Literacy in the New Media Age

Literacy in the New Media Age

Literacy in the New Media Age

Literacy in the New Media Age

Synopsis

In this 'new media age' the screen has replaced the book as the dominant medium of communication. This dramatic change has made image, rather than writing, the centre of communication.In this groundbreaking book, Gunther Kress considers the effects of a revolution that has radically altered the relationship between writing and the book. Taking into account social, economic, communication and technological factors, Kress explores how these changes will affect the future of literacy.Kress considers the likely larger-level social and cultural effects of that future, arguing that the effects of the move to the screen as the dominant medium of communication will produce far-reaching shifts in terms of power - and not just in the sphere of communication. The democratic potentials and effects of the new information and communication technologies will, Kress contends, have the widest imaginable consequences. Literacy in the New Media Age is suitable for anyone fascinated by literacy and its wider political and cultural implications. It will be of particular interest to those studying education, communication studies, media studies or linguistics.

Excerpt

It is no longer possible to think about literacy in isolation from a vast array of social, technological and economic factors. Two distinct yet related factors deserve to be particularly highlighted. These are, on the one hand, the broad move from the now centuries-long dominance of writing to the new dominance of the image and, on the other hand, the move from the dominance of the medium of the book to the dominance of the medium of the screen. These two together are producing a revolution in the uses and effects of literacy and of associated means for representing and communicating at every level and in every domain. Together they raise two questions: what is the likely future of literacy, and what are the likely larger-level social and cultural effects of that change?

One might say the following with some confidence. Language-as-speech will remain the major mode of communication; language-as-writing will increasingly be displaced by image in many domains of public communication, though writing will remain the preferred mode of the political and cultural elites. The combined effects on writing of the dominance of the mode of image and of the medium of the screen will produce deep changes in the forms and functions of writing. This in turn will have profound effects on human, cognitive/affective, cultural and bodily engagement with the world, and on the forms and shapes of knowledge. The world told is a different world to the world shown. The effects of the move to the screen as the major medium of communication will produce far-reaching shifts in relations of power, and not just in the sphere of communication. Where significant changes to distribution of power threaten, there will be fierce resistance by those who presently hold power, so that predictions about the democratic potentials and effects of the new information and communication technologies have to be seen in the light of inevitable struggles over power yet to come. It is already clear that the effects of the two changes taken together will have the widest imaginable political, economic, social, cultural, conceptual/cognitive and epistemological consequences.

The two modes of writing and of image are each governed by distinct logics, and have distinctly different affordances. The organisation of writing - still leaning on the logics of speech - is governed by the logic of time, and by the

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