Daily Archives: August 10, 2006

For anyone with a passing interest in the area of mobile learning (mLearning), then this post from Stephen Downes is well worth a read. Amongst many interesting and valid points that he makes is the indication that the literacies of audio and video as a mode of communication could really lessen the importance of text. Now, a lot of bloggers (not all) really enjoy and are quite good at the writing process - it is also been a great vehicle within classrooms to improve the quality of students' writing. I personally enjoy the opportunity to play the role of frustrated author and playing around with words to gain a certain effect or impart a clever message is part of the attraction. But as Stephen points out, there are limits to the quicker and more multimedia methods of communication gaining momentum. He points out:

We are seeing people create more (and better) multimedia. It is easier to create a short audio or video message than it is to type a message, and once storage and delivery cease to be problems (as we are seeing today) there is less of an incentive to create text. True, there will always be a need for text, especially among academics, but much (if not most) popular communication will be audio and video.

The challenge will be to effect a transition between the textual world and the multimedia, to communicate complex ideas in a manner accessible to people using audio and video. Neither medium favours the abstract (and neither do their consumers today) and each medium imposes channel limitations (you can't skim an audio or video file).

The limited ability to express abstract concepts in video and audio when compared to text could mean a lessening of things like metaphors and analogies which text in the hands of a skilled writer can impart so much. Three bloggers that I read regularly (Brian Lamb, Alan Levine and D'Arcy Norman) are in a sphere of education of which I have little comprehension or first hand experience but it is their ability to turn a phrase neatly or blend humour with self deprecation that has me scouring their latest posts. They have that fantastic ability to turn an ordinary idea into something whimsical, amusing or just extremely funny. Try Brian's post Ego Run Amok Department: I am The Brian, Alan's great Yes, We’re Dressed When Working From Home and D'Arcy's Stopping the raging banality (you must read the comments as well to appreciate what D'Arcy inspires). I don't want to sound like a full blown "digital refugee" but I would hate to think that new net communication could mean the death of the metaphor in digital communication.