Reflections by Hailey Barger: Chapters 6-9

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This Wiki hosts Hailey Barger's Rich Reflections for Chapters 6-9 of Doug Belshaw's The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies for ED654. You can find the Reflections of other Nousioneers on the Nousion Readings page.

Rich Reflections for Chapters 1-5 can be found here.

Chapter 6: Meme-tastic!

"Creating a meme — essentially a remix of someone else’s work — therefore requires being able to execute your idea successfully in a very short amount of time. To that end it is the ‘perfect storm’ for digital literacies as an individual must deploy a good number of the essential elements of digital literacies..." (page 71, para. 2)

If you know me or have read my Barbaric Blog Yawp, you will know that I adore memes. I have made countless amounts over the last several years, pertaining to things like pop culture, social issues, and local humor.

Recently, I made one in relation to living in my hometown of Sitka, Alaska. It is based off of a meme that was introduced in 2012 called What People Think I Do / What I Really Do, in which a chart is made up of six images.

Before reading this chapter, I never considered memes to be texts that can build digital literacies. What I did know was that they were very culturally significant--helping to express emotions that might not translate well and encourage commentary.

If we apply Belshaw's eight essentials for digital literacies to my meme, we could say:

  • The subject was found to be humorous after sharing with my intended audience, therefore there is both a Cultural and Communicative element.
  • Choosing the Chart format as opposed to an Image Macro demonstrates a Critical element.
  • Fostering a deep understanding of memes and the skills to make them embraces the Creative and Confident elements.
  • Using several different devices and social media platforms to interact with my meme in various digital spaces relates the Cognitive element.
  • Being aware of copyright infringement and other laws that relate to remixes is Constructive
  • (and lastly, if I have not already stretched this out too thin) The Civic element is helping people in Sitka begin to understand how memes function by relating it to something that applies to them.

Chapter 7: Sir Re-mix-a-Lot

"Licensing one’s work under a Creative Commons license means that others can use your work as a starting point for (or to augment) theirs." (page 81, para. 2)

Copyright protects the rights of creators and all of their original work. But I have a problem with the term original.

Belshaw made a really good point back in Chapter 5 when he said "there is nothing new under the sun -- especially in the digital world..." (page 53). Creativity is not synonymous with originality, especially not online. Because technology allows for texts to be copied with such precise accuracy and because copyright is not widely understood (or in a lot cases even remotely recognized), it is sometimes impossible to find the original source. And if you do find the original source, who is to say it is actually work is actually original in and of itself?

If it's true that all original work is automatically protected under copyright when it's created, then there must be an endless number of potential lawsuits floating around in cyberspace. The Web and all of it's entertaining and social glory has been built on a throne of copyright infringement.

All I have to say is thank goodness for Creative Commons (and subsequently other permissive licences I had not heard of until I read this chapter).

I understand that people need to make a living. Copyright ensures creators can receive credit and monetary compensation for their hard work. A great example of understanding and utilizing copyright can be found with a photographer buddy of mine, Tim Shobe). He does a great job communicating what you can and cannot do with his images. And, more often than not, he gives permissions if you just ask.

However, it seems that Web culture is inherently "create by making it your own." Anyone with access to the original on the Internet has the ability (whether it is legal or not) to share, remix, or pass off the original as their own. As long as it's not money you're after, Creative Commons seems to offer a more flexible, digital literacy-friendly context in which to create content.

If one is striving to be a Digital Citizen, not only should they have the skills and knowledge of how remix content legally, but as a content-author they should be aware of the remix-ability of their own work and license accordingly.

Chapter 8: Send Me On My Way

"With the things that really matter, authentic learning comes through knowledge and skills working in tandem, leading to action. This type of learning, although often taught sequentially, is often better learned in an interest-based way." (page 93, para. 4)

This chapter of Belshaw's book should be a reading companion to Gardner Campbell's A Personal Infrastructure and A Personal Infrastructure Revisited. After reading it, I immediately thought to go back over my Rich Reflection of the latter two.

Belshaw speaks of learning as a non-linear process, more meaningful and effective if it is developed based on interests. The idea of Cyberinfrastructure reflects this process. I would even go so far to say a Cyberinfrastructure is an example of an "interest-based pathway to learning."

Think about it: developing a Cyberinfrastructure is basically personalized online learning, founded upon basic coding skills and formed by personal interests. A perfect combination of knowledge and skills leading to personalized action. To re-quote a quote from Campbell I've referenced previously:

"It’s also about the ability to externalize a model of one’s own conceptual framework having to do with the information in which one lives, produces, and comes into contact with. To be able to look at that network and say ‘I made that a certain way and that actually reflects something about my own attitudes towards, my own understanding of, what that network means." Gardner Campbell, A Personal Cyberinfrastructure revisited

Chapter 9: We've Only Just Begun

"I’m encouraging you to take the ideas and the text of this book and to remix it. Apply this work to your own context!" (page 99, para. 1)

So I've made it to the end of the book. In another context, it could be considered a bad sign that I'm left with so many more questions than when I first started. But in this case I think it's very much a good thing. My questions have advanced. Not only are they further informed and more focused than when I started, but they're geared towards my interests. It's a start towards developing digital literacies as they relate to Hailey Barger. Hailey Barger is the context.

Instead of going off on another Barbaric Yawp, I'll use a list to summarize my final thoughts that coincides to Belshaw's final points in his conclusion:

  • "Traditional" conceptions of anything can be problematic, especially as they relate to our current state. What was once applicable may not be now. That being said, it's pretty cool to note that literate practices somehow always relate back to technology in one way or another.
  • Ambiguity is just another weapon in our digital literacy arsenal. The best thing to do is embrace it and hope it doesn't backfire!
  • I grasp the concept of digital literacies being plural, however, I'm still struggling with the neutral part. Question for myself when I can finally understand what it means for digital literacies to be neutral: are there other contexts (aside from power, social identity, and political ideology) in which DLs can or cannot be neutral? I'll wait to answer this question until I can see the whole picture.
  • I'm lucky to have at least 12 other people to help me co-create a definition of digital literacies using the eight essential elements in for contexts what it means to be a Digital Citizen. Why haven't I taken advantage of this yet? I'll work on that...
  • Memes are not only entertaining, but they are way more meaningful than I ever thought. I want to continue to examine them as they relate to the eight essential elements. In fact, I think it would be a good It assignment. Keep your eye out for it on my blog.
  • The digital world is way quicker, efficient, and generally more powerful the the analogue world. Thus, as Uncle Ben would say: "With great power comes great responsibility." Digital literacies also means remixing responsibly and staying knowledgeable and respectful of copyright.
  • Last thought: I hope to rip and remix this book in other ways in the future.