Reframing Children’s Text Production in Social Network

Dowdall, C. (2009). Impressions, Improvisations and Compositions: Reframing Children’s Text Production in Social Network. Literacy, 43(2), 91-99.

Article Review

Dowdall (2009) studied a child’s texts creation on her profile pages on a UK social networking site named Bebo. Dowdall argues that while there is a growing body of literature about the disparateness between children’s informal digital literacy practices online and their formal texts productions in school curricula, children’s offline and online, in-school and out-of-school worlds actually meet a certain degree of convergence as reflected by their social networking sites. Drawing on New Literacy Studies, Dowdall views texts creation on a social networking site as a process of identity formation where both power flows and the agency of the texts creator can be seen. Specifically, Dowdall analyzed the child’s profile content, including her self-chosen modules, posted pictures/photos as well as related functions and popular memes. Semi-structured interviews over a 9-month period were also conducted with the focal child. Grounded theory was used for analyzing the interview transcripts. Dowdall concluded that the focal child’s texts on Bebo were used to affiliate herself with her peers, and her profile functioned as a dialogic platform with peers; the co-authorship with peers was another feature found on her profile texts, in addition to her social positioning and multiple design choices. In conclusion, Dowdall proposed a framework for considering children’s texts creations on social networking sites. The proposed framework is built onKandinsky’s (1977) terms on Impression, Improvisation, and Composition:

(1) A direct impression of outward nature, expressed in purely artistic form. This I call an ‘Impression’.
(2) A largely unconscious, spontaneous expression of inner character, the non-material nature. This I call an ‘Improvisation’.
(3) An expression of a slowly formed inner feeling, which comes to utterance only after long maturing. This I call a ‘Composition’’’
(Kandinsky, 1977, p. 57).

The framework is useful for future researchers to consider the artistic design features, the informal conversations, polished texts crafted by teens on social networking sites. It might also apply to analysis of other digital works created by students, e.g., a blog site, a digital web e-book, a digital comic strip, and a final work of digital storytelling.

EdLab Connection

Analysis of teens’ social networking sites might be of interest to Edlab’s future research work. Potential quantitative (data mining)/qualitative studies can be conducted to explore teens’ multimedia choices on social networking sites and what tools (for what purposes) they use on those social networking sites. The proposed framework for data analysis can also be a potential approach for future case studies on Pressible. Questions such as, what is the convergence of a blogger’s workplace role (offline) and the conveyed role on the blogging site, can be asked.

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