Posts Tagged ‘Kress’

Choosing my delivery method and asking – is it sufficiently academic?

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

I have got to the point in my assignment planning that I am beginning to look at the method of delivery because a traditional essay or simple hypertext essay just won’t cut it. However I have concerns that what I am considering will not appear to be sufficiently academic. With these concerns in mind I have been re reading Rick carpenter and Boundary Negotiations: electronic environments as interface.

So what am I planning?

My intention is to create a piece that has an obvious beginning and end, but the path that you travel to get from one to the other is entirely set by the reader, harking back to Kress pg 9 (2005) and allowing me to use new technology to address “the relative power of author or reader” . In a normal essay the reader is relatively passive – following a path that is set by the author. In this case I want to give the control to the reader and allow them to choose their own path. I am restricted in that I need an intro section and a conclusion to tie it all together and give it ’some’ kind of structure, but beyond that I want the reader to explore!

Why let the reader choose?

The topic is the uncanny nature of learning and specifically this course and I want the uncanny nature of the delivery to match the uncanny nature of the subject matter.

Within this bundle of elements woven together, I want to engage different technologies to maintain variety, including using text, video and possibly a small amount of Prezi or something similar. I am still deciding exactly what to use but you get the idea!

Is it considered academic?

Carpenter adequately covers the issues with integrating our “convergent culture” into an academic framework when he states:

“Although popular discourses and genres are no longer denigrated within academia as they once were (or at least not to the same extent), they are not always or entirely welcome either.” Carpenter (2009) pg 139

So moving forward into a more integrated, liberally interpretative academic scenario may prove difficult:

“The logic of digital technology leads us in a new direction,” Neil Kleinman (1996) reminded us. “Objects, as well as ideas, are no longer fixed, no longer tangible […] In this space, stories are written that change with each new reader; new material can be added, and old material deleted. Nothing is permanent” Carpenter (2009) pg 140

It is this loss of author control that Kress deliberates at length.

“Each new reader in the electronic environment can her- or himself become a contributor/designer/writer; the lines between consumer and producer can be transgressed, blurred.” Carpenter (2009) pg 140

It is possible that such fluidity of nature is unnatural for educators – and therefore it makes them uncomfortable. The argument could well be considered as ‘If nothing is permanent, how can it be assessed? And if it cannot be assessed how can it be academically significant?’



Rick carpenter:  Boundary Negotiations: electronic environments as interface

Gunther Kress:  Gains and losses: New forms of texts, knowledge, and learning

comments on my visual artifact and the end of week 4

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

What an interesting week this has been! I was surprised at the quality and range of the artifacts produced,  with people using Prezi, Flickr, Youtube and blogs. I have made my comments on their blogs and so will not repeat myself here – but well done guys. I have really had a good old think about all your ideas.

And now to my artifact!

The Experiment

I purposely didn’t name my artifact or supply any form of narration because I wanted to take this opportunity to see if Kress was right!

“because words rely on convention and conventional acceptance, words are always general and therefore vague” Kress (pg15)


“that which I wish to depict I can depict … Unlike words, depictions are full of meaning; they are always specific” Kress (pg15)

So I added no words, just made a list of what I wanted to say with an idea of how to represent them and away I went.


The title of the piece was Dystopia & Utopia and was correctly identified by everyone who commented (so a good start).

The two monitors are intended to show the two sides of the Internet – utopia and dystopia. The social networking and communication elements on the left hand monitor broadly represent the connectedness that can be achieved and all of the positives that it could bring us. The images on the right hand monitor (which are not always easy to see) are the negatives that may sneak up on us at the same time (described by Jen in her comment as ’surface’ and ‘reality’). These two sides as discussed in Bell and Hand really opened my eyes to the negative by products of my tech addiction that I had not previously considered. For example, I am a rather keen WOWer and though I have never bought ‘in-game gold’, I know that it happens. This gold is created by companies in China employing low paid staff to perform repetitive actions in the game  to earn in-game gold which is then sold on in the real world for real money. 1000 Gold could take me hours to achieve – but can be bought from ‘gold miners’ for as little as 5 euros per 1000. So you can imagine how much they pay these workers!

“I’m thinking: this image represents utopian and dystopian discourses around technology. Mobile, empowering, social etc. on the left and negative (dystopian sci-fi and the cheap labour of third-world and developing countries that supply cheap digital consumer goodies to the developed world) on the right” Tony McNeill

The energy between the human and the machine:

“You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” The Matrix.

I am glad that some of you got the red pill/blue pill analogy there with the energy coming from my fingers because I was afraid I may have made it a little obscure.

Andy made the connection that the girl (yes me) is physically connected to the technology and that the two sides of the technology are also connected by me – this second point was one that I had not considered when creating the piece but it actually fits in perfectly – thanks Andy! Taking this further I guess that acting as a conduit for the technology creates the negative as a byproduct. If no one was looking then no one would be suffering!

Sian “she’s re-positioning and re-aligning the multiple elements on the screens in an attempt to make sense of her digital existence” This was a reference to the UI in Minority report where Tom Cruise manipulates information with his hands to create connections. I am connecting with people, through the social elements on the left screen, with corruption on the right with my own moral responsibility and connections with the future because as an ‘interactor’ I am also a creator of the future.

My pose is intended to demonstrate that I am struggling to maintain order and possibly keep balance with all of the elements. It is also the case that I am shifting my gaze towards the positive and shifting myself away from the negative elements on the right  and though this is hard to tell from the picture, my weight is placed on my right foot and i am leaning more to the left while still maintaining balance. It could also be said that while I am morally drawn to the left monitor – the etopia, the power of the right or dystopia is signifacant to prevent me pulling away from it. I am afraid that this is not as clear as I would have like it to be when the photos were taken. I tried to modify my stance by making ‘ggrrrrr’ noises so it would have seemed very strange if you had stummbled into my room at that point!.

“Your body pose could be (a) pushing digital culture away or (b) your diving into it. Either way, you are physically connected to technology. The two screens appear to separate reality and fantasy – but both screens are connected via you.” Andy Murray

The point I was trying to make is that I should accept some responsibility for both sides of the technology simply by the act of interfacing with it.

Silvanad asked if I could find ‘a third way’? I think that this probably brings us on to the next block and thoughts of what it means to be human moving forward.


In this experiement, Kress may have had a point! All of the elements that I tried to communicate through a static image with no narrative at all seems to been picked up – though this may be because it has been critiqued by likeminded folk rather than those unschooled in this language. What has been a surprise is that some of the comments saw connections that I had not even intended and asked me some unexpected quetions:

“Does this mean you get a positive vibe out of the Social Web but hate contemporary TV?” Billb

As a result these responses have led me to think further about the image and the message itself.

Week 3 Lifestream commentary

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Much of my lifestream this week contains twitter comments about the reading we have been doing.  I am still getting used to using Twitter and often find it dififcult to find a thread – but I am not the only one!

“the chronological order does not necessarily guarantee a linear reading sequence*. There is no way to thread sub-discussions within a particular #hashtag discussion and if you post 3-4 tweets within a short period of time and someone replies, you can’t always be sure to which tweet s/he is referring.” Bill Babouris via Twitter 7th October

Too true Bill!

I found Kress to be quite frustrating this week with his insistance on the power of image over the word and that the future has to be graphical:

“Kress – true that language develops over time but so do images – is why it is hard to read hieroglyphs cos the meaning has been lost. ” Sarah Payne via Twitter 5th October

However I have already blogged about that this week and will not go into it further here.

I have been collecting some links on using image instead of words to support Kress and my digital artifact. This included a tweet:

“sarahp @andym3112 #ededc Kress. ‘depiction shows the world’- but open to different cultural interpretation that language avoids [sezpayne2].”

This tweet link goes to an article called Ad Analysis – The HSBC campaign which discusses the dangers of using non-verbal communication instead of words. Something that Kress does not seem to consider!

Another topic of Twitter conversation has been how we will create our digital artifact. I have the germ of an idea in my head and I will have to go away and play with it – but I plan to tie it in with Kress and his thoughts that the image has the power. Lets see how well it goes without the words to go with it!

Week 3 readings summary – WTF??

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

I have to admit that much of the time I detest reading academic papers! They can be dry, uninspiring, and they often make assumptions that make me want to scream out loud in frustration. Hand with his ideas that the Internet removes power from traditional centres and places it into the common people has to be a huge simplification. These centres of power are the only ones with the resources to be empowered enough to communicate their ideas across a wide audience. In this instance power = readers – powers. No matter how good the message, it is irrelevant if no one gets to read it! Can a single citizen have true power when the individual would have to wade through so much rubbish before they saw the message, that most people wouldn’t bother. It is a fact that most people wont travel beyond the first page of a google search, so if the author cannot get themselves up the listings they are simply shouting at the dark!

Kress was another one that made me wonder what virtual world he actually inhabits! He laments the fact that reading forces a linear progression and that “this gives authors a specific power: readers are dependent … on sequence and sequential uncovering”. I thought ” well of course!”. In my reality, time is sequential, and therefore the events that occur in any given story has a sequence, and therefore I want the author to tell me the story in sequence. I don’t want to know ‘who dunnit’ before the end of the tale. Also, in many case authorship = authority, and I am reading precisely because I want them to tell me something. I want an answer, not the opportunity to enter a debate.

He also states “because words rely on convention and conventional acceptance, words are always general and therefore vague” (pg15) How can he say ‘always’? That has to be a pretty major assumption right there. I tell you that ‘I am going to put the kettle on and make a cup of tea, would you like one?’ Is that vague? I could try to ask you the question through images, or the medium of mime but words would be better!

Use of image as a form as communication surely removes the power of the author to pass on their message to the viewer (especially if the message is more complex than ‘fancy a cuppa’). The author has to make assumptions about the relative cultural position of the viewer and therefore try to communicate meaning within those boundaries. This is an issue that I am coming up against whilst trying to devise my digital artifact. How do i ‘know’ that what I ‘mean’ to say is the message that is projected?

While I agree with Kress that words alone do not always convey true meaning and can lead to vagaries, images alone seem to me to be just as easy to misinterprete and misunderstand. Thomas’s interpreation of a ‘lifeworld’ (pg 5) which is a “combination of physical environment and subjective experience that makes up everyday life” ensures that reactions to imagery and symbolism is purely subjective and therefore must be individual. Therefore your response to my images are equally individual.

So there is my lament on assumptions made by authors; possibly to inspire debate, or due to the limitations of the media meaning that they cannot explore all options, or maybe simply to annoy me (probably not the third option!)

So dont get me started on the language! As a fellow MScer Damien blogged on Friday:

“I find it peculiar and fascinating that a discipline of study which examines cyberculture and its endlessly fluid, constantly playful, hilariously subversive ‘genres’ is so frequently reported on in a form of language which is not just a thousand miles from the culture which it is studying, but seems a world away from the general speech patterns and communication forms of the average human being.”

My job as a trainer is to take complex ideas and reduce them to a series of simple nuggets that can be easily digested by the learner. If I spoke to my learners using this kind of language there would be complaints and I would end up having a series on ‘chats’ with my supervisors. So if I cannot get away with using this use of language – how can these authors? Is it intended to be exclusionary? To prevent ‘outsiders’ from interacting? Or simply to make them sound knowledgeable?

Kress and the passage of time

Monday, October 5th, 2009

The basic concept of this piece is that words are ordered and therefore restrictive imposing an inequality of power between the author and the reader. The example he used to demonstrate this was the Institute of Education website and the Boy Electrician novel. He laments the fact that the boy electrician is textual and therefore linear, whereas the new IoE has a series of graphics and links allowing the user to choose the information they want to see.

The novel forces the user to follow the tale in the order determined by the author, and not in any other order of their choosing. This seems to be a very simplified view because I cant help thinking that a novel is linear because time is linear! One event leads on to another event and then another - a tale has a beginning, a middle and an end. Taking any of these events out of order renders the tale nonsensical and therefore pointless! However a website that is a disparate collection of facts can be grouped together in some sort of order but these groups do not need to be linear.

They require different treatments because they are different mediums. He could be considered to be comparing apples and oranges!