Observations 5-8

Observation 5: Education and Communication
“Many of the coauthors spoke of the high value their parents had placed on education and of their own efforts to continue that tradition; this valuation existed side by side with, and was often linked directly or indirectly with, their deployment of communication technologies and digital networks.”

It is difficult to make sweeping statements about literacy based solely on the narratives presented by the authors, a focus on the importance of education was highlighted in almost every story. Education, communication, literacy, and digital media were constantly intertwined regardless of the geographical region or political situation. What changed were the specific technologies utilized and rhetorical choices users made. Education, based on the narratives presented, played a crucial role in this as well.

Observation 6: Self-taught Technologies
“For the most part, those who participated in this study learned to use technologies on their own and with friends. Most contributors did not receive extensive instruction in using digital media in school, nor did they remember much direct help in learning technologies from their parents, although parents supported their use of digital technologies, often in material ways.”

One major contribution of this project is anecdotal evidence that social networking, despite the seeming triviality of it, is actually a crucial catalyst for the development of literacy activities. Participants often talked about the difficulty reaching friends and family through things like email, preferring instead texting and facebooking, particularly when the political environment was unstable. The cost of Internet access goes up the poorer the region is. Because of this, people have begun to form literacy strategies that use “trivial” digital media to conduct a majority of their communicative activities.

Observation 7: Complex Global Identities
“All participants have a strong sense of the value of cultural diversity and of the appropriate use of technology. Those students who claim transnational identities would benefit from and contribute immeasurably to curricula developed specifically for understanding the complexities of forging identities across global and translingual landscapes. Such curricula would also greatly benefit students with more limited exposure to other peoples, cultures, and literacy practices, extending their understanding and awareness of difference and the range of communication resources that can be brought to bear on problems of global and local significance (Kalantzis & Cope, 2006).”

This idea circles around the McLuhan-esque idea of the global village. While it would be potentially problematic to use a curriculum that viewed other cultures as “exotic” or “other,” the authors seem to be suggesting a different approach. Diversity here is linked to not just exposure to other cultures but a specific focus on communication technologies. Through seeing how ideas develop through ICTs in various cultures, some of the “othering” could be avoided. Rather, the communicative strategies, local and global literacies, and utilization of digital media could be utilized to better understand global communication, not just to put another culture on display.

Observation 8: Videos as Research
“Digital media—such as video, audio, e-mail, images, texting, mobile phones, and even social networking sites that serve as repositories for these media—can act as powerful research tools for collecting and exhibiting life history interviews, literacy narratives, and writing process videos when these tools are put in the hands of researchers and research participants alike.”

This ebook shows how academic researchers can utilize digital media in their scholarship. The videos themselves are extremely well shot and edited. The authors splice short video clips, pictures, historical information, and scholarly analysis to craft their argument. Rather than just talk about the importance of digital media, they show how it can be used as an integral part of how we construct scholarly arguments. While it is difficult to make scholarly arguments through digital media, partly because of our long history of writing particular kinds of arguments in a very specific way, the authors are able show definitively that it can be done.