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Jacob Bullard
Nancy Roche
Writing 1010-013
24 November 2014
Computer Science: Literacy Practices
Literacy Practices
Literacy practices are cultural, or community ways of utilizing literacy. Communities use
literacy to mediate social events which emphasize broader ethnic goals. Realizing that these
goals exist is the first vital step to fully understanding how literacy practices of a culture or
community pave the way for community growth and development. The proceedings directed by
literacy practices relate directly to how a community functions as a whole. To understand the
way a community operates, which is synonymous to how a community implements its literacy
practices, will help strengthen the overall functionality of the global community.
Claim
A smaller part of the global community, the Department of Computer Science (DCS),
will be discussed, along with how the department engages its literacy practices. The DCS
implements literacy practices which include social events, community collaboration, and general
concern for society. These literacy practices of the DCS display its value of a more unified
world. Anyone that has any sense of a general concern for those around them should care about
the literacy practices of the DCS. The DCS and its literacy practices can be best understood by
the examination of their literacy artifacts.

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Literacy Artifacts
In the DCS, the literacy most produced, used, and valued, is mostly in digital form.
Because the nature of Computer Science is digital, the literacy often takes this form as well. That
is not to say that the department does not value any non-digital forms of literacy. Computer
Science is constructed of many smaller communities which value different kinds of literacies.
Although these literacies may vary by group and in nature, the overall practices of these
literacies in the community trend towards achieving the same goals.
Analyzing the Artifacts
For the beginning phase of research, a total of seven different literacy artifacts were
examined. These artifacts included a description of the undergraduate program at the University
Of Utah School Of Computing, a School of Computing Faculty spread, and a publication by the
School of Computing called, The Utah Teapot. A heuristic, which includes the following
questions, was made to interrogate the artifacts and give us a better understanding of Computer
Science and its literacy practices:
1. What event does this text mediate?
2. What are the social practices?
3. What social institution provided this text?
4. How is this text/social institution dominant, visible, and/or influential?
5. What is the purpose and/or broader goal of the text?
6. How this text is historically situated?
7. Which domain is this text best situated for?
8. Why is this text being written?
9. How is this text being written?
10. Can this text be written differently?
Artifact # 1: Undergraduate Program @ the School of Computing
1. This text mediates the event of enrolling into the Computer Science program.
2. The social practices this text mediates is obtaining a college degree through going to
classes, working with peers in study groups, and potentially researching in groups.
3. The University of Utah provided this text.

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4. The University displays visibility through a section titled, Education at the U.
Dominance is portrayed throughout a section titled, Admissions.
5. The purpose/broader goal of this text is to help a person obtain a career in the field of
Computer Science. This includes maintaining the status quo which involves obtaining an
education and a thriving economy through the monetary influences of a college student.
6. The use of the symbol @ in the main title of the text historically places this text into a
computer science revolution era. There is an image of an Atari controller on the text
which shows how computer science has evolved through history.
7. The domain of college is what this text is situated for.
8. This text is being written for a couple of reasons. One reason is for the University of Utah
to gain a higher reputation through student successes in the program. Another reason is to
create/fill jobs in society which will help our economy thrive.
9. This text is written from a captivating approach, meant to intrigue an interested reader
even further and even persuade.
10. If another school that was competing with the University of Utah in computing were to
write about the Us program it might not look so sweet. There is a bias from the
University of Utah.
Artifact # 2: School of Computing faculty spread
1. This text mediates an abstract event. Perhaps a student seeking interest in a particular
field is meant to see the text and schedule a meeting with one of the faculty.
2. Some social practices of this text might include teachers teaching and/or researchers
researching.
3. The University of Utahs School of Computing provided this text.
4. The entirety of this text portrays dominance, influence, and is clearly visible. The names
and emphasis of the faculty portray their statuses.
5. The broader goal of this text is to show the faces of the program and portray the
specializations of the many fields of the program. Doing this separates the University of
Utah from other social educational institutions and shows how they are distinguished.
6. There are many elderly faces which show that this program has
dedicated/experienced/long-term faculty. There is one faculty name which includes,
(Starting Fall 2014) next to their name. This shows that the program is growing with the
allowance of new faculty. More importantly, this shows that the program is not only set
on old ways but encourages and accepts new faces.
7. The domain best fit for this text is social education institutions.
8. The purpose of this text is to show the distinguishing aspects of the University of Utahs
School of Computing program. This text is also being written for those seeking
information regarding the program.
9. The text reveals a two-tone color system. Follows a binary aspect of one and zero
possibly. There also appears to be some binary symbol notation in the foreground of the
pamphlet. Simplistic. Some faculty have nicknames written next to their legal names
which shows that possess a friendly attitude.
10. This text could be written in a less dignified way if desired. More tones and complexity
could have been used Pictures of the faculty could have been excluded.

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Artifact # 3: School of Computing publication, the Utah Teapot
1. This text mediates information regarding other specific events. The events include those
that have already occurred and those yet to occur. It resembles a newsletter greatly. One
event is the general commencement for the University of Utah. Another event is a series
of lectures which are to be given by an acclaimed researcher from the program.
2. The social practices include the commencement, lecture groups, and past group work
done through the program.
3. The University of Utah provided this text.
4. This text is influential and dominant in the sense of the accomplishments and prestige
displayed throughout the publication.
5. The broader goal of this text is to show how the School of Computing is involved in the
community and the astonishing works done by members of the program. Its purpose is to
help build the reputation for the School of Computing.
6. There is a section in the publication that is titled, School of Computing Participate in the
Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing which signifies the concern the
School of Computing has towards womens rights/roles. This issue has changed
drastically throughout history.
7. The domain this publication is best fit for would probably be the community. It seems to
be geared towards reaching out and expressing reputation of achievements.
8. This text is being written to show the excellence of good deeds of the School of
Computing.
9. This text is written in a very clean and concise manner. There is the use of graphs and
pictures throughout the publication.
10. This text could easily be written through a different lens.
Artifact # 4: email from Zvonimir (Computer Science professor)
1. The email mediates and event to encourage community and connection for women in the
engineering field.
2. The social practices include casual discussions of social equality
3. The University of Utahs Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is the sponsor
who provided the text.
4. This artifact is influential in the sense that womens rights are emphasized as the key
point. There is visibility of the event shown through the location of the event being in the
Union lobby. This location displays openly this communitys involvement with womens
rights.
5. The broader goal of the email is to display the ACMs interest in womens opportunities
in the field of engineering and computer science.
6. The text is historically situated in the sense that womens rights is a topic that has been
evolving and changing as the times have progressed.
7. The domain this text seems to be situated towards specifically is womens rights in the
community.
8. This text seems to be written to increase the reputation of the ACM through there display
of this event.

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9. This text is being written in a light and fun way. Refreshments are mentioned. The email
talks about how nail painting will take place which shows a feminist value of the group.
10. This email could be written in a less feminist sense for sure. This text is clearly written to
give the ACM a good rep regarding womens equality and rights in the field of
engineering.
Artifact # 5: Interview with Zvonimir (Computer Science professor)
1. The event mediated by the interview was in fact the interview itself. Along with a
representation of the School of Computing.
2. Social practices included with the interview include teacher student relationships.
Another practice includes Zvonimir acting as a representative for the University of Utahs
School of Computing.
3. The University of Utah provided Zvonimir for me to interview
4. The interview possesses a sense of influence from Zvonimir because of his position as a
professor in the School of Computing. His position also displays a sense of dominance
and visibility what the School of Computing represents.
5. The purpose and broader goal of the interview on my end was to get information. I feel
that the purpose on Zvonimirs end was to speak for the School of Computing while
maintaining a professional atmosphere.
6. The interview was historically situated in the sense that the scheduling of the interview
took place via email. Also, I was able to keep the interview time under fifteen minutes
due to the fact that I was able to record the audio of the conversation and the need for
note taking was unnecessary.
7. The domain this interview is situated for would be the School of Computing
representatives.
8. This interview occurred because of both my willingness to learn about literacy practices
as well as Zvonimirs willingness. Im not sure what the motivation on Zvonimirs end
would have been.
9. This interview was conducted in his office during his office hours. The audio was
recorded via iPhone.
10. The interview could have definitely been conducted in a different manner. Zvonimir
could have displayed an unprofessional composure and been a horrible representative for
the School of Computing, but he was the complete opposite.
Artifact # 6: Analysis of JSTOR computer science journals

This portion of analysis is based upon the interrogation of three Computer Science based
journals located in the JSTOR database.

The first thing noticed about the journals observed was the formatting. Upon further
research, it appears as if all three journals followed the IEEE (Institute of Electronics Engineers)
format which is not like Ive ever seen. Each of the journals contained an abstract and a set of
keywords following the titles of the journals. The formatting appears articulate and clean. The
use of bullet points and numbers are common as well in these journals. There is clear distinction
between the different topics covered in the journals. I like this format very much.

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Artifact # 7: Observation
For my observation, I chose a location where many Computer Science students gather. The
location was the Starley Commons in the Warnock Engineering building. This location plays an important
part socially for Computer Science students. There happened to be a small caf adjacent to the
commons where groups of students or students by themselves purchased food to eat. Not only were
students eating in the commons, but a majority of them were doing homework or something similar to
homework. I noticed two different groups of students discussing the results of an exam they appeared
to have just taken. Some of the language that was common was the use of numbers, mathematical
operators, and mathematical functions such as Ln (), plus, and control. One gentleman was wearing
headphones with his hand pressed against his head concentrating heavily on something on his laptop.
Many of the student in the commons had laptops. The commons had approximately nine glass display
cases which displayed some of the accomplishments the School of Computing and Engineering was
involved with. These displays included one labeled Art Challenges Technology and Technology Inspires
Art. This display included a video monitor which showed the technology involved with the animation of
multiple Disneys Pixar films. The overall atmosphere of the commons was a professional and friendly
one. There were different groups of students that were familiar with other groups at nearby tables. I
noticed one kid talking about a video game in which he referred to as League. Because of my role in
this discourse, I was able to catch this. Many students walked through the commons, appearing to be
looking for a seat and when they could not find one, they exited the commons. The commons was full
and people continually walked through. The groups which were there when I first arrived were still
present after 45 minutes. The groups appeared to be staying for a while. A group of students purchased
food and were seeking a place to sit, when they discovered there were no seats the group split up and
one half of the group nodded to the other half appearing to have found somewhere to sit outside but
the other half of the group ignored and continued walking down another corridor. Did they meet up, or
did the group have a relationship where they could eat separately? There was a walkway overhead of
the commons. A gentleman appeared to be on the phone, listening through headphones. He had not
stopped smiling for quite some time. He was peering down into the commons seemingly ecstatic. The
vibe in the commons was definitely a positive one. The ratio of groups to individual alone was
approximately 7:4. There were more groups of students than students appearing by themselves in the
commons. Some groups which started grew in size as new students joined. There was a glaring sunbeam
shining through the commons. Two separate groups of people rose from their seats and moved tables
and chairs to avoid the glare. I noticed two languages which were spoken, English, and some form of
Asian language. I heard two separate instances of different groups speaking some form of Asian. The
ratio of men to women that were settled in the commons was 23:2. At the center of every table was a
textual display representing some sort of event. The displays of text seemed to be different at each
table. Two tables possessed similar text displays. A few groups left as I was. The tables that the groups
that left were sitting at became occupied within less than 10 seconds.

Summary of Data
After further in-depth analysis into the artifacts, specific literacy practices of Computer
Science were able to be discovered. These practices all seem to have goals directed towards the
collective community. By observing the inventory of literacy practices below, it is clear that each

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literacy practice listed has an effect on the collective community which is positive. These
positive effects relate directly to a broader social goal. We will take a look at a few examples of
literacy practices found.
The first example of literacy practice is ACMs announcement of an event based around
supporting women in engineering. This event has a broader social goal which intends to boost
awareness and support for women not only in engineering, but also for women in the collective
community. Two important aspects of this social event, a broader social goal and its mediation
by text, may not be recognized at first. Understanding these aspects of events is crucial to fully
understanding how the literacy practices of Computer Science play a role in the community.
Although the underlying goal behind this particular event may stand out vividly, not all events
mediated by text are as clear.
Through an interview with a professor in the School of Computing, which was mediated
by electronic mail, the literacy practice of data analysis was revealed. Data analysis requires
collaboration between the Computer Science community and a wide range of other communities.
Collaboration for data analysis occurs through communication between communities which is
mediated by literacy. Because of the universal nature of Computer Science, the department
thrives best with other accompanying fields such as Biology, Health Sciences, and Engineering.
This value in collaboration plays a major part in the social world. To understand the underlying
aspects regarding this literacy practice is to realize that Computer Science best functions when
working collectively with other communities.
With these two literacy practices unraveled, we can better understand how the DCS plays
an important role socially through its own literacy practices. These practices/events are mediated
by literacy. Whether the literacy is in digital form, print form, or even vocal form, such as the

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interview conducted in this research, the overall goals of the events driven by the literacy remain
remarkably similar in nature. This nature consists of a higher functioning collective community
through events mediated by literacy.
Inventory

Literacy Practice

Artifact

Location (place where it takes place)

Enrollment (for computer science

Undergraduate Flyer description of

Online

program)

the University of Utahs Computer


Science Program

Teaching or Researching

School of Computing Faculty

Campus

pamphlet
Consensus calculation was thought to

Interview with Zvonomir (School of

be the objective of the earliest

Computing professor)

Government location

computer
Announcement for ACM group

Electronic-mail

Union

Data Analysis (using computers in

Interview with Zvonomir ( School of

Varies

other fields such as Biology,

Computing professor)

supporting women in engineering

Chemistry, and/or Mechanical


Engineering)
Inform community about many local

School of Computing publication, the

events

Utah Teapot

Community Research

JSTOR Journals

Online

Study Groups

Observation

Starley Commons

Online

Conclusion
Anyone that considers themselves part of society may find themselves effected positively
by the literacy practices the Computer Science field engages in. The effect felt may come from
the DCSs value of womens equality or the general concern that Computer Science has

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regarding community collaboration. Although ones interest may not be pointed towards
Computer Science, an understanding of the literacy practices of Computer Science is in order. A
shortage in understanding could quite easily lead to a deficiency in appreciation for the social
benefits that Computer Science provides. In the worst case, an extended duration of this dual
absence may eventually throw off the function of the global community. Despite the
unlikelihood of this dramatic case, appreciation for Computer Science and their literacy practices
is cherished. An attitude of gratitude will help our global community function best.