mres's blog

Interactive Literacy

Reposted from the PBS MediaShift Idea Lab blog

What does it mean to be truly literate with new media?

Certainly, it means more than the ability to send email and browse websites. Recent commentaries on new media literacy have emphasized the importance of the ability to analyze media critically and the ability to participate actively in online communities. Those abilities are clearly important. But I feel these commentaries haven't paid enough attention to another important aspect of new media literacy: the ability to express oneself with new media.

Interactive Literacy

What does it mean to be truly literate with new media?

Certainly, it means more than the ability to send email and browse websites. Recent commentaries on new media literacy have emphasized the importance of the ability to analyze media critically and the ability to participate actively in online communities. Those abilities are clearly important. But I feel these commentaries haven't paid enough attention to another important aspect of new media literacy: the ability to express oneself with new media.

This aspect of literacy is sorely lacking in today's society: very few people are able to express themselves fluently with new media technologies.

That assertion might take you by surprise. Hasn't there been a rapid rise in "user-created content"? Aren't lots of people using new media to create content and express themselves online?

Interactive Literacy

What does it mean to be truly literate with new media?

Certainly, it means more than the ability to send email and browse websites. Recent commentaries on new media literacy have emphasized the importance of the ability to analyze media critically and the ability to participate actively in online communities. Those abilities are clearly important. But I feel these commentaries haven't paid enough attention to another important aspect of new media literacy: the ability to express oneself with new media.

This aspect of literacy is sorely lacking in today's society: very few people are able to express themselves fluently with new media technologies.

That assertion might take you by surprise. Hasn't there been a rapid rise in "user-created content"? Aren't lots of people using new media to create content and express themselves online?

Interactive Literacy

What does it mean to be truly literate with new media?

Certainly, it means more than the ability to send email and browse websites. Recent commentaries on new media literacy have emphasized the importance of the ability to analyze media critically and the ability to participate actively in online communities. Those abilities are clearly important. But I feel these commentaries haven't paid enough attention to another important aspect of new media literacy: the ability to express oneself with new media.

This aspect of literacy is sorely lacking in today's society: very few people are able to express themselves fluently with new media technologies.

That assertion might take you by surprise. Hasn't there been a rapid rise in "user-created content"? Aren't lots of people using new media to create content and express themselves online?

From "Informing" to "Empowering"

For me, our new Center for Future Civic Media at MIT provides an opportunity to weave together several strands of my career.

I started my career as a journalist, writing about science and technology for Business Week magazine. Then I decided to make a career shift. I went to graduate school in computer science, and I began developing educational technologies -- in particular, technologies to engage children in creative learning experiences.

How do I make sense of these two seemingly-disconnected careers? I have often explained that both careers grew out of the same underlying motivation: to help people understand the world around them.

That's true. But I now realize that it's only part of the story. Over the years, I have come to realize that I have a strong preference for certain ways of helping people understand the world. I am skeptical about approaches that focus primarily on "transmitting" or "delivering" information. I believe that the best way to help people understand the world is to provide them with opportunities to actively explore, experiment, and express themselves.

From "Informing" to "Empowering"

For me, our new Center for Future Civic Media at MIT provides an opportunity to weave together several strands of my career.

I started my career as a journalist, writing about science and technology for Business Week magazine. Then I decided to make a career shift. I went to graduate school in computer science, and I began developing educational technologies -- in particular, technologies to engage children in creative learning experiences.

How do I make sense of these two seemingly-disconnected careers? I have often explained that both careers grew out of the same underlying motivation: to help people understand the world around them.

That's true. But I now realize that it's only part of the story. Over the years, I have come to realize that I have a strong preference for certain ways of helping people understand the world. I am skeptical about approaches that focus primarily on "transmitting" or "delivering" information. I believe that the best way to help people understand the world is to provide them with opportunities to actively explore, experiment, and express themselves.

From "Informing" to "Empowering"

For me, our new Center for Future Civic Media at MIT provides an opportunity to weave together several strands of my career.

I started my career as a journalist, writing about science and technology for Business Week magazine. Then I decided to make a career shift. I went to graduate school in computer science, and I began developing educational technologies -- in particular, technologies to engage children in creative learning experiences.

How do I make sense of these two seemingly-disconnected careers? I have often explained that both careers grew out of the same underlying motivation: to help people understand the world around them.

That's true. But I now realize that it's only part of the story. Over the years, I have come to realize that I have a strong preference for certain ways of helping people understand the world. I am skeptical about approaches that focus primarily on "transmitting" or "delivering" information. I believe that the best way to help people understand the world is to provide them with opportunities to actively explore, experiment, and express themselves.

From “Informing” to “Empowering”

For me, the MIT Center for Future Civic Media provides an opportunity to weave together several strands of my career.

I started my career as a journalist, writing about science and technology for Business Week. Then I decided to make a career shift. I went to graduate school in computer science, and I began developing educational technologies–in particular, technologies to engage children in creative learning experiences.

In trying to construct a personal narrative of these two seemingly disconnected careers, I have often explained that my underlying motivation was the same in both careers. In both cases, my goal has been to help people understand the world around them.

That’s true. But I now realize that it’s only part of the story. Over the years, I have come to realize that I have a strong preference for certain ways of helping people understand the world. I am skeptical about approaches that involve “transmitting” or “delivering” information. I believe that the best way to help people understand the world is to provide them with opportunities to actively explore, experiment, and express themselves.