Writing New Identities Online: The Flickr Photo Site

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This paper uses a study of the photo-sharing website Flickr to examine new spaces for learning. Drawing on a detailed examination of Flickr sites and online interviews with users, the paper shows how people are engaging in new forms of writing and extending their vernacular practices when using Flickr: they give titles and description for photos; they provide semantic ‘tags’ which they generate themselves; they name their own sets of photos and join groups with other people; they search and identify favourite photos; people comment on other people’s photos; they join discussions about photos; and they provide profiles of themselves. They also undertake deliberate projects.
This paper examines these new vernacular practices and the ways in which people create new global identities, combining languages in new ways and interacting with different audiences. It will also focus on the ways in which Web2.0 provides new spaces for learning, drawing upon what people say about the learning they are involved in and changes over time in their lives. This will be framed by a discussion of how this activity is similar to and different from other forms of online learning.


Keywords: Vernacular Writing, Identity, Online, Flickr, Informal Learning, Web 2.0, New Literacies, Literacy Studies, Digital Literacies
Stream: Equity, Social Justice and Social Change; Community, Culture, Globalisation
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Prof. David Barton

Literacy Research Centre, Lancaster University
Lancaster, UK

I am Professor of Language and Literacy in the Department of Linguistics at Lancaster University and Director of the Lancaster Literacy Research Centre.
My main publications have been concerned with rethinking the nature of literacy (e.g. Literacy, Blackwell, 2nd edn. 2007), carrying out detailed studies of everyday literacies (Local Literacies, Routledge, 1998; Situated Literacies, Routledge, 2000; Letter writing as a social practice, John Benjamins 2000) and the relations of literacy and learning (Beyond Communities of Practice, Cambridge University Press, 2005; Literacy, Lives and Learning, Routledge, 2007; Improving learning in college, Routledge 2009). My current interests include: the changing nature of literacy in contemporary society; literacy and social justice; research methodologies; reading and writing Flickr; the history and future of dictionaries.

Ref: L09P1507