Networked writers pay attention to, respond to, and reiterate those practices they witness in other writers’ spaces—especially when those other writers identify themselves as part of a community based on interests.
The practices listed here, exhibited by networked writers, do not constitute the definition of network literacy. Networked writers who consistently incorporate the above rhetorical strategies and genres are not automatically network literate. We can, however, generalize the following about network literacy from the practices above. First, networked writers pay attention to, respond to, and reiterate those practices they witness in other writers’ spaces—especially when those other writers identify themselves as part of a community based on interests. The writers we examine here are well-connected among themselves and are part of a sustained discussion that ultimately (or initially, depending on how we look at it) revolves around a shared interest: the role of motherhood. And the writers consistently use the above practices in considering their individuality as well as their sense of belonging within that community. If we were to select a separate community of networked writers, it is likely that some of the shared practices we’d find would be different that those listed here (though anecdotal evidence indicates that many practices, especially narrativity, would similiarly emerge); however, there would be a distinguishable set of shared practices, regardless of what those practices would be.
If we return to Jill Walker’s claim that network literacy is writing in a collaborative, distributed environment, we can now add that network literacy also involves moves by writers that include reading, responding to, and taking up those practices in iterative fashion, and doing so in such a way that blurs the lines of reader/writer. Collaboration within a network is not co-authoring; instead, it refers to a kind of collaborative construction of the network or community itself, where the rhetoric of the community is both preserved and developed in the ways the members adopt and adapt those practices, transforming themselves, their writing, and the network in the process. If we apply this model of collaboration to the definitions of new media literacy, we see a gap, even when we consider designations that include the blurring of the reader/writer role. Daniel Anderson (2003) argued that the roles of reader and writer exist on a continuum: “those who are new media literate not only become consumers but also producers of new media communications” (Anderson, 2003). Anderson called these users “prosumers,” indicating that they work in both capacities, producer and consumer (or, writer and reader). His term conflated the roles, which is apropos for network literacy, but does not account for the continuous interaction between prosumers and the ways in which this interaction requires them to (either consciously or not) constantly reconsider themselves and their writing based on what others are writing. Network literacy does not comprise a static, manageably compartmentalized skill set. Instead, network literacy implies sustained participation in a community where both subtle and major changes in technology and generic structure continually are both made by the user, and simultaneously shape the user herself.