You Are Controlled or You Control

Danah Boyd, the author of the article “Participating in the Always-On Lifestyle” and Kathleen Blake Yancey, NCTE Past President Florida State University, Tallahassee,  “Writing in the 21st Century” mention an idea of control  through reading and writing. Every source identifies control in writing and reading differently. However, before explaining you the most liked idea by me, I would like to tell what authors of the articles were saying about writing and reading in the world of new technologies.

Yancey writes shortly about history of writing. She says that nowadays our society faces with three challenges which are “developing new models of writing”, designing a new curriculum”, and creating models for teaching” (Yancey, K. B., 2009 P.1). To understand the present processes and modifications in reading and writing, we need to look at what the history is saying.

Yancey writes that people were facing many barriers to learn how to write in the past. For example, there were not enough pencils at schools. Moreover, in twentieth century schools tested students applying oral exams, and writing at that times was much more handwriting rather than thoughtful writing.

The author claims that in the past reading was a part of control. Yancey says that reading is producing feelings of intimacy and warmth; therefore, it might be more desirable than writing. I totally agree with the author at this point. I think that “rulers” of the past might not want literate people because the more literate people are, the harder to control or manipulate them. However, step by step writing and communication were progressing and changing approaches to education.

When the problem in education was recognized, educators invented composition. According to Yancey composition becomes a rudimentary skill and gets predominant role in the way students are tested.

Later, science and progressivism influenced teaching approaches. Because of progressive views multiple choice measures, new genres, and practices were invented. After the invention of computers, writing practices were transformed and people got an opportunity to make more creative and ambitious projects. Additionally, when Web 2.0 appeared, Deborah Brandt indentified new type or practice of writing as self-sponsored writing which means that writing itself belongs to the author, but not to publishing or scientific institutions.

The Web 2.0 or the Internet changed not only the way we write, but also the role of audience. Now we can say that people are able to express their opinions freely and control the content of their writing. For example, Facebook is a social networking site which is visited by millions of people.  Therefore, Yancey  called 21st century the “Age of Composition”.

There are many advantages emphasized by the author. For example, students fully understand the power of networking such as Facebook; students understand who their audiences are; and they realize the ability of the web to spread information very quickly. Therefore, Yancey says that the society shifted from sequential model of literacy to digital one.

Digital literacy and access to the Web 2.0 might influence people’s lifestyle. Danah Boyd is writing of how the Internet changes people’s lifestyle and whether it is beneficial or not for them.  She mentions new type of lifestyle which is common for many people nowadays. Always – on lifestyle means that a person is always connected to the Internet through his or her digital devices.  When the individual needs any information or networking, he or she connects to the web. This system of always – on works only when other people are connected to the Internet. Yancey mentioned not perfect educational system which might control people’s minds through reading and lack of writing in the past. However, Boyd is saying about another type of control. At always-on lifestyle people control what they want to say, how much they want to say, and with whom they want to communicate. Therefore, the author says that the new technology doesn’t matter, but information and social relationships really matter. The technology just opens new opportunities for communication.

Boyd divides people into two categories “digital natives” and “outsiders”. “Digital natives” are people who accept always – on lifestyle and outsiders are those who don’t want to accept that or don’t have the access to the Internet. Thereby, the new way of communication creates, according to Boyd, an ecosystem connected to variety of microdata.  A lot of information is overwhelming and people should learn how to manage that.

Boyd says that people will be overwhelmed with information and they will have to make choices. People need to find a balance. However, the Internet allows individuals communicate freely and share with the only part of the life they want.  The author says that following the lifestyle Boyd calls it negotiate social boundaries. Therefore, following the always-on lifestyle a person should understand that he or she will face with many personal and professional consequences. I think it means control yourself. Thereby, the new technologies open new opportunities for writing and networking, therefore everyone should evaluate pros and cons to follow the always – on lifestyle or not.


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