When I recall Jean Baudrillard’s “Precession of the Simulacra,” one quote in particular stands out in my mind: “Therefore, pretending, or dissimulating, leaves the principle of reality intact: the difference is always clear, it is simply masked, whereas simulation threatens the difference between the ‘true’ and the ‘false,’ the ‘real’ and the ‘imaginary'” (3). In preparing my Shelf Scout Literacy Project website, I couldn’t help but think about how this applies to the online presence I created. Although, arguably, nothing online is “real,” I do not feel like my website fits the aforementioned definition of simulation that threatens the “difference between ‘true’ and false,’ the ‘real’ and the ‘imaginary.'” Because my website is grounded in socially accepted reality (i.e., a real college student or a real teacher is looking for real resources to achieve real marked improvements in a real academic setting), I do not feel like Shelf Scout Literacy Project is blurring the lines between reality and virtuality.
Rather, I feel like my project is best described in Ian Bogost’s first chapter of Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Video Games. He writes, “Rhetoric thus came to refer to effective expression, that is, writing, speech, or art that both accomplishes the goals of the author and absorbs the reader or viewer” (Bogost 19, emphasis in original). I feel like my project is effectively expressing my own goal of creating better readers and writers, as well as absorbing viewers who share a similar goal for themselves or others. In terms of visual rhetoric, one question in particular guided my consideration of visual elements in my own project: “In reference to these and related uses of images, visual rhetoricians ask, ‘how, exactly, do images persuade?'” (Bogost 22). I did not want to overuse images; I have a slideshow of images on the home page and a couple of those images throughout the site, but I would venture to say that I have an overwhelmingly larger amount of writing (especially once you open the PDFs). This also led me to consider the less obvious visual elements that will persuade viewers of the reliability of my site, such as page colors and themes. When I think of my own experiences surfing the web (the only kind of surfing I am capable of doing, by the way), I think of how I am much more inclined to trust a website that is streamlined and simple, as opposed to one that has colors giving it the appearance of having been developed by the Easter Bunny. My goal in terms of visual rhetoric, then, was to have a website that is clean and uncluttered.
Ultimately, I find myself thinking of the future of this project in the same terms that Meryl Alper and Rebecca Herr-Stephenson set forth in their JMLE article “Transmedia Play: Literacy Across Media.” Alpert and Herr-Stephenson propose, “As the complex relationships between media audiences, producers, and content continues to evolve, let us forge collaborations among researchers, designers, and media literacy education practitioners to determine how best to utilize transmedia logics to craft enticing learning experiences and environments for youth of today and tomorrow” (369). Although I personally have very little interest in developing Shelf Scout Literacy Project into a fully-fledged transmedia project, I think that this question of what successful future transmedia endeavors will entail is an essential one to consider as I move forward with my website.