In a move that will no doubt shock known world, I’ve decided that first-ever journal article will be both a collaborative venture and cock a snook towards traditional subject disciplines. Provisionally entitled Seven types of ambiguity and digital literacy I’m co-authoring it with my Ed.D. thesis supervisor Steve Higgins. Allegations that I’m doing so to prove originality in my research ahead of my viva voce by producing an article from an intended thesis chapter are, of course, completely unfounded.
I’m not going to give an overview of the entire article (for obvious reasons) although it will be published in an open-access journal. Suffice to say that we’re introducing the idea that terms such as digital literacy and digital natives/immigrants exhibit a ‘trajectory of ambiguity’ through which they pass on the way to becoming what Richard Rorty calls ‘dead metaphors’.
To prevent you having to go back and do Philosophy and Linguistics 101 I’ll remind you that the denotative aspect of a term is its surface or primary meaning. The connotative aspect of a term is its secondary, or implied, meaning. In the article, which features the overlapping diagram above (I’m not allowed to call it ‘Venn’, apparently) we’re arguing that there are three distinct phases through which terms pass. Whilst they never completely shed their connotative aspect the edge to the right of ‘Productive ambiguity’ is where the dictionary definition of terms reside. Generative ambiguity tends to be ‘blue skies thinking’, Creative ambiguity discussing and debating the definition of a term, and Productive ambiguity putting it into practice in various contexts.
You’ll be delighted to learn that we’ve done a sterling job in making the article itself ambiguous, situating it in the phase of Creative ambiguity. “Be the change you want to see,” “walk the walk,” etc.
As I mentioned last week in How not to write a thesis, mine isn’t the usual method by which you’d go about writing a doctoral thesis. Normally you’d read books like How to get a PhD and keep your findings to yourself until submission. I, on the other hand, have shared my findings at dougbelshaw.com/thesis since pretty much the beginning and have kept the structure fluid throughout.
Now that I’ve written more than half of it, and given that I’ve got my first Skype meeting with my thesis supervisor in months soon, now’s the time to pin down a title and structure. So here an attempt:
What is ‘digital literacy’? A Pragmatic investigation.
Problematising traditional (print) literacy
The history of ‘digital literacy’
The ambiguities of ‘digital literacy’
New Literacies: a solution?
But is it ‘literacy’?
Digitality as policy
In a sense, of course, I’ll never be finished with this thesis. There’ll just be a time at which it’s advisable to submit (or they pry it from my RSI-riddled hands…) :-p
Once a year, for a period of nine weeks, my wife appears to be a chronological year older than me. It was her 30th birthday on Thursday, for which I bought her 29 presents and took her to Jesmond Dene House Hotel for afternoon tea. I took yesterday off work as well and, in fact, with some organisation around mLearn 2010, am managing not to return to the office until Tuesday 25th!
Restructuring my thesis
Whilst my original target of submitting my Ed.D. thesis on 1st January 2011 (the earliest date I’m allowed) now looks less likely, I have written more than half of it now. High time, therefore, to be firming up a title and a structure. More on that over the weekend.
Fixing my Mac
I’ve had all manner of problems with my MacBook Pro recently. It’s a work machine and IT services at Northumbria University couldn’t sort it. Taking it to the Apple Store they recommended a reinstall over the top of the existing operating system. Seems to have done the trick (fingers crossed!)
I very rarely get shouty-shouty, stampy-stampy angry any more. I’m far too civilised and philosophical for that. On the other hand, if something was going to tip me over the edge it would be the Browne Review of Higher Education. For those under a rock in the UK or international readers, some of the recommendations:
Removal of cap on fees
Students since 1998 should pay ‘real’ interest fees on their student loans
Public money to be targeted at STEM, Business and MFL
I could write several essays on this, but I’ll have to be satisficed by observing that, overall, the recommendations would make it less likely that my offspring attend university, whilst my subjects (Philosophy, History, Education) would be marginalised. Oh, and that £16,000 loan I took out to pay for my tuition? That which the Student Loans Company reckon I’ve still got over £15,000 left after 8 years of repayments? That would be increased. I think they call that changing the contract after signing. Bar. Stewards. 🙁