This study investigates young adults' online literacy practices in asynchronous computer-mediated communication, ACMC, in Taiwan. Aligned with New Literacy Studies, this study explores choices of language, writing systems, and orthography and examines how these features influence young adults' identity construction in an online community of practice. Viewing digital texts as a social practice entails the holistic appreciation of the interplay of the purposes, contexts and resources involved in human sense-making and through taking an emic perspective. Therefore, the analysis of this study is based on two qualitative methods: textual analysis, which is to examine how the diverse multimodal affordances of digital texts are exploited by young adults and a semi-structured interview which explores participants' motives that influence their text-making practices in a digital environment. The findings reported show that these screen-based texts are multimodal with a mixture of visual images, onomatopoeic sounds and a variety of modes of communication employed. Young adults employ representational resources in multilingual, multiscriptual and multimodal text-making practices in terms of writing systems, scripts and symbols. The results demonstrate that the digital texts have enabled an extended set of orthographic choices, reshaping the nature of traditional writing systems. Young adults make use of these affordances to foreground their friendship, rapport and cultural bond with others through the shared common knowledge and conventions. Although further developmental work is still needed for future research, the newness of digital literacy practices and how young adults reinvent spelling and switch codes or symbols when composing digital texts in order to demonstrate their identity constitute a significant and new form of literacy.
Szu-Yu Ruby Chen, Chung Yuan Christian University, Taiwan
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