INF 533 Blog post 1: New literacies

emerging technologies & new literacies


© 2015

Trends and developments

In the video New literacies Clive Thompson examines the evolution of written text from ‘old literacies’ comprised of writing and reading to ‘new literacies’ epitomised by media-rich, interactive electronic books. Electronic texts providing opportunities for collaboration and co-construction (Thompson, 2013, Sadokierski (2013, in the blog post What is a book in the digital age? looks at the relationship and differences between print and electronic books. Each has unique properties and challenges. Ebooks are accessible, relatively cheap to purchase but are device and software dependent. Print based text on the other is not device or software dependent, not as affordable and not as readily accessible. Both platforms require different set of literacies to engage with the text (Leu et al., 2011). Electronic books however, incorporate media-rich content, ‘re-inventing’ the reading experience.

As Thompson notes, text evolved over 5,000 years from broadcast technology written by the priestly elite to texts for everyday use. Rapidly emerging technologies have already moved the creation of digital texts from the province of the few technologically literate (broadcast) to services which support Indie style self-publishers to write, illustrate and embed eBooks with media (speech and animation, video) and text.In Australia Blurb offers writers and designers the opportunity to self-publish high-end, media-rich publications. Ebooks, originally scanned versions of their print counter-part, are now texts in their own right, rich in video, audio and animation and music. Developments in programming languages has also seen the addition of hotspots and sliders to electronic texts to support interaction and exploration of text. Key features available in eBooks such as full-page zoom, orientation rotation, embedded media, narration overlays and animation provide new opportunities for engagement with text for a diverse age group (e.g. examples of media-rich text in Sadokierski, 2013).

New literacies, new opportunities

The iPad has provided deaf children in South Africa with access to interactive ways of engaging with text and improving reading and comprehension skills in ways that print based texts could not have. Deaf children are ‘…naturally language users with their hands.’ Devices such as the iPad provide opportunities for these children to engage with text in an interactive way, drawing on their natural skills in signing.

‘naturally language users with their hands’

Twillers and Twitterfiction

As social media technologies dominant the online landscape, writers have exploited these platforms also, abandoning pen and paper for their mobile phone and texting their novels. In 2008, Matt Richtel tweeted his real-time thriller 140-characters at a time. He had 400 followers (Richtel, 2008, Richtel’s main character narrated his story via tweets. The Japanese go further with cell phone fiction – keitai shosetsu. Takastu, pioneer of the cell phone fiction phenomenon in the video below talks about how this form of  fiction blends pop culture, social media and technology.

Platforms and technologies – print, electronic, device dependent or social media generated are vehicles for transmitting information and stories. Like an oculus rift, digital technologies are enriching our text experiences. I can hardly wait to turn/swipe the page and see the next digital instalment.


Leu, D at al. (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(1), 5-15. doi: 1o0.1598/JAAL.55.1.1

Sadokierski, A. (2013, November 12). What is a book in the digital age? [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Takatsuy, S. (2013). Intro to cell phone novels with Takatsu (What are cell phone novels? – documentary/interview). Retrieved from 

Thompson, C. The New literacies. Retrieved from 

One comment on “INF 533 Blog post 1: New literacies
  1. Hi Hyacinth,

    This is an excellent post, peppered with examples of digital texts, and full of excitement at your chance to explore digital literature which is re-inventing the reading experience, as you say.

    The second assessment task asks you really to begin to define digital literature, to put some categories on it, and definitely to choose some criteria by which to evaluate it. You’re well on the way to doing this.

    INF533 Subject Coordinator

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