From Print Literacy to Digital Literacy

Surprise! Second post from me today but this one is one for a school deadline. It’s a short essay on the shift from print literacy to digital literacy. It’s not what I usually write, but it must be done for my class. So feel free to skip this one if you would like.

We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming on Wednesday.

Peace & Harmonies

From Print Literacy to Digital Literacy

This piece is being read on a digital device. There is no way of accessing these words I have written without having access to a form of digital technology. The written word has not changed but the method by which it is delivered has changed. One of the most significant ways that this shift can be seen is through the current forms of public communication. People now have the ability to contribute their own thoughts and ideas into the public sphere — without being stopped by the barriers of traditional media. One of the ways that this can be done is by writing a blog. Blogging provides individuals with an outlet to express their thoughts and opinions, while enabling them to remain in control of their public persona.

Before the rise of digital media, the communication ecology was built upon the written word. The printing press enabled people to transition from oral cultures to written cultures (Nadal, 27 January 2015).  Previously, cultural traditions and ideas were passed down through generations via oral communication. These types of communications could include stories, songs and other cultural expressions (Edwards & Sienkewicz 38-43). The invention of the printing press enabled a transition from oral traditions to the written word. The written word enabled things to be preserved for much longer and encourages people to not have to rely solely on memory. In short, the new technology shaped the way people were able to communicate. This change that happened in the 1400s is parallel to the change that is taking place currently in the digital age.

Currently, we are in the midst of a transition from print to digital; with an ever increasing dependancy upon digital media (Carr 2008). Social media as one of the most prevalent forms of digital media is what has helped create a space where people have been able to make their voices known. While there are various social media platforms that are available for use, one of the first ways people were able to contribute their thoughts to the public sphere was through blogging. Blogging was first started in the 1990s as a broader version of maintaining online journals. Various websites dedicated blogging became popular and eventually, it became a common form of digital communication (Marcus 2010; Thompson n.d.).

Digital technology has been able to connect people and communities together in ways that were much difficult before. It is this connection ability that gives blogging all the more power. People from all over the world are able to remain connected to one another as a result of the new digital technologies. The ability to connect with various peoples gives rise to a different understanding of the public. There are various types of publics but when any form of content is put out into a space where the masses can access the information, then the content is considered to be public.

The ability to make information public at a quick rate of speed contributes to the feeling of your voice being able to be heard. Blogging is one form of publication that is able to do this effectively. Blogging finds its beginnings in online journaling meaning that the communication form is rooted in the idea that your voice is able to be made public (Marcus 2010). Throughout the evolution of the communication form, it has transitioned from not only being for expressing thoughts and feelings about personal situations but also a space where people feel comfortable discussing their opinions on other things such as current events, entertainment, and society. Publics are able to be created when people who agree with the content creator and choose to continue to remain connected to the content that the creator is making (Despotovic 2015). These publics are not confined to a small geographical region but instead can reach beyond borders of small regions to create an online community. This is all able to be done due to the fact that digital literacy is now becoming commonplace within society.

In conclusion, it is evident that a shift has taken place in society from a print based society to a digital society. Before the creation of digital technology, we were reliant upon the printed word as the major form of communication. Digital technology has enabled cultures and societies to communicate and create lasting information that does not have to always be screened by publishing gatekeepers. We have been able to make our voices heard like never before; placing a tremendous responsibility in the hands of the people. As highlighted throughout this paper and this class, blogging is one of the major ways that this can be done. Individuals are able to express themselves and present their opinions and in doing so create their own publics. The challenge that we will face moving forward is to make our voices stand out amongst all of the voices that can now be heard. With an everyone having the ability to contribute to the general communication environment, the question can be asked: Does everyone having a say mean no one has a say? Are there so many voices that the individual ones cannot be distinguished? Time will reveal the answer eventually but until then, it is important to remember that these questions would not be able to be answered if not for our transition from the print literacy to digital.

Carr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Atlantic. 1 July 2008. Web. 12 Feb 2015.

Despotovic, Michael. “The Publication of Self & the Creation of Publics.” Simon Fraser University.

Vancouver, BC. 13 January 2015. Lecture

Edwards, Viv & Thomas J. Sienkewicz. Oral Cultures Past and Present. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990.

Print

Marcus, Stephanie. “A Brief History of 9 Popular Blogging Platforms.” Mashable. 5 August 2010. Web.

12 February 2015

Nadel, Ryan. “Communicating Clearly: Shared Experiences and Living Memories.” Simon Fraser

University. Vancouver, BC.  27 January 2015. Lecture.

Thompson, Clive. “The Early Years.” New York Magazine Online. n.d. Web. 12 February 2015

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