Home David Wees You aren’t literate anymore

You aren’t literate anymore

Thanks for sparking an interesting discussion, Cristina. I don’t see either David’s comments or mine as advocating that we exclude the ‘non-digital.’ I see both of us saying what you said, which is that literacy has now extended itself into new media.
When we made the move from oral literacy to ink-on-paper literacy, we said that those who didn’t make the shift were ‘illiterate.’ Broadening/extending the definition didn’t deny the core of oral literacy, but we did say that if you didn’t broaden/extend your own capabilities – if you stayed stuck in just oral literacy – then you weren’t considered ‘literate’ any more. As we make the move from ink-on-paper literacy to digital, bits-in-the-ether, multimedia/transmedia literacy, I see David saying the same thing about this shift.
Whether you’re an anthropologist, historian, or computer scientist, “reading with meaning, writing coherently, and thinking critically about information” are all taking very new lenses and forms in our new information landscape. It’s fine to still use a pencil and paper, but if a mathematician these days is ONLY (or predominantly) working with just those, that mathematician is ‘less capable’ than others who are also mastering new mathematical tools. Similarly, I think that in most cases the ‘ability to process information and to get involved in the creative process’ is increasingly related to how developed your digital skills are. Again, our predominant information and creativity landscapes are moving toward digital (or some blend of analog/digital). At some point, like David, I think that failure to master our changing technologies of information production and consumption may well fall into the realm of ‘illiteracy.’
You’re making my brain work hard this morning. Thanks!

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