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TitleLiterate Lives in the Information Age: Narratives of Literacy From the United States
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size14.3 MB
Total Pages268
Table of Contents
                            Contents
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Literate Lives in the Information Age
1 Cultural Ecologies and the Literacies of Technology
2 Privileging—or Not—the Literacies of Technology
3 Complicating Access: Gateways to the Literacies of Technology
4 Shaping Cultures: Prizing the Literacies of Technology
5 Those Who Share: Three Generations of Black Women
6 Inspiring Women: Social Movements and the Literacies of Technology
7 The Future of Literacy
Conclusion: Stories From the United States in the Information Age
Appendix
References
Author Index
	B
	C
	D
	E
	F
	G
	H
	J
	K
	L
	M
	N
	O
	P
	R
	S
	T
	V
	W
	Z
Subject Index
	A
	B
	C
	D
	E
	F
	G
	H
	I
	K
	L
	M
	N
	O
	P
	Q
	R
	S
	T
	U
	V
	W
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

LITERATE LIVES IN THE
INFORMATION AGE

Narratives of Literacy
From the United States

Page 134

SHAPING CULTURES 125

My first memory of a computer? A computer for me was something to be
used by skilled people. And it was so far out of my grasp. It probably was
not until I was well out of high school—I'm even thinking that it was after
the army—yeah, it was when I worked in a bank. All I knew was how to flip
it on, put my little password in, and do my own work.

But once Melissa started working with computers, she had no fear of
plunging right in. She says:

It wasn't until I wanted this temporary job and it required that I have data
processing skills on a certain kind of computer. I lied. I lied. I made my re-
sume sound like I knew every computer program out there and hadn't even
learned on it. I was writing stuff like Lotus, you know, and didn't even
know what it meant. Excel, didn't even know what it meant. I'm like, yeah, I
do it, I do it, you know.

And so when I got the job—I did get the job, because, you know, I've got
the gift I guess. I got the job and I remember that on the first orientation day I
took the manual home to the computer and I read and I studied that thing all
night and the next day I knew how to turn it on, I knew how to get into the
program, I knew how to input information just from like familiarizing my-
self with that manual. And I had those people convinced. I had them con-
vinced that I knew what I was doing on the computer. So that catapulted me
into other jobs that required computer skill and I just, that's what I remem-
ber doing, getting the book. It all came with the book.

In the same way that Melissa remembered her father learning from the
army manuals she watched him read as a child, Melissa took on comput-
ers. She read the instruction manuals associated with computing. She says
she educated herself through self-application packets and "learned Excel,
learned Lotus, learned Word, learned e-mail" and then finally in the 1990s
went out and bought herself a Packard Bell. For Melissa, computers de-
noted privilege; they were for important people, for government profes-
sionals, or for bank officials who handled money and important docu-
ments. From her father she learned that computers were also intimately
connected with systems of war. They required a particular kind of exper-
tise but also gave those who worked with them power over their lives and
the lives of others. Melissa's determination and middle class status, rein-
forced daily by her life in the military, played a significant role in giving
her the confidence to gain that power. At the time of her interview, Me-
lissa had taken on the Web for research with her students as her opening
epigraph begins to explain. She wanted to encourage them to use the
Internet like she did, to focus on social issues that were important to them
(and to her). If the online world could help her speak up and out, she con-
tended, then it just might aid her students' literate activities and help
them write themselves into global political conversations.

Page 135

126 CHAPTER 4

Cultures and Literacy Values

What can we learn from these two case studies? First of all, we can begin
to see that culture plays a critical role in shaping values regarding the
literacies of technology and that, at the same time, the literacy values and
practices of people and groups also shape cultures. Tom uses the LA Times
article to argue that Latino culture may not be one that generally embraces
computing technology. He contends that computer-mediated communi-
cation technology deprives the people with whom he identifies from hear-
ing one another's voices. Although Tom viewed his own family as not en-
tirely typical of Latino culture, noting that his mother was divorced, his
father deceased, his brother almost divorced, and his sister had moved
out of California, he still identifies himself as a Mexican American who
has strong family and community ties. Computing technology, although
necessary to him for his writing and teaching, has not been, in his eyes,
truly a part of what is important to him. As he himself explains, "I have no
relationship with computers." Despite placing a very high value on liter-
ate activities, Tom views computing skills as ultimately having little to do
with literacy. For Tom, the computer, more often than not, is simply a
writing tool that replaced the typewriter.

Secondly, we can begin to understand that although local cultures
make a difference in the literacy values and practices of individuals, these
effects are complexly rendered and often overlap with many other factors
at the micro-, medial, and macro-levels. For instance, although many fam-
ilies with roots in Latino cultures place a high value on certain literacy
practices (e.g., Rodriguez, 1982; Villanueva, 1993; Barron, 2003), the cul-
tures of many schools in the United States are determined by other sets
of literacy values and practices, often those associated with dominant
groups. These practices and values, moreover, may fail to provide con-
texts conducive to the success of Latino students. One study of Latino
workers and their education, for instance, revealed that in 1997 only 55%
of Latina/Latinos 25 years and older had graduated from high school, and
only 7.4% had graduated from college.9 According to the 2000 United
States Census, these statistics have not, as yet, improved with time. Of the
21.7 million people of Mexican origin in the United States, only 6.9% held
a bachelor's degree in 2000.10 The census also notes that among the 32.8

9See Carlos Ovando's (2001) review in the Educational Researcher, p. 29, in which he dis-
cusses these disappointing statistics.

10See the U.S. Census Bureau (2001) and the series of tables presented at this U.S. govern-
ment site for a presentation of demographics related to what the Census Bureau terms those
of "Hispanic Origin": http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hispanic/p20-535/
gifshow/sldOOl.htm.

Page 267

258 SUBJECT INDEX

The Quest of the Golden Fleece game, 203-204

Students for Democratic Society (SDS),
63-64

R

Racial desegregation
in U.S. military, 128n
in schools, 64, 66-67

Reading, literacy and, 153-158
Robojoe Flash movie, 190-191, 190f

School(s)
as access to computers, 228
desegregation in, 64, 66-67
formal, 154-158
segregated, 138-141

SDS. See Students for Democratic Society
Second-wave feminism, 176-179
Segregated schools, 138-141
Sharing. See Family sharing
Schindler's List book report, 197f
SNCC. See Student Non-Violent Coordi-

nating Committee
Social movements

American Indian Movement, 98
Black Arts Movement, 113
Civil Rights Movement, 63, 68, 86
cultural ecology of 1940s, 1950s, and

1960s and, 165-170
literacies of technology and, 161-162,

181-182
case studies, 162-165, 170-174

Los Angeles Walkout, 113-114
Mexican American Civil Rights Move-

ment, 114
second-wave feminism, 176-179
Trail of Broken Treaties Protest, 99
Watts civil rights uprisings, 112
Women's Rights Movement, 68

Software companies, as gateway to tech-
nological literacies, 89

Sponsors, of the literacies of technology,
174-176

Student Non-Violent Coordinating Com-
mittee (SNCC), goal of, 168

Technology(ies)
Cold War struggles and, 35-36
DARPA and, 37, 40
historical factors and, 34-37
MERIT and, 37

Technological gateways, description of, 26
Technological literacy(ies). See also Digital

literacy; Electronic literacy; Literacy
benefactors and sponsors of, 174-176
case studies in, 41-54
coming to terms with, 55-58
cultural ecologies and, 31-32

of 1980s, 34-41
of 1990s, 55-58
case studies, 32-34, 41-54
uneven development of digital liter-

acy, 58-60
description of, 2n
factors and trends matrix in, 10-11t

purpose of, 8
family sharing and, 133-134

case studies in, 135-158
literacy values and practicesl, 58-160

gateways to, 83-84
case studies of, 84-104
description of, 84
information as, 179-181
technological, 26

privileging of, 61-63
case studies, 69-79

social movements and, 161-162, 181-182
case studies, 162-165, 170-174
cultural ecology of 1940s, 1950s, and

1960s, 165-170
second-wave feminism, 176-179

standards for, 3n
women of 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s and,

79-82
Trail of Broken Treaties protest, 99

u

United States Government
Advance Research Projects Agency, 37, 40

Q

S

T

Page 268

SUBJECT INDEX 259

computer networks and, 67-68
Bureau of Indian Affairs, as gateway to

technological literacies, 95-96
Department of Labor, 1972 Title IX,

65-66
racial desegregation in military, 128n

Visual literacy
Honduras 2001 website, 195, 196f
Robojoe Flash movie, 189-191, 190f
Quest of the Golden Fleece game, 203-204
Schindler's List book report, 197f

w

Watergate scandal, 65
Watts civil rights uprisings, 112
Website(s)

Honduras 2001, 195, 196f
literacy abilities and, 186-187, 187f

Women
changing roles for, 170
in cultural ecology of 1970s, 1980s, and

1990s, 79-82
equal pay for, 167
overview of, 166

Women's Rights Movement, 68
Workplace, as access to computers,

228-229

V

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