Closing the Gutenberg Parenthesis - Chris Lott


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Chris Lott's slides on the "Gutenberg Parenthess", secondary orality, and information fluency for WCET09.

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  • The multiplicity of theories of digital/new-media literacy is, in practical terms, a red herring if we accept a difference between literacy and fluencyThe notion of secondary orality, as originally formulated by Ong– with a debt to Havelock and McLuhan– provides a lens to examine our notions of digital/new-media literacy and fluency and along the way makes a bit of sense of the (so far largely mythical) net generationWe are right on the far parenthesis, we can see and participate in a cultural frame that we aren’t wholly part of, which makes prognostication exceedingly difficult but potentially extremely rewarding.In the true style of a strand focused on innovation, this is (for me) early thinking with lots of questions and few answers– I implore you to ask questions and share your thinking!
  • A question of performance and self-expression-- expanding the "participation" sphere beyond the literate activities of being able to do X into the area of being able to do X "well" according to the context (semantics, rhetoric)   
  • An evolution of rhetoric, retrieving classical aspects in the new frame: inventio, dispositio, elocutio, memoria, actio -- in the land of the synchronous, semi-synchronous and microInventio– determining subject; dispositio- giving form, order; elocutio- style and language, vocabulary, ornaments and figures; memoria- Cicero: "the firm grasp of thought on the things and the words to retain invention.“; actio- delivery and gesture
  • An operating theory doesn’t have to be complete, but sufficient. As we can have a perfectly workable theory of art that doesn’t address outliers (merely acknowledges them), so we can have a workable theory of literacy (and fluency) without having to be address every conceivable application or embodiment.
  • Conflation of literacy and fluency: wrapped up in fluency is self-expression, which is difficult-impossible to evaluate due to subjectivity/artistry. The demarcation between literacy and fluency is self-expression-- ie artistry.
  • Literacy provides the ability to function. It’s a precursor to, necessary but insufficient for, power. Fluency grants power.
  • Range of Persistence (synchronicity) in new media (IM, Twitter, Blog), but all can be conversation- rather than artifact-centered
  • Ong notes: we wish to bridge the space the machine occupies between us when we communicate with technology-- pushing toward immediacy and familiarity-- but the latter is a relatively new concept... the Latin root "familiaritas" (famulus, slave, servant)
  • Still, understanding of the rhetorical and semantic affordances of each application/scenario is necessary, because the production/publication is in the hands of the learners: each tech CAN be conversation-centered, but they tend to lead to different kinds of conversation and interaction: IM, chat room, Twitter, shared blog, individual blog + comments, wiki, shared doc, live shared doc, mind- or concept-map...
  • Shift in authority from expert to documentation and verification of sources  Further shift (now) inside that mechanism: who gets to write... and who gets to read? The means of production no longer controlled only by gatekeepers, the distribution no longer limited by the willingness and reach of particular media entities. Verification can be problematic when "texts" may be invisibly re-written: words revised, images manipulated. Ong: "Print suggests that words are things far more than writing ever did" and "Print situates words in space more relentlessly than writing ever did." - oral -> writing -> print -> digital media -- malleability now! Flexibility and malleability are great until you are standing on a bridge...
  • And not just malleability in general, but the idea of closure and completion is destabilized. There are far fewer final drafts, and production techniques at attempt to enforce closure are resisted-- drop the locked PDF, create a living document.PERPETUAL BETA
  • Changes in scholarly and professional work: journalism, elements of storytelling, shifting emphasis in rhetorica, remixing/plagiarism, multi-media  Academic focus has been on proper, formal writing and expression... new value to effective informal writing. Product of shifting frame. Ong: "...typographic folk believe that oral exchange should normally be informal (oral folk believe it should normally be formal)."
  • Shift from writing to create an artifact, a document, a resource to writing to create and sustain conversation. Writing as talking.  
  • Gertrude Stein: "Literature is not remarks.“We are participating in a literature. We are writing a literature
  • Blurring and shifting ground of "genre" -- and not just for students of creative writing. The return of the "journal" in "journalism." Without delving into the problematic idea of "blog" as a genre or kind of content, look at the range of blogs and consider for a moment what they, variously, are. How do they fit in (and not) with traditionally understood forms: diaries, letters, broadsides, speeches?
  • Consider the change in the approach to "drama" -- in the oral tradition, the structure/plot was designed to being listeners into the action in medias res. Horace writes: "He always hastens the outcome, and snatches the reader / Into the midst of the action, as if all were known" -- linearity is minimized, participation and simultaneous action is emphasized
  • Mass Communication enables Mass Imagination (participatory culture)
  • (see Assmann & Assmann – Media and Social Memory)
  • oral tradition: memory as remembering -> written tradition: memory as storage -> secondary orality: recapitulated as memes Memes: slogans, cliches - through rapid transmission short forms become lesser than archetypes (except aphorisms?)  Memory vs remembrance. Memory as repetition vs memory as invocation. Memory as classification vs memory as associative act of retrieval + retracing
  • Closing the Gutenberg Parenthesis - Chris Lott

    1. 1. Closing the Gutenberg Parenthesis Chris Lott, Disruptive Technologist University of Alaska Fairbanks Center for Distance Education Jared Stein, Director of Instructional Design Services Utah Valley University
    2. 2. Housekeeping Twitter (Conference) Tag #wcet09 Web Page for Session Materials Ustream Archive
    3. 3. In Conclusion…
    4. 4. In the Beginning: Information Fluency
    5. 5. What is Participation?
    6. 6. Reviving Rhetoric inventio dispositio elocutio memoria actio
    7. 7. Digital Literacy vs. Information Fluency
    8. 8. The “Problem” of Digital Literacy
    9. 9. Literacy & Texts
    10. 10. Outliers and Inconsistencies
    11. 11. Toward Practical Theory
    12. 12. The Demarcation Between Literacy & Fluency
    13. 13. Fluency & Power
    14. 14. Secondary Orality, New Literacies & Fluency
    15. 15. Walter Ong & the “Gutenberg Parenthesis”
    16. 16. Written Oral Secondary (chirographic) culture Orality culture
    17. 17. Persistence & Synchronicity
    18. 18. New Affordances & Old Models
    19. 19. Verification & Malleability
    20. 20. Closure & Revision
    21. 21. The “Body” of Work & Backward-Scanning
    22. 22. Scholarly and Formal & Personal and Informal
    23. 23. Writing as Artifact & Writing as Talking
    24. 24. Literature is not remarks…
    25. 25. The Demise of Genre
    26. 26. “We” the Pre-Literate
    27. 27. Recapitulating the Elements of Drama
    28. 28. Plot ♦ Theme ♦ Character ♦ Diction (Language/Dialogue) ♦ Music (Rhythm) ♦ Spectacle
    29. 29. Mass Communication & Mass Imagination
    30. 30. Conclusion Or Go Real Fast Now!
    31. 31. Technology as Memory & Technology for Remembering
    32. 32. Individual, Collective, Cultural Memory
    33. 33. Memory, Memes & Remembrance
    34. 34. New Media & Augmentation
    35. 35. Written Oral Secondary (chirographic) culture Orality culture
    36. 36. Written Here Oral (chirographic) Be culture culture Dragons
    37. 37. Closing the Gutenberg Parenthesis Chris Lott @fncll - Jared Stein @jstein – Web Page for Session Materials U-Stream Archive