I have to laugh a little when I see someone mention “digital literacy”, and I’ll admit… initially, it’s unfairly judgmental of me, probably because I’ve seen a lot of references to “digital literacy” which don’t really reveal anything mind-blowing. There’s a lot of talk about how writing and reading for the Web is so different than writing and reading for print, but I think there’s a good deal absent from the theorizing that goes on over the Web part… the in-depth, skull-cracking, mind-blowing/warping talk about digital literacy. The stuff that makes people’s heads hurt.
It just seems to me that there have been more examinations about how people read text in the digital space than how authors construct text in the digital space. Perhaps even more importantly, I argue that there’s a “method to the madness” in an author of digital text. Because the text is (perhaps) more “living” in the digital space (vs. text for print), do authors feel more empowered (whether that is genuine or delusional) in the words they lay out? Additionally, are they aware of their efforts… I mean really conscious of what they do and why they do it?
For those who have written for the Web long enough, are there human adaptations being made (in minds taught, initially, to architect text for print)? Is the digital space (which includes the space, the author within that space, the readers, and perhaps the machine) rewiring us, or are we simply adapting? If we’re adapting, are we aware of how we are structuring our arguments online? Should we care, and if so… why? If we, as architects of text for the Web, begin to consciously be aware of the rhetorical theories, cognitive learning theories, etc. used in our architecture, and we adjust to influence readers more efficiently, I’m also curious as to the reader reaction. What percentage of readers, for example, adapt at the same speed, and recognize the digital author and his/her efforts to manipulate the mind of the reader?
There just seems to be a lot more to digital literacy than what meets the eye, and as we become more and more assimilated (are we on the verge of something like “human 3.0”?) into the digital space, I wonder about the long-range impact on humans and the manner in which they communicate as both authors and readers. I may expand on this in another post, later…