Monday, February 20, 2006

Reading Writing and Scaffolding

There was a time when reading was straightforward - text literacy (ASCII if you want to be technical) was about all that you needed.

Nowadays we need so many more 'literacies'.

Web-literacy is an obvious one, blog-literacy another, and so on.

What interests me is that all of these are in a sense "reading scaffolds" and some of them "writing scaffolds" too. Terry King (see comment) has done interesting work in what I think are primarily writing scaffolds, but the distinction between reading and writing scaffolds blurs quite quickly.

Mind maps too have interesting reading and writing scaffolding potential. Recently I came across even more interesting ones, in visual thesaurus, and visual complexity. These might or might not work for you, and for your particular needs. What is interesting is that they take reading and writing into completely new modes, affordances, etc.

I am interested in the applications of all of these. More particularly, my interest is in metadata scaffolds, like Star Trees, which allow you to "inscribe" (a word I borrow from Bruno Latour) metadata "views" onto any data that is held either in an Intranet or the Internet, and then to be able to read accordingly.

"Reading" in this sense is much more than just accessing the data, as there is a lot of conceptual organisation (scaffolding?) that you can do at the core of such a map. There must be many other kinds of scaffoldings in the new digital literacy - "logical scaffolds"? "professional practice scaffolds" (which would meet up with what I call "discourses" and possible many more.



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