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Announcement: Literacy Studies

Research into the nature, varieties, and social forms of literacy, past or present, print- or media-based.

Giselle Beiguelman, the book after the book (1999) Transliteracies Research Report

“The Book after the Book is a hypertextual and visual essay about cyber-literature and the net_reading/writing_condition. Its main focus are non-linear narratives, which reconfigure the literature/book relationship starting from the very notion of volume and works that provide programming language a textual appraisal. Notwithstanding, one is not after the novelty of cyberculture nor striving to reinforce the now tedious discourse of the Internet’s redeeming potential as a computer web able to candidly unite all humanity into a global village. This wouldn’t be more than a chapter in the spectacular history being successfully elaborated in the last ten years by the computer and software industry. The subject here is not the no-book, but the book after the book, the computer not as support, but as a new reading and writing machine: an interface” (net_condition).

Starter Links: the book after the book | Project page at net_condition | Iowa Review Web interview with Beiguelman

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By Kim Knight


Edubuntu is a Linux-based operating system that specifically targets young adults and families in an educational context.

”’Ubuntu’ is an ancient African word, meaning ‘humanity to others’. Ubuntu also means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’. The Edubuntu Linux distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to schools, through its customised school environment.

Edubuntu is a complete Linux-based operating system, freely available with community based support. The Edubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Edubuntu Manifesto: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customise and alter their software in whatever way they see fit. These freedoms make Edubuntu fundamentally different from traditional proprietary software: not only are the tools you need available free of charge, you have the right to modify your software until it works the way you want it to.” (from Edubuntu.org)

Starter Links: Edubuntu.org | Ubuntu.org (the parent project) | Jay Allen’s review: “Is Edubuntu Truly the Operating System for Families?” on BloggingBaby.com

Mechanics’ InstituteTransliteracies Research Report

History and Description of the Mechanics’ Institute

“The Mechanics’ Institute sprang up in 19th century England for the ostensible purpose of imparting upon the working class mechanic knowledge of the sciences, literature, and arts. In actuality, a myriad of purposes shrouded the creation of these institutes, which were ultimately appropriated by the middle class when it became apparent that the working class was not as receptive as had been anticipated. Some scholars conjecture that they were really formed as a means of control and indoctrination of the working class, allowing only as little real knowledge as needed for them to improve as workers, but little else. As the middle class began to move in, the working class retreated to the Institute’s libraries and reading rooms, where they were free to discuss topics that interested them.”

Starter Links or References: “Funding communal culture: opportunism and standardisation of funding for mechanics’ institutes in colonial Victoria,” Donald Barker’s article in The Australian Library Journal | “Culture and Wealth Creation: Mechanics’ Institutes and the Emergence of Political Economy in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain,â€? Ann Firth’s article in the History of Intellectual Culture

Transliteracies Research ReportTransliteracies Research Report By David Roh

The Book and the Computer

On-line journal focused on the future of the book in the Internet age. Inaugural issue features a roundtable discussion about the “Future of the Printed Word.”

“We experience a world of ever-expanding websites, CD-ROMs and other digital electronic media led by the developed industrial nations today. What will become of the paper-printed media of books in relation to the rapid evolution of this new media?

“Much has been discussed about digital media in the context of multimedia and its interactive features, but not in relationship to carrying printed words and characters. If they were discussed at all, a negative outlook has been very pervasive. Is there any way we can expect a positive effect of the new media on books?

“Can books only exist in the paper-printed media? Can the text be separated from paper to be reused as a book through digital media? Is such a discussion relevant to the subject of books?” (from the Book and the Computer web site.)

Starter Links: Book and the Computer Journal |
Roundtable Discussion
| First issue’s table of contents

Ziming Liu, “Reading Behavior in the Digital Environment: Changes in Reading Behavior Over the Past Ten Years” (2005)

Survey-based study of the change in reading practices over time in digital environments:

“Previous studies attempted to explore reading in the digital environment through examining the evolution of reading or observing how people read documents (especially electronic documents) within a specific period of time. The goal of this study is to explore reading in the digital environment from a different perspective. Instead of observing how people read electronic documents, this study attempts to investigate reading behavior in the digital environment by analyzing how people’s reading behavior has changed over the past ten years. Understanding changes in reading behavior would help in designing more effective digital libraries and empower users in the digital environment.” (from introduction to article)

Starter Links: HTML and .pdf versions of article in Journal of Documentation, 61, no. 6 (2005): 700-12

Annenberg Center for Multimedia Literacy

Center focusing on networked, multimedia “literacyâ€?:

“As a project of the Annenberg Center for Communication, the University of Southern California’s Institute for Multimedia Literacy develops educational programs and conducts research on the changing nature of literacy in a networked culture. The IML’s educational programs address students, teachers, and faculty across the educational spectrum: including K-12 teachers, student teachers, and higher education faculty. The IML supports faculty-directed research that seeks to transform the nature of scholarship within the disciplines.” (from Center site)

Starter Links: Annenberg Center home

National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL)

Dec. 2005 report by the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics on changes in literacy between 1992 and 2003 (including a finding that just 25% of college graduates are functionally “proficient” in reading):

“On the prose scale, the percentage of college graduates with Proficient literacy decreased from 40 percent in 1992 to 31 percent in 2003. For adults who took graduate classes or completed a graduate degree, the percentage with Proficient prose literacy fell 10 percentage points between 1992 and 2003.” (from NAAL report, .pdf)

Starter Links: NAAL Report (.pdf) | Inside Higher Ed article on the report (16 Dec. 2005)