This leads into the subject of digital literacy. I have yet to see the discussion by Doug Belshaw and I will probably miss part of tonight’s discussion with Howard Rheingold. Real life interfering with digital life! But what is digital literacy, really? Does it mean that I can swim in the digital pond? There are times I think I may be just dog paddling and not able to complete a lap. And yet, I am supposed to be competent in the area of technology (or at least my degree says so!) So if I am feeling a tad overwhelmed at times, how must it be for those who have little to no experience with technology?
I found my dad a few weeks ago, attempting to email someone back and he had placed his message in the bcc line. My dad is an intelligent man, well read and fluent in a verbal argument. But he does not write. (He’s a lefty and there were a few too many cracks on the knuckles when he was trying to write left handed so he just doesn’t do it with his right hand or his left hand.) But he will type occasionally. But he doesn’t use email. And email today is so ubiquitous that programmers really don’t think about new users too much anymore. And you have to know where to get help to use help on a page. And he did not.
So how easy is digital literacy? It demands so much more of us than traditional literacy because we not only have to engage with people and print in real time, we now have to write and maintain a written presence, have some sort of oral presence and perhaps a pictorial presence online. We need to be willing to fling ourselves off the digital cliff so to speak, to dive into the deep waters of new programs and ways of communicating. And how many of us are committed to being a perpetual student? And what about access to digital literacy? Is this literacy only for the connected few with high speed internet? So literacy for the elite? How many more divisions are we going to put between those who are struggling with basic literacy and those of us who have the time, energy, money and education to swim in this pond?
So as usual no answers, but a whole pile of questions!