Distributing Cultural Literacies via Digital Media

Project Coordinator: Dist Prof John Hartley


The idea of the 'culturetron' emerged from the initial symposium of the Cultural Literacies node, involving ten participants, in Sydney in October 2005. It was suggested by John Hartley as part of an argument that the CRN should take the opportunity of ARC Network funding to develop projects with comparable scope and ambition to major collaborative projects within the sciences. The iconic example of the latter at present is the Australian Synchrotron – a $170 million apparatus of vacuum chambers and radio frequency accelerating systems funded on the basis that it enables Australian scientists to work at the cutting edge of research into the structure of matter while also offering major industrial applications.

The initial intention in the coining of the 'Culturetron' was to initiate a discussion about what comparable initiative could be developed around cultural literacies. The basis of the parallel with the Synchrotron was, first, that the development of digital media poses basic questions of understanding (not, in our case, ‘what is the structure of matter?’, but ‘what is literacy, today, in a digital media environment?’) and, second, that there is the potential for significant ‘industrial’ applications in enhancing Australia’s potential to participate in an emerging knowledge or creative economy.

It should be stressed, however, that the form of the Culturetron—what it is or should be—has always been an open question. The aim is precisely to develop a discussion—with similar cross-institutional involvement as the Synchrotron—about what it might actually look like and how it might work.

The purpose of this project is not to undertake research into cultural literacies and digital media, but to call into being a collaborative team whose work will inform, test, reject or enlarge the experiment, with a view to establishing a national network or consortium to promote and implement whatever proposal results.


Project Activities

Digital Literacy and Creative Innovation Research Symposium
Brisbane, 29 – 30 March 2007


Media International Australia No 128 (August 2008)

Digital Literacies

"Introduction: Digital literacy" Kelly McWilliam, John Hartley and Mark Gibson

"The other climate crisis: Digital culture, demography and education" Sir Ken Robinson

"The uses of multimedia: Three digital literacy case studies" John Hartley, Kelly McWilliam, Jean Burgess and John Banks

"Beyond literacy panics: Digital literacy and educational optimism" Mark Gibson

"Homer versus Homer: Digital media, literacy and child protection" Catharine Lumby and Kath Albury

"Opening up literacy with the digital turn: Ideas from mobiles" Gerard Goggin

"Inside the house of SYN: Digital literacy and youth media" Ellie Rennie and Julian Thomas

"60Sox: An experiment in building digital literacies for emerging professionals in the digital content industries" Greg Hearn and Justin Brow

"Turning play into pay: Digital literacies and new lessons for the post-Web 2.0 generation" Susan Luckman

"Digital literacy and cultural institutions" Jerry Watkins

"Message me: Temporality, location and everyday technologies" Melissa Gregg and Catherine Driscoll

"The art of education: New competencies for the creative workforce" Kate Oakley

"Economics of non-market innovation and digital literacy" John Quiggin and Jason Potts