Digital Literacy

Literacy practices are undergoing major transformations. Thanks to new writing spaces, today’s college students are redefining reading, research, collaboration, writing, and publishing practices. In addition to altering writing processes, new writing spaces are stretching the boundaries of academic writing, creating new genres and new conventions for structuring texts.

Everyone has an opportunity to be a Gutenberg or a Thomas Paine, to espouse an individualized common sense through a blog, online forum, wiki, or fan fiction site. Aphorists pen new witticisms on Facebook for their “friends” to see, and e-mail is seen by first-year students as an “old” way to write. In addition to having more choices than ever when it comes to available writing spaces, today’s college students have the potential to reach broad public audiences. Using ubiquitous, often free, open source tools, college students can broadcast their views to the world, potentially reaching millions of readers with video mashups, Twitter poems, or even cell phone novels.

So much material is shared and reused on the Internet that it’s tempting not to worry much about copyright infringement or your public, digital footprint. Even so, to avoid unnecessary and potentially serious trouble, check out Digital Ethics (Netiquette); Negotiating Virtual Spaces: Public Writing; Copyright and Writing.

Because some readers limit their access to information by subscribing to select information sources (what’s sometimes referred to as the information silo problem)—perhaps by subscribing to particular RSS feeds or restricting reading to a handful of websites, some writers find it useful to redistribute texts in various genres and media. The terms “remediation” or “remixing” refer to this process of telling the same story in multiple genres or media. For example, a company’s new patent or product could be discussed via a news release, a blog, a Twitter stream, or a video commercial. Furthermore, remediation has always been a popular invention technique. To learn more about specific remediation strategies, see Text-to-Text Remediation and Text-to-Visual Remediation at the bottom of the Remediation page.