If you have an hour and a quarter to spare, Lawrence Lessig’s 23c3 lecture (available on Google Video) is worth a watch. I particularly like the following passage, about 8.5 minutes in, after Lessig shows several creative, Internet videos.
So whatâ€™s important about these examples is not the technical facility they demonstrate. Since the beginning of film or television â€¦ anyone with access to a film or television studio could produce everything youâ€™ve seen here. Whatâ€™s important about these examples is that these tools have now been democratized. Anybody with a $1500 computer can take sounds and images and remix them in ways that say things differently, in ways that express ideas more powerfully than any written text could ever, given the character of the cultures weâ€™ve become. These tools of creativity have become tools of speech. They represent a new potential to speak, a new potential to learn, they are a new literacy for the 21st century, doing for images and music and film what we took for granted growing up ,,, were our freedoms with the pencil and the typewriter. The freedom to capture and share and remix ideas in ways that express them differently.
I’m trying my best to get this message across to my own students in many ways, especially in focusing on some of these new literacies as course content.
This is perhaps the single most important message of the web 2.0 world. Not simply easy publishing but publishing of any type of content or media you can imagine.
Are there any limits?
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This is naive. Everyone can speak, but few are articulate. Literacy in the West is widespread – but good writers are few and far between. the assumption that the tools (‘a $1500 computer’) will free people is as silly as saying that free crayons will allow the world to be full of Rembrandts and Degas. Even the bascic manipulation of sound and images requires a sense of storytelling. Just look at YouTube – while it’s fun to visit (and I live there) one would be hardpressed to make a case that many of the posted videos are expressing much more than Beckett’s ‘need to express’. If, as the writer suggests, film, music and video are the new literacy, then more than ever the population needs educating about the grammar and technique.
Chris, I think you raise a good point. When I first saw the quote “Whatâ€™s important about these examples is that these tools have now been democratized. Anybody with a $1500 computer can take sounds and images and remix them in ways that say things differently” … I thought, wow … you know assuming access to a $1500 computer is not really democratic at all. There is certainly a price to pay for access.
And I agree with you wholly that the general population DOES need education about the grammar and technique. I like this quote for Leu, “The continuously changing technologies of literacy mean that we must help children learn how to learn new technologies of literacy. In fact, the ability to learn continuously changing technologies for literacy may be a more critical target than learning any particular technology of literacy itself.”