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Ali Valerio
Dr. Roozen
ENC 1101 H
18 September 2013
Task 1: What Writing Really Is
The world of literacy takes some serious thought to unravel. It is a world that has no bounds,
and it is constantly evolving. When students are asked to define their literate lives, often times they
only think of the words they read and the words they write. This is certainly similar to our class's
thinking when we were first introduced to the idea of literacy. When we thought of the functions of
writing in our own lives, we had quite a narrow and limited perspective. Since taking a glimpse into the
mind of literacy scholars and seeing their thoughts on writing, ours have undoubtedly changed
dramatically. Our scope of understanding has expanded and now we have a better idea of just how
integral literacy is in our lives. When analyzing the class descriptions for how writing plays a part in
each others' lives, I concluded that the dominant account of writing functions for the pursuit of
knowledge of the past, present, and future. This account holds a strong similarity with writing in my
own life, though on a smaller, more temporary, and more personal scale.
When trying to understand literacy in our own lives, my classmates and I had to shrink and
stretch our own thoughts on writing until we came up with our dominant accounts. At first, most of us
thought practically all of our pursuits in literacy were purely for academic purposes. We read mostly
books that were required for a class, and we wrote when it was required as a homework assignment.
After some time, we came to the conclusion that writing was in fact incredibly prominent in our lives.
Arturo Cruz stated that "it was impossible to engage in any activity that does not make use of the
written word in some way." We stated that writing helps us to record and preserve history, allowing for
insight into past cultures and using those events to shape who we are today as a society. We also said

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that writing also functions to give us information about the world today, and it helps us plan for the
future as well. While these statements weren't wrong necessarily, they didn't capture the direct effect of
writing and literacy in our own, personal lives. Our statements were too general and didn't say anything
about our own unique literate lives as UCF students. We seemed to subtly be missing the point of the
assignment. After reading texts from various literacy scholars like Linda Brodkey and Danielle DeVoss
which directly or indirectly argued their own ideas of literacy, I gained an expanded understanding of
what it means to have a literate life. Then I examined my own literate life once more, and the answers I
found were not those I originally thought.
After taking a closer look at my own literate life I found that my notion of writing indeed has
the same purpose as that of the dominant account of writing, which is the pursuit of knowledge, but my
notion takes place in a more personal, limited context. I find that to a large extent I take the important
influences in my life and apply literacy to them without even realizing it, much like how Joseph
Johansen took his love of the arts and combined computer engineering to apply literacy in his life in a
dynamic and exciting way. One result was his visual essay known as Robojoe, where he made a
statement about technology in relation to human beings (Devoss). I apply literacy to what I know as
well. I indeed use literacy to a big extent for understanding about the past, but the past that I research is
not the history of the world or the history of our county. Often times it will be the history of something
that only affects my personal life directly. For example, if I watch a certain movie, I find a desire to
know and understand everything about the history of that movie. When it was made, who is the
director, why the movie was made, how it was made, and things like that. I will even research the lives
of the actors who are involved in the movie as well as their past roles. In a similar way, if I read a
particular book, many times I will look up information about the life of the author, how the book came
to be, and previous books the author has written. While I don't deny that these forms of media are
important parts of literacy in themselves, my focus in this essay is the supplemental knowledge I desire

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to gain after consuming that media. One may think that I would only want to research those stories that
I enjoy, but on the contrary, I find that books I read or movies I watch that appear boring, distasteful, or
poorly done are even more fascinating to learn about. My interest in learning about the past doesn't stop
with just stories, however. It also happens at a more practical, concrete level. I play basketball, so I
enjoy researching how the sport was invented and how the different elements of basketball came to be
what they are today. I play cello, and when I play a particular song on the cello, I like to read about the
composer of that song and their lives. In this way I also research TV shows, video games, my faith,
even different kinds of cultures that affect me. These elements may not be very important in the grand
scheme of things, but they are a big part of my life so their history is important to me. When I find this
information, I usually do so primarily through the internet. Digital technology, such as the internet, is a
monumental tool that helps me learn what I want to learn, and this is the main platform through which I
attain the knowledge that I seek. So while I do enjoy learning about history, my pursuit of knowledge
of the past is much more limited that I previously thought.
In addition to pursuing knowledge of the past, in my own literate life I work towards an
understanding of the present as well. I desire to know the current state of affairs not so much on a
global scale, but rather limited to my county, my school, and my circle of friends and other
acquaintances. I love to read news articles about what's going on around me, especially when they
relate to sports or music or something that affects my life. I pay closer attention when the story takes
place nearer to me physically or emotionally. The more it relates to me, the more it interests me. If I
hear that a woman just found out she is giving birth to a son, I will not be so emotionally attached if
this woman is a stranger. However, if I know the woman and she impacts my life in some way, then
that news is much more prominent in my mind. When I haven't talked to friends or family members for
a while, I love to chat with them and catch up about what has been happening in their lives. One
incredibly useful tool for acquiring information about people's affairs is social media, such as

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Facebook. The general public loves to share their current affairs on Facebook, a powerful platform that
allows for instantaneous communication of people's thoughts, feelings, and actions. It helps me stay
connected with my friends and acquaintances, and it lets me know what's happening in their lives.
Another avenue through which I crave knowledge for the current state of affairs is through my
academic studies. When I am enrolled in a new class, I want to know everything about that class. I take
advantage of all the different resources available in order to understand as much as I can about the class
I'm in. Textbooks and syllabuses are standard sources for information in almost any class, but I don't
just use them to know when an assignment is due or to meet the requirements of a homework
assignment. I rely heavily on the syllabus to understand how the class works and to always know what
to expect. I analyze all kinds of text in the textbook by looking at the pictures, reading the graphs, and
drawing conclusions from what I see. This is all more than just reading the words. When classes
contain digital components, I use those to my advantage as well. Sometimes I have to read a piece of
literature online, post in a discussion forum, or take an online quiz. But I do more than fulfill these
basic virtual requirements. I navigate all the pages on the web course to make sure that I understand
how to do those things and that I know everything there is to know on all of those pages. Even if I get
an email from a teacher, and I know ahead of time the information that will be included in the email, I
will without a doubt continue to read the email and process every word. This is accounted for by my
pursuit for knowledge of what is going on in present times, though it is primarily only for accounts that
that are directly related to my own life.
While I use writing to pursue knowledge about the past and present, I also use it for the pursuit
of knowledge pertaining the future. I don't usually seek knowledge about the future of America or of
the human race, but rather in a much more intimate context, such as what is to come in my life next
year, next week, or even tomorrow. When different events are coming up in my life, I use literacy to
understand those events. Since information can be exchanged so easily, there is a way to know about

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everything and everyone at any time. I take advantage of that every day through lunch menus,
invitations, fliers, calendars, traffic signs, and other simple tools that help me plan for the near
immediate future. I rely on these tools to keep track of all that is ahead of me, so the necessity of these
texts cannot be understated. Once more, digital technology is very adept at improving this, with their
massive list of calendar applications, to-do list applications, event applications, and other digital
conveniences of that nature. In addition, I am constantly making lists and trying to organize my
thoughts on paper, because otherwise those thoughts will slip away and become forgotten or lost in the
giant frenzy of thoughts that are always going through my brain. We are constantly perceiving and
receiving information, and it's so easy to lost big chunks of that information. In fact, we forget most of
that information quite frequently. While the digital technology is quite useful in helping me remember
information about upcoming events, I find that post-it-notes, notebooks, dry erase boards, scraps of
paper and other more basic forms of technology are used much more in my life for organization and
planning towards the future. I can't plan the rest of my life on sticky notes, so it shows that my pursuit
of knowledge is more towards the immediate future.
After analyzing my literate life and realizing just how essential literacy is in almost every part
of my day, I thought about why literacy is so important to me. Why do I use literacy the way that I do?
It's not for academic purposes necessarily, or even for personal enhancement, not intentionally at least.
I use writing to satisfy an innate craving, to fulfill a deep and intimate desire. When I dive into the
history of aspects of my life that are important to me, I do so because I am genuinely curious about
how those things came to be, not because it will make me smarter, or that I am obligated to do so.
When I inquire about current affairs, I don't do so because I will be tested on the material, or that it will
make me a more well-rounded person. I do so because I want to. And when I use literacy to attain
knowledge about future events, I do so because I want to have a better understanding about what is to
happen in my life. Though it is not my intention to fulfill this desire for anything more than

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satisfaction, it is inevitable that I receive other benefits as well, subtle though they may be. I learn to
focus my thoughts and engage completely in a culture and interact with the ideas of that culture. The
result is rich stimulation. It is even more powerful that I have a thirst for knowledge just to be
knowledgeable, because if it were any other reason that was more obligatory than desired, I might not
get as much out of the experience. I believe that all people have this innate craving for information, this
desire to pursue knowledge. Literacy is a means by which we do that. And as stated in The New
Literacy, today's literacy may not look like the writing of yesterday (Haven). As technology
advances and more instant information becomes available through the development of digital media
and technical platforms, our craving for information increases and we use literacy to satisfy that
craving. We are given a unique and mind-blowing opportunity that past generations could only dream
about, if they thought of it at all. We have the knowledge of the world right at our fingertips. And did
people want to know so much before all of this information was available? Either way, now that we
have it, we are certainly taking advantage of it. We are an incredibly curious people, and we have an
incredibly consuming culture. The topic at hand is the topic of consumption of knowledge. That is what
we are truly after. The consumption of knowledge leads to connections and understanding and deep
satisfaction, and it brings people together to make things happen.

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Works Cited
Devoss, Danielle, Gail E. Hawisher, Charles Jackson, Joseph Johansen, Brittney Moraski, and Cynthia
L. Selfe. "The Future of Literacy." Writing about Writing: A College Reader. By Elizabeth
Wardle and Doug Downs. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2011. 402-403. Print.
Haven, Cynthia. "The New Literacy." Stanford Report 12 Oct. 2009: 2. Print.