the sleeping alone and starting out early reading list

a running list of key texts that matter 

Education and Social Justice

Barton, D., & Hamilton, M. (2005). Literacy, reification and the dynamics of social interaction. David Barton and Karin Tusting (eds.) Beyond Communities Of Practice: Language, Power And Social Context. Cambridge University Press.

Delpit, L. (2006). Other people’s children: Cultural conflict in the classroom. New York: The New Press.

Finn, P. J. (2009). Literacy with an Attitude: Educating Working-Class Children in Their Own Self-Interest (2nd edition). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition. Trans. Myra Bergman Ramos. New York: continuum.

McDermott, R. (2001). The Acquisition of a Child by a Learning Disability. Understanding Learning: Influences and Outcomes.


Literacy Studies

Herrington, Anne, Kevin Hodgson, and Charles Moran (2009). Teaching the New Writing: Technology, Change, and Assessment in the 21st-Century Classroom. NY: Teachers College Press; and Berkeley, CA: National Writing Project.

Leander, Kevin M., and Deborah Wells Rowe (Oct-Dec. 2006). Mapping Literacy Spaces in Motion: A Rhizomatic Analysis of a Classroom Literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 428-460.


Gender Studies / Queer Studies

Blackburn, M. V. (2002-2003). Disrupting the (hetero)normative: Exploring literacy performances and identity work with queer youth. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 46 (4), 312-324. This paper presents a case study of one lesbian girl, a member of the LGBTQ Youth Center where Blackburn conducted her research. Drawing from the principles of New Literacy Studies and of the identity research by Holland, Butler, and others, Blackburn considers how this teen "authors herself" into the figured worlds of both the youth center and of her (homophobic and heterosexist) school; the author argues that "it is not just the actions and behaviors in their sociocultural contexts that make social change through literacy possible. Rather, it is the trajectory in which any given literacy performance builds on former performances and helps shape future performances by being both similar to and different from those other performances."


New Literacy Studies Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (2007). Researching new literacies: Web 2.0 practices and insider perspectives. E-Learning 4, 3: 224-240. This article identifies two aspects of new media platforms that merit consideration, according to the authors: the "technical stuff" and the "ethos stuff. " Coming out of the New Literacy Studies tradition, Lankshear & Knobel approach literacy/ies as a set of social practices, and new media literacy/ies as a new set of social practices made possible by new interactions of technical and ethos stuff. As new mindsets emerge as a result, they argue, it becomes increasingly important to value "insider perspectives" on the affordances of new media technologies and the resultant literacy practices. (fall 2009)


Free / Libre / Open

Brown, J. S., & Adler, R. P. Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0. Educause Review, January / February 2008.  This piece works to bridge the gap between the interests and language of new media researchers and the interests and language of practitioners and stakeholders. This article considers "the brewing perfect storm of opportunity" for educators and researchers; the components of this storm are comprised of tools (new technologies for creating and circulating content), access (open educational resources such as MIT's OpenCourseWare project), and community (increasing opportunities for social learning, and an increasing emphasis on participation over content mastery). The article takes a situative approach to learning and cognition and weighs in on the struggle identified by Anna Sfard in her foundational piece "On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one."

Kelty, C. M. (2008). Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software. Duke University Press. (also available for free download)

Actor-Network Theory

Clarke, J. (Oct. 2002). A new kind of symmetry: Actor–network theories and the new literacy studies. Studies in the Education of Adults Vol. 34, No.2.

Engestrom, Y. (2005). Knotworking to Create Collaborative Intentionality Capital in Fluid Organizational Fields. Collaborative Capital: Creating Intangible Value Advances in Interdisciplinary Studies of Work Teams, Volume 11, 307–336.

Latour, B. (1996). On Interobjectivity. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 3.4.

Latour, B. (Nov. 30, 2003). On Recalling ANT. Keynote speech for the Department of Sociology, Lancaster University.

Latour, B. (Nov. 30, 2003). On Actor-Network Theory: a few clarifications.Email listserv communication (<nettime>).

Embodied Cognition

Clinton, K. A. (2006). Being-in-the-Digital-World: How Videogames Engage our Pre-Linguistic Sense-Making Abilities. Doctoral Dissertation. University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Representations / Modelling / Design Thinking

diSessa, A. A. (2004). Metarepresentation: Native competence and targets for instruction. Cognition and Instruction, 22, 293-331.


Sociocultural Approaches to Learning

Davydov, V. V., and Kerr, S.T. (April 1995). The Influence of L. S. Vygotsky on Education Theory, Research, and Practice. Educational Researcher, Vol. 24, No. 3.

Edwards, A. (March 2005). Let’s get beyond community and practice: the many meanings of learning by participating. The Curriculum Journal Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 49 – 65.

Leander, K. M.; Rowe, D.W. (Oct-Dec 2006). Mapping Literacy Spaces in Motion: A Rhizomatic Analysis of a Classroom Literacy Performance . Reading Research Quarterly, v41 n4 p428-460.

Wertsch, J. V. Mediation (2007). The Cambridge Companion to Vygotsky, Daniels, Harry, Michael Cole, & James V. Wertsch, Eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Canonical Thinkers

Dewey, J. (1915). The School and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Papert, S. (1991). Situating Constructionism. In I. Harel & S. Papert (Eds.), Constructionism. Norwood, NJ:Ablex Publishing Corporation. Available at and last accessed on August 29, 2009. (Fall 09)

Digital Media and Learning

Bolter, J. D., & Grusin, R. (1999). Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 21-50.(Fall 09)

Francis, R. (2009). The Predicament of the Learner in the New Media Age. Dissertation being prepared for publication. Oxford University.

Ito, Mizuko, Heather A. Horst, Matteo Bittanti, danah boyd, Becky Herr-Stephenson, Patricia G. Lange, C.J. Pascoe, and Laura Robinson (with Sonja Baumer, Rachel Cody, Dilan Mahendran, Katynka Martínez, Dan Perkel, Christo Sims, and Lisa Tripp) (Nov. 2008). Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning.

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robinson, A.J., and Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Chicago, IL: MacArthur Foundation. (Fall 09)

Jensen, J. F. (1998). Interactivity: Tracing a new concept in media and communication studies. Nordicom Review, 19(1), 185–204. (Fall 09)

Manovich, L. (2001). The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 19-61. (Fall 09)

McGonigal, J. (May 2003). 'This is Not a Game': Immersive Aesthetics and Collective Play. Digital Arts & Culture Conference Proceedings.  This piece focuses on transformative potential of Alternate-Reality Games, with a focus on the 2002 game The Beast. The most active participants in this game experienced its immersive power and felt transformed after the game was over, and ARG participants often leverage the valued practices of ARGs to identify and solve real-world problems. McGonigal writes: The increasing convergence and mobility of digital network technologies have given rise to new, massively-scaled modes of social interaction where the physical and virtual worlds meet. This paper explores one product of these extreme networks, the emergent genre of immersive entertainment, as a potential tool for harnessing collective action. Through an analysis of the structure and rhetoric of immersive games, I explore how immersive aesthetics can generate a new sense of social agency in game players, and how collaborative play techniques can instruct real-world problem-solving.

Nardi, Bonnie A., Diane J. Schiano, Michelle Gumbrecht, and Luke Swartz (Dec. 2004). Why We Blog. Vol. 47, No. 12 Communications of the ACM.

Nardi, Bonnie A., Stella Ly, & Justin Harris (2007). Learning Conversations in World of Warcraft. Proceedings of the 40th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.

Peppler, K. & Kafai, Y. B. (2007). From SuperGoo to Scratch: exploring creative digital media production in informal learning. Learning, Media, and Technology, 32(2), pp. 149–166. (Fall 09)

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Self-published. Available at and last accessed on August 29, 2009. (Fall 09)

Resnick, M. (2006). Computer as Paint Brush. In Singer, D., Golikoff, R., and Hirsh-Pasek, K. (eds.), Play = Learning: How play motivates and enhances children's cognitive and social-emotional growth. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Available at and last accessed August 29, 2009. (Fall 09)

Ryan, M.-L. (2001). Narrative as virtual reality: Immersion and interactivity in literature and electronic media. In Nichols, Stephen G., Prince, Gerald, and Steiner, Wendy (Series eds.), Parallax: Re-visions of culture and society series. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. (Fall 09)

Saltz, D. Z. (1997). The art of interaction: Interactivity, performativity, and computers. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism,55(2), 117-127. (Fall 09)

Sheridan, T. B. (1992). Musings on telepresence and virtual presence. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 1(1), 120–126.

Shirky, Clay (2008). Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. New York: Penguin Press.

Learning Sciences

Greeno, J.G. On Claims that Answer the Wrong Questions. Educational Researcher, January/February 1997.


Gee, James Paul. A 21st Century Assessment Project for Situated and Sociocultural Approaches to Learning. Grant Proposal for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Initiative.

Gee, James Paul. Human Action and Social Groups as the Natural Home of Assessment: Thoughts on 21st Century Learning and Assessment. Draft paper for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Initiative.

Gee, James Paul (2006). Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in Discourses (3rd edition). Bristol, PA: Taylor & Francis, Inc.

Lifelong Learning

Guile, David. Moebius strip enterprises and expertise in the creative industries: new challenges for lifelong learning? (May-June 2007) International Journal of Lifelong Education, 26:3, 241 - 261.

Nardi, Bonnie, Steve Whittaker, & Heinrich Schwarz. NetWORKERS and their Activity in Intensional Networks (2002). Computer Supported Cooperative Work 11: 205–242.

Technology and the Social Revolution

Carr, N. (2008). Is Google Making Us Stupid? Originally published in The Atlantic, republished In Johnson, S. (Ed.), The Best Technology Writing 2009. New Haven: Yale University Press. Available at and last accessed on December 21, 2009. By now, perhaps, this article needs no description. It is one of the most influential takes on the "deficit" approach to the social revolution.

Crawford, K. (2009). Following You: Disciplines of Listening in Social Media. Continuum, 23:4, 525-535. Crawford, an Associate Professor in the Journalism and Media Research Centreat the University of New South Wales in Sydney, suggests that we rethink our discourse around lurkers and less active participants in online affinity spaces; actually, she suggests we get away from that term "lurking," since "this term has hampered our understanding of online spaces, and...the concept of listening offers more open and critically productive ground." Crawford points to a glorification of "voice" as the highest form of online participation. She is gently critical of "this privileging of voice, and particularly voice-as-democratic-participation," which dominates research and writing about online activity.This paper identifies three categories of listening: background listening, delegated listening, and reciprocal listening; and the work she does to discuss these categories offers nice strategies for reframing different approaches to listening.

Dibbell, J. (2008). Mutilated Furries, Flying Phalluses: Put the Blame on Griefers, the Sociopaths of the Virutal World. Originally published in Wired Magazine, republished In Johnson, S. (Ed.), The Best Technology Writing 2009. New Haven: Yale University Press. Available at and last accessed on December 21, 2009. As Dibbell explains, "griefers" are people who take as their life's mission the responsibility to attack anybody who takes internet culture or themselves in internet culture too seriously. This piece highlights the activities of "Goons" and "/b/tards," griefers who have recently united in the virtual worlds of Second Life and in online games. There, they build entire worlds designed to assault the sensitivities of groups of people and they gather around a single mission: to cause people so much grief that they log off and walk away. This piece does a startling job of illuminating why anybody would want to grief anyone in the first place.

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture. New York and London: New York University Press.

Kelly, Kevin. The Technium: My Search for the Meaning of Tech.Book in progress (last accessed 5 Dec. 2009). The author is a founding editor for Wired Magazine. Nonetheless, I find this text essential reading for anybody who's interested in the philosophical, ethical, and moral issues related to the emergence of new media technologies. Kelly confers upon technology a fascinating combination of free will, desire, memory, and determination. He writes:

Technology does not want to remain utilitarian. It wants to become art, to be beautiful and 'useless.' Since technology is born out of usefulness, this is a long haul. Robots will proliferate in a million different varieties and levels. Most will never be as smart as a grasshopper, and only few droids will surprise us with their intelligence. But the goal of every robot, and every machine and tool, is to exist for its own sake. To exist not only because it is useful, but because its existence is beautiful.

I'm waxing on about this book. I didn't intend to. But I just find it so wonderful, such a gentle, complex, and thoughtful approach to the "technium" that I want to do all I can to encourage others to dip into it. I recommend two sections: "technophilia" (external link:, from which the above quote came, and "Chosen, inevitable, and contingent" (external link: