Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A New Literacy

The thing that caught my attention the most in Sylvia Scribner's essay, Literacy in Three Metaphors, was when she pointed out that instead of new media tools being either good or bad for our level of literacy, it could be argued as a completely new form of literacy all together. 

"Some argue that, as economic and other activities become increasingly subject to computerized techniques of production and information handling, even higher levels of literacy will be required of all. A contrary view, is that new technologies and communication media are likely to reduce literacy requirements for all. A responding argument is that some of these technologies are, in effect, new systems of literacy." (emphasis my own). 

I was a little disappointed that she didn't expound further on the subject because I think it has everything to do with what we've been talking about lately. Both Carr and Hedge would argue on the side that the internet age has "reduced literacy requirements for all" (though for Hedge that is probably putting it nicely). On the other hand, Sullivan would argue for the benefits of the internet age, that with it "even higher levels of literacy [are] required" (come to think of it, that is probably putting it lightly for Sullivan as well). 

I think the overarching problem is that the internet age is changing the face of literacy as we know it and the literary community doesn't quite know what to think or how to adapt. I like to think of literature like music. With each new generation of music the older generation looks at it grudgingly. Their views vary from That's not music that's just noise, or how can you listen to that crap? or That's devil music! I think the same phenomenon applies to writing and reading, but instead of changing with every generation it changes as technology changes. For a long time writing and reading was only for the elite or the religious but then technology provided the means of mass production. The idea of the common people reading a bible on their own without a priest to read it to them was, at first, absurd but it was gradually accepted and later came to be expected. Now that print is almost universal it has become the status quo but now technology has introduce another change. I think that because changes in literacy occur must less frequently it will meet with more resistance. 

No comments:

Post a Comment