I have been enjoying reading Lankshear and Knobel’s book. I find that authors provide a lot of content at a brisk pace but the breaks in the chapters with discussion questions helps give the reader a chance to reflect on what they read and the opportunity to review the information that is engaging for the reader. I would like to see more examples of new literacies to mix up this research heavy text and provide insight into what new literacies look like in the ‘real world’.
Chapter two of the Lankshear and Knobel text had a great quotation about the definition of literacies: “socially recognized ways in which people generate communicate and negotiate meanings, as member of Discourses, through the medium of encoded texts” (page 33). I think this is a great definition for looking at comics as literature. I have checked out and have been reading Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. It has been a fascinating read about the art and craft of comics, especially the unique encoded pictorial symbols in comics. Such as lines and shapes that indicate movement or speech and thought bubbles and in digital comics the use of visual cues that are commonly used to guide the reader though the story. I think that learning to access the encoded visual system in comics gives a learner the perspective into accessing more traditional literature and is one of the reasons that I believe comics should be brought into formal literacy education.
My Definition of Digital Storytelling
This chapter discussed the concept of practice in a way that expanded my understanding of how new literacies and digital storytelling are interconnected. Practicing seems to me to be simply participating in the literacies of one’s community. The ways a community communicates is a reflections of its members perspective, because the act of sharing our experience expands our collective understanding of our world. For new literacies, that are often occurring as text online, practicing community communication means developing literacy and an understanding of the system and meaning of the encoded language. Because in these virtual communities members may never communicate face to face it is vital that members understand the conventions and norms communication of the community.
I found myself intrigued by the discussion question at the end of chapter two about weather or not a podcast or photoshop without pictures should be considered new literacies. I feel that both are mediums for digital storytelling, but I am undecided if they are examples of literacies, new or otherwise. I know that an image can tell a story but are there encoded symbols? Without symbols, that have agreed upon meanings, the true interpretation is up to the viewer. I have a favorite graphic novel, called Robot Dreams, that has no words only pictures, but relies heavily on signs, symbols, and comic conventions to help guide the reader along the story. Stories that are composed of the written word may leave much up to the interpretation of the reader in terms of the author’s motivations or what is left unsaid but the audience can agree on what words are encoded on the (web)page.