Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Age of the Image: Redefining Literacy in a World of Screens

The Age of the Image: Redefining Literacy in the a World of ScreensThe Age of the Image: Redefining Literacy in the a World of Screens by Stephen Apkon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3 ½ stars

Are you visually literate?
•Do you know when a visual has been created in order to manipulate its viewer?
•Do you understand how an image is constructed and coded?
•Could you create a visual project, such as a webpage or a short film?

Is it important that we have these skills? In a “world awash with images” (from sleeve), the answer is yes. Apkon shows how literacy – “the ability to comprehend and to express or articulate” (37) – can no longer be limited to just reading and writing. It must also include listening, speaking and viewing.

The Age of the Image begins with a background and history of literacy and visual media. It continues with the following topics:
•the neuroscience of images
•our present experience with images, e.g., Kony 2012, YouTube
•business and images: manipulation and persuasion
•the practical basics of making a movie
•and designing a new curriculum

In designing a new curriculum, Apkon proposes we ask students to create multimedia projects to see what they have learned about a topic, instead of assessing with tests or essays. These kinds of assignments require “a level of library skills that [are] much greater than...using the Dewey decimal system” (211). They also engage students and develop soft skills, such as teamwork.

To naysayers and prospective Luddites, Apkon responds: “Literacy is always a response to emerging technology. While conservative elements in a society often fear and resist change, the transformation is usually painless” (13). We used to resist having televisions in homes and calculators in schools.

This book has challenged me to think more visually, and to be more critical of what I create and what I view.
•Can we convey more information through images if our audience can read them correctly?
•Is text becoming redundant?
•Here are a couple of links that extend these ideas:

On the other hand

Although the book stresses the use of stories, I would have liked to have heard more about the importance of narrative. The book needed more editing to trim the repetition, too. Ironically, for a book about visual literacy, there aren’t a lot of images. More would be nice, preferably in colour, especially when illustrating the practical aspects of movie-making.

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Image credit:
G. Klimt / Music / 1895. Fine Art. Encyclopædia Britannica Image Quest. Web. 28 Jul 2013.

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