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Conference Information

Full Title: Reading the Web: New Approaches toward a Critical Media Literacy

Location: Augsburg, Germany
Start Date: 10-Oct-2013 - 12-Oct-2013
Contact: Volker Eisenlauer
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: The last two decades have introduced us to a vast variety of digital communication technologies that continue to shape (and are shaped by) our interactional practices in a globalized world. Computer designers commonly claim to enrich or facilitate digital communication by making it fast and flexible. Still, software decisions - by necessity - at the same time limit, distort or impede personal and collective communication. The choice for one choice in the communication design of electronic documents thus naturally entails the rejection of others. While there have been ample calls for new competences in the assessment and evaluation of images (visual literacy; Braden & Hortin 1982, Lacy 1987) and media (media literacy; Bonfadelli / Saxer 1986, Hamm 1995, Volkmer 1995), we would like to shift the focus of media analysis from the material platforms, responsible for storing and transmitting data (e.g. radio, television, computer, book, etc.), to the software which constitutes the communicative interface for verbal and visual exchanges in the digital realm. In this vein, the term literacy is defined as a set of changing practices and techniques with the social technology of writing. A ‘critical competence’ in current Social Web services involves the reflection that the pre-set templates and text automation properties of computer software are neither natural nor neutral but highly influential in the presentation of self and others.

Therefore, new approaches to critical media literacy should best directed at the nexus of technology and language use, i.e. where pre-set software choices meet the usage by individual communities of practice. By weighing up communicative options and constraints (provided by the software) against the communicative objectives, we claim linguists can critically assess the communicative benefits and dangers of particular software designs.
Linguistic Subfield: Discourse Analysis; Applied Linguistics; Pragmatics; Sociolinguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics
LL Issue: 23.3226

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