Thus, following Street (1984), New Literacy scholars commonly use ethnographic approaches to explore literacy practices, since this method ensures that researchers consider context and not just text. Working within the paradigm of The New Literacy Studies, Barton and Hamilton (1998) developed the concept of Vernacular Literacies – voluntary, self-generated practices about getting on with the business of living, rather than (for example) producing texts for academic assessment.
Within the paradigm of the NLS I see Facebook as a context for literacy practices that are social and that are vernacular. The NLS is a new approach to looking at literacy; it does not refer specifically to the ways in which new digital technologies have impacted on literacy. However, because the uses of digital technologies are so often vernacular and so overtly social, to help us to do things online (buying, selling, making friends etc) many practices using new technologies exemplify literacy as a social practice very clearly.
Creating a text using new technologies might simply enable ‘more polished performances of old practices’, (Davies and Merchant, 2009) but which cannot be considered as new literacy practices. Thus Lankshear and Knobel (2006) suggest new literacies must involve not just ‘new technical stuff’ but also ‘new ethos stuff’. Thus This suggests we should look to social effects in order to define new literacy practices. Lankshear and Knobel distinguish between new literacies that are chronologically new, or new ‘in kind’ (2011:184-185). The new ‘in kind’ signals a new ‘mind-set’ and perceives a new ethos emerging where new literacy practices are more: collaborative; participative; multimodal and distributed and therefore less individuated and less author-centred. This definition accounts not just for digitality and multimodality, but also collaboration and distribution; authors can be synchronically and geographically dispersed. I argue therefore that new literacies combine digitality with new social acts.
It is like showing your hyperlinked address book to all your friends
As will be evidenced later, and as boyd discusses, Facebook helps individuals avoid situations associated with losing face or being in wrong face by providing the tools to talk ‘backstage’ through its messaging system; it allows one to build up photographic evidence in a profile that can substantiate a line that has been taken; it allows one to manage people’s access to data which might be embarrassing if seen by certain groups.
As Pete talks me through this, the complexity of his reading and writing practices becomes clear. He is in one FB space but this one space has many layers. All of which contribute to the meaning of an individual text. Bakhtin (1981: 279)The living utterance, having taken meaning and shape at a particular historical moment in a socially specific environment, cannot fail to brush up against thousands of living dialogic threads, woven by socio-ideological consciousness around the given object of an utterance; it cannot fail to become an active participant in social dialogue.
I have been meeting with groups of teenagers in their friendship groups aged between 16 and 18. They have been walking me through their Facebooks, telling me what they do, why, what they like and what draws them to Facebook. Some of the teens have been at school and some at college. Occasionally I have asked to have screenshots of some of the text on their FB walls; . Today I am just commenting about things that they have been telling me about their writing on their FB walls but the multimodal nature of their Facebooks is really important and the stuff other than Facebook updates and comments, as it is the context of all the writing they do. Their writing actually does need to be understood within the context of the facebook template and content – as well as their social lives. As we were chatting, one of the girls from a school group told me about how she and a boy in her class were pretending to be dating. A group of them had planned to go and see a band in Sheffield on the coming Friday night and she wanted to arrive linked arms with the boy, when they arrived. Assumption that friends follow their statusesAssumption they would take cameras to the gigThat they would upload to FacebookThat they would commentThat the narrative would be shared An event that crosses space and time and that share authorship
This is not what the Facebook page looks like – this is more a presentational device to highlight particular aspects of the data. These words are what the friends of Manjinder can see;
Conceptual Framework• Language and Literacy – The new literacy studies; (Barton and Hamilton, 1998); Street, 2003;• Social Network Theory;• Facework, Presentation of Self in Everyday Life – Goffman;• Narrative and Discourse Analysis
New Literacy Studies• Shift from the psychological to a social model;• Move beyond encoding & decoding skills;• Literacy as always context specific;• Literacy as a social practice;• Literacy as plural; 4
New Literacy Studies• VERNACULAR - Literacy in everyday life• Not schooled literacy but ‘literacy under the desk’• Text making that is not assessed but that is still important in DOING life• Literacy as something people DO 5
From a socio-cultural perspective it is impossible toseparate out from text-mediated social practices thebits concerned with reading or writing (or any othersense of literacy) and to treat them independently ofall the non-print bits, like values and gestures, contextand meaning, action and objects, talk and interaction,tools and spaces. They are all non-subtractable parts ofintegrated wholes. “Literacy bits” do not exist apartfrom the social practices in which they are embeddedand in which they are acquired. (Lankshear and Knobel, 2006:13)
New Literacies• Digital technology• Mobile technologies• Multimodality• Speed of publication• Wide disseminationBut does this bring about anything new in termsof practice? Is this just about the tools?
• More polished performances of old practices (Davies and Merchant, 2009)
A Call for New Research• Are we, in our fascination with new media seeing the concomittent changes to literate practice (or cognitive processes and social practices) as more radical than they really are? (Moje, 2009: 350)
Social network sites• … individuals to (1) construct a public or semi public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others in the system (boyd and Ellison 2008: 211)
Social network theorists• Public displays of connection (Donath and boyd, 2004)• Online spaces defined by social networks – your friends are the ‘walls’, the perimeters; (Boyd 2006)• Sunden (2003) Writing oneself into being
• .. For teenagers, the online realm may be adopted enthusiastically because it represents their space, visible to the peer group more than to adult surveillance, an exciting yet relatively safe opportunity to conduct the psychological task of adolescence – to construct, experiment with and present a reflexive project of the self in a social context (Livingstone, 2008:396)
The Ongoing story of the self• Giddens 1991: our stories help us make sense of the world and our place within it;• Hymes (1996): ‘life as a source of narrative’ … ‘slight incidents, have the potentiality of an interest that is worth re-telling’• Langellier and Peterson (2004): people make sens of their experiences through story telling – and involve themselves in ‘cultural conversations’
Goffman• The rituals of the everyday• Presentation of self across domains• Coherence of performance – taking a line• A line is verbal and non-verbal• Actors form part of their own audience
Goffman: On FaceworkTo maintain „face‟ is to acquire andkeep a positive value for the thatsomeone is takingFacework describes everythingsomeone does in order to keep „face‟ 15
while concern for face focuses attention of theperson on the current activity, he (sic) must, tomaintain face in this activity, take intoconsideration his place in the social worldbeyond it
Research QuestionsCan Literacy practices on Facebook beconsidered new literacy practices?Does Facebook provide new ways forteenahgers to present themselves?Does Facebook offer new ways for friendshipmanagement?Do Literacy practices in Facebook affectpresentations of self in other contexts (andvice versa)? 17
The Data25 x 16 and 17 year oldsFriendship groups One comprehensive school - A Level students One private girls’ school – A level students One post 16 college – ‘basic skills class’ Post 16 college – GCSE English ClassInterviews and ‘walk throughs’Screenshots 18
I joined it cos my friends were on it. Theydidn’t nag me to go on but people werealways talking about it at school. 19
I was like, you know when I read myemails, people would invite me toFacebook cos I weren’t on it. It were likewhen will you get on it? I was sick ofemails saying like do you wanna joinFacebook and that? And I was like “No”.And I just like deleted hundreds of FBinvites. And finally I just said like “fairenough I’ll join”. 20
You have to go on (Facebook) otherwise its like you don‟t exist.If you are not on there, then where are you? 21
I joined about 2 years ago. I was on another network sitecalled Bebo. And a lot of my friends had moved up. Alot of my friends were like … well it was just thatFacebook seemed like a more mature person’s socialnetworking site. I think Bebo was aimed at a youngergeneration of er .. I think that Bebo was a bit moreridiculous really. And I thought that I was ready to moveon really. It was nice to just start doing something a bitnewer too. A bit intriguing. Also a lot of older people,like my cousins and older friends, just older people Iknew of were all on Facebook and they kind of smirkedat the idea of Bebo. 22
Pete reads aloud:There‟s nothing like a bit of Mumford & Sons (a band) in the morning.Cos this is a band I like listening to at the moment of a morning. So I have gotcomments from people like my friends basically, my friend‟s girlfriend and stuff.I have lots of comments on that really and they are making an in-joke out of it Ithink.There‟s nothing like two pairs of espadrilles for 20 pooondsAfter about five seconds the topic of my conversation and status loses itsmeaning cos people add stuff to it. Added an in joke, a private joke to take it on.And you forget how it started. It‟s like a game.This is my 363 friends and that‟s like me and this girl, we are married. as youcan see I have said I am married to this girl. We are friends but we are notgoing out. It‟s just a joke. 23
FRIENDS That‟s how many friends I‟ve got. 762. I think its stupid if you add people you don‟t know. I know all these people. Well not know them KNOW them. I know who they all are. Facebook friends is not the same as normal friends. I have two best friends. And they are normal friends who I mostly talk to on chat. I have put my friends in lists so I can sort out who sees what. .I have 4 lists That‟s what‟s quite good. You can let some people see a few things; more people see a few more things and then there‟s totally public. Well public to who you‟ve friended. 24
FRIENDSK: You know the chat thing? You can put them in groups now so that you canappear online to some and offline to others.S: Oh do you use that?L: I do. I have a friends list. I have a yeah list and a meah list! Theyeah list,these are the people who I’ll like - I’ll talk to, like my close friends, andmeah, I don’t really like to talk to, they are on my friends list but they areannoying to talk to and they WILL talk to you if they see you are online. Andyou just don’t want to be doing with it. I usually have my other friends listand then my yeah and my meah. Sometimes I might move people about thedifferent lists! I will still talk to the meah people on my wall and at school,but I don’t like talk to them on the chat bit as they’s mess it up. You knowwith their constant little interactions and things they say going on all thetime. 25
FRIENDS• S: Also there are reasons why in the future you might want to talk to them and so you should have them as Facebook friends just in case. Like if you met someone who was from somewhere random like Rotherham, and then you found out you had to go to Rotherham, then you might contact them. So if you did not have them as your Facebook friend then you would not have that option. So it‟s a bit like keeping them in your address book even if you don‟t talk to them all the time. Only it is better than that as in fact you are sort of rubbing along and they can see stuff about you and you can see stuff about them. So if you did meet face to face, then it is easier to talk. 26 26
PHOTOS • I never have a photo that just has me in them cos I just feel kind of like that I will look to big headed or self centred if it is just me. So I prefer to have one of me with other people and so I just change it. If a better or nicer one comes up I change it. 27 27
PHOTOS • S: And yeah so if I am looking at a girl‟s photo to decide … if you fancy a girl you look on her profile and you think do I fancy her and so you have a look at all her pictures to get more of an idea if you do or not • L: Yeah lots of people do that. • K: Yeah • L: And also if you want someone to fancy you you need to have a good selection of nice photos of yourself looking really good showing cos they can see your profile pictures even if you have not friended them yet. 28 28
PHOTOS • S: Yeah Facebook stalking. It‟s a good pastime. • L: You have to also have a lot of friends otherwise it looks like you are sad. • K: And pictures of yourself having a good time! You have to have those. You have to show you have friends and that you go to lots of places. 29 29
PHOTOS Also every picture that goes into your album for profile pictures, so like if there’s another one that you want to be laid down in history there … It’s kind of like a record of your best erm. Its kind of like the ones you are choosing what you want where its what you want to portray yourself. It is not just the ones that have been tagged. Its like the ones that you have elevated to the position of profile pictures. 30
PHOTOS Look this is when I brought my camera to school. My profile was looking boring and so I needed pictures to brighten it up. So we decided to have a bit of a mad day and even the teachers joined in. Look at this one. That was a great day in the end, so we could put all this lot on Facebook. 31 31
... so on Friday night at thegig, we‟re arriving as a coupleyeah? .... its gonna be wellwicked ..... just can‟t wait tosee everybody‟s Facebook onSaturday morning. 32
Name Words Likes TimeKate Happy Birthday Sam! 1 Saturday 10.05DentPoppy Happy Birthday Sami! 1 Saturday 11.05StilgoeSinead Happy Birthday Sami! 1 Saturday 11.20FoxBeth Happy Birthday Sam 1 Saturday 11.37LittleBecky Happy Birthday from me too 1 Saturday 11.54SandsAnita Happy Birthday from your favourite aunty!! Have a 1 Saturday 12.30Vashi good day.Ali Lord Have a great day. See you later. 1 Saturday 12.35Samitra Thanks everyone!! Hope to see some of you later @ Saturday 12.40Balu Happy Wik! Message me for where we‟re going after.Lindsay And Hapy Birthday from me too, Will CU laters. 1 Saturday 14.03Barr Hopefully there‟ll be some good pix @ „Happy Wik‟.Samitra I mean Happy Wok! Saturday 14.05Balu 33
Person Words Likes TimesAmy Beal Lying on the sofa watching Enders 1 Friday @ 20.10Ali Lord Me too and eating chips. Nom Nom 1 Friday @ 20.11 Nom.Amy Beal Is that your tea? Are you calling for Friday @ 20.11 me tomorrow?Ali Lord No & yep . *Burp*. 6 Friday @ 20.15Amy Beal I pay you to work not to like me. Lol Friday @ 20.20Ali Lord Zainab Friday @ 20.22Amy Beal Yep. I totally hate her. Such a troll. Friday @ 20.23Ali Lord Wouldn‟t it be totally mint to live in 2 Friday @ 20.23 Albert SquareAmy Beal ROTFL. Nightmare more like. Friday @ 20.27Ali Lord Have you done your statement thing Friday @ 20.30 yet? I‟m thinking of putting something about being an expert on Enders.Amy Beal And Facebook. Lol ))))))) Friday @ 20.31Ali Lord Popular Culture Consultant. Friday @ 20.31Amy Beal OMG!!! PCC. Let‟s go on chat. I need Friday @ 20.33 to ask you something. Have you got time? 34
Name Words Likes TimeManjinder Some people think they are so great SaturdaySingh 21.03Leni Khan Some of us ARE 3 Saturday 21.15Manjinder Too true. *Looks in mirror* Lol SaturdaySingh 21.16Leni Khan I just think that by the time you are in year 12 you Saturday should act a bit more mature. It‟s like they think 21.20 there about 14. Well they think they act 20. But actually its about 14. Or 12. (you know who you are, you perthetic (sp??)immature people yeah)Manjinder I know who you mean. I‟m not going to Biol on SaturdaySingh Monday anyhow. 21.22Manjinder I‟ve run out of credit. Can you text our Sanj for SaturdaySingh me? I want to ask her to bring me a Chinese on 21.25 her way home.Leni Khan K but you have to message me her number Saturday though. 21.25Manjinder K. Sent it! SaturdaySingh 21.27 35
Time LikesLynne Friday 4 So I’ve just made some spicy potato wedgesPound 18.31Tom Friday Yum 18.32Lynne Friday And now I’m eating themPound 18.32Tom Friday Let me taste 18.34Lynne Friday There you goPound 18.35Tom Friday Delicious. I’ll wash up my dear 18.38Lynne Friday Not in your best suit my sweetPound 18.39Soo Saturday 6 Are you two mad?Lin 9.46 36
Time LikesRichard Tweed Sunday Down in the dumps 17.10Kelvin James 17.45 Been dumped?Richard Tweed 17.50 In my statusKelvin James 17.52 No no No! *sings*Richard Tweed 17.54 You don‟t love me and I know now! LOLKelvin James 19.05 Are you gonna do some culling? 37
Matthew Longden Tuesday 12 So Look here. 15.11Tom Smith Tuesday 5 Mentalist 15.12Simon Madison Tuesday No mate you cant get me Im not looking 15.35Matthew Longden 16.36 Sorry. I was just too quick. And you’re to sl-o-o-o-o-o-ow.Tom Smith Madison is slow. A slow worm . 38
• Display of friendships as performance to self and others;• Management of the future and of the past;• Public/Private domains merging and being re-defined on a moment by moment basis;• Visibility and invisibility possible – for reading as well as performing; 39
• Preservation of traditional rituals, conventions and practices; (Birthdays etc);• New conventions and rituals emerging to enact traditional practices & self presentation (e.g. poking; liking);• Blending of old and new rituals and ways of performing the self 40
Routinised presentation of self in everyday lifeContextualised construction of credentialsNew Social Literacy Practices 41