Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Literacies Theorist



A year or so back we blogged with some excitment about catching up with and hearing Larry Lessig on a plenary trek to Oslo. We were so taken with his lines on new literacy that we archived (and blogged) the soundfile we'd made of his talk because we knew we'd be drawing plenty on it in the new edition of New Literacies. So it proved to be. Lessig became the latest instance of the people we refer to in our work as the ones who provide us with insights we find so much more useful than a lot of the stuff that comes packaged as heavy duty THEORY in academic literacy tomes. Before Lessig we had drawn a fair bit on people like Jeff Bezos and, of course, John Perry Barlow.

Courtesy of a BoingBoing post by Cory Doctorow, coming via Michele on dialup in Coatepec, we have the link to Larry Lessig's Keynote at the Berlin Hacker 23C3 conference. A lot of this talk is very close to what he presented in Oslo. His artifacts in the opening 10 minutes or so alone show just how difficult it is going to be to stretch familiar modes of textual analysis to provide useful explanations of entire domains of new literacies practices. That, of course, is not Lessig's concern so far as new literacies are concerned. His concerns go to the heart of legal impediments to cultural creation -- to the right to use freely the 'new alphabets' of new literacies.

Of course, on this kind of theme it is simply no party without Perry. So here is the link to An Interview with John Perry Barlow conducted at the same 23c3 conference. It is Barlow at his best, calling us to to acknowledge a bottom line of attribution when we use material for cultural production, but insisting that that bottom line is the top line too. You have to love it:

"If you wanna share something -- share it. If you wanna use something -- use it. Try to do so ethically in the sense of don't take things without arrtibution, attribute. Make sure that the people who did create actually have the opportunity to get some enhanced reputation and, thereby, you know, greater economic return. But ... pay no attention to these people when it comes to being creative. Go ahead and do the stuff that Larry showed in the beginning of his talks and do a lot of it. And every time they put a lock on -- break it. And every time they pass a new law -- break that ..."

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