Sunday, 15 April 2018 - 6:51pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 15/04/2018 - 6:51pm in

This week, erm fortnight, maybe month… Look, things aren't going so well. I just can't seem to get it together, so just read this, and could you possibly spare a tenner?:

Meaning making while reading online

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 04/04/2018 - 12:49am in



When we are working in an online, hyperlinked environment, a search engine no longer determines what we read. Instead upvotes, shared links and proprietary algorithms mold our meaning making and they play an essential role in what we access across a variety of platforms. Comprehension occurs in the cloud, as we increasingly crowd-source our text construction.

Scholars have recognized that reading on the web is different from reading ink-on-paper texts (Leu, Kinzer, Coiro, Castek & Henry, 2013). Yet early efforts to understand how instructional texts emerge on the web drew heavily on humanist traditions (Cervetti, Pardeles, Damico, 2001) of critical reading (Spache, 1964). This view of self-directed text construction (Coiro & Dobler, 2007) placed the individual at the center of reading and writing the web. From this viewpoint online instructional texts added additional layers of text complexity and requires us to rethink theoretical models.

Meaning making is much like a meme. It does not belong to or exist in any one person’s head. Just as angry cats and dancing babies spread across the web, the cognitive tools (Scardmeli & Beretier, 1994) we use for meaning making get passed around in communities of shared interests (Gee, 2007). This adds layers of complexity beyond self-directed text construction.

Any definition of instructional text must account for the role of socially complex texts in today’s literacy practices. I see these as being concurrent and recursive artifacts that unfold in digital, print and social media with varying degrees of authority and amplification. These texts are networked and nested within specific online spaces as community members apply layers of meaning and bias in the ways literacy practices are co-created and co-curated. Thus, text complexity can be seen as a matter of links and connections, rather than in terms of lexiles.

To prepare students for the ever-expanding digital and multimodal world, we need self-programmable readers (Castells & Cardosa, 2006). We need students who are able to move across different spaces, identities, and arguments with network fluidity. Our students do not need to know all the answers; they need to be able to curate texts and share answers while engaged in the inquiry process with others (Rheingold, 2014).

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Image Credit

Sunday, 18 March 2018 - 12:20pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 18/03/2018 - 6:20pm in

This month, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 11 March 2018 - 6:15pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 11/03/2018 - 6:15pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 25 February 2018 - 6:44pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 25/02/2018 - 6:44pm in

These past few weeks, I have been mostly drinking and working, in that order. Here's some stuff:

Sunday, 4 February 2018 - 5:19pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 04/02/2018 - 5:19pm in

This week… Oy! Reading schmeading:

Sunday, 21 January 2018 - 8:05pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 21/01/2018 - 8:05pm in

This fortnight, I have been mostly working for money rather than knowledge:

Sunday, 7 January 2018 - 11:03pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 07/01/2018 - 11:03pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 31 December 2017 - 6:29pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 31/12/2017 - 6:29pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Tharg’s Tribute to Kevin O’Neill: When the Comics Code Banned His Art

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/12/2017 - 10:03pm in

Yesterday in one of the posts I mentioned the dictatorial grip the Comics Code Authority had over American comics from the 1950s to the mid-1980s. The Code was sent up to reassure and protect the American public after the moral panic over Horror comics in the 1950s. This spread to comics as a whole, which were seen as subversive, morally corrupting and un-American. This included bizarre accusations of Fascism and deviant sexuality aimed at those stalwarts of popular American culture, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. The scare decimated the American comics industry, and nearly caused its total collapse.

The Code was set up to ensure that all comics were suitable for a child of seven to read. Its officials were unelected, and in many cases had right-wing views that showed absolutely no understanding of popular politics or culture. It was supposed to be a voluntary organisation, and there were comics creators who worked outside and often against the code. Like Robert Crumb and the underground scene, or the independents Like Dave Sim and Cerebus the Aardvark. In practice, however, those comics were well outside the mainstream, and were only available in head shops and specialist comics stores like Forbidden Planet and the late, lamented Forever People in Bristol.

I discussed how the Code rejected one issue of the Green Lantern Corps, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Kevin O’Neill, on the grounds that O’Neill’s artwork was too grotesque and disturbing for children. This was ironic, as he had been delighting children and adults with his monstrous aliens, mutants, robots and equally grotesque humans for years in the pages of 2000 AD. He was and remains one of comicdom’s favourite artists, and while the other artists who worked on the Nemesis the Warlock strip added the considerable talents to the tale of the Warlock and his foe, the human ‘Ultimate Fascist’ Grand Master Torquemada, I think much of the strip’s initial popularity came from his superb, bizarre artwork.

2000 AD duly paid tribute to him and his censorship by the Comics Code in their anniversary issue, Prog 500, published on 14 December 1986. In it, Tharg took a walk through the contents of his mind, reviewing the comic’s history and revisiting some of the characters that didn’t work. At the end he comes to Kevin O’Neill, who appears as a stunted, crazed sadist. O’Neill admonishes him for censoring the most extreme piece of violence in the strip. Tharg tries to reassure him by reminding him that he won the ‘ultimate accolade’ for which other comics creators all envy him: the day the Comics Code banned his art as totally unsuitable for children. To which O’Neill replies ‘Hmmph. You won’t get around me by flattery’. Unsatisfied, O’Neill then calls down Torquemade, who promptly beats Tharg up.

The different sections of that strip were written and drawn by the different artists and writers, who worked on the comic, so there were different credit cards for them for each section. That section ends with the credits reading ‘Script Therapy: Pat Mills. Art Therapy: Kev O’Neill. Letters: Steve Potter’. Which suggests that the letterer was the only sane one there.

Here’s a few panels.

The real O’Neill is, however, quite different from his portrayal in the strip. It’s been pointed out several times that the fans, who’ve met him, are often surprised that he doesn’t dress in black and silver like the Terminators. And the other rumours about him are also totally untrue. Like he only works at night using a quill pen in the light of candles, and has an occult temple in his basement. I met him at UKCAC 90 in Reading, where I queued with Mike to have him draw a character on the blank badges we’d been given for our fave artists to draw on. O’Neill at the time was a wearing a ‘Solidarity for Nicaragua’ T-shirt, which a left-wing friend of mine at college also wore. He also was wearing a brown leather jacket, and his facial features at the time reminded me a bit of John Hurt. He was affable, enthusiastic, full of nervous energy and completely unthreatening. If you seem him now at comic conventions or footage of them on YouTube, or the occasional interview for television, he’s obviously older and balder, as effects so many of us eventually. He comes across as genial and entertaining British gent, completely unlike the berserk monstrosities that rampage across his strips down the years. Even when he’s telling the stories about how he and Pat Mills went as far as they could in savaging American superhero comics and right-wing, superpatriotic American politics in the violent and nihilistic Marshal Law. Actors, writers and artists aren’t their creations. Fortunately.