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Write: Media Literacy and the Harry Potter Wars" the author begins by referring to the modern media culture as an, "era of media convergence, [a] collective intelligence, and participatory, [which] produce anxieties and uncertainties"(176). The "collective intelligence" comment uniquely stands out for the simple reason that we, as a juxtaposed community, are more connected than ever. These constantly growing connections do create fear among those who do not understand something, especially something that children everywhere understand and appreciate, as it hurts their ability to think of themselves as "involved" with modern society. In the case with Heather Lawver, this young woman created a world within another, more elaborate, world. Her newspaper, The Daily Prophet, in my opinion is almost a work of genius. Seeing children, and only children, not only utilize the internet for a purpose that is not "social-networking oriented" or as a distraction, but for a true social network that is productive but, is for a purpose that truly promotes self expression and creativity. It is also argued by professor James Paul, that these spaces he refers to as "affinity spaces"(186) are important as developmental and educational spaces for the burgeoning "connected culture" of the modern information era. I feel that he brings up a great point, especially when it applies to a book; that no longer is something as personal as a book, which was typically just you, the book, and your imagination, but now it is you and everyone who loves a singular thing coming together to help each other not only expand that universe, but also to aid in understanding the universe. By helping each other learn about the universe, the "affinity space" as it is referred to becomes an educational platform where people are not relying on the "education system" in all of its structured limitations and rigidity, but are helping each other on a global scale to become smarter and more affluent with the books. I feel, that it is most interesting that it is the younger
children, even a home-schooled child, who have chosen to take up the mantle of sharing with the world their ideas, and using the common ground and anonymity of the internet to become more involved, and subsequently more connected. The links that form between various individuals in a "connected society" are not governed by any overarching rules, and are there in order to promote a better for both the reader and the writer in all of us. The online "fake (real) newspaper" is only one example of how this "connected culture" is beginning to burgeon online fanfiction. "Fanfiction" is the creation of familiar stories based in a universe that is commonly known, and appreciated by, fans of a specific medium. The internet has grown with fanfiction writers of mostly every pop-culture medium, from movies to television, to books. These "new media artisans" helps not only kids, but adults to "cross that last threshold into composing and submitting their own stories. And once a fan submits, the feedback he or she receives inspires further improved writing"(187). The online community also does not punish and reprimand
for "getting it wrong" or "lacking in originality", quite the contrary, the "different relationship between mentors and learners than shapes much schoolroom writing instruction, starting with the opening stipulation that the editors acknowledge their own strengths and limitations, and continuing down through the focus on suggestions rather than instruction"(189) which not only helps the "students of fanfiction" to become more confident in their writing skills, but is also, "a means of getting students to think through the implications of their own writing process"(189). When describing this, it almost sounds as if the eduction process involved in the fan-fiction process is a more "nurturing of young minds" versus a rigid meritocracy and teaches children to be more media literate. It shows them how to not only read and write, interpret stories, but also to use the internet to communicate and express oneself. The "exemplars available to students in the classroom...showcase only professional writing that is far removed from anything most students will be able to produce"(190), and in the online fanfiction it, "often showcase[s] realistic next steps for the learner's development"(190).
This new shift into fanfiction, where authors are able to express themselves through a medium of their choosing, might also have the contradictory affects as well as, "Gee and other educator worry that students who are comfortable participating in exchanging knowledge through affinity spaces are being deskilled as they enter the classroom [and school] may seem to lack the imagination that infuses the non-school aspects of their lives. At the very least, they may demand an argument for "Why school?""(192). The is a support structure, that is designed to help curtail the writers efforts more towards "what he or she wants", while the classroom is a place where the student is taught, and expected to follow all of the predetermined guidelines, an affinity space creates takes a story and essentially makes it open-ended. For many children this creates continuity and growth not only with other fans, but also in the areas of self expression, creativity, and writing ability, but there are some out there who would exploit the love of this fantastic childrens universe. As with all intellectual property in the modern era there is more often than not some sort of corporate ownership of said property, in this case it was Warner Bros. (now AOL-Time Warner). In an attempt to diffuse the focus of "Harry Potter" fans on the fan "affinity spaces" that they themselves had created, and more on the "Warner Bros. profit garnering side" the corporation attempted to shut down some of the individual websites. But, unbeknownst to them, that would be like trying to take "Star Wars" away from "Star Wars" fans, and had repercussions. The fans banded together using the internet to support those that had been persecuted by Warner, and raised a flag against their actions; "Finally [they] had to negotiate with us"(196). In order to diffuse the whole situation, while at the same time gaining good PR, the corporation levied all their allegations, and even supported some of the fan-sites in their endeavors. IN order to alleviate this situation, the only foreseeable fix is to rewrite laws that include people who just want to write a story with their favorite characters, not publish it for profit, not do it in order to try and "get away with something", but for the simple fact that they have fallen in love with the "intellectual property" that a certain company owns. Although the rest of the article continues with an examination of the evangelists attempt to "regain the minds of children" with fire and
brimstone, citing "Harry Potter" as an evil machine that warps children into the world of shamanistic dark magic seems absurd. In an attempt to keep a childrens book out of the libraries of schools, they are not only exposing the weaknesses that lay within the "modern devout christian" but also draw a fine line between the believers in god and the religious fanatics. This article cites a great many sources and presents a rather interesting perspective on a harmless childrens book. This book was not written to subvert an established religion and it did not intend to create fans who wanted to experience this medium to the fullest, it just happened. But, with this series of books we see how some either intend to embrace an inventive and creative medium, or use to support their "alternative agendas", which is a continually growing problem as we expand not only our general knowledge, but also the communication networks with which we use to communicate.
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