Writing About Writing (p. 422-441)
“From Pencils to Pixels: The Stages of Literacy Technologies” by Dennis Baron
In “From Pencils to Pixels: The Stages of Literacy Technologies,” Dennis Baron attempts to explain the histories of writing technologies, including those that are not usually viewed as technology at all. Baron argues that every new writing technology in time has had to become established and learned. He suggests that each new writing technology’s acceptance relies on its accessibility, function, and authentication. Baron describes several writing technologies including writing itself. He details the history of the pencil, the printing press, telegraph, telephone, typewriters, and the most recent technology- computers. Each writing technology underwent some form of criticism in its beginning years but as time went on they have become known as natural rather than technological. Each technology affects literacy and Baron’s main acquisitions are about the advantage or disadvantage of the computer and what its affects will be in the future.
Baron’s article is most strongly tied to Brandt’s article about sponsors of literacy. Every single writing technology, even writing itself, is a sponsor of literacy-it could be reading literacy, literacy in that specific technology, or literacy in technology in general. Also, the internet (used from a computer) can influence any specific literacy just being doing searches. Therefore not only would the computer itself be a sponsor but the Internet, too. Nearly all forms of technology influence literacy for that matter.
Baron’s article also relates to the articles by Malcolm X and Alexie. Both X and Alexie tell the story behind their personal literacy and the sponsors they named are reviewed in Barons article. Malcolm wrote with pencils in dictionaries that were written and printed using writing technology. Alexie learned from comics, cereal boxes, and books- all of which written and printed using writing technologies. Essentially every topic in Baron’s article details this history of literacy itself.
My Personal Thoughts:
I found this article to be very interesting. I never would’ve fully understood that even a pencil was a writing technology without reading this article. It was interesting to read the history of the pencil and other writing technologies as well. One fact that really stood out to me was that Alexander Graham Bell actually wanted to sell the patent of the telephone to Samuel Morse- and he refused fearing that no one would want the telephone. It’s crazy to think about people criticizing the technologies that we often take for granted.
It was also neat to read an article about computers that was written in 1999. Some questions presented in the article appear to have answers now, and some questions seem peculiar to think about at this time- but that must have been the mindset of 1999. Thirteen years can certainly make a difference. Perhaps now the same article would include information about e-mail, different word processing abilities, or maybe even texting from cell phones. Overall, this was a very interesting article and I liked reading about past technologies that have influenced literacy throughout history.