The presence, production and power of “narratives” as the main discursive mode used online has been explored in different modules of our seminar. We covered topics such as who controls and develops these narratives and how their impact on individuals and society as a whole is measured. The short answer to the question of who is in control is “everyone”. The selfie assignment, in my opinion, was the best example of that.
Peter Morin’s open letter on the use of the word “curator” hit close to home, since I was already aware of the issue professionally and the underlying frustration he was raising, but I had never come across anyone who attempted to openly describe it in words online.
An anecdote: I borrowed Sven Birkerts’ The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age at the library to avoid photocopying the assigned chapters, and ended up almost finishing it in one sitting! I enjoyed the unpretentious way in which Birkerts described how books shape our lives in the most intimate way and how the first encounters with certain authors and their ideas have the potential not only to radically shift our outlook on the world and on our relationships but significantly influence our trajectories. I particularly enjoyed the Chapter where he describes his discovery of Jack Kerouac. I tweeted a quote: @JessL #NMN #kerouac #books “My contact with On the Road shook me awake. The title alone got me excited.” – S. Birkerts
I think that this seminar would benefit from addressing a number of questions related to online access and the larger issues linked to the concept of the Digital Divide. If everyone is expected to engage critically with the various narratives online that define who we are as individuals and communities, which ultimately have real world impact; i.e., If they gunned me down, which pictures would they use? Then how does someone who does not have online access or lack computer literacy do this? Readings on topics related to access could be added to the current reading list, and some of the MACT faculty could provide guidance on topics such as online connectivity in Canada’s First Nation’s reserves (Dr. McMahon) or IT stewardship programs in the Third World (Dr. Gow).
This being said Kerouac once said “Don't use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.” I think the same goes for the Internet.