Length: 750 – 1000 word analytical essay
Tone: “Academic casual”
Audience: You’re writing about your personal experiences, but an analytical essay exploring issues from your personal experiences for a general audience.
Format: Publish as a page on your site, grouped along with your previous narrative. Then you’ll write a post linking to the page and reflecting on your writing.
First, take a look again at the two posts describing different approaches to defining new media literacy: Mozilla’s web literacy map and Henry Jenkins’ list of literacies. And also look again at your own narrative describing the development of technological literacy in your life to this point, and consider the discussion you had with me about that narrative, wherein I likely pointed to one or two key questions that I wanted to hear a lot more about.
Reflect for a bit about your own new media skills and interests and consider some of these questions:
- Which of the new media literacies as defined by Mozilla or Jenkins are particular strengths for you? Which are areas that need further development?
- Are there literacies on one or both of those lists that you find especially interesting or that you’d like to spend more time developing, and are those literacies different from your list of strengths and weaknesses in the previous bullet point?
- Has your work and reflection on a podcast episode this semester — in the analysis of a new media publication or in the production of your own episode and reflection on it — made you aware of issues, habits, or practices that you hadn’t thought much about previously?
- Do you see any tensions in your relationships with new media practices? (I have spoken with many of you individually about such specific tensions, and in fact for many of you we explicitly talked about how your previous narrative ended with some set of questions just begging to be explored more fully, so reflect a bit more on those questions.) Where do you see conflicting interests/values/habits in the ways in which you interact with technology and media?
- Many, many of you — almost all of you — wrote in your earlier literacy narrative that you played various kinds of computer games and certain types of social media as learning and communication strategies when you were younger, but almost all of you also reported that you no longer do so or engage in those spaces much less than you did. Why is that? What are the tensions there? Assume that your personal and professional/educational practices are a set of strategic choices, even if lots of small choices made at least in part without specific conscious strategic thinking: can you discern why you make the sorts of choices that you do about how you invest your time and energy with regard to technology and communication? Are you making choices based on careful decisions or mostly just repeating patterns of behavior without much consideration? What sorts of strategies guide your new media decision making?
After reflecting on the sorts of questions above, write an analytical essay about your current new media literacy. You probably won’t be able to specifically address all of the questions I’ve asked you to consider above, but use those questions as a guide to identify some tension that you want to explore, understand, and explain. Your goal is to identify strategies in your life that you have probably not explicitly addressed as strategies, try to understand them more fully, and then to explain them in a way that is clear, direct, and succinct. Or to identify competing strategies that you have perhaps recognized but hadn’t thought about how they relate to each other. Or to identify strategies that you employ now but that you hadn’t really thought about how they evolved to where they are now and what that tells you about where they will evolve in the future.
All of which is to say, reflect on your own new media literacy and find some place in your behavior that is surprising, confusing, contradictory, or otherwise just really interesting, and then explain it.
As with any other writing I ask you to do, the underlying action I am asking you to carry out is this:
- observe some set of “texts” (in this case, the texts are your own behaviors) and look for patterns in the texts, especially patterns that seem important but that aren’t obvious or easily explained;
- think about those patterns in a serious way and try to come up with some explanation for yourself about how the pattern works and why it matters;
- and then explain that pattern to an audience.