Monday, March 25, 2013

Week 11: Transliteracy & Publishing


  1. Q1. What role do you think transliteracy will play in the development of publishing (and reading and writing).

    Ianto Ware’s reading this week was interesting in its comparison of two polar perspectives on publishing today. I LOVED her analogy comparing teenage life to the Internet “the internet is the most teenage of media because it too exists in hypertime of limitless limited moments and constant reinvention”. The “constant reinvention” is becoming a lot more relevant to publishing today and points to an increasing need for transliteracy skills. The conversation prism ( reinforces that new publishing platforms are constantly being added and changed. The book in its current form has existed for a long time and will likely not be given up easily but as was reinforced in our Week 4 readings -- the electronic formats are already outpacing them (

    Publishers will need to stay ahead of technology trends to be successful.
    History has demonstrated that as new publishing platforms become available we adopt them – print, radio, TV, and the internet. The more mainstream transliteracy becomes the more we will just expect it. This will range from combinations of genres to a breadth of options (multimedia, text, audio and visual) and new forms too. With the addition of multimedia to the e-book, the next development may be social media enhancements to support the reader’s ability to network with others reading the same book to enable interest group formation through the book, rather than a separate social media site like Facebook or a Fan Website.

    Machinima is another interesting example publishing evolution. I am not in their primary target audience which may explain why I had no idea of their success but their project results are hugely impressive – for example receiving 3.2 million views (Halo 4’s Forward Unto Dawn) and 60 million views for the game narrative Mortal Kombat: Legacy speaks to its success (consider that the most watched Canadian sporting event was 26.5 million the Men’s gold medal hockey final in Vancouver 2010). I read that highly regarded director, Sir Ridley Scott (Alien, Bladerunner, Prometheus), and his commercial production company RSA are partnering with Machinima to create 12 short science fiction films ( Publishing across so many different genres is converging.


    1. Really appreciate the insightful posts, both of you! I'm never the first to post, so I get the luxury of reading the material and your thoughts before chiming in.

      I gravitated towards Ware's point on "constant reinvention" as well - it's such a succinct way to describe the nature, expectations, and demands of evolving media. I think transliteracy is inevitable in the future of publishing - we are already seeing the power of converging tools to publish and tell stories. Netizens (readers and writers) are increasingly comfortable with combining text, imagery, sound, and motion picture.

      In addition to your examples Teresa, I was also thinking of how book trailers are becoming more and more popular. Book launches traditionally promote via critics and reviews (in printed papers and online), signings and tours, and through bookstores themselves. However, in the last couple of years, books are releasing trailers and previews like movies. (Ex: The Four Hour Chef by Tim Ferris: Like you said, publishers have to keep up with what audiences want - a multi-media experience with audio/visual stimulation and is sharable through social channels.

      A friend of mine is an elementary school teacher of grade five students (10 years old) and there was overwhelming interest for a lunchtime 'Film Club'. She supervised it as the sponsor and sure enough, a big group of dedicated kids come together every week with their documented footage (some of which is acted and scripted!) and they work in iMovie to create movies. She teaches them to edit them, add music, and add in text. This is the next generation of transliterate publishers!

  2. Q2. “I think it is a great thing when amateurs create, even if the thing they create is not as great as what the professional creates. . . . that doesn’t mean we should not criticize works created badly but it does mean you’re missing the point if you simply compare the average blog to the NY Times. What does Lessig’s quote imply about (critical literacies) and literary practices concerned with publishing?

    Lessig thinks it is a good thing that democratic societies engage and exchange in open forums – the value comes not so much in the substance of the debate but the fact that honest open discussion is happening at all! No matter how weak the content, the positive is the will to participate versus being passive.

    Lessig’s quote also caused me to reflect on how we must consider the source of the published material and digest it accordingly. This harkens back to the CRAP test that Rheingold emphasizes in his work (video: or blog post ( We need to appreciate that the amateur blogger is not a professionally trained journalist, but regardless they add value to their audience. In fact, the teenager’s blog is likely of much more relevance and interest to their group of friends than is a typical NYT blog post. That teenage amateur blogger may be the next great leader or author. Henry Jenkin’s (2008) lecture Combating the Participation Gap: Why New Media Literacy Matters ( also speaks to the idea Clay Shirky raises. He thinks it is important for our society to have “bad art” because it lowers the barrier to participate – to get better – and to get feedback, which is the process of improving. He says the platforms provide us with insights with which we can make judgments and that this discussion helps create literacy.

  3. Looking at transliteracy in the landscape of publishing, reading and writing, is interesting. Although transliteracy encompasses skills many people are already using, we are not yet training or teaching our population about transliteracy by definition within educational models. Although many students are acquiring these skills, and actively using them, more often we qualify what they are doing as non-academic because we have yet to truly endorse transliteracy in schools or training models. As we look at the shift in works that use multiple transliterate skills (i.e. Inanimate Alice, or Andy Campbell's work), there is a place in the world of literature that will require us to identify and develop transliteracy skills and legitimize what we are already practicing. However, I think we must also address literacy and the digital divide. Transliteracy skills are emerging, but what will happen to those without access to technology? The most recent stats I can find on literacy skills in Canada go back to 2003 on the Human Resources and Skills Development website, where 52% of Canadians had "the minimum level of literacy required to function well at work and in daily living", based on the adult literacy indicator which measures the proportion of the Canadian population 16 years of age and older that is able to understand and use printed information, such as news stories or instruction manuals. An updated learning overview as an indicator of well being in Canada can be found at: As we move toward more advanced literacy skills we probably need to create a foundation within our education and skills training systems to identify and develop these skills, as well as create opportunities, and access to technology for the masses.

    1. That was an interesting article and I'd love to read up on Lessig and Keen's views in the future with a bit more depth. I remember when "Cult of the Amateur" came out and it generated a lot of criticism. Its distopian view of the digital revolution is compelling to me - especially when seeing the most popular videos on Youtube, the most liked photos on Instagram, and the most voted articles on Reddit.

      Gail-Ann, I think you bring up a great point on the digital divide. With translitercy becoming the norm (for writers and readers), the gap widens between those who are armed with the skills and those who don't have access to technology. I went to a talk in Vancouver where Tim Bray ( was speaking about the future of the Internet, and he emphasized that there's a big opportunity for social innovation - those who are able to use technology creatively to help and serve those in third world countries or in positions of need. One book someone recommended me relates well to this called "The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid" by C.K. Prahalad. I haven't read it yet, but it's on my summer list.

  4. I think creating a place for interconnected conversation and credible information does not have to be synonymous. We may be looking too intensely at the internet as the only source for information. If we are able to compartmentalize the internet as a medium for information rather than a proprietary source, we may be able to define the role of publishing. We can access scholarly journals, data bases, and archived material that has been credibly published, but it may not be free, openly accessible information. And we may choose to gather information based on blog posts, web pages, and other sites that may lack scholarly credibility "because" it is free. The issue that appears to rise for both the publisher and user is how much give and take is needed. Obviously if publishers choose to remain marketable they have to find a common ground with users seeking credible information. As far as users go, it must be acknowledged that information found online may lack credibility. Quite simply, maybe the only way to legitimize credibility online is to sell it.

    1. Gail, very interesting blog posts that really hit home for me as an instructor who has a very hightened awareness of the need to pull transliteracy into the instruction and assessments for my courses. I have learned also that we often over assume college students transliteracy skills, to your point, not all have been exposed to it in their previous education. It is often a crap shoot in terms of where they went to school and who their instructor was. Following on your excellent point about access to technology issues I wanted to share this link with you. It dovetails into a discussion of the importance of libraries, whey they are still needed and how we need to invest more in them.

      How Technology Is Shaping The Future Of Libraries (
      The infographic in this blog post is interesting, using American data it spells out the current and future trends happening at libraries and around the world. It is interesting to see how many people rely on libraries for access to the technology that we take for granted – computer access and the internet.
      - 30 million Americans rely on libraries to find a job
      - 72% of libraries help patrons complete online job applications
      - 45% of libraries say they lack sufficient internet connection speed
      - 76% of libraries don’t have enough computers to meet demand
      - also some suprising strategies from publishers, for example, limiting the number of times each e-book can be loaned to a patron, or some publishers who simply refusing to sell e-books to libraries (Simon & Schuster and Macmillan among them). Very interesting Forbes article on this issue (

      Henry Jenkins would be giving a "like" to your post if he was reading it :-)

  5. Q3. What transliterate practices might libraries employ in order to place libraries at the centre of an informational social web?

    To stay relevant and useful to users libraries will have to create new services and deliver information in the new ways that mobile technology demands, more apps, more cloud based services. I had a student asking me last week “Teresa why isn’t there a mobile app for NAIT Moodle courses?” He explained to me how easy and helpful it would be and started giving me all sorts of examples of what it would do. I forwarded his request onto the Moodle IT team because it made a lot of sense. Sometimes we haven’t considered the possibilities that seem obvious to our younger, perhaps more transliterate users. This points to research. It made me consider the answer to this question as well. More smartphone applications for access to libraries and the information they need. Also wouldn’t it be great if libraries could serve up the catalogue in more of a Netflix type way for anyone searching? More visual, less text based or some combo?

    I don’t know very much about the business of libraries, I hadn’t given serious thought to their challenges until this question popped up. I can tell you that I have been annoyed with dated technology in libraries, for example, having to listen to extremely poor quality VHS tapes of a fabulous series on Marshall McLuhan (VHS and only one copy) and I have learned that more than one student can’t access an e-book within our library at the same time (ugh!).

    To help with this question I took a peek in U of A’s Library & Information Science Source Catalogue using the key search term “transliteracy in library services” and found some interesting papers.

    In Transliteracy – New Library Lingo and what it means for Instruction ( the author says the role of the librarian needs to change to one of “cybrarian, focused on transliteracy and embracing varying forms of information”. We need to deliver information in less than three clicks ideally and design the website for ease of use—less verbiage and more media, images, and access with virtual presence being essential. The author calls transliteracy “the elephant in the room” saying that students operate in a virtual world, more than print, so we need to use this platform for information delivery and instruction.

    The paper leads with an interesting example of two young men who devour every Star Wars game in their local library. They ask for more from their librarian, who has nothing left in gaming, but puts them on to comics, books, and video – every other means to feed the passion for Star Wars – the transliteracy strategy works and they consume the rest of it too while being introduced to reading.

    In the paper Not Just Literate, but Transliterate: Encouraging Transliteracy Adoption in Library Services ( it highlights training and staying up on technology, in order to encourage users to interact with new and different forms of communication and information. It speaks to a very cool summer teen library reading program that moves beyond reading to producing a weekly YouTube video, edited by teens and staff, also a weekly Podcast, it uses their interest in YouTube and social networking to help teens learn new skills and computer programs (Audacity, iMovie, Windows Media). 

    In a nutshell the common theme in these papers is to expand the library's understanding
 of literacy to encompass emergent technologies, non-print reading, and user-generated content.

  6. I was very excited to discuss the role of libraries in the new landscape of publishing. I thought that Bobbi Newman's slide share was a good overview of bridging the gap between transliteracy and libraries, and know there is much more to this topic. I chose to research an answer to this question further using an alternate source this week. I had a great and lively discussion with my friend Tina Thomas who is the Director of Marketing and Fund Development for the Edmonton Public Library (EPL). I relayed our seed question and the perspective that libraries were passé, and she shared with me what libraries in Edmonton are doing now. Part of Tina's marketing package is identifying the EPL as "a place for information, not a place for books". In our conversation Tina mentioned that EPL has carried downloadable eBooks, videos, and streaming videos for years. People still access tons of books, and as an institution they have noticed an increase in book circulation over the last three years. However, in it's shifting role, the library has become a leader in providing all kinds of content as a public institution that is free and promotes an environment of accessibility to all. The EPL has over 500 computers throughout the city, that are regularly used. She shared an example of free access to every magazine, current and archived , speaking specifically about National Geographic. A person wanting to access archived copies of NG would not be able to do so for free online, however they can through public libraries. As such, libraries are one way to solve the problem of paying for credible information (shared in my response to question #2). Libraries act as a service provider in training people to use online services and digital tools such as setting up their email, tweeting, using electronic readers, and desktop applications. Clients from federal government agencies are being redirected to the EPL to get assistance on filling in online forms. These services from libraries act as a conduit in bridging the digital divide, and creating opportunities for people to develop transliteracy skills. In the near future the EPL is looking at the model of a creation space; one that exists outside of the home and office. This community space would resemble a coffee house, but allow people the opportunity to record music, work with in house poet laureates and publishers to learn how to create and publish their own work. Traditional views of libraries may look like a place that will be overrun with cobwebs, but based on my conversation about the direction of the EPL it looks to be a place where transliteracy practices and an informational social web will thrive.

    1. Great discussion on this so far. At my college at work, staff and faculty often joke about the absence of books in the library. It seems that the institution itself is struggling with this evolution of a space that traditionally housed tangible materials. Some of the ways we are making use of technology to redefine the library as an information hub:

      - Redesign of the website to make it simple to see multitude of offerings, showcase a fresh design, and have a streamlined, relevant feel.
      - Change the entire main floor to a "Learning Commons" where there are collaborative spaces, reference desks, computer labs, presentation/study rooms, sharable screens, and other resources.
      - Allow students to "text message a librarian" to ask for help to find anything (this is on top of live chat, email, phone, etc. access points).
      - Have lots of training videos, podcoasts, etc. to demonstrate how to make use of the library's informational resources.

      These are just some of the examples that come to mind!

    2. Hi Sylvia, your post reminded me of another "service" our library is providing. Within our online courses they embed their services into a resource section of the course. This includes the links and videos that you talk about, which have been customized to the course itself. For example, a first year course will need more basic support instruction for library use than a 3rd or 4th year course. The other thing we can do is to "embed" a real librarian into our course. They act like a co-facilitator. So, you can reach them from within the course. They want to build relationships with the students, so any access to them is good for that.

      The span of services the Edmonton Public Library provides are amazing. I know they offer outreach programs to marginalized individuals who have no where else to go ( I think the EPL acts as a crime prevention strategy in giving kids a place to escape from the streets, listen to music and use the internet. One very moving video on their website is from an articulate man who has struggled with addiction on the street. He says this in the video about the library workers "they see every single person within the library is a story wishing to be read. Instead of saying how can we control or get rid of these people they say how can we include them". He is now on his way to his own social work career.