“The Future of Literacy” is an article by Danielle Devoss, Gail Hawisher, Charles Jackson, Joseph Johansen, Brittney Moraski, and Cynthia Selfe. It was published in 2004 in the Literate Lives in the Information Age: Narratives of Literacy from the United States journal. This article uses case studies to take a look at how people have become literate. I intend to use this article to take a look at how new literacies continue to emerge, focusing on the new idea of books being written on cellphones. An article found on textnovel.com, which is a website where you can read cellphone novels, gives a good explanation to what this new kind of writing entails. These articles work together because the cellphone novel may be another form of literary technology that people have to adapt to.

“The Future of Literacy” uses case studies to see how people have learned to read and write using technology. It looks at four people, two students and two young professionals. The case studies examine when these people grew up, their race, their religion, and their socioeconomic status. It also looks at how school life and home life can influence how you adapt and use technology.The article brings to light the issue that the technology that we use is always changing. Because of this, the way literacy is taught in schools needs to be adapted to fit what is happening in the world. The article explains how the skills students are learning in school will not fully prepare them for the outside world. They will need to know skills in “visual literacy, web literacy, gamming/simulation literacy, in short, multimodal literacies” (418). These things though, are not often taught in the classroom setting. The authors concluded in this piece that teachers need to take advantage of the technology that the students are using at home. By incorporating what students are doing outside of school into classroom studies, the students will have a much richer learning experience.

An interesting point made in “The Future of Literacy” is that technology is something that is rapidly changing and can be adapted for literacy purposes in different ways. This idea helps us look at the cellphone novel. The idea of the cellphone novel is something that started in Japan. Textnovel explains that cellphone novels are “ongoing serial literature generally written in poetic, short chapters of a max of around 100-200 words per chapter.”  These novels are written mostly by young people are are usually love stories. The novelists type out their books little by little and post them on a website that people can access through their own cellphones or by computer. Once a cellphone novel is popular enough it may be made into an actual book, but before that the authors do not make any money off of these stories. These books are so popular in Japan, that many of Top Ten bestsellers were written on cellphones.


Screen shot of the textnovel website where you can choose form many different cellphone novels.

Screen shot of the textnovel website where you can choose from many different completed cellphone novels.


Will the future of literacy be cellphone novels? Only time may tell. But what this does show us is that as technology changes, the way we view literacy needs to change with it. The cellphone novels being made in Japan are a good example of how a group of people were able to take a form of technology and apply it to an educational practice. The cellphone novel is a new way of writing, one that may need to be taught in the classroom if this trend becomes a world wide thing. It is a kind of writing that, as  Textnovel explains, “readers will be able to experience narration, poetry and even visual arts in the use of carefully chosen line breaks, punctuation, rhythm and white space.” This new way of writing is something that the authors in “the Future of Literacy” predicted would happen. Literacy is an ever-changing idea, and the cellphone novel is just the next new thing that we may need to learn to embrace in our daily lives and in schools.

A woman named Rin, who’s cellphone novel hit number one and then was made into a real book that sold 400,000 copies in Japan.