In my first blog post, I stated my belief that the most important division of digital literacies was between the sociocultural and the functional. That division—between “how it works” and “why does it work this way?”—has been a theme throughout the course. I already had some experience with the Adobe product suite. Without such a steep functional learning curve, I tried to focus as much as possible on tying the readings to our projects. I spent hours making my collage in Photoshop only to decide that I had visualized the enframing of my subject rather than the standing reserve. As frustrating as it was, I scrapped the collage, and started from scratch. I would have been much more reluctant to do that if I hadn’t had prior experience with Photoshop. I imagine it would have been much more difficult to translate ideas as difficult as Heidegger’s into a functional form that I was a novice at.
In this sense, my pre-existing literacy helped me to accomplish my coursework. The software we used is also not cheap, in general. The versions we used in class were available to us through a corporate partnership the university had made. The link between access and literacy is not a trivial one. We read more than once about how the technological wonders of the digital era can be used to enforce existing social barriers. In my last blog post, I questioned Selfe and Selfe’s assertion that the “cyborg” selves created by our attachment to technology could break down those barriers.
And when barriers are broken, it doesn’t always paint a pretty picture. I think Adobe Illustrator, which my group analyzed for our project, is a great product. It’s fun to use, and makes beautiful art. I’m sure many people would, and do, enjoy using it as part of their daily job. Unfortunately, as we learned from our research, Illustrator’s ease of use may be tied to how few people get to make a decent living as graphic designers. Digital innovation isn’t neutral; it has effects on society and the people in them.
I took the most pleasure in considering and demonstrating how important design is. I was intrigued by the examples the Jones and Hafner used in the Multimodality chapter, and I took it as a challenge to find my own examples on the web and analyze how their aesthetic affects their interpretation. I intended the website I made for our final project to represent my ideal web magazine. I’m very aware of what size of type of fonts I prefer, how much whitespace I want, and what kind of images complement the text. I ended up replicating pretty closely the spatial logic that Jones and Hafner explained to be evident in most of the modern web. I can honestly say I did not intend this. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, either. It’s only on reflection that I thought about why I had made what I had; a good example of how important it is to have both sides of literacy.