Friday, March 04, 2005

Communication and Education Theory and Our Outpost in the Blogsphere

Dear Kari and Tin Canners:

Back in November of 2004, I was contacted by Andrew Morrison who is a professor at the University of Oslo. He was preparing an academic paper on the coverage of the Saturn space mission by new media. He asked for permission to use a screen capture of our blog as a figure in his paper.

Well, guess what?

His paper "Inside the rings of Saturn" has been published in the journal, Computers and Composition 22:87-100 (2005).

The article is an academic discussion on the impact of new media on communication and learning theory.

The abstract of the article say this:
Kress’ multimodality and design approaches are applied in a rhetorical play on the online mediation of the recent space mission to Saturn. Activity theory provides an educational framing for Kress’ multimodal semiosis. Links are made to mythical texts on Saturn and to blogs. Social network software is now seen as central to performative, multilogical web discourse.
Gunther Kress is apparently a noted figure in the relationship of new media to communication and education theory. A search of with his name yields a number of books.

In the article, Morrison uses the new media coverage of the Saturn space mission to illustrate some of the ideas described by Kress.

Ever heard of the word semiosis? I haven't. A search of Merriam-Webster online tells me this:
a process in which something functions as a sign to an organism.
For an academic discussion (found via google) on semiosis see here.

As I skimmed through Morrison's article, I saw the different ways the story of Saturn was being covered and discussed in the new media. He showed examples from traditional media with web based editions, official NASA and European Space Association web pages and by bloggers.

Here is the excerpt from the paragraph where he cites our blog:
I now refer to a second blog entitled Two Tin Cans (Figure 9) [ed. note - fig. 9 is a screen capture of our blog post] Wells (1999), along with other activity theory researchers into learning and technology, stressed that our engagement with media and modes of representation needs to be stretched to include an explicitly dialogical dimension to communication. Concise academic presentations such as Wells’ may be supported by activity-driven examples of such dialogue that students may access and may be asked to identify as part of their own articulation of how web media works. In Two Tin Cans, two continentally remote persons communicate in the same blogspace. The entry for Saturn, as in many blogs, is an example of what is newsworthy, motivating, topical and of common interest (e.g., Miller & Shepherd, 2004); it generates overlapping activity systems. I argue that we need to place greater attention not simply on pedagogies sensitive to the changing character and media of electronic literacies and their necessary contradictions in Engeström's terms. We also need to examine the ways in which learners construct, exchange and transform discursive artifacts through tools that are increasingly wireless, mobile and responsive.
The citations in the text are to the following items:

Miller and Shepherd, 2004 Miller, Carolyn, & Shepherd, Dawn. (2004). Blogging as social action: A genre analysis of the weblog. In Laura Gurak, Smiljana Antonijevic, Laurie Johnson, Clancy Ratliff, & Jessica, Reyman, (Eds.), Into the blogosphere: Rhetoric, community and culture of weblogs. Retrieved on September 19, 2004 from .

Wells, 1999 Gordon Wells, Dialogic inquiry: Toward a sociocultural practice and theory of education, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK (1999).

Pretty neat and kind of wild, eh?


P.S. Since I'm in a toot our own horn mode, be sure to check out the citations of us by our blog-parents 2Blowhards on these three occasion, here when they cited this and here referencing this and here linking this.

UPDATE: Speaking of Saturn, I dropped by my rocket scientist friend's blog and he links to the Cassini Imaging home page where you can see this ...

Image source:


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