what i’ve been thinking about lately

I recently put together a grant proposal called, "Mapping Relationships among Web 2.0 Applications: A Preliminary Investigation into a New Information Literacy," to be consider for a Non-salary Faculty Grant. These grants are given annually at Rowan and provide up to $5000.00 to support the initial stages of faculty research. I have also recently submitted two conference proposals that consider similar issues and themes. The project summary:

As literate readers of web pages we understand that the hyperlink is used to connect together different web sites and that the web is a system of interconnected hypertext documents. When we hyperlink from one web site to the next we read these sites as discrete entities, each with unique texts, symbols, navigations, and artifacts that define it apart from others. CNN.com, for example, has a different look, feel, and usability compared to Yahoo! Other than the content of some reports we generally do not expect their features to overlap in any meaningful way.

Web 2.0 applications complicate our understanding of how to read web sites by requiring a sophisticated kind of reflective, elastic, semiotic eco-spatial information literacy that evolves with the web. This new (as yet unnamed) literacy involves, for example, becoming a critical reader of the similarities among Web 2.0 vocabularies (“widget,” “feed,” “reader”) from which new modes of composition are emerging. Literate users will be able to recognize Web 2.0 applications as writing spaces that contain multiple symbiotic genres, and will have an ability to transfer knowledge of application functionality from one site to the next. They will understand both the meaning-making and compositional possibilities of working with and among, for example, static pages, blogs, RSS readers, and social bookmarking sites.

Little, however, is known about the literacy of Web 2.0 applications. This project begins that process of understanding. The project requests $xxxx.xx. A portion of this money is to support two undergraduate student co-researchers. The remaining money is for computer hardware and software, which will facilitate our work. The end result will provide the seeds for a larger study that will investigate the processes of how web users (students, faculty, the general public, and so forth) become literate readers and users of Web 2.0 applications. The ultimate goal is to identify the characteristics of and name this new literacy. Doing so will have broad implications for the fields of composition, internet studies, rhetoric, ontological studies, and any discipline concerned with Web 2.0 applications.

The complete grant application will be available shortly on the Research page of this web site.

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