July 8, 2009

Copy and Paste Literacy: Literacy practices in the production of a MySpace profile


In this paper, Dan Perkel, a graduate student at Berkeley SIMS at the time, argues that, according to both a social and technical understanding of literacy (diSessa’s in particular), the copy/paste functionality availability in MySpace profile creation allows users to participate in and practice new forms of literacy, one that transcrends the old dichotomy of read/write, comsume/produce. He says that, “The creation of a MySpace profile is neither strictly “reading” nor “writing,” but is somehow both simultaneously.” Further, he supports diSessa’s notion that literacy cannot be separated, meaningfully, from the medium/technology that underlies it.

Perkel’s work here has helped me to understand several facets of my own. In particular, I’m starting to see how collaboration, as in the case of some MySpace users developing tutorials for others, as an example of the type of interaction that teachers strive for in explicit educational settings. This behavior is often also seen in in gaming contexts. In spaces where knowledge is valued, it is shared gladly by some of those who hold it.

I also now see the open personalization of MySpace profiles to be a factor that is optimal in formal learning but is clearly a trade-off between itself and usability, or in the case of a classroom, personalization and practicality.

Finally, Perkel drives home the point that while copy/paste might be a rather ordinary technical skill, its use, at least in social media situations, is indicative of an underlying valid social literacy, participation.

Perkel, D. (2006). Copy and Paste Literacy: Literacy practices in the production of a MySpace profile. Informal Learning and Digital Media, 21-23. Retrieved from http://blogs.ischool.berkeley.edu/dperkel/2006/08/01/copy-and-paste-literacy-literacy-practices-in-the-production-of-a-myspace-profile-an-overview/

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