherwise, I’ll see you in class on Monday!

Posted in Weekly Updates
22 comments on “Week 2: Literacy Narratives and PowerPoint Experiments
  1. Astleigh says:

    “The assumption is that we’re addicted to the technology. The technology doesn’t matter. It’s all about the people and information. Humans are both curious and social critters.” – The Social Media Reader (pg. 73)

  2. Sarah says:

    “As social media becomes increasingly pervasive in everyday life, more and more people will be overwhelmed by the information surrounding them. And they will have to make choices” -(The Social Media Reader, 74).

  3. Jonathan says:

    “While many old-skool cyberpunks wanted to live in a virtual reality, always-on folks are more interested in an augmented reality. We want to be part of the network.” -(Danah Boyd, The Social Media Reader, p. 74)
    This is very true. Networked always-on folks (which many college students are) are looking to supplement their busy lives with technology that allows them to interact and hack their time to make it more useful and fulfilling.

  4. Brooks Tiffany says:

    “Just because my phone buzzes to tell me that a new message has arrived does not mean that I bother to look at it. This is not because I am antiphone but procontext.” – (The Social Media Reader, 72)

    I like this quote because I agree with it so much. Being procontext provides a glimmer of hope for the human race in that we’re not complete technological zombies yet and that we still have manners and can be responsible. I’ve never understood how people allow themselves to become absolute slaves to their phones…even to the point of endangering lives (ie, texting and driving)

  5. Liana says:

    “Then a little bird in the back of my brain wonders whether or not sleeping with my iPhone next to my bed really counts. Or maybe it counts when I don’t check it, but what about when I check Twitter in the middle of the night when I wake up from a dream?” – Social Media Reader, p. 71

    I loved the opening paragraph of this essay because I felt that I could identify very strongly with the author’s musings about what really counts as “being online.” I sometimes feel like I walk around with my smart phone glued to my hand!

    Then, later in the essay, I enjoyed her statement that “all channels are accessible, but it doesn’t mean I will access them” (p. 72) when boyd is talking about why and how frequently she chooses to respond to messages or emails. Every time something bings into your email inbox, you have to make a decision about how important it is, and the decision-making process is one that varies by person and by day.

    • George says:

      I agree Liana! I love how she started out saying how she hates when surveys ask how many hours does she spend online (ironic since that was one of the questions in our first post). Anyways, I can relate because I never really know what’s considered being online and not, and the easiest way to do that is to subtract the hours instead of trying to add them up because I feel as though I truly am always-on except for when I’m sleep. It’s crazy to think but I am constantly refreshing Twitter and Instagram, always checking in on FourSquare, updating my status on Facebook, etc. For me, I really do believe I’m always-on throughout the day when I’m awake.

      • Excellent catch, George. One of my goals of that first-week post was to get us thinking about what counts as “being online.” Ten years ago (or even five years ago), it was a much simpler question, but today I find it’s almost impossible to quantify my time online. The line between “online” and “offline” is getting blurrier every day.

  6. George says:

    The Social Media Reader, pg. 73
    “We’re passionate about technology because we’re passionate about people and information, and they go hand in hand. And once you’re living in an always-on environment, you really notice what’s missing when you’re not.”

  7. George says:

    Net Smart, pg. 2
    “This know-how, from the art of growing social capital in virtual communities to the craft of cultivating wiki collaboration, might determine whether life online will drive us to distraction, or augment or broaden our minds.”

    What will be the outcome of the future of digital media? Will it eventually become a negative influence on society? Just a distraction that will dumb down future generations and not be used to become more intelligent, all-knowing individuals. Or like Rheingold states, will our know-how allow our minds to be augmented and strengthened so that we become far more sophisticated citizens with broader horizons.

    What do you guys think?

  8. Eric Avissar says:

    “People who are old enough to remember the world before it was webbed, and are simultaneously puzzled, attracted, and fearful about new media” (Net Smart pg. 3)

    This quote reminded me a lot of my grandfather, who I consider to be a very wise man. He is constantly confused by social networking while fascinated by the fact that he can talk to me and see my face via skype. He is also scared that all the advances in new media will make society lazier and less informed. I think it is important we heed the warnings of our elders of how new media can not only make life convenient, it can be so convenient that we become complacent to the point of a dangerous level of laziness.

  9. George says:

    Net Smart, pg. 16
    “When today’s infants grow up, they will be amazed that their parent’s generation could ever get lost, not be in touch with everyone they know at all times, and get answers out of the air for any question.”

    SO TRUE!

  10. Augusta says:

    “Being always-on works best when the people around you are always-on, and the networks of always-on-ers are defined more by values and lifestyle than by generation.” Social Media Reader, pg. 72

    Does being always-on really work best when the people around you are always-on?

  11. Johva says:

    I always pick quotes that make me smile >:]

    danah boyd, pp 72

    “My always-on-ness doesn’t mean that I’m always-accessible-to-everyone,” she says nonchalantly.
    Then I’m all like *tehehe. SUUUURE!

    Netsmart, pp. 9 & 15

    “Attention is a literacy that can thread all the other literacies together and hence is fundamental to the others in several ways. . . [and] even the smallest amount of attention is more useful than none at all.”

    Hah! Take THAT teachers!

  12. Marcus says:

    “I didn’t let my child loose on the streets without teaching her about traffic and looking both ways. Similarly, I don’t like to see otherwise well-educated people loose in digital culture without knowing something about what makes a small-world network work or why a portfolio of weak ties is important.” Net Smart, Pg. 24. Is he really comparing basics of physical safety to the ins and outs of the philosophy of digital culture?

  13. Marcus says:

    Oh yeah, and Danah Boyd’s comments on instant gratification (SMR pg 73) are totally contradicting. The idea that she’d want to know information NOW while its relevant is instantly gratifying the thought. I think that enhancing the experience for her is actually instant gratification, and that’s ok. I just don’t see how it couldn’t be about instant gratification.

  14. Alex says:

    NetSmart, p. 20

    “…gossip, conflict, slander, fraud, greed, and bigotry are part of human sociality, whether it takes place at the village well or in a virtual world, and those parts of human behavior can be amplified too. But altruism, fun, community, collective action, and curiosity are also parts of human sociality – and I propose that the Web is an existence proof that these capabilities can be artificially extended.”

    To relate to what Eric said about older generations being reluctant to accept technology, I think this quote has a lot to do with that. They relate all the “bad” stuff to technology (gossip, porn, assorted evils) to the Web. But just as often as the negative stuff can happen, positive causes can be enacted too!

  15. Molly says:

    “Learning how to ride a bike is a skill you have to learn alone, and even if you’re the only person in the world who can ride a bicycle, you could get from place to place faster because of your operational knowledge, along with a working bicycle. If you are the only person in the world who knows
    how to read, write, or hyperlink, however, your skill is far less useful than it could be.” Net Smart p 4

    This is such a simple “duh” quote but yet it is so true and something I’ve never put much thought into. Social media and the web are entirely reliable on a network of multiple people and interactions.

  16. Erin says:

    “..What counts as online?”

    Other people have mentioned the opening paragraph from “Participating in the Always-On Lifestyle” poses some interesting questions about what you are doing with your online time and when you are “online”. With smartphones it’s almost impossible to ever be disconnected. I find myself compulsively checking my Twitter and Facebook throughout the day whenever I have a free second. Like Liana said, I often feel like my phone is glued to my hand.

  17. Ethan says:

    The Social Media Reader, p.72
    “My always-on-ness doesn’t mean that I’m always-accessible-to-everyone.”

  18. Ashley says:

    “The key to this lifestyle is finding a balance, a rhythm that moves us in ways that make us feel whole without ripping our sanity to shreds” (76, The Social Media Reader).

    Isn’t that the truth. When I’m up to my neck with new emails and my phone is constantly buzzing and I feel over whelmed, that’s when I purposely lose my phone and I go for a walk without any electronic device. But when I went to Haiti and no internet and couldn’t use my cell phone I missed it. Its a blessing and curse but in order to keep myself from going over the deep end the balance in the “always on lifestyle” is what I try to seek.

  19. Katie says:

    “Five hundred years ago, Gutenberg presses did not immediately enable
    people to overthrow monarchies, drive the Protestant Reformation, and
    invent science as a collective enterprise. The interval between the technological advance of print and the social revolutions it triggered was required for literacy to spread. Print, a technology that leverages the power of the human mind by making possible mass distribution of written documents, required decades for the intellectual skill of decoding those printed pages to spread through populations.” ~ Net Smart, Introduction, p. 3.

    I read this, and despite all of the other information that I gleaned from the readings, this was one of the nuggets of information that stuck with me as the most meaningful use of technology throughout the ages – to spark change in governments and regimes. The idea that every invention from today dating back to inventions from centuries ago helped essentially even out the inequalities of man might be an overarching generalization, but I think they do have a good point – am I on to something here or just blabbing?

  20. Eli says:

    I like how Rheingold says how technology can be good or bad depending on how people use it. This is the sort of thing we see in movies all the time, which tell us how to be careful of how we use machines.

Where am I?
This is the class website for English 3984: Writing and Digital Media, taught by Quinn Warnick at Virginia Tech in fall 2012.
Worthwhile Reading
The links below are the most recent additions to my collection of bookmarks that are relevant to this course. You can find a complete list of ENGL 3984 bookmarks on Pinboard.

  • Buffy vs Edward Remix Unfairly Removed by Lionsgate
    A long, carefully documented saga about fair use. Great case study.
  • The Always Up-to-Date Guide to Managing Your Facebook Privacy
    Nice guide from Lifehacker: "First, we'll walk through the basic privacy settings that determine what you share, then look at a few lesser-known settings you'll want to tweak, and finish with a few third-party tools that will help keep your Facebook information private."
  • The enduring mystery of Roberto Clemente's bat
    Great writing by Kevin Guilfoile, but also a beautiful example of multimedia storytelling.
  • tapestry: a new way to write
    John Borthwick explains what tapestry is and collects some examples of great tap essays: "When we started developing tapestry it struck us that there weren’t many native reading experiences on the iPhone or iPad. Our goal is to build such a tool. A space to slow things down and let you create or experience, short, tappable stories in a simple, clean, distraction free reading environment."
  • All You Need Is (Facebook) Love: ‘Compliments’ Accounts Go Viral at Colleges and Universities
    Time magazine reports on an encouraging trend: college students setting up Facebook pages to collect compliments for/from their fellow students.
  • Demand a Plan
    Online effort to improve gun control, started in response to the Newtown school shooting.
  • Causes.com
    "Causes is a free online platform that provides easy-to-use tools for driving change. We help passionate people share ideas, find supporters, raise money, and make an impact."
  • What Ancient Greek Rhetoric Might Teach Us About New Civics
    Ethan Zuckerman: "If we want to prepare people to be effective citizens, we need to think about teaching this new civics as well as older forms of civic participation. Citizens need to do more than watch or read about the issues and then vote. They need to know how to report, to advocate, to coordinate, to propose and test solutions."
  • SPOT Survey - Fall 2012
    Students: If you haven't completed the SPOT evaluation for this course, please do so during class on Wednesday. I take this feedback very seriously, and I use it to revise my classes each semester, so please be specific about the aspects of the course (and my teaching) that you found successful and unsuccessful.
  • Popcorn Maker
    New web-based app from Mozilla: "Popcorn Maker makes it easy to enhance, remix and share web video. Use your web browser to combine video and audio with content from the rest of the web — from text, links and maps to pictures and live feeds."
  • The People's Bailout
    David Rees explains how the Rolling Jubilee works: "OWS is going to start buying distressed debt (medical bills, student loans, etc.) in order to forgive it. As a test run, we spent $500, which bought $14,000 of distressed debt. We then ERASED THAT DEBT. (If you’re a debt broker, once you own someone’s debt you can do whatever you want with it — traditionally, you hound debtors to their grave trying to collect. We’re playing a different game. A MORE AWESOME GAME.)"
  • Understanding Digital Civics
    Ethan Zuckerman: "I’m beginning to think that certain types of civic participation are simply organic to the internet. Once we have the ability to create and share our own information, we create and spread media to promote the causes we care about and raise money to support the causes we value."
  • Google Docs Stories Builder
    Fun little tool to create text-based stories in which various characters interact within a Google Doc. (Sound confusing? Yeah, you kind of have to see it in action.)
  • Twitter Is A Truth Machine
    John Herrman: "Twitter is a fact-processing machine on a grand scale, propagating then destroying rumors at a neck-snapping pace. To dwell on the obnoxiousness of the noise is to miss the result: That we end up with more facts, sooner, with less ambiguity."
  • The Fallacy of Digital Natives
    Amen to this: "Sure, there may be a larger percentage of Millennials that tap into technology first compared to their elders, but oversimplifying the division of generations to suggest one prefers an all-technology learning style whilst the others use it when necessary is preposterous. Learning and technology has nothing to do with generational divides."
  • Click and Drag
    An amazing, endless xkcd comic.
  • Nice piece in Transom explaining Cowbird
    Annie Correal: "Our goal is to build a public library of human experience, so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as part of the commons."
  • Being Online Has Become So Common That Some People No Longer Identify It As Being Online
    Techdirt, quoting a study by Forrester Research: "Our analysis revealed that 'being online' is becoming a fluid concept. Consumers no longer consider some of the online activities they perform to be activities related to 'using the Internet.' In fact, given the various types of connected devices that US consumers own, many people are connected and logged on (automatically) at all times. The Internet has become such a normal part of their lives that consumers don’t register that they are using the Internet when they’re on Facebook, for example. It’s only when they are actively doing a specific task, like search, that they consider this to be time that they’re spending online."
  • Reddit's balance of power: community values are tested as a troll is unmasked
    Links to all of The Verge's coverage of the Violentacrez debacle.