[new media writing prize at poole literary festival]

While living in England I would often go to the Poole literary festival but it figures that the one time I don't go, the festival starts a New Media Writing prize! (Well, Baby will be about 3 months by then...maybe we could swing a trip...) Michael Bhaskar (originally of Pan Macmillan), Digital Publishing Manager at Profile Books and Serpents Tail is going to be one of the judges and has this to say about it:

"There is a new generation of publisher-produced content that seeks to be fully social, interactive, animated, graphical, new media native and multimedia in a way which no one (ok, publishers) has really done before. Except of course new media writers. Yet there has been no real conversation between the two. Why? It seems like we should have hit the meeting point where there could and should be a productive alliance, when in fact the gulf seems as wide as ever.

On the writing side I often hear that people feel ignored by publishers. Essentially the world of commercial publishing is a closed shop unwilling to listen to the maverick, the outsider and the original, and will ultimately pay for this as audiences gravitate to newer and amorphous forms that exist across the digital media they increasingly engage with at the expense of all others.

There is an element of truth in this. However publishers have to sell books – or something – to keep going. Understandably they are keen not to simply disappear and much new media writing is not designed to be commercial, being associated with a more recondite and experimental mindset. Publishers will always feel constrained by the nature of their audience and the retail opportunities available. This might be an argument for by-passing publishers or intermediaries’ altogether, although history (that most unreliable of guides?) suggests that there will always be a role for the market-making middle man.

What I would like is mediation. It’s time that publishers looked more closely at the field and the way it generates new ideas, interfaces, narrative and informational forms, the way it can unite technical and creative expertise, the way it innovates into whole new product categories. However hopefully also new media writers will look to publishers’ concerns, and constantly ask who is reading this and why, what is the scale and the nature of the audience, how can we package this for wider consumption and what is the business behind it. These grubby financial concerns may be some way removed from the discourse of a critical, digital avant garde but they are the kind of questions without which new media writing will forever marginalise itself.

So, yes, the view from the publisher’s office may have been negative in the past. Publishers are changing fast though. Digital departments are mushrooming and a new appetite is abroad for hitherto unforeseen modes of publishing. With a dialogue from both sides, we could be at the beginning of a new phase not only for publishing, but for writing."


[transliteracy and religion: multimodal bible]

I love the tag line on the new Glo Multimedia Bible: "it help[s] you get closer to the Word of God."

There are photos, art, interactive elements, timelines, maps, verse, historical context etc... what more would you want from a bible?

Upon inspection...it seems this religious experience is reserved for Windows users...nothing there for a Mac OS. Hrm....

Read an article on the Glo Bible in the Mercury News.

Note: Image from the Glo website.

[need for multimodal critical literacy]

A video found via Amy Stewart on the need (implied) for educators that fully understand multimodal literacy in order to share that knowledge with students:


[article: academic and media framing of literacy]

An interesting article published May 2010 by Katherine Ognyanova:

"The technological and social shifts of the past several decades have brought about new modes of learning, participation and civic engagement. As young people work, play and socialize in online spaces, the academic community is exploring the challenges and possibilities of education in the digital age. New definitions of literacy emerge to address the importance of digital skills, play and collaboration. This paper explores the diverging perspectives on literacy adopted by new media scholars and old media outlets. Thematic coverage in the New York Times from the last four years is analysed and compared to academic texts produced in the same period. Measures of salience for literacy as a topic are used in conjunction with framing analysis based on semantic mapping. The results of this study suggest that mainstream media employ a legacy literacy frame, stressing basic language competencies and traditional institutions. That perspective is markedly different from the academic discourse, which emphasizes a host of new social, technological and critical evaluation skills."

Read the entire article here.

Note: Image from Digital Culture and Education site.


[serendipitous linking]

As readers of this blog and the transliteracy.com blog will know, I'm enjoying my new position at the University of Alberta. My current project is the creation/design of a master's module on New Media Narratives. Yes, how perfectly does that fit with my own ph.d, my own experience teaching, and yes, even my post doc.?! Love it!

And, thanks to the wonder of the internet, readers are writing in with questions about the course (yes please, feel free to ask me about start dates, the syllabus etc...). Interestingly, today I received an e-mail from Neil Baldwin, Director of The Creative Research Center at Montclair State University in New Jersey. The CRC seems similar with the IOCT (De Montfort University) - there's a focus on transdisciplinarity and a desire to move information from academic "silos" and share with the wider world. I like the CRC's mission to be an open-source collaborative space which is "born digital."
Check out the centre's print-on-demand e-books, the constantly updated and "living" "web bibliography" and Neil Baldwin's (the director's) blog.

Note: Painting images by Nell Painter at the CRC. Read the artist's statement here


[social media in university classes]

I always make an effort to teach in a way that keeps students interested. I try to bring in different activities for different kinds of learners (kinaesthetic, auditory, etc...). I also make strong use of facebook, blogs and wikis with my classes. The feedback so far has been very good. Students at the beginning of each term did express hesitancy - they hadn't blogged before, they weren't sure about public/privacy issues - but by the end of term the anonymous feedback was unanimous. They all felt they learnt better with the addition of these web 2.0 tools. One of the most repeated comments from my students (in English and journalism undergrad. classes) was how much they appreciated the opportunity for constructive peer feedback using comments on our blog posts.

Swapna Kumar notes a similar response in her article "The Net Generation’s Informal and Educational Use of New Technologies":

Similar to their personal use of new technologies, students’ use of online content was higher than their creation of online content for educational purposes (Figure 5). Less than 15% of undergraduates surveyed had created a blog, wiki, or podcast for their coursework. In open-ended responses, nine students stated that they would like to create content using wikis, videos, or podcasts, but were not required to do so.

These findings are in line with the responses I received from my own undergraduate students. However, in my classes they were required to create online content - for many this was their first time using any online tool within an educational setting. (I'm not including the university's use of Blackboard because it is closed and often used solely for e-mail communication and mark updating).

Just look at the discrepancy between using online apps for personal and educational purposes:

Technologies most useful for learning
Additional comments revealed that undergraduates in this group:
  • used new technologies for coursework-related information-gathering and communication;

  • appreciated the use of online videos and podcasts to supplement course readings;

  • enjoyed educational discussions on online forums and blogs; and,

  • used Google Docs for collaborative project work and would like to see both wikis and Google Docs used for course activities by professors.
Podcasts and Online videos: Professors’ use of videos and podcasts to supplement course content was highly appreciated by students, who added that the length and relevance of a video clip was crucial to its usefulness to course topics. Their professors had used online videos:

  • as course resources instead of course readings or supplement to course readings;

  • for the explanation of topics;

  • as writing or discussion prompts; and,

  • as examples of expert teaching or for integration into lesson plans.
One student provided the following example:
"Our professor directed us to view an online video related to a recent discussion that we had had in class. The video was amazingly well put together, and reinforced a great deal that we had covered in class. I found it so helpful, that I forwarded the link to another professor of mine so that he could post it for our other class (in which a similar topic had also come up). Online videos are great tools to reinforce a discussion topic."
Students specified that they would like to see more of podcasts (20%) and online videos (33%) in their courses:
"They [podcasts and online videos] reinforce discussion topics and place them in an alternative format, allowing students to access/interact with information via different mediums. i.e. it provides alternative interfaces with information. Though they shouldn't replace a lecture, they certainly have value in terms of accessibility (cognitively and physically)."

Although a small study (only on 26 students), the findings deeply parallel my own experience. This is added encouragement which I'll keep in mind as I design the new master's class on
New Media Narratives which will be starting in Jan. 2011 online and through the University of Alberta.


[site changing url]

Now that I'm living in Canada, I need a North American url. Please update your bookmarks to my new blog url: www.jesslaccetti.com/musings.htm.


[interdisciplinary phd studentships in barcelona]

Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) –Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona

The IN3 invites applications for its Interdisciplinary English-speaking PhD programme in the Society of Information and Communication in its three different itineraries:

Information and Knowledge society
Network and Information Technologies

Successful applicants will be part of the IN3 and join a vibrant, internationally oriented research community specialized in the investigation of the network society, the knowledge economy or the
e-leaning methodologies as well as in the study of network technologies and specific areas of software. Staff at IN3 is composed by full-time researchers, professors at the Open University of
Catalonia and international visiting professors. For further information about the IN3, please visit 

We welcome applications from students from Arts and Humanities, Business and Economics, Engineering, Law and Political Science, Media, Science Education or Social Sciences in general, strongly motivated to undertake an interdisciplinary research.

Applicants having a minimum of 300 ECTS credits (60 must be at postgraduate level) can access directly the PhD programme with a 3-year scholarship.

Further info: 

Deadline: 13th June 2010

Note: Image from the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute.