Friday, October 19, 2007

Facebook, Media, Mode

In Jess's response to my last post, she alluded to the question of whether transliteracy involved crossing media. I confess that I have not always been very clear about distinguishing between media and mode - the two concepts have areas of overlap, for sure. However slippery they are, though, these terms do have different meanings which are separable and have varying implications for exploring transliteracy in relation to something like Facebook. Ryan (2004) and (2006) presents an excellent discussion of what the term 'media' might involve, highlighting the difficulties of interdisciplinary interpretation and debates as to whether media are platforms, conduits, or raw materials of some kind. In contrast, 'mode' has distinct meanings, especially within literature on multimodality (aka Kress & van Leeuwen), and refers to the semiotic resources used in communication (visual, aural, oral, haptic and so on). So facebook might be a transliterate means of doing friendship because it is employing digital media as a platform for social networking, and that media contrast invokes different modalities. Although it includes image, the communication is still primarily verbal (I think). In contrast, maintaining friendship offline can involve other modalities, including aural/oral, gesture, touch/physical presence as cues for how to manage / read that relationship. Maybe transliterate social networks is the capacity to respond appropriately to the multimodal demands of each media that is used in the process of social relationship, and being aware of the affordances and limitations of each.



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