Saturday, January 31, 2009

Participative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies

I am always looking for progressively appropriate definitions of literacy. I recently read Howard Rheingold's chapter from Joi Ito's fabulous new release, Freesouls. HR's chapter is entitled Participative Pedagogy for a Literacy of Literacies and, per usual, is helpful in formulating the impact and possibility of how "people do complicated things together". Rheingold's notion of literacy is foundational and seems better than a lot of what I've read from careerist academics; it's an encompassing and intelligent conceptualization that covers what society has done, is doing, and can do with technology when collaborating and communicating. Rheingold writes that literacy is:

the set of skills that enable individuals to encode and decode knowledge and power via speech, writing, printing and collective action, and which, when learned, introduce the individual to a community. Literacy links technology and sociality.

Rheingold continues:

If the humans currently alive are to take advantage of digital technologies to address the most severe problems that face our species and the biosphere, computers, telephones and digital networks are not enough. We need new literacies around participatory media, the dynamics of cooperation and collective action, the effective deployment of attention and the relatively rational and critical discourse necessary for a healthy public sphere.

The activist pedagogical project at hand for Rheingold, and me, is a simple one...positive social change. It is not valorization of the liberal arts and their historically specific texts, cultural literacy, or discovering truth in physical logocentrically bound decaying media (i.e., books). It is not insistence on centering traditional "reading" or "writing" skills (though that is very important). Nay, the project is driven by, any means necessary, that "the more people who know how to use participatory media to learn, inform, persuade, investigate, reveal, advocate and organize, the more likely the future infosphere will allow, enable and encourage liberty and participation".

I would encourage critical educators to scrutinize their curriculum and their own skill set to see if they are doing this. If not, how might they retool to do so? It might require work and effort, but is certainly well worth it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Facebook Continues to Reinscribe Patriarchal Ideology

In an effort to amplify its reinscription of the tired patriarchal status quo, Facebook has banned photos of breastfeeding. I continue to be amazed at the idiocy, sheer heavyhandness, and lack of social thought that goes on with this "social" app. The postmodern dinosaur metaphor still holds for these guys.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Libraries in NC Full, But Downturn Stymies Resources

There's a recent article in the Raleigh News and Observer detailing what I perceive to be a nationwide occurrence. That occurrence is the new-found/renewed patronage of public libraries amidst near double digit unemployment and worsening economic conditions. Unfortunately, as the N&O article describes, libraries are handling this massive uptick in patrons at the same time funding is being cut and hiring frozen. Sure am glad the bailouts are working, I mean pessimism of the intellect with optimism of the will. Click here to read the N&O piece.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Now, Zizek!

I am a fan of Slavoj Zizek and a fan of Powell's Books, so this video is a must view for me. Strongly recommended for a thinking through of how ideology functions and discursive consensus gets maintained. My good pal Aaron alerted me to this clip...he's a philosopher king in his own right. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Facebook Says No Whopper for You

My de-friending, Whopper-eating heyday has abruptly come to an end (and sadly too many old high school friends retain access to my profile). In a Big Brother type maneuver to protect us from ourselves, the hegemon at Facebook 86ed the Whopper Sacrifice App citing privacy issues. An article on tells all. Arrington and the TechCrunch crew also comment.

My two second take is that Facebook, already fatally flawed, continues to believe that that through its product/interface it can manipulate behavior on a complete structural level. Even if this were true, users (i.e., individuals and groups) will continue in a very deCerteau-ian way to author their own spaces vis-a-vis tactics to FB's strategy.

Facebook---trite, boring, and Whopperless--lumbers along (postmodern dinosaur it is) right behind its benefactor in Redmond. Triglycerides in decline, I curse thee.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

De-friending for Whoppers

There's a new Facebook app that will reward folks for de-friending individuals from their friend list. The reward, you ask...a Burger King Whopper. You can read the CNET story here.

Even though I haven't patronized the BK Lounge in years, this could prompt me to solve a couple of problems. Over the past few weeks it seems that my entire graduating class from high school has operationalized Facebook as a mechanism to "reconnect" with long lost "friends". Somehow I have gotten roped into this parade of broken dreams...oops, I mean virtual class reunion that won't end. It is really trashing my Facebook experience. At night, in the tiny hours, I often wake wondering why those in the humanities are paid so poorly and now I am also wondering how I am going to get out of this predicament with all my new old high school pals that I some how lost track of.

Whoppers may be the answer...there seem to be several in my future.