"I submitted this with a funnier headline": Multiliteracies and communities of practice at Fark.com
Keegan, Kelly M
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For anyone who might doubt the pervasiveness of the Internet in daily American life, "[n]early two-thirds of the American population is now online" (Fallows, 2004). In the past, computers, the Internet and Internet communities have been disregarded as pointless and antisocial. This notion is especially true when considering children and teenagers on the Internet, and this sentiment often comes from educators. Very little credence is given to the kinds of activities that individuals participate in while on the Internet, and even less consideration is given to the idea that they may be actively participating in online communities for educational purposes. This study directly addresses these gaps in educational research, reflecting the author's contention that Internet communities, Internet communication and Internet socialization has changed and will continue to change the face of education. This study specifically examines these changes through the lenses of new- and multiliteracies (New London Group, 1993; Lankshear & Knobel, 2003), centering on a site called Fark.com. This research examines Fark as a phenomenon, but also as a space where users are able to construct communities of practice (Wenger, 1998), and where they may apprentice into and participate in the literacies of the site and of the Internet in general. The results of this study conclude that Fark is a community of practice, encompassing literacies that are inherent to Internet interaction, as well as site specific interaction (Wenger, 1998), and multiliterate behavior is generated specifically from site interaction and utilized by site members as methods of communication and cultural interaction (New London Group, 1996). Apprenticeship-style, mediated interactions among more and less knowledgeable site members, using sociocultural theory (Vygotsky, 1978) frames these interactions, with those mediated discourse interactions within the media space of the website itself as realized by the companion concepts of Design outlined by both the New London Group, (1996), and Wenger (1998). Finally, members engage in implicit and explicit rules of behavior on the site, framed by Gee's (1991; 2003) notions of literacy and learning in digital contexts, which, in turn, contributes to the development of a site culture as a subsection of Internet culture as a whole.