Affiliating geospatially

Welcome to the Southern Places – Digital Spaces Collaborative.

We are a group of literacy researchers in the southeast who gather to consider  what it means to live and conduct research in the south (rural places, in particular). We locate ourselves and our respective work geospatially in order to consider our relationships to the people, places, and spaces we seek to understand and represent. Click on the map below to learn more about the research interests of the people who make up the collaborative.

We welcome you to join us.

Blue Human Group 2Left to Right: Lindy Johnson, Damiana Gibbons Pyles, Darren Crovitz, Heather Pleasants, Ryan Rish, Julie Warner (not pictured: Sean Connors, Dana Salter)


LRA Study Group: Space & Place in Digital Literacies Research

LRA Study Group:
Conceptualizing and Exploring Space and Place in Digital Literacies Research

December 3rd – 5th, 2014, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Chickee Hut #3 on the beach–wear your flip flops
(In case of rain, Capri 7 & 8–Lower Level)

The purpose of this study group is to consider collectively how we conceptualize and operationalize space and place in the study of digital literacy practices and the people who enact them. As a group of early-career researchers working in southern regions and/or rural communities in the U.S., we collect around a need to understand the intersections between geographic places, social spaces, and the ways that people navigate their relationship to those places through their use of digital technologies and media. In doing so, we seek not only to follow the lead of experienced researchers in literacy studies who have considered how space is produced and experienced (mediated by analog and digital means) by people engaged in communicative practice (Leander & Sheehy, 2004; Leander, Phillips, & Taylor, 2010; Mills & Comber, 2013) but also to critically consider what kind of social spaces and which geographic places are and are not represented in the literature. We are interested in exploring with others how the field of literacy studies has conceptualized both geographical and digital spaces and places.  We wonder about the extent to which particular spaces and places are both represented and considered to be an integral part of the ways with which we conceptualize and operationalize space and place as people in an increasingly digitally-mediated world.

This study group also seeks to address the formulation and dissemination of empirical research studies on space/place/digital media in literacy research. Our goals are to connect people working on these projects, bring light to the work being done in this arena, and generate discussion that will explore the complex ways that issues of space and place intersect with a consideration of digital literacies. We are interested in exploring ways we can collaborate and participate as fellow researchers across digital spaces in order to circumvent perceived limitations of geography and traditional scholarship.

Issues to be considered

  • How do we as researchers conceptualize space and place in our digital literacies research?
  • What are the implications of these conceptualizations for participants’ identities?
  • To what extent are issues related to participants’ mobility and relationship to geographic place conceptualized with a social and/or spatial justice lens?


For each Study Group session, we will have a conversation where all participants can share their insights and learn from one another. Each study group session will be centered around a guiding question Also, if they choose to do so, participants can add to their participation via a shared Google document. Highlights from the study group sessions will be posted on the Southern Places Digital Spaces Collaborative WordPress site to continue the conversation during and after LRA.

Wednesday 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Guiding Question: What brings you to space/place literacy research? What aspects of space/place literacy research do you want to know more about?

Thursday 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Guiding Question: What scholars, researchers, journals or books do you turn to or would recommend to others when you have a question about space/place literacy research? Includes some guest presenters on place, space, and identity

Friday 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Guiding Question: What methodologies are you using to study space/place in your literacy research? Includes some guest presenters on mobility, technology, and globalization

Saturday 7:30 am – 8:30 am

Guiding Question: Why is research and teaching about space and place in literacies research important? What are the “big” questions that this research and teaching can help us answer/address?

E-Learning & Digital Media Special Issue: Digital Literacies in the South

Special Issue:
E-Learning and Digital Media
(Extended Call: Jan. 16, 2015)

Link to PDF of this call

Digital literacy practices have often been celebrated as means of transcending the constraints of the physical world through the production of new social spaces, though Mills and Comber (2013) write that “place matters to literacy because the meanings of our language and actions are always materially and socially placed in the world” (p. 1). In this special issue, we consider how the U.S. South offers opportunities to examine the links between space, place, justice, and the role of digital literacies in creating possibilities for our individual and collective futures (Avila & Zacher Pandya, 2013; Pleasants & Salter, 2014). We find Soja’s (2010) trialectic of the social, the spatial, and the historical to provide a helpful heuristic in examining the ways that the materiality of place is an important anchor to determining the “so what” of work that involves digital media and literacies.

In this Special Issue of the journal E-Learning and Digital Media, the editors encourage manuscripts that consider how the U.S. South is a particularly generative context for exploring how social, cultural, historical and political literacies are brought to bear on a range of places that traverse the urban, rural and suburban, with emphasis placed on the ways digital technology is used to create identities and do work within social and material worlds. This focus on the South foregrounds the ways that place matters within our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. As Robinson (2013) writes, “The South is forever rural, forever 1964, sometimes forever slavery, which obscures the way it both is and is not those things. To say that the South ain’t changed and is all country is not true. But then neither is saying it has changed and is new and shiny and cosmopolitan.” In our social and spatial imaginaries (Appadurai, 1996), the South is often constructed as a monolith; yet, in actuality, notions of what the South is/isn’t, was/will be are continually contested, negotiated, reified, and renegotiated. Considering the heterogeneity of the South across intersections of differences (including, but not limited to race, class, gender, sexuality, ability and language), we argue that studies of digital literacies in the South have great potential for informing how the investigations of other regions within and outside of the U.S. context can be conducted in regard to social, spatial, and historical considerations.

This special issue encourages manuscripts that consider the following questions:

  • How do particular digital literacy practices challenge or complicate monolithic or binary notions of place, identity, and issues relevant within the U.S. South?
  • How are representations of the South interrogated, contested, reinforced, or reified through the digital literacy practices of youth and adults?
  • In what ways do digital spaces and tools allow individuals to understand, transgress, and/or reimagine the material and historical realities of Southern physical places and/or social imaginaries?
  • How do place-based struggles, tensions, and issues in the South impact teaching and learning with digital tools and spaces?
  • How or to what extent do the affordances of technology (digital and/or multimodal means of representations of learning) support students’ abilities to speak to and interrogate their own social/cultural, spatial, and historical contexts?
  • How does an awareness of context-specific norms of Southern places, mobilities, and/or boundaries help students and teachers practice critical perspectives (e.g., the ability to express and critique what is permitted and not permitted, what is possible and not possible) for the purposes of social/spatial justice and ethical action?


All contributions should be original and should not be under consideration elsewhere. Authors should be aware that they are writing for an international audience and should use appropriate language. Manuscripts should not exceed 8000 words. For further information and authors’ guidelines please see:

All papers will be peer-reviewed, and evaluated according to their significance, originality, content, style, clarity and relevance to the journal. Please submit your initial abstract (300-400 words) by email to the Guest Editors.


Heather Pleasants, University of Alabama (
Ryan M. Rish, Kennesaw State University (


Deadline for abstracts to guest editors: January 16, 2015
Deadline for submissions/full papers: April 17, 2015
Deadline for feedback from reviewers: May 15, 2015
Final deadline for amended papers: June 15, 2015
Publication date: July 15, 2015


Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Avila, J. & Zacher Pandya, J. (Eds.). (2012). Critical digital literacies as social praxis: Intersections and challenges. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Mills, K.A., & Comber, B. (2013). Space, place and power: The spatial turn in literacy research. In K. Hall, T. Cremin, B. Comber, & L. Moll (Eds.), International Handbook of Research in Children’s Literacy, Learning and Culture (pp. 1-26). London: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.

Pleasants, H.M., & Salter, D.E. (Eds.). (2014). Community-based multiliteracies and digital media projects: Questioning assumptions and exploring realities. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Robinson, Z.F. (2014). This ain’t Chicago: Race, class, and regional identity in the post-soul South. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.

Soja, E.W. (2010). Seeking spatial justice. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

JRRE Special Issue: Digital Literacies in Rural Places

Special Issue:
Journal of Research in Rural Education
(Extended Call: Jan. 1, 2015)

Link to PDF of this call

Guest Editors: Damiana Gibbons Pyles and Heather Pleasants

Call for Manuscripts: We invite manuscripts for a special issue on digital literacy practices that (re)define, problematize, and/or expand notions of rurality, rural literacies, and rural education especially as these practices relate to K12 education.

In Rethinking Rural Literacies, Green (2013) argues that “little attention has been given, to date, to the notion that there may well be distinctive features of literacy in the rural context, or that literacy and rurality can be brought together differently, outside of the hegemonic schooling logic” (p. 18). In order to extend this line of inquiry, this special issue will focus on studies that consider how the use of digital tools and media potentially shape these “distinctive features of literacy” in relationship to rural contexts, as well as the ways that people navigate their relationship to their place through their use of digital technologies.

For this special issue of the Journal of Research in Rural Education, digital literacy practices are defined as social practices that are carried out with the use of technological tools and/or mediated by text-based and multimodal digital media (Avila & Zacher Pandya, 2013). We view digital literacy practices as encompassing both the taking up, or critical comprehension, of digital tools and media and the intentional use of those tools and media to make meaning, develop identities, and support social relationships.

All manuscripts should deal extensively with both digital literacies and rurality, such that digital literacies and rurality are central to the argument, theorized fully, and key to the findings. For instance, manuscripts must move beyond the use of digital tools toward a full integration of digital literacy practices as well as a full discussion of how rurality matters with those practices.

Contributions might include, but are not limited to, theoretical and empirical studies that examine questions, such as:

  • How do competing notions of rurality define identities, roles, and digital literacy practices in K12 settings?
  • How do enacted digital literacy practices address competing and/or new understandings of rurality?
  • How, or to what extent, do digitally-networked technologies mediate place-based struggles, tensions, and issues?
  • How might digital literacy practices in rural schools disrupt hegemonic schooling logic?
  • What do neoliberal mandates for technology in schools in service of global workforce competitiveness mean for the enactment of digital literacy in rural places?
  • How do rural schools encourage and/or negotiate meaningful uses of digital tools in support of literacy practices?
  • How are teachers, students, schools, and/or community members located in rural places using digital tools to address issues important to them and their communities?
  • How are teacher education programs preparing teachers for meaningful uses of digital tools in rural areas?
  • What is the interplay between digital tool use and rurality, and how might the use of digital tools problematize understandings of rurality?


Avila, J., & Zacher Pandya, J. (2013). Traveling, textual authority, and transformation: An introduction to critical digital literacies. In J. Avila & J. Zacher Pandya (Eds.), Critical digital literacies as social praxis: Intersections and challenges. New York: Peter Lang.

Green, B. (2013). Literacy, rurality, education: A partial mapping. In Bill Green & Michael Corbett (Eds.), Rethinking Rural Literacies: Transnational Perspectives. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Special Issue Notes

Coeditors of the special issue:
Damiana Gibbons Pyles (
Heather Pleasants (

Extended Timeline: Manuscripts submitted for review: Jan. 1, 2014

Anticipated publication date: Oct 2015

Why Rural, Why Digital?

Why Rural?

The Health Resources and Services Administration website ( notes that while the US Census Bureau defines “urban,” they do not define “rural.” According to this government agency, “rural” is defined by exclusion; whatever is not defined as urban is considered rural. Yet, the Rural School and Community Trust website (, estimates that approximately 25% of America’s schoolchildren attend a rural school, with the US rural population steadily on the rise. As such, a significant portion of the population lacks clear definition for the purpose of governmental affairs.

While national education reforms have so frequently focused on urban education, the needs of rural communities are steadily gaining attention. According to a January 2012 report of the Rural School and Community Trust Policy Program Why Rural Matters, between 1999 and 2009 the enrollment in rural districts increased by 1.7 million students, a growth rate of 22%, as compared to a non-rural enrollment growth rate of only 1.7%. This outpacing suggests that rural education deserves increased attention (Why Rural Matters, 2011-2012).

Why Technology/Digital?

Internationally, technology and media integration into education have been explored as a means of addressing the educational needs of diverse rural sites. In particular, researchers have approached these tools and digital texts as a means of addressing the lack of literacy resources in rural places and geographic isolation (e.g., Fry, 2006; Howley, Wood, & Hough, 2011; Larson & Murray, 2008; Mason & Rennie, 2004; Mitra, Dangwal, & Thadani, 2008; Momanyi, Norby, & Strand, 2006).

Hull, Stornaiuolo and colleagues assert that students in the 21st century should be afforded an amplified global voice through the use of technology tools and should become “cosmopolitan” in a world of global flows and connectedness. As the same time, what related to global flows of information is relevant in rural teaching contexts? What does this digital and global imperative means for local and rural places? Azano (2011, 2014) advocates for valuing the cultures and values of rural contexts through place-based, rather than globalized, instruction.

Jocson and Thorne-Wallington (2013) built on the work of Pestalozzi, Froebel, Piaget, and Vygotsky who asserted that context played an important role in learning. They explored the idea of the literacy-rich environment, these contexts that provided lots of opportunity for children to make use of language and practice literacy behaviors to make sense of their everyday lives. Jocson and Thorne-Wallington assert that in the 21st century, access to technology is central to the definition of a “literacy rich environment.”

Technology integration is mandated by the Common Core State Standards. However, recent statistical data from the U.S. Census bureau shows that more rural children than urban children do not have high-speed Internet access at home. In 2010, for instance, 57 percent of rural households had broadband Internet access, compared to 72 percent in urban areas, according to a November 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In addition, schools themselves face challenges related to technology integration; for example, a study of rural principals found seven major themes on the technology leadership challenges principals faced. Those included: unreceptive staff, lack of a technology coordinator, isolation/poverty, poor physical facilities, family problems, outdated technology, and unfamiliarity with technology leadership standards.

Furthermore, rural schools struggle to reconcile federal mandates centered on producing globalized members of the “world’s most competent workforce” (Ochshorn, 2011) and the unique economic, political, and social circumstances in their local communities. Howley (1997) brought attention to the value clash between reformers and those in rural communities: “If, for instance, the topic is statewide reform, again, the focus of effort is likely to be the special backwardness or challenges of rural places in acceding to the reforms, not the disjunction between local and state priorities. If the topic is student aspirations, the focus is likely to be how rural schools can best ‘increase’ the level of students’ aspirations, not the relationship between student commitment to rural life ways and cosmopolitan ways. If the topic is the dropout rate, the focus of effort is most likely to be strategies for retaining or retrieving students rather than the disjunction between rural schools’ national purposes and the nature of local rural economies.” (para 20).


Technology, Hybrid Spaces, and Globalization in SPDS


Facilitator: Julie Warner

In our discussion scheduled for Friday, April 11, 10:30 am EST, we will focus on three readings that explore the idea of the hybrid spaces occasioned by networked computers and local explorations of “global” spaces.

In Castells’ (2010) “Globalisation, networking, urbanisation: Reflections on the spatial dynamics of the information age,” he describes the “new spatial architecture” (p. 2737) of networked computers.  He explores the interaction between technology, space, and society and puts forth the space of flows as the emerging spatial logic.  He makes  clear the connection between the materiality of networks, the nodes in the network, and resources in the material places connected to those nodes. In the past, we have discussed the idea of spatial justice and the distribution of resources. Recent Pew findings (Zickhur, 2013) tell us that 62% of people in rural places have high speed internet access (thus access to the concomitant new hybrid spaces). But going further, Castells (2010) asserts “the points of connection in this global architecture of networks are the points that attract wealth, power, culture, innovation, and people, innovative or not, to these places” (p. 2742). Some places are “excluded from the dominant logic of global spatial integration” (p. 2737). Thus, he explains how the economic realities of a global knowledge economy play out in local contexts. This was helpful for me in thinking about the ways digital literacy-rich environments (to riff off of Jocson and Thorne-Wallington, 2013) map on to other resources and opportunities linked to physical places.

Appadurai (1990) also explores the idea of flows. His work makes me question what “global flows” mean for local places. In my experience, schools use firewalls and means of disabling the internet on tech devices to scale the internet. Rather than offering powerful, potentially transformative access to the space of flows/hybrid global-local spaces, the internet is highly localized. The spaces are just a digital mirror of the physical space. Is the goal for students in the 21st century to become cosmopolitan and have an amplified global voice? At the same time, I think about what related to global flows is relevant in the rural world.

Gordon and de Souza e Silva’s chapter on Globalization from Net Locality shows how the local influences the global. This piece helped me to think about how social (and as we’ve described them literacy) practices intersect with technologies to create space(s). Web 2.0 is powered by/comprised of user contributions. In my own work I’ve wondered about how legible the intersections between the local and the global are for youth. They share the realities of their physical  and social worlds on social media, contributing to an industry they understand little about.  And relatedly, in thinking about spaces in relation to this idea, most youth stay on the “front end” and don’t engage on the “back end.” Even though we celebrate youth media work as production, from this perspective, zooming out a little, we can think about the importance of the legibility of the larger structures of youth digital media production. To that end, I’ve recently found Rushoff’s ideas (“program or be programmed”) to be salient.

Appadurai, A. (1990). Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy. Public Culture, 2(2), 1-24.

Castells, M. (2010). Globalisation, networking, urbanisation: Reflections on the spatial dynamics of the information age. Urban Studies, 47 (13), 2737–2745.

Gordon, E., &  de Souza e Silva, A. (2011). Globalization. In Net Locality: Why Location Matters in a Networked World (p. 168-183). Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Mobility, Digital Literacies and the Deep South

Back in May of last year, Ryan Rish and Julie Warner responded to this tweet:

The fact that there was so much going on in the Deep South that dealt with these interwoven issues had been weighing heavily on my mind for the last several years. Working to make sure that the South—the Deep South—was more visible within national conversations on literacies, digital media and civic engagement in ways that it didn’t seem to be was a central impetus behind that tweet. I wanted to explore the mapping of this work, both literally and figuratively, not in the Obama sense, but rather, from a more community-based and context-specific perspective.

Since that time, and with the development of our group, my answers to the central question of why the U.S. South is such an important context to focus on when we talk of multiliteracies, new literacies, digital literacies and civic engagement has gradually shifted. It has shifted from one in which presence and descriptions are central to one that focuses on what literacies practiced and enacted in the South can tell us about the “way forward” when it comes to how we think about education, equity, access and civic engagement. What better place to begin than with the part of the world that gave us the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, The Little Rock 9, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, or the Selma to Montgomery March? However, to tie the importance of the South exclusively to its Civil Rights past within conversations about digital literacies limits the conversation in unnecessary ways.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to partially frame the importance of the Southern context in terms the ways it invites different sorts of “time travel.” As Zandria Robinson writes in her review of Laymon’s “Long Division” (2013):

Treatments of the South often fix the region in time and space. When return migrants are eager to “come home” to the South, they remember a respectable imagined community of all-black neighborhoods with doctors staying next door to factory workers. When southern expatriates in the North or West who plan never to return talk about the South, they point to the Jena 6 and Trayvon Martin and imagine country road ramblings and edge-of-town lynchings. When white Yankees think on the South, they remind themselves of their own relative goodness compared to Phil Robertson. The South is forever rural, forever 1964, sometimes forever slavery, which obscures the way it both is and is not those things. To say that the South ain’t changed and is all country is not true. But then neither is saying it has changed and is new and shiny and cosmopolitan.

With work like Robinson’s (2014) “This Ain’t Chicago: Race, Class and Regional Identity in the Post-Soul South” placed next to Creswell’s conceptualization of mobility as “politicized movement” as central to understanding the cultural, historical, social, artistic and political legacy of the South– it’s easy to see how mobility can be, and is a central issue in exploring literacies (digital or otherwise) that are practiced and which circulate within the South.

In this post, I’d like to foreground the question of why using a mobilities framework to look at literacies in the South is central not just to the work of this group but to the development of literacies research and practice as a whole. To do so, I begin by presenting an example of an educational issue rooted in the Southern context and suggest ways that the example highlights the power of a mobilities framework for moving us (literacies researchers and people living in the Deep South) from a predominantly descriptive stance (i.e., what is/isn’t present in the literature, or classrooms, or scholarly conversation) to a critical stance within our thinking about digital literacies within and outside of Southern contexts.

Tuscaloosa’s Resegregration
Within the United States context, there is, perhaps, no more powerful example of the role of mobility (and the literacies and discourses attached to it) than that of desegregation and resegregation of public schools. Though the resegregation of public schools since the Brown v. Board decision is apparent in communities across the states, current attention has been directed to this phenomenon as it has played out in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (see The Atlantic Monthly and research by Propublica). This issue illustrates the ways that mobility operates along different scales (personal, communal, institutional, ideological) and is represented by a variety of literacies (court documents, letters of personal citizens, proposed amendments to state constitutions, rezoning plans, etc.).

In the work highlighted by Propublica, the resistance of whites to integration is provided as the backdrop for a “resurgence” of segregation that has had “devastating consequences” for Black students. In the article, award-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones quotes John England as saying that “desegregation had not ended the stigmatization of black children, it had reinforced it…the answer cannot be ‘the only way to get good schools is to have white people in them.”

England’s quote and the article are referential of the ways that in this Southern context, legislated morality has led to physical and political movement as a way to resist ideological change. Discernable linkages exist between the ongoing narrative represented in the piece and the theorization of (im)mobility politics, which directs attention to “motive force, speed, rhythm, route, experience and friction,” with which things move. The multiliteracies of which the New London Group wrote about almost two decades ago are on full display through Hannah-Jones’ work masterful layering of historical and contemporary photographs, video, variations in textual layout and web authoring that move readers through the piece in ways not conceivable when “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies” was first published.

As a scholar of literacies work, to me one of the most interesting contributions of the online article is its attention to representing, over time how academic concepts like the “tipping point” and the actions of both groups and individuals have continued to provide a context in which Tuscaloosa schools have maintained a high level of segregation over time. Central within this representation is an intergenerational narrative of education, as experienced by three generations of African Americans.

In further connecting Hannah-Jones’ article to my own work, and in conversation with other scholars of color who live and work within the Tuscaloosa community, I wonder how this intergenerational perspective might be constructed differently if the narrative was in the authorial hands of other parents and children living within this educational context. What is lost, when “Segregation Now” gains national prominence, is the opportunity to consider what being educated “looks like” over time, and for different people with a range of life experiences and orientations to what it means to be(come) educated.

What is gained when we direct attention to digital literacies in Southern contexts is (1) the ability to think about what it would mean for this story to be told by those for whom it matters most, and (2) the enactment of practices that exemplify this kind of literacies work. In this way, work in the Southern context is linked to work being done in other contexts that take the “Pedagogy of Multiliteracies” article as a starting point.

The next steps require that we think expansively, creatively and critically about what projects with this ethic and methodology at their center are–and would be. What does it look like for folks rooted in a southern context to take up these issues through multiple literacies, and further how might this lead to the kind of civic pluralism that Cazden et al propose? Maybe it looks a little like this:

In what ways does Bridge the Gulf and the Propublica report represent the potential significance and contribution of literacies work in the deep South to a larger conversation on how and why we construct literac(ies) as central to the education and civic engagement of youth, in particular? Why is a mobilities framework essential to framing the conversation about literacies practices and pedagogies in the Deep South—and other contexts?
Why should attention to mobilities—especially as explored within the South—be centralized as a means for understanding and exploring the possibility for social justice as enacted through multiple literacies?

For literacies researchers, educators, and community leaders, I believe the answer to each of these questions lies in our move from a descriptive representation of standards and norms to a stance in which literacies as used to enact standards of resistance take center stage—in what ways do our literacies allow us to move into new spaces of being that make it possible for all of us to most fully “be?” These are the literacies that are present for us in our thinking about Civil Rights legislation, about reparations for Interned Japanese immigrants, about Wounded Knee and compensation for Black farmers, and about the intergenerational legacies that we might leave for the generations to come. These are the literacies that are so crucial to consider within the context of the South, and beyond.

Reflections on Mobilities and Literacies

We had a generative conversation around the concept of mobilities, and I’m going to attempt to represent at least some of what we talked about today in this space.

These readings helped us trouble the concept of mobility. Mobility is often conceptualized as positive. Language like freed and unmoored and “still/stuck/stopped” (Creswell, 2012, p. 648) crystallizes the popular approach to the concept of mobility. But what about when someone doesn’t want to be mobile, when being static or rooted is preferable (think about the Cherokee Removal, for example; Ryan brought up the concept of Perilous Empowerment). Creswell (2012) reminds us that “mobility was not invented by the mobile phone” (p. 646) and that there are historical geographies of mobility.

The stories attributed to or associated with mobility are also important. If we think of mobile technologies as affording mobility, what about the “reinscription of class and other sorts of privilege” (Greenfield, 2006, p. 259) that happens in hybrid spaces?  I think of danah boyd’s work around white flight in networked publics.

Deluze & Guattari (1987) hold that mobility is channeled, that even the nomad moves along routes and conduits often provided by conduits in space. How truly unfettered are the mobile? Darren asked, what happens when we transgress preordained paths?

Perhaps “how much control individuals have over their experiences while mobile (Frith, 2012, p. 134) is a function of how legible particular spaces are for the people who move through them.

If mobility is one of the hallmarks of our postmodern existence, is being able to read spaces a new literacy? Brewer and Dourish (2008) assert that mobile technologies increase the “legibility of spaces and actions – how it is they can be read and understood as conveying particular sorts of messages.” (2008, p. 971). I wonder about being able to read how one fits into a particular space as a new literacy. Being able to recognize the circulation of power as a new critical literacy. For example, when people add social annotation to the hybrid space (e.g., through Yelp reviews) they enact power in that they will shape some others’ perception of a particular space. At the same time, they are providing the user-generated content on a website off of which a business makes money (Yelp). Still, some would argue that this is an effort of the collective that benefits the collective (I can find the highest-rated milkshake within 5 miles of my location because of crowdsourced ratings).

In my own work, I wonder about the ways technologies allow for the mobility of youth’s identities and how they are read in the different spaces they travel and how they will be read as they exist online into the future. As mobile technologies and especially haptic media allow us to quickly, easily, seamlessly create and upload digital content, does an exploration of the mobility of that content need to be addressed as  a critical digital literacy? How much do we teach young people and adults how to read a space as a literacy?