Monday, March 31, 2008

BPN 1054 Media literacy, media literacies, media wisdom, media versatility

Last Friday afternoon I attended the conference Literacy in the age of new media. The word conference was perhaps too big for a seminar like happening on a Friday afternoon. The conference was organised by the Dutch Council of Humanistic sciences, an academic organisation which is part of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences.

In 2005 the Council had organised a conference on this subject. But this time it aimed at bringing together media scientists, language experts, representatives from education, book industry, the audio-visual sector and new media. The objective of the conference was to find a common instrument of analysis and terms to form a framework for social and educational discussions.

During the afternoon the terminology of new media literacy got in the way of the discussion. In The Netherlands the contradictory term media wisdom has become en vogue. It is a rather elite term striving after literacy and cultural background. Some of the lecturers recognised that there is not something like media literacy, but that there are literacies. And of course the term new media is posing problems. With new media you know that there is something new, but it is difficult to indicate the implications of the newness. Basically the transparency of the old media has gone. I would rather see the use of digital media as opposed to analogue media. IMHO the term digital media versatility does satisfy the need better as the discipline should strive after versatility in thinking and acting with digital media.

William Uricchio from MIT and Utrecht University gave his long view on new media literacies. His research is focussed on the transformation of media technologies in cultural practices, especially the part of (re-)construction of representation, knowledge and audiences. He sketched the development in media literacy from handwriting, through printing and the use of computer and noticed that the manuscripts were produced by writing in a scriptorium by persons. The phase of typesetting and printing was a corporate action undertaken by a publishing house. By using the computer anyone can publish online, which leads to disembodiment. Mew media literacies include according to William Uricchio: new forms of textuality such as hypertext, image words, relationships, the aesthetics of code; new literary genres such as blogs and mini-blogs; transformation of text and spelling as can be seen in texting; paradigma shift in the nature of cultural production.

The conference comes at a time, when the Dutch government is publishing a memorandum and setting up an expertise centre on media wisdom in a few weeks time.

Blog Posting Number: 1054

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