Monday, September 21, 2009

The New Literacy

While many have made the assumption that today kids can't write because of all the technology they are surrounded with, Andrea Lunsford, a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University, has discovered from her research that we're probably :
... in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek civilization ...
according Clive Thompson in Wired magazine :
... technology isn't killing our ability to write. It's reviving it—and pushing our literacy in bold new directions. ... It's almost hard to remember how big a paradigm shift this is. Before the Internet came along, most Americans never wrote anything, ever, that wasn't a school assignment. Unless they got a job that required producing text (like in law, advertising, or media), they'd leave school and virtually never construct a paragraph again.
Lunsford's team also found that the quality of the writing was high with writers better able to assess their audience :
... adapting their tone and technique to best get their point across.... The fact that students today almost always write for an audience ... gives them a different sense of what constitutes good writing. In interviews, they defined good prose as something that had an effect on the world.
And they apparently didn't find a single instance of text-speak in the writing sampled, putting to rest another myth.

There's an interesting comment on the Wired piece at The New Yorker. Thessaly la Force says that she isn't surprised at Lunsford's findings, and says :
It seems safe to argue that we still don’t know very much about how people are using social media and technology to communicate.


Life for Beginners said...

"... technology isn't killing our ability to write. It's reviving it..."

Amen to that. Now, if I can only find evidence of our Astro cable channels improving their viewers' ability to communicate clearly and eloquently... :p

Chet said...

I think there are good shows on Astro, some with episodes with stories that reminded me of the power of the word to share (or to quote Margaret Atwood, to "excavate"). Watching those episodes made me want to write! So that, for me, is a good thing.

Burhan said...

more people are writing because of blogs.

pizzo said...

" the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek civilization"

Enter now: the Geek Civilization.

I find it peculiar as to how the thought that technology would diminish the ability to write came about, thus, underestimating the capability of the internet to expand knowledge.

With the advent of the internet, information and communication are widely spread and more accessible than it ever did before.

The internet is so huge, according to Google, it would take 300 years to index the whole thing, and that is IF nobody posted any new content.

Websites, forum boards, groups, and portals offering free writing courses, tips, tutorials, advise, critiques, are countless.

Just because a few wikipedia contents are fouled, doesn't mean the rest of the hundred millions of other wiki entries are inaccurate. The entries in the Wikipedias is ever expanding and being improve by dedicated individuals, and groups and among them are experts and educators.

Currently, there are many websites founded by the world's top universities offering home study-learn-at-your-own-pace-degree courses for free, complete with lecture notes and syllabus.

People can now gain access to degree-level knowledge by just paying the internet monthly-bills.