Lost in text: the importance of organising ideas

LEWIS, C. & FABOS, B. 2005. Instant messaging, literacies & social identities. 
Reading Research Quarterly, 40, 470-501



There are so many strands of thought to pursue and writing ‘papers’ with a view to publication is quite different to writing a thesis with a view to understanding a particular terrain. The papers feel like smaller chunks of information and so I think there is a sense in which have an overall project would help. Finance is good but potentially another source of distraction, yet – if I am successful in securing funds, then this would be an incredible source of focus and in depth development.


In this paper the writers interview only 7 participants but seem to have generated a great deal of analysis on the basis of only a few informants. They do not speak in general terms and when they seek to make generalised statements about use of technology – they then reference wider studies. In this context 40 is not representations but begins to lean in that direction which a study of 7 cannot do.


The organisation of the text is worthy of note and something that of some papers I will drawn inspiration from:

i             Start with an illustrative quote that sets the framework and focus for the piece. That allows you a way into talking about the themes you want to explore.

ii              Theoretical Framework

iii             More direct exposition of these explored: lit review        a) b) & c)

iv             Methods – research participants and sites; data sources & procedures (interview protocol); researchers positions; data analysis

v              Research findings:                                A)            i.              ii.             B)            i.              ii.             C) etc

vi             Discussion and implications                a) b) & c)


This style is quite alien to me but I think it will help shape my ideas and offer focus. To be fair this is a standard structure for writing up a research project. Much of what I write has not directly centred around research in this way. 

Instant messaging, literacies, and social identities – comments & dis/connections

Note that she suggest that fear of literacy practices of young people akin to fears that older generation have in relation to the young – decline, disintegration, standards, ‘risk’, multiculturalism, nostalgic hankering for world that was  – a contemporary trope

Luke and Luke (2004):

The perception of crisis [over perceived loss of print literacy] is an artefact of a particular generational anxiety over new forms of adolescent and childhood identity and life pathways: fundamental ontological and teleological changes in childhood traceable to global economies, cultures, and technologies. (p. 105 )
Anxieties that lead to valorisation and reification of print literature. This in terms of defining literacy is not unlike the shifts that Gee points to in his account of Plato reaction to text. That it made people stupid; that it meant those who were not worthy might have access to ideas that they were not naturally equipped to manage.

Interesting that she notes a connection between IM & off-line identities that they merge and compliment rather than exist in tension. The virtual and embodies are part of a singly defined self; to be someone is to be online.

Also note that the panic of IM and literacy standards is misplaced here – this would seem to connect to Crystal, that correct spelling was valued and played with: abbreviations seen as childish.

Also note that resistance to seeing this as a high value /status  literacy: what I value is boo reading and reflection. Intense, dense chunks of text with words that require pages of clarification.



i)                     An exploration of social media use amongst adult professionals  ie twitter

Over the course of the next 2 years, could I explore how my trainees engage with social media – not as an action research project – but as an exploration of their literacy? Trainees are significant only that they represent a group of adults I have a connection to and rapport with: an easy target group & captive audience

I am smiling here: how we are compelled to write about something, how we are compelled to seek funds has the capacity to change how we then think and feel about what we do.



ii)                   Literacies of trainee literacy and language teachers

There is a suggestion here that I could use the blog as a data source and analyse all contributions. I still don’t have a title for my UnDip Lit project, but Module 3 involves some meta analysis: the trainees talking through their writing process; my concern is that they will not explore things in the way I want. My instructions may have been coo complex – but I am aware of several opportunities to gather data. But this might include some indication of their writing process and engagement with multimodal literacies. 
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