A space to reflect on my readings and musings, scattered and rescattered


Sit Beside Me

About four days before my second field observation was due in a course I'm taking on youth literacies and technologies, I solicited the support of one of my peers in building a website. I wanted to push myself to try out a new form of/space for representation. He said, kindly, “Oh, no, you don’t have time to make a website. You seem to have a proficiency with PowerPoint, perhaps you should just create a really nice one.” We continued to talk and I whined a little bit about my lack of technology proficiency, and then I went home and set out to do it on my own. I’m stubborn. I didn’t need support; I thought surely I could make it work all by myself. I’m a big girl, right. I’d just use my .Mac account; there were templates; it would be simple, straightforward.

So…I immediately began doing what I always do when learning a new tech skill. I started pushing buttons, trying stuff, manipulating the tools without realizing that I might be creating something that could not be undone, or at the very least, might be difficult to undo. I ended up creating pages of junk, letting .Mac autolink those pages, and I quite simply deleted them. That should solve it, I thought. Yeah, not so much. I’d created what was for me a train wreck. I tried undoing it, tried getting rid of the autolinks, made new pages, thought I’d gotten it fixed, found out it looked different on my computer than computers elsewhere. .Mac is designed to be so easy a “novice” can use it, but I was failing. And I think I'm going to do an Ed.D. in Communication and Education in a Technology Dept! Impossible. I lost a couple of days on the project uselessly pushing more buttons, reading online manuals about the program that kept reminding me it was “easy to use,” “great for beginners.” Frustration. Losing hope, I created a wiki—I had just learned to use one of those recently—but couldn’t get it to represent my project in the way that I wanted. Ah, another idea, I have lots of photos; what about Flickr?; I don’t know how to use it but it can’t be that tough. But it wasn’t what I wanted.

I wanted to prove I could build a website, even if an elementary version. And I succeeded. But mostly for one simple reason: a friend, someone familiar with the .Mac web publishing system helped me, showed me a couple of things. It took a total of 3 minutes. And I felt better, not just because my site had been “fixed” but because someone had sat down beside me, listened, and offered whatever support he could. Mostly, he just sat beside me.

And then I thought back about the topic of my website, the youth I’ve been hanging out with at the local library, many of them engaged in tasks of online representation. They want to sit beside one another while working on their PCs, collaborate and share ideas and skills, but they aren’t allowed. Sometimes the personal computer is much more than an individual point of access. Social use of communication technology goes far beyond the teaching/support aspect in my story; it is more multi-layered. We want someone sitting beside us or talking to us in meat or virtual space.

And if you're curious, here's that elementary version web site that took me way too long: Digital Literacies Found: In the Library


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