Blog Pile

Media Literacy- Who Needs It? (NMC Conference)

A bit of back blogging from the opening plenary at the NMC 2005 Summer Conference, where for the second year in a row, Henry Jenkins provided a provocative and engaging opening session, this time:

“Media Literacy ““ Who Needs It?!!”
Henry Jenkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Much of the core thinking shaping media literacy education in American took shape in the 1970s and 1980s in response to an age dominated by mass media production and consumption. Over the past several decades, the media environment has changed dramatically, starting with the shift from young people understood as consumers of popular culture to young people engaged as participants in popular culture. What can we learn from looking at young “artists” working in a range of media “” old and new? How have shifts in technologies of production and distribution changed the way they think about their work and created opportunities for them to receive recognition for their creative contributions? What kind of skills do young people need to fully participate in an era of media convergence and collective intelligence? Where are they acquiring those skills and how do we deal with inequalities of participation, a problem of a different order than more traditional concerns about inequalities of access? And what new models are emerging from educational experiments and informal educational communities which might be leveraged to help kids become fuller, more critically aware, more creative, and more ethical participants in this new media environment?

Well, this was after a little humorous, self-effacing intro quoting from HL Mencken:

Even a dead whale on a flat cart draws a crowd.

The presentation was wrapped in some fascinating video footage of his visit to the Yoyogi Park region in Japan, where young people on a weekly basis come out for CosPlay, or as defined by WikiPedia as “contraction (or portmanteau) of the English words “costume” and “play”, is a Japanese subculture centered on dressing as characters from manga, anime, and video games, and, less commonly, live action television shows, movies, or Japanese pop music bands.”

He had footage of the colorful Anime followers as well as some more bizzare collections of Elvis impersonators where the leader is defined by a James Dean red leather jacket. These are examples of people “ripping and mixing” culture, and the media is more than screen media as it involves things made by hand. Other exmnaples shown of Manga version of Lord of the Rings, an interview with a young American woman from a small town who is engaed in Cosplay

Jenkins sees the notion of “media literacy” as boxed in and should be much broader than what is typically done as visual literacy, perhaps to something like “performamce literacy”. Things being created in response to “contra cultural imperialism”. He is aiming to “rethinK” media Literacy, which he sees as caught in the nostalgic 1970s-1980s notion that it is a response to broadcast media where the recipients are not participants… There is much more participatory in the examples he toured us through. including (fuzzy notes here):

  • Visual Complexity
  • Narrative COmplexity (the show “Lost”)
  • Collective Intelligence (social networks??)
  • Alternative reality games such as I Love Bees
  • Kids making media (some quotes from Andrew Blau’s “Future of Independent Media”)
  • movie maker using TheSims for the movie making platform

Appropriation as apprenticeship, not as stealing.

Mixtures of lo-fi prodcution (hand made buttons on costumes, simple tech tools for creating expression) and hi-fi distribution (the net)

Young artists are savvy at targeting their audience, tailoring their craft for a niche. Many of these are coming form home schools.

New Media Lteracy:

  • ability to critically assess information gathered from multiple sources
  • ability to appreciate works form different aesthetic traditions
  • understanding of contexts within which media are produced, distributed, or consumed
  • ability to express ideas through a variety of media
  • participation in collective intelligence community
  • ability to think in multimodal terms
  • ethical framework for thinking about freedoms and responsibilities as communicators

Should be taught across curriculum (e.g. Scout merit badges, church activities, etc). Not just for schools, begins at the crib and occurs at every level of culture.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.