Philosophically, this blog is about communication. This word dates back to the 13th century Anglo-Norman communicacioun when it was first used to mean the "imparting of ideas" (Oxford English Dictionary). Because most people in medieval Britain were illiterate, oral communication was the means with which they transferred information, much of it in the form of storytelling. With the proliferation of the printing press in the 16th century, the stories evolved, but the ideas behind them remained the same. For example, "The Nun's Priest's Tale," in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, is a beast fable, much in the fashion of Aesop, that had probably circulated orally for hundreds of years before being written down in manuscript form by Chaucer for his late 14th century Tales, which were then printed and publicly distributed in 1561 to inspire countless other works, such as Barbara Cooney's 1959 Caldecott-winning Chanticleer and the Fox. Today, we are "imparting our ideas" differently--mostly in digital mediums--but the ideas are the same.

Here, for instance, are links to three different Prezis (an online presentation tool) visually re-telling The Canterbury Tales:

Nancy Bogan:

Riley Pfenniger:

Balázs Végh:

Practically, this blog is about collaboration. The above Prezis show that life in the cloud, or Web 2.0, is all about people who are virtually working together to create a final product: Chaucer adapted and wrote down his borrowed Tales; others uploaded their pictures to image-sharing sites such as Flickr; Bogan, Pfenniger, and Végh borrowed both the Tales and the images, adapting them to their current Prezi formats; and I am borrowing from Bogan, Pfenniger, and Végh in order to make a point on this blog. Visual story-telling is dependent on creative people using other creative people's material to make something entirely new. Just look at any fan-made trailer, book or otherwise, on YouTube: they are all composed of images and clips borrowed from other sources. In addition to examining how stories can be re-told visually, this blog shows how online collaboration can be used effectively.

Finally, this blog is about education. Combining literature for youth with online tools that many young people are already using to communicate their ideas (e.g. Glogster) shows teachers, students, and school library media specialists that life in the cloud matters and that it is absolutely relevant to education. Streaming, social networking, sharing--the Internet is how information is distributed, and much of that information is visual. In order to teach and promote Internet/information literacy, we must become adept at both understanding others' visual presentation of information and imparting visual information ourselves. This blog is a resource for finding different tools that display information visually and showing how these tools can be used to complement literature.

People lament the end of the book, but that simply means that print has become outmoded, just as the manuscript did before it. The stories are still there. They are simply being told in new ways.

Collaboration is the key to 21st century communication and education. Just remember to cite your sources.

Natalia Malesa
Austin, TX

If you would like to contact me, please e-mail me at nmalesa@gmail.com.

Follow me on Twitter @NMalesa