Sue Thomas Weighs in on the Transliteracy Debate Among Librarians

I wondered if she was following the recent conversation and it turns out she was and blogged her take on it:

So transliteracy is a shape-shifting eco-system of behaviours and it is probably neither possible nor desirable for anyone to understand enough to know the whole elephant. The vital thing is to remember it is always there and in constant motion. This means recognising the limits of your own knowledge andaccepting a degree of messiness and uncertainty.

I appreciate that some people are uncomfortable with that and prefer to use concepts which are locked down and straightforward, but that’s not likely to happen with transliteracy and could even diminish its flexible strength.  Those who need that kind of tool should probably look for something else. But I hope they will occasionally set aside a moment or two to consider the elephant in all its complexity.

For those who aren’t familiar with Sue Thomas  some background:

Transliteracies was introduced by the Transliteracies Research Projectdirected by Alan Liu, Dept of English, University of California at Santa Barbara.

“Established in 2005, the Transliteracies Project includes scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and engineering in the University of California system (and in the future other research programs). It will establish working groups to study online reading from different perspectives; bring those groups into conjunction behind a shared technology development initiative; publish research and demonstration software; and train graduate students working at the intersections of the humanistic, social, and technological disciplines.”

Sue Thomas attended the first transliteracies conference and was inspired to form the PART Group (Production and Research in Transliteracy, now

PART is a small group of researchers based in the Faculty of Humanities but researching in the Institute of Creative Technologies. The IOCT, which opened in 2006, undertakes research work in emerging areas at the intersection of e–Science, the Digital Arts, and Humanities”. – Thomas, et al.

Thomas and others, authored the First Monday paper Transliteracy: Crossing Divides.


Test Your Transliteracy Skills

[tweetmeme source=”librarianbyday” only_single=false]

A short video from the Transliteracy Research Group, delivering a short coded message to test the viewer’s transliteracy skills.

I will stress that this was designed only as a bit of fun – it is not, by any means, a definitive test! However, in producing it, I was mulling on two points related to transliteracy..

1.Our brains are designed to solve problems and spot patterns, which allows __ to miss ___ every third ___ without confusing ____. Whilst it is not possible to understand and demonstrate complete fluency in every type of literacy there is, the ability to find patterns and infer meaning must surely be a component part of being a transliterate individual?

2.The desire to understand and the ability to search out meaning must also be a factor in transliteracy. How many of you did an internet search to de-code the morse code or semaphore sections of the video? Does an ignorance of morse code or semaphore mean you are not transliterate? Or does the desire to fill in that gap and the ability to find that information prove that you *are* transliterate?

Something to ponder, anyway! ;-)

Posted in Videos. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Test Your Transliteracy Skills

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