Welcome

This is the home page for the Third Year Critical Skills EN3008 Textualities seminar course in the School of English University College Cork. In this final month of the BA degree we are discussing – the Future of the Book.  The website is a practical way to engage with methodologies for the creation and publishing of the text online.  Augmented elements such as interactivity, embedded contextual material and a collaboratory ethos frame the work.

The focus of this website is the joint development of ‘Digi – Narrate’ to showcase the individual, and group work of course participants.  Digi – plays on colloquial local expressions – meaning Did ye?  We balance the theoretical construction of new narratives and new knowledge here by constructing a new narrative – with new features that take the text constructed through the reading glass, with embedded links, video, and audio.

Particpants’ personal online spaces are listed on the right, and their chosen concerns are detailed via the page choices across the header on  top.

Previous years’ work is available here at: Cultural Transmissions, and Narrativities.

Header photograph taken by Michelle Moore in the Boole library.

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Cave Men with iPhones: How we’re dealing with the ‘data deluge’

Ah the web! Twenty years ago could someone have envisaged grandparents in Ireland talking to their grandchildren in Australia as if they were sitting in the same room? Or the weekly shopping arriving at your front door all because of a few clicks of a mouse? The opportunities the Internet has opened up to society are breath-taking, and the possibilities this medium offers are dizzying. Yet, as we get caught up in the whirlwind of this technological phenomenon, with its ferocity increasing every day is there anyone taking a step back? Is there anyone holding an umbrella up to the monsoon of technological bombardment and wondering how all of this is effecting the individual? The video below shows Nicholas Carr, a man tackling this exact problem, explaining how he feels the internet is affecting us:

My personal research project involves looking into exactly what Carr has spoken about here. I am an English major, also studying Psychology as a minor subject and I am intrigued by how the Internet could, and most likely is, altering our cognitive capabilities. In particular I would like to look at the way we read, and how the Internet may be moulding us into a different form of reader than what we were as little as 10 years ago.

A big ask for an article confined to a thousand words you might say, but I am not alone. People like Nicholas Carr have devoted their attention to this field of study long before I ever learned how to use a computer (something I admit to still not being able to do fully!). So, in attempting to underline the intentions of my personal research project I’m going to call it the following: A look at how we, as readers, are changing to adapt to ever increasing volumes of information available to us.

The stereotypical cave man, the hairy fella lacking table manners, craved information. More so, he depended on his ability to intake and decipher this information with his life. He learned to decipher between information that may mean a threat is nearby, and that of little relevance. The differences between the bush rustlings of a saber- toothed tiger and something like, I don’t know, a squirrel for example!

Fast forward 10,000 years, fast forward to the modern man. He walks briskly through the bustling street rushing to a meeting, his laptop with him, Rolex on his wrist, he sips his coffee while he discusses the topic of the meeting with one of his work colleagues who walks with him, all the while trying to get through to the secretary on his Blackberry to inform her that they will be a few minutes late. City parking! Saber- toothed tigers? Aren’t they a hockey team? Whatever!  He’s into number crunching, fast data and results. Much more advanced than the primitive cave man right? An increased interest in personal hygiene maybe, more advanced cognitively? I’m not so sure. The fact remains, both the cave man and the modern man, are driven by the unquenchable thirst for new information.

We, like our primitive ancestors, crave new information so much that our brain rewards us when we obtain it. Dopamine is released in the brain to induce pleasure when the brain undergoes something it enjoys. Judging by the fact that dopamine levels increase when obtaining new information, it must be argued that the brain sees this act as wholly beneficial. Interestingly the brain releases the same compounds during sex as it does when obtaining new information. This dopamine release acts as a positive reinforcer, a form of encouragement to repeat that same act again.

So knowing what we do about the composition of our brain, and its satisfaction in obtaining new information, where do we stand in a world delivering more new information than ever before. The aforementioned Nicholas Carr, in his book The Shallows, suggests that because of this ‘data deluge’ we are losing our ability to ‘read deeply’. Carr’s argument is that as our reading of on-screen articles, injected with links, pictures, videos etc. increases, the way we read is changing. In a sense, and at the risk of sounding contradictory, we are turning into literate cave men. Our prehistoric ancestors scanned their environment, quickly taking in vast quantities of data, pausing only at something which may resemble a threat. The same can be said for us with the on-screen page, we scan, click, scan, click etc. pausing briefly on something of vague interest. What Carr argues is that this form of reading is rewarded by the brain much more than trawling through a book and extracting new information every few minutes. What Carr believes is happening because of this is that our synapses, the connections the brain makes, are changing. Our brain is chemically and physically changing to suit a form of reading that allows for new information to be processed quicker. The results of this? Cognitive overload

Psychologists increasingly argue that everything in your consciousness, that is everything you are thinking of at any given moment, is in your short term memory ready to be adapted and manipulated to be stored in long term memory. The number of items we are able to work with in short term memory at any one time is said to be seven, plus or minus two, and arguments are being formed to revise this number to less again. When we exceed this limit we are said to reach our cognitive load. Our brain is no longer able to deal with any more information and, prioritising the new, lets something older out. Now think of all the information available to us as we read an article online. It seems possible that from one page on the internet we receive enough information to exceed our cognitive load, yet we increasingly work with more and more web pages open at once. Can we honestly withhold all this information in the same way we would have if we obtained it more slowly and in isolation when reading from a book? It’s debatable, and this idea does have opposition, but I’m beginning to side with Carr.

I’m the owner of an extremely modest Nokia 2730, were it a human being it would be much closer to the cave man described above than anything modern. Yet, it still can gain access to the internet and receive emails. Not bad for €39.99! But it is nothing compared to the handheld devices available at the very cutting edge of technological advancement. They’re more like pocket sized computers that just happen to have the capability to call someone! One must ask that with technology such as this available and no one considering the consequences this same technology will have on our cognitive capabilities, did the old way of reading ever stand a chance?

Disclaimer: The writer of this article is aware that it contains videos, pictures and links, something the article argues is weakening our mental capabilities. The writer, however, will not take any responsibility for any mentally debilitating effects this article may have on his reader!

Works Cited:

Websites

www.wikipedia.org

www.youtube.com

www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/cognitive-load.html

All images taken from: Google Images

Books

Carr, Nicholas. The Shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains. W.W Norton & Company. 2011

Blogs

http://www.irishtimes.com/blogs/mechanicalturk/

The development of the printing press, from print to the computer and EBooks

Prior to the development of printing virtually every book and every document was a manuscript. They were developed through intense time consuming labour, “a centuries old, labour intensive, undercapitalised form of production was able to create only a very few texts for an elite market.” (Sawday,p5) This way of producing a manuscript was extremely expensive and it ultimately separated people more as the rich and the poor were now not only divided through wealth, they were now being divided through education. Only those who could afford to have these manuscripts would be able to see them. Only very popular texts of universal appeal would have been produced. Wood cut printing was in use prior to Gutenberg’s development of the printing press. This was another time consuming labour as a new block had to be carved in reverse for each page. A video of how woodcut printing can be seen here As a result few works justified the intensity of labour required for publication by this method. Prior to the invention of the printing press, buyers were more involved in the development process of their book. “Despite the gradual appearance of the book buyers in the fifteenth century, the circulation of books was undoubtedly far more limited in the absence of print technology.” (Sawday, p5) So with the development of the printing press we can see the first stages of the importance and impact of print, and the importance of the distribution of books and information. Although it is nothing in comparison to how information is spread today, it was for its time a huge development that would one day lead to the computers we have today, and the vast amount of information available freely and easily to us.

The development of print ultimately changed the world and paved the way for the increase in the spread of information. There are inevitably many benefits to the development of print, Education and religion are two areas that benefited greatly. Martin Luther evidently used print for the spread of his own ideas and the criticism of the Catholic Church. He is arguably one of the most famous examples “of the power of this new technology to participate in or even precipitate radical change.” ( Sawday, p5)Martin Luther’s writings on indulgences have been seen as founding texts in the Protestant Reformation. Luther’s ideas were able to pass through countless cities spreading his views on Religion. This aspect of the same ideas being shown to vast amounts of different people in different countries is an amazing achievement as it helped spread information like never before. “Luther’s exploitation of this new medium gives us an insight into the ways in which the energies unleashed by the printing press, like those generated by the computer today, were beyond the power of any one individual to master.” The development of print opened up a new way in which knowledge was able to circulate faster and the print itself wouldn’t be altered through word of mouth. Education is another area that was drastically altered for the better with the development of print. Print ultimately led to more people being educated, as more books became easily available. The printing press inevitably had a positive impact on people’s education, with the development of the printed book students were able to learn better. It is apparent that the development of print transformed learning in a positive way. According to Elizabeth Einstein, “Young minds provided with updated editions, especially of mathematical texts began to surpass not only their own elders but the wisdom of ancients as well.”(Einstein, p689) Intelligent people were able to access educational books and enhance their knowledge of geography physics, maths and above all their own minds. Gutenberg’s invention made it more accessible for poorer people to educate themselves in a time when illiteracy was rampant among the poorer classes of society. The printing press increased literacy by making books more accessible and this drastically altered how people were being educated, and how people were getting a better knowledge of the world they inhabited. “When the press began to be worked, hundreds of copies materialised in less time than it took to speak the text.” (Shillinsburg,p1)

The printing press had a huge impact on how information was processed and distributed to vast numbers of people. The development of print enhanced the world for the better as information became more easily and freely available, similarly to how information is available today. The computer inevitably impacted people in a similar way the development of print impacted people over five hundred years ago. It is evident that the days of spending hours looking through countless books for the information you require is a thing of the past, as information about everything is easily available with a few clicks of the mouse. The development of the computer has enhanced the world and has made it a much smaller place. People can find out all the information they wish to know without ever leaving their house. It is possible for people today to experience different cultures and see different places sitting in front of a computer or laptop. Prior to the development of the computer and the internet people were only able to experience and learn about different places by reading a book. The way in which information is made available has completely changed, making it far more easier to access. It is evident the printing press was a way of making information spread faster however the development of the computer has taken that to a completely different level in how advanced it is. According to Peter L. Shillingsburg, it makes you wonder “in 500 years, would anyone stand to look at a museum display of the first electronic book,” (Shillinsburg,p1) like we do today visiting copies of the first books printed in the Gutenberg museum. If we have developed something so advanced in how information is spread, what will be around in 500 years? It is evident that even today the computer is still evolving as information is becoming increasingly more available at an ever increasing rate. In five hundred years we have gone from vast amounts of books being printed in order to have the spread of information, to this slowly becoming a thing of the past. Books are in the midst of being replaced by EBooks, IPods and laptops. It is now possible to visit a library and read as many books as you wish without ever leaving your house. Information is more accessible with these new developments. EBooks have allowed people to read as many books as they wish and they are inevitably replacing a hard copy. It is cheaper and more convenient to read a book on your EBook as you are not restricted by weight and room like you would be with vast amounts of hard copies. To watch the difference between a book and an EBook click here

 

By, Sinead Reed

Bibliography

• Einstein, Elizabeth. The printing press as an agent of change. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1980.
• Mcluan, M. The Gutenberg galaxy: the making of typographic man. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1962.
• Sawday, Jonathan. The Renaissance Computer: knowledge technology in the first age of print. London, Routledge, 2000.
• Shillingsburg, L. Peter. From Gutenberg to Google: electronic representations of literary texts. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006.
http://www.youtube.com/

FanFiction

Fan fiction

For my personal project I decided to do fanfiction, commonly known as fic among the fanfiction community. Fanfiction is a form of writing that is increasingly becoming more popular among fans. The word fanfiction actually means “a fictional account written by a fan of a show, movie, book, or video game to explore themes and ideas that will not or cannot be explored via the originating medium.” Fanfiction has become increasingly popular and the most popular site for fanfiction is fanfiction.net which can be found here. It is a hobby taken up by many aspiring writers but is surrounded by many issues. Some of which I will discuss, such as:

– A new reading experience
– Legality issues
– Opinions of authors

Interactive reading
Fan fiction enables readers to become part of the story; they are able to create alternative story lines, characters and scenarios. Fan fiction enables fans to enhance their overall reading experience. Readers can now control the world of the story they are interested in, and send it in directions it would not ordinarily go. They become actively involved in the plot and characters, it is a new interactive form of reading and watching movies etc., fans are no longer mindlessly absorbing what has happened but changing and interacting with the story. Through one’s own fanfiction and through reading others fans are able to fully engross themselves in a narrative and get as much out of it as possible.
They can create new relationships and place characters from a well-known story in an entirely different world; this is known as alternate universe. Popular types of fan fiction include, placing a character in the world of another popular narrative where characters often meet one another, this is called crossover. Another popular form of fan fiction but one that often receives a lot of criticism is fan fiction that plays out a sexual relationship between two characters that did not have a romantic relationship in the original canon work, romantic fanfiction story lines concerning Harry Potter, for those that are interested, can be found here. A lot of homosexual fan fiction exists that pairs same sex couples, this is known as slash for male pairings and femmeslash for female pairings. A list of abbreviations and fanfiction jargon can be found here.

“fan fiction emerges from a balance between fascination and frustration.” (Henry Jenkins)
A lot of fan fiction seeks to fill in gaps left by the original creator. Henry Jenkins, whose blog can be found here claims that this comes from fascination and frustration. When a high level of fascination is met with an even higher level of frustrating elements in a text, elements that are undeveloped, fans seek to satisfy this frustration. Fans can become so enthralled by a text that they want more and seek to absorb as much as they can, which can lead to frustration when scenes are missing or skipped over or when the information a fan is looking for takes places outside the chronology of the canon story. This leads to fan fiction that seeks to ease this frustration and fill in the blanks, these are often referred to as canon stories, meaning they don’t change any fundamental elements of the canon work. They are stories that provide information left out by the author but in a plausible, chronological manner. These type stories could even be inserted into many books and it would still flow well.

Fan fiction as a separate entity? Yet it could not exist without the original canon. Fan fiction can deviate so far from the original work that it can in itself become its own separate entity. Work that is out of copyright can be reworked and published as its own original work. Most recently Pride Prejudice and Zombies hit shelves with the co-authors listed equally as Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, who has also released works such as Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.

Many fans can not only feel loyal to a text but can begin to feel a certain ownership over it, a level of expectancy and responsibility is placed on the creator to maintain the integrity of the text. if an author decides to do something that is completely out of character within a novel or movie then fans may reject this. Can we imagine a Harry Potter who joined the death eaters. But in most instances fans will remain loyal to the original creator. So are fanfiction writers wasting their time? No matter how good fan fiction is, again henry Jenkins points out that fans will remain loyal to the canonical author, even if unhappy with a story. If a fan writes a better version, regardless of quality it will be considered lesser than the original. In rare cases work done by someone other than the original creator will be accepted as canon. Interestingly it seems when someone is considered to have the right pedigree or cultural knowledge of the works, their work may be accepted. Such as Christopher Tolkien continuing much of J.R.R Tolkien’s unfinished work posthumously. Books such as unfinished tales and the history of middle earth have been compiled by Christopher, and while based on his father’s notes it would be impossible for the finished piece to truly represent exactly what his father would have wanted; but it is accepted as canon. While this isn’t exactly fan fiction, he did not create the original canon world and so like Fic writers he is expanding on his knowledge of the world and where he would like to see it go. While as the authors son it is easy to understand why his credibility is accepted it may still give hope to fanfiction writers.

Legality issues
“Nobody is sure whether fan fiction falls under current fair-use protections. Current copyright law simply doesn’t have a category for dealing with amateur creative expression.” (Henry Jenkins)
Legality and copyright issues surround fan fiction, some claim it’s intellectual theft while others such as Henry Jenkins claim it’s an interpretation and a critique of the original work. Fan fiction that is created not for profit but as a creative outlet is often deemed legal by fair use protections. Questions surround fanfiction such as is it plagiarism, or intellectual theft. How moral is it to use characters and worlds you did not create for your own work, is using someone else’s creative inspirations just hampering your own creativity and is it insulting to change someone else’s finished work. Many different opinions exist and The organisation for transformative works, which can be found here, is an organisation that argues for fanfiction under fair use as it claims it is a transformative work not a derivative work.

What the Authors think
Different authors have very different opinions on fan fiction. They vary from authors who not only condone fanfiction but embrace and get involved with it, to authors who condemn it completely. An author who fully supports fanfiction is the author of the Twilight series Stephenie Meyer. She has openly encouraged fanfiction and seeks to minimise frustrations people may have with undeveloped characters or storylines by providing passages and chapters that were removed from the novels in the editing process on her website which can be found here. She has also published books that fill in events that happen outside the chronology of the novel such as The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Other authors such as J.K Rowling have also openly condoned fanfiction. Authors like Anne Rice and George R.R Martin, author of the popular series A Song of Fire and Ice, are among those who strongly oppose fanfiction, and believe it to be copyright infringement. George R.R. Martin has been very vocal on his abhorrence to fanfiction and states that “Consent, for me, is the heart of this issue. If a writer wants to allow or even encourage others to use their worlds and characters, that’s fine. Their call. If a writer would prefer not to allow that… well, I think their wishes should be respected.” (George R.R. Martin) He feels authors should protect their copyright or it can be assumed as abandoned, and once you begin to make exceptions you cannot control how far it will go “Once you open that door, you can’t control who might come in” (George R.R. Martin). He speaks of one such writer Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of the darkover series, who’s experience with fan fiction led to her current novel in progress not being published as a fan had had the same idea. George R.R. Martin’s reaction to fanfiction and the Marion Zimmer Bradley story can be read here.

By Stephanie Reed

Bibliography

http://www.fanfiction.net/

http://www.fanfiction.net/book/Harry_Potter/3/2/0/1/0/0/0/0/0/1/

Jenkins, Henry. Confessions of an Aca-Fan the official web log of Henry Jenkins. http://henryjenkins.org/2006/09/fan_fiction_as_critical_commen.html

Martin, George R.R. This is not a blog, Someone is Angry on the Internet. http://grrm.livejournal.com/151914.

http://stepheniemeyer.com/index.html

http://transformativeworks.org

http://www.urbandictionary.com/

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Transwiki:List_of_fan_fiction_terms

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_fiction

Hypertext Fiction

An analysis of Hypertext Fiction

Introduction

Hypertext is text displayed on a computer or other electronic device with references (hyperlinks) to other text that the reader can immediately access, usually by a mouse or keypress sequence. Hypertext, apart from running text, may contain tables, images and other representational devices.

Hypertext Fiction is a genre of electronic literature characterized by the use of hypertext links which provides a new context for non-linearity in “literature” and reader interaction. The reader typically chooses links to move from one node of text to the next, and in this fashion arranges a story from a deeper pool of potential stories. Its spirit can also be seen in interactive fiction. The term can also be used to describe traditionally-published books in which a nonlinear narrative and interactive narrative is achieved through internal references. James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), Jorge Luis Borges’ The Garden of Forking Paths (1941), Vladimir Nabokov’s  Pale Fire (1962) are early examples predating the word ” hypertext”, while a common pop-culture example is the Choose Your Own Adventure series in  young adult fiction and other similar gamebooks. The Garden of Forking Paths is both a hypertext story and a description of a fictional hypertext work.

Origin

The etymology of the word hypertext reveals an interesting insight into hypertext fiction. The prefix hyper- comes from the Greek, meaning “over” or “above”. It has common origins with the English word “super” which signifies the overcoming of the old linear constraints of the linear text. The use of the word Hypermedia is more accurate.

Key Concepts

Hypertext is the underlying concept defining the structure of the World Wide Web. In hypertext fiction the reader typically chooses links to move from one node of text to the next and in this fashion arranges a story from a deeper pool of potential stories. This spirit can also be seen in interactive fiction. The term can also be used to describe traditionally-published books in which a non-linear narrative and interactive narrative is achieved through internal references. Non-Linear Narratives are often used to mimic the structure and recall of human memory. Beginning a narrative in medias res (Latin; “into the middle of things”) began in ancient times as an oral tradition. This technique involves narrating most of the story in flashback. It was established as a convention of epic poetry with Homer’s Iliad in the 8th century BC. Interactive Fiction, (IF) describes software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment. Works in this form can be understood as literary narratives and as video games. In common usage the term refers to text adventures, a type of adventure game where the entire interface can be “text-only”, known as text mode.

Hypertext Fiction History

The first hypertext fictions were published prior to the development of the World Wide Web, using software such as Storyspace and Hypercard. ‘Afternoon, a story’, published in 1987 by Eastgate systems and written by Michael Joyce is generally considered one of the first hypertext fictions. Other examples that shortly followed, mostly from Eastgate systems, were Stuart Moulthrop’s Victory Garden, its name was Penelope by Judy Malloy and Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork girl. The internationally oriented but US based Electronic Literature Organization(ELO) was founded in 1999 to promote the creation and enjoyment of electronic literature. Other organisations for the promotion of electronic literature include, trAce Online Writing Community, a British organization, started in 1995, that has fostered electronic literature in the UK, Dichtung Digital, a journal of criticism of electronic literature in English and German, and ELINOR, a network for electronic literature in the Nordic countries, which provides a directory of Nordic electronic literature. The Electronic Literature Directory lists many works of electronic literature in English and other languages.

Critical Theory

Many critics in literary circles see hypertext fiction and poetry as a “humorless digital postmodern joke” (Lillington 1) that assaults readers with floating neon fonts and crude literary strategies, if any literary skill is present at all. They view hypertext as a threat to the overall integrity of literature because most anyone, without any training or editing, can post hypertext “poetry” or “fiction,” even if their work does not include any traditional conventions. Proponents of hypertext literature argue that online texts are an original art form, which combines cinematic technique with live performance qualities, and is not designed to be viewed in the same light as printed literature (Lillington 1).

Hypertext has been a predictable mate for postmodern theorists, who believe in uncertainty and that texts are open to endless, shifting readings. The nature of hypertext embodies uncertainty by turning its back on traditional uses of point of view, voice and a sense of closure (Lillington 2). The postmodernists have been successful in establishing a connection between the new genre of hypertext and the accepted school of postmodern literary thought. An authoritative mark of their success was the recent inclusion of a J. Yellowlees Douglas’s hypertext work in the Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Fiction, a standard text in American literary courses (Lillington 2).

Postmodernism

Megan Kerr clearly articulates the role hypertext fiction plays in postmodernism. She says, hypertext fiction is an obvious PR for postmodern theory. While academic circles are growing tired of the word “postmodern”, hypertext is its ultimate ”Show and Tell”. The active role of the user in navigating a hypertext and making sense of the disparate pages received, along with the choice of links that generate multiple paths and non-linear structures, counters all that nasty patriarchal, hierarchical, empirical linearity that postmodernism seeks to rupture. The variability of contexts (which page do I read before and after that page) emphasizes the role of context in generating meaning, a brief bow to post-structural theories of language. It has Derrida’s mutability and mobility, it is Roland Barthes’ “galaxy of signifiers”, it speaks in a deliciously post-structural, feminist way of multiple entrances, openings, mazes, and interiors.

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

Hypertext fiction was heralded as the future of the book. However, the Wikipedia entry for hypertext fiction lists no published works after 2001. The forms seeming demise is puzzling because the last 10 years has seen the rise of the Kindle, the e-book, the e-reader and a crisis in traditional book publishing. Hypertext fiction is in a tough place now. Born into a world that wasn’t quite ready for it, and encumbered with lousy technology and user-hostile interface design, it got a bad reputation, at least outside of specialized reading circles. At the same time, it’s impossibly hard to create, one of the only modes of fiction we know of which is more demanding than the novel.

 

 

 

Bibliography/Webliography;

Kopowski, Gene. “Cyberscribes Turn Storytelling into ‘Hypertext’ Storysharing.” Insight on the News 13 (1997): 36

Lillington, Karlin. “Breaking the Bounds of the Page.” World Press Review 45 (1998): 46-47.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertext_fiction

http://www.megankerr.co.uk/Academia/Hypertext/index.html

http://www.salon.com/2011/10/04/return_of_hypertext/

The Impact of Web 2.0 on Education

For my personal research topic I have chosen to study the impact that Web 2.0 technology has on education today. From the beginning of our studies in this seminar back in October where we looked at Alan Liu and  Kenneth M. Price’s articles, this aspect of the seminar interested me. My aims for the project are to look at how the web has evolved, how it is being used in the classroom and how it is being treated by governments and state authorities.

Even before the introduction of the computer to the classroom it is true to say that education was constantly changing. What we are experiencing now is probably the biggest change that will ever take place in education, which is the incorporation of Web 2.0 technology into the classroom. The concept of Web 1.0 meant that a closed group of people created the contents of the web. Web 2.0 involves contents being created collaboratively by an open community of users. Blogs, social networks and even YouTube are examples of the Web 2.0 concept. To make it simple, you could think of Web 1.0 as a library. You can use it as a way of accessing information, but you can’t contribute to or change the information in any way. Web 2.0 is more like a big group or community having a discussion on a topic. You can still use it to receive information, but you also contribute to the conversation and make it a richer experience. Our class blog is a perfect example of how Web 2.0 is designed for people to become participants rather than mere viewers. The collaboration that everyone showed is what makes Web 2.0 work. Without it, Web 2.0 is nothing.

Image found at: http://msjosay.hubpages.com/hub/The-Difference-between-Web-20-and-Web-10

As previously stated, without collaboration from the learners (students), Web 2.0 tools provide very little in the way of educational value. For that reason, the role of the teacher is arguably more important now than it ever was. Education is crying out for teachers with the motivation and competency to develop these new ways of learning, to encourage the use of new technologies. Although the role of the teacher is changing, it will never be replaced by technology, but if the right training is provided for teachers, they can use Web 2.0 technology to advance the learning capacity of their students. There is no reason, other than funding, why schools should not adopt to these technologies to enable educational advancement in children. Knowledge is by no means less useful because it was acquired through a computer rather than face to face.

Web 2.0 applications such as blogs, wikis and interactive learning games are quite easy to install and manage if the teachers had the basic training to implement them. We have seen first hand through the class blog how useful they can be to a learning environment. The advantages are that students can learn from each other and find people with similar interests and it can also be managed quite easily by a teacher/supervisor. Also, following a bookmark site gives insights into the administrator’s research, which could play well in a classroom setting as a teacher tracks students’ progress. Students, in turn, can learn from their teacher’s webpage.

Image found at: http://www.saferinternet.org

Although there are many advantages to the use of Web 2.0 technology in the classroom, there is a certain reluctance amongst teachers (particularly Irish teachers) to adopt these technologies. This is shown in a survey done by the blogging site anseo.net. The reasons for this is most likely a lack of knowledge of these technologies. This year, The European Resource Centre (ERC) has set out guidelines for setting up teacher training courses in Web 2.0. Although these are only guidelines and are by no means compulsory for any member states, I feel that they are on the right track towards ensuring that all teachers are well trained in Web 2.0 technology. The eventual aim of these guidelines is that all teachers within the EU realise the education potential of Web 2.0 and are able and competent to use it as a teaching tool. David A. Thomas from the University of Nevada reflected on these exact thoughts in a speech titled “From Web 2.0 to Teacher 2.0” at an international conference on web technology. He says that courses on technology should be compulsory for all teachers but should be grouped depending on the teacher (primary, secondary, third level). His article is an example of how the United States is treating Web 2.0 in education.

This video was created by The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). This is a government funded group whose goal is to ensure that the youth of Great Britain are protected online. There are different levels to this agency: the first is run by the police to investigate cases of child exploitation on the web. The other level is harm reduction, which they called the ThinkUKnow campaign. This campaign was established to ensure that children learn to use the web in a safe and fun way. Not only have the British Government released this advertisement on national television, they also commissioned the CEOP to travel to schools all over Britain, teaching children about web safety by using games and other fun activities to help their message sink in. As this is a government agency in Britain, I decided to check what the Irish Government and state agencies were doing to promote web safety by our youth. After extensive searching I came to the realisation that there is nothing being done to ensure that our children are using the web safely.

How much more rapidly will education change under the influence of the openness, ease of access, and social nature of Web 2.0? It is hard to answer, but with the way education has changed in the past decade, who knows. Much responsibility is on the Irish Government to adopt these new education methods in the way that their British, European and American counterparts are doing so, although I cannot see much being done within the next few years. The fact that Ireland is heavily influenced by the EU is a positive in this case however, as the guidelines set out By the ERC may be enforced on the Irish education system. I believe that it is essential that the implementation of Web 2.0 in education should be backed by a strong and realistic programme of training for all teachers, regardless of experience, and should continually develop to meet the changing needs of learners and teachers.

Bibliography

Websites

http://ceop.police.uk/

http://www.web20erc.eu/

http://www.anseo.net/2009/01/20/irish-teachers-attitude-to-web-20/

Books

Lauden, Kenneth C. and Traver, Carol Guercio. E-Commerce 2011: Business, Technology, Society. Pearson, 2011.

Online Articles

Liu, Alan. “Imagining the New Media Encounter.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Blackwell, 2012. Web. 9 Mar. 2012.

Price, Kenneth M. “Electronic Scholarly Editions.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Blackwell, 2012. Web. 9 Mar. 2012.

Thomas, David A. From Web 2.0 to Teacher 2.0. Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics. Texas: Pearson Education, 2009. Web. 7 Mar. 2012.

Videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxOSk0VYy28&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unIo2QVfO0w&feature=related

The Changing World of Book Reading: The Implications of E-Books, by Emmet Carmody

My personal project focuses on our fast-changing relationship with books, giving particular attention to the publication of e-books and its implications for readers, writers, and publishers. The story of the written word is a remarkable one, which has seen mediums evolve from the simplicity of stone tablets to intricately complex technologies such as tablet devices and e-readers. Needless to say, this journey highlights the advanced accomplishments of human technology and engineering, but it also pays testament to the importance of our relationship with words and books; though the medium may change, we have always given massive amounts of attention to the creation and consumption of shared ideas. E-books have yet again modified this relationship, and their rise to prominence has brought the commercial world of books to a crucial inflection point. The potential of e-books can also be harnessed to drastically alter book-based education in schools and universities, and has created unprecedented possibilities in archiving. As with the onset of any wide-scale change, however, the concept of digital books has its opponents. Many contest that the digitalisation of the written word is a challenge to the existence – or at very least the prominence – of hard copy books. A charge frequently levelled towards e-books is that they lack the magic of traditional printed books, and deficiently alter the ritual of reading. Naturally, not all arguments against the prioritisation of e-books are sentimental – those economically involved in printing and publishing industries are understandably concerned about what the future holds. As we alter books and the ways in which we read them, we also alter all book-based commerce that surrounds them, requiring both social and commercial adaptations. I am fascinated by watching these adaptations unfold, and observing how the potential of e-books can be harnessed in both the commercial sphere and on a larger social level. My seminar blog will offer personal musings and interpretations of the implications of these changes.

Though e-readers were initially released and marketed around 5 years ago (the First Generation Kindle was released in November of 2007), it is since 2010 that the popularity of e-books has really soared. In the last two years, debate has intensified between e-book enthusiasts and those who refuse to embrace them. An interesting way of approaching this argument is to question what the book actually is. Johanna Drucker, author and visual theorist, argues that hard copy books and e-books are ideas and concepts that simply take up different types of space:

“The pernicious effect of introducing a new technology is that proponents of the invention tend to mis-characterize older forms… Writing persists, to this day, with its intimacy and immediacy, while print forms and other mass production technologies continue to carve up the space of communication according to an evermore-complex division of ecological niches. Books of the future depend very much on how we meet the challenge to understand what a book is and has been.”

The connotations of looking at e-books this way are interesting: e-books need not be considered a misrepresentation of a traditional hard copy book, but a selective representation of our ideas, which will continue to occupy a number of mediums.

That being said, the traditionalists bemoan the increased diversity in the ways that we read text, and see the e-reading boom as more of a hindrance than an evolution. Many well-known authors, such as Johnathan Franzen, have spoken out against e-books, citing varying reasons, ranging from the potential deterioration of the print industry, to the simple lack of tangibility possessed by a hard copy print edition. Whatever the case, e-books and e-readers have began to integrate themselves into both society and the market-place in earnest, and it looks as if those involved in book writing, printing and publication will simply have to do their best to adapt. E-books are currently outselling hard-copies, and their immense public popularity show no signs of letting up.

On initially setting out on my personal project I would was of the impression that the new e-market would be terrible news for most publishers, but it would seem printers are those in the most trouble, a sentiment which was heavily expressed by Cork University Press production editor, Maria O’ Donovan, at a guest lecture in the university’s Brookfield complex, on Tuesday 6th March of this year. In actuality, many publishers are flourishing in the digital market, thanks to their ability to exercise cost regulation over e-books much less problematically than with hard copies. For example, second-hand copies of e-books cannot be sold in discount stores or second-hand book stores, and publishers have a greater say in what price a book should be available at, whereas a commercial bookshop may have more power to decide what books should be sold at discount prices. This agent pricing model allows publishers to charge a stable amount of money for the purchase of a bestseller, and because of its digital format it cannot be resold or as easily passed around. Increased efforts invested by publishing companies in formatting their e-books will also make piracy more difficult, though it remains next to impossible to avoid the piracy of downloadable mediums entirely.

E-books also have a potentially instrumental role to play in the field of education. Digital archives and online educational resources have already revolutionised scholarly work, and massive amounts of money are being annually invested in digital humanities. Websites that archive books in a digital format and host multiple versions of encoded literary texts are plentiful. V-machine.org, for example, has proven to serve as a fore-runner for a lot of online text projects. Another extremely valuable resource, that has proved massively popular with e-reader owners, is the extensive digitally archived book collection of Project Gutenberg. Perhaps the welcome message displayed on the Project Gutenberg website best describes what the online archive offers:

Project Gutenberg offers over 38,000 free ebooks: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online. We carry high quality ebooks: All our ebooks were previously published by bona fide publishers. We digitized and diligently proofread them with the help of thousands of volunteers.”

As a volunteer effort, the website is quite remarkable and shows what is possible in collective digital archiving. The majority of the texts available on the site have been made available in a variety of formats – plain text, HTML, PDF, EPUB and MOBI – so that anyone who owns or has access to a computer, e-reader or tablet device can access and download them. Many similar sites exist, with the number of public domain works being made available for legitimately free download expanding on a daily basis. Librivox is similar volunteer effort to Project Gutenberg, in that is an open source project that houses the largest online catalogue of audio-books, all of which are recorded and amassed by volunteers. Librivox’s founder, Hugh McGuire, is far from skeptical about the future books, and stresses that the “creation part (of books, and book archives) is as important if not more important than the consumption part”, and finds the new dynamics of interaction and collaboration in the creation of books has been facilitated by the digitilisation of books.

Indeed, it is difficult to not be impressed and encouraged by these digital book projects, which have already changed the landscape of education and recreational reading alike. Whether e-readers themselves will be implemented into education remains to be seen; the issue of cost is obviously a problematic issue, and other minor inconveniences of e-reader based education have been pointed out, such as the lack of page numbers in the vast majority of e-books. However, it is important to remember that e-readers and e-books are a very young technology, and patience must be exercised if we wholly intend to integrate them into classroom learning. Personally, I find the growth of the e-reader and e-book market to be positive on almost all fronts and, given the efficiency and growing popularity of books in the digital format, the introduction of e-book based education is imminent. I remain skeptical of the doomsayers, who suggest the growth of the e-book will ultimately result in the extinction of the hard-copy. I am of the opinion that a relatively steady balance will eventually be struck in the book market, which will more than likely favour the production of the e-book, with a certain amount of hard-copies continuing to be produced. Picture-books and poetry books, for example, would remain to be far more effective through the medium of print. Books containing large amounts of photography would require considerable resolution, which may eventually be achieved but as of now is next to impossible to acquire on an e-reader.  Poetry reading, as an art form in itself, is a tradition I cannot see poets parting with any time in the near future. All of those involved in book production at this moment in time can only do their best to adapt to the changing book environment. Who’s to say that eventually print-copies and e-books can’t share a symbiotic relationship – a complimentary existence as representations of our ideas? I, for one, would certainly not rule it out.

Bibliography:

Videos:

Websites:

Books:

Examining the Ways in Which Children Read Online

My personal project was all about examining the ways in children learn to read and read online and how they use technology to do so. Reading nowadays is becoming more and more interactive by the second, the website Pottermore is a prime example of that (discussed in my blog). It is sites like Pottermore that got me interested in this topic in the first place. Interactive stories are fast becoming commonplace, children are now used to being able to get into and explore the story they are reading. Through my personal project I look to examine the different ways this is possible online and with technologies as well as delving into the effect technology and the internet have not only on story time but on how a child learns to read.

To get the full benefit of the interactive ways in which children are learning today the child must first learn to read. That is where sites like Reading Eggs come in, they provide a fun, interactive, bright and encouraging environment through which the child can progress and improve their reading skills. The important thing to note about sites like Reading Eggs is that they are one-on-one exercises with the child and progress along at the child’s required pace. The child is encouraged to learn to read so they can explore and meet more and more of the world and the characters living within these worlds that are provided for the children by the site itself. To the child it feels like they are playing a game, and without realising they are learning one of the most important skills they will ever learn.

There are other sites that provide a child with instruction on how to improve their reading, sites like the TumbleBookLibrary and Storyline Online provide the child with read along books that the child can just enjoy as a story by itself or as a tool for teaching timing, proper phrasing and how to use emotion or inflection when reading out loud. These sites have their own individual spins on the ways in which the story is read along, for example, Storyline Online has famous actors read the story along with the child, the TumbleBookLibrary gives the child the option of clicking on a word and having that word sounded out for them so they can try and read the story by themselves.

Sites like Storyline Online, TumbleBookLibrary and Reading Eggs are important to children an they’re great for them. They provide a fun and most importantly encouraging environment for the child to practice their reading at their own pace and how they like to do it. For example, with the TumbleBookLibrary the child could choose to read the story all by themselves at first and just click on words if they need help with it or they can have the electronic voice read the book for them first and then give it a go themselves. The child is in complete control of he or she wants to learn to read.

Technology is very fast becoming a very important when teaching children to read. It is very important to note that no technology could replace a teacher in a classroom but these tools are incredibly beneficial to both student and teacher for a number of reasons. In my blog entitled “Technology and Teaching Children to Read” I discuss the most important “building blocks” when it comes to a child learning to read and I then talk about the ways in which technology is used to enhance these building blocks. This is still a very small field, with not much research being conducted in the area. Hopefully, with the speed in which technology has development over the last few decades it won’t be long before every classroom has the type of technology that can really benefit a child when they are learning to read.

Of course, technology and the internet isn’t just there for beginner or struggling readers, existing and avid readers can also take advantage of it to enhance their reading experience. Pottermore is the main example I use for this new type of transmedia storytelling. Through the Pottermore site the reader is among other things, able to explore the world they’ve read so much about and interact with other readers in ways they have only imagined. The reading experience has now become interactive. Not only can a reader literally explore the world they are reading about but Pottermore is also providing them with the ability to create parts of it themselves, through the whole idea of Fan Fiction. Readers are now encouraged to step out of that role and become the participators in the story they so dearly love.

Hogwarts-Express-Pottermore

Hogwarts-Express-Pottermore

As expected, all this is not without its problems though. There is serious debate about what the future holds for the physical, traditional book.  Will all this technology make the print world obsolete? As well as that threat, with sites like Pottermore and Storyline Online being offered for free to readers, how will big, online book retailers react?  All of this and more is discussed in my blog and I really hope you enjoy reading it!

WORKS CITED

eBooks:

Liu, Alan. “Imagining the New Media Encounter.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Blackwell DTD, 2012. Web. 10 Mar. 2012

Price, Kenneth M. “Electronic Scholarly Editions.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Blackwell DTD, 2012. Web. 10 Mar. 2012

News articles online:

Humphrey, Michael. “Pottermore Expert Explains How Harry Potter’s Website Will Transform Storytelling”.Forbes,29th July 2011. Web. 10th March 2012

“Rowling Looking Into Harry Potter E-Books”.ABCNews,4th April 2011. Web. 20 Mar 2012

Press Releases:

Rowling, J.K. J.K. Rowling Announces Pottermore. London. 23rd June 2011. Web. 10th March 2012

Websites:

www.insider.pottermore.com

www.pottermore.com

www.readingeggs.com

www.rocknlearn.com

www.storylineonline.net

http://www.neirtec.org/reading_report/

www.tumblebooklibrary.com

Youtube Videos:

kolander2. “James Earl Jones Reads ‘To Be A Drum’ for kids”. Online Posting. Youtube, 21st April 2011. Web. 9th March 2012

RocknLearn. “Read Along Stories Sample Clip”.Online Posting. Youtube, 19th November 2009. Web. 9th March 2012