Social Media Literacy

Probably we overstretch the metaphor of literacy when we want to talk about what it means to participate in networked societies. However, as the amount of media that we can use explodes (think twitter, facebook, dropbox, wordpress, or typo3), we see the world through the eyes of a toddler. Questions to think about: What are the limits of specific media in doing specific things? What are the limits of our imagination how we can act collaboratively? How much time should we allocate to learn new modes of interaction? What do we do with the people “that just do not get it?” What does this mean for society? Do we need a 19th Century type of literacy/schooling campaign? Howard Rheingold argues,

I see that the use of Twitter to build personal learning networks, communities of practice, tuned information radars involves more than one literacy. The business about tuning and feeding, trust and reciprocity, and social capital is a form of network literacy that we discuss in my classes. Knowing that Twitter is a flow, not a queue like your email inbox, to be sampled judiciously is only one part of the attention literacy I started to blog about  knowing that it takes ten to twenty minutes to regain full focus when returning to a task that requires concentrated attention, learning to recognize what to pluck from the flow right now because it is valuable enough to pay attention to now, what to open in a new tab for later today, what to bookmark and get out of my way, and what to pass over with no more than a glance, are all other aspects of attention literacy that effective use of Twitter requires. My students who learn about the presentation of self and construction of identity in the psychology and sociology literature see the theories they are reading come to life on the Twitter stage every day – an essential foundation for participatory media literacy.

About Philipp

Philipp Müller works in the IT industry and is academic dean of the SMBS. Author of “Machiavelli.net”. Proud father of three amazing children. The views expressed in this blog are his own.

12. May 2009 by Philipp
Categories: Blog | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 comments

Comments (11)

  1. elizondo.sofia@bcg.com'

    I am now working to get the BCG Strategy Institute literate in networked social media.
    I want to offer the world an RSS feed of our work!

    One of our challenges is to produce something that has a cycle time of 24 hours. Deep analysis takes longer than 24 hours…

    Some of our questions are: what are the magic moves that are fast, relevant and insightful? What is the balance between frequent updates and deep analysis?

  2. elizondo.sofia@bcg.com'

    I am now working to get the BCG Strategy Institute literate in networked social media.
    I want to offer the world an RSS feed of our work!

    One of our challenges is to produce something that has a cycle time of 24 hours. Deep analysis takes longer than 24 hours…

    Some of our questions are: what are the magic moves that are fast, relevant and insightful? What is the balance between frequent updates and deep analysis?

  3. Following up on Sofia: I think it is the “nature” of social media that we are discovering… Important questions are: “What is the nature of facebook, twitter, blogging, whatever? The interesting thing is that whenever we discover something new, we also discover its limits and then are easily frustrated, like little kids on the slope without a ski instructor.

  4. Following up on Sofia: I think it is the “nature” of social media that we are discovering… Important questions are: “What is the nature of facebook, twitter, blogging, whatever? The interesting thing is that whenever we discover something new, we also discover its limits and then are easily frustrated, like little kids on the slope without a ski instructor.

  5. gracie.zeng@gmail.com'

    Now twitter is used in space

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1180755/Hubble-astronaut-sends-Twitter-message-space-say-enjoying-view.html

    For this kind of news, it does not have to be insightful, at least not at this point. Instantaneity is what we are looking for and twitter may be one of the best platforms.

  6. gracie.zeng@gmail.com'

    Now twitter is used in space

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1180755/Hubble-astronaut-sends-Twitter-message-space-say-enjoying-view.html

    For this kind of news, it does not have to be insightful, at least not at this point. Instantaneity is what we are looking for and twitter may be one of the best platforms.

  7. tlangkabel@gmx.de'

    Agree to your point, but – as always – if you can’t explain the people to be trained, WHY it’s good to know, where their personal benefits and advantages are, no write-read web literacy will work for current Nonliner. ‘it’s tun’ or ‘to be part of something’ will not be enough and will reach only the minority of those, who are already ‘pre-web’. Only chance: new and mandatory lessons on ‘eSociety’ starting in primary school.

  8. Tlangkabel@gmx.de'

    Agree to your point, but – as always – if you can’t explain the people to be trained, WHY it’s good to know, where their personal benefits and advantages are, no write-read web literacy will work for current Nonliner. ‘it’s tun’ or ‘to be part of something’ will not be enough and will reach only the minority of those, who are already ‘pre-web’. Only chance: new and mandatory lessons on ‘eSociety’ starting in primary school.

  9. I completely agree about elementary school. But what does such a curriculum look like? how do you teach media literacy, is it a soft or a hard skill? Is the being able to discern pertinent from irrelevant something we can teach already at an early age? Do digital native kids grow from the barnie to barbie to wikipedia? How do we deal with social selection processes like those outlined by danah boyd (rich kids tend to use facebook, poor kids myspace)? Can read-write be codified into one class or does it cut across the normal curriculum?

  10. I completely agree about elementary school. But what does such a curriculum look like? how do you teach media literacy, is it a soft or a hard skill? Is the being able to discern pertinent from irrelevant something we can teach already at an early age? Do digital native kids grow from the barnie to barbie to wikipedia? How do we deal with social selection processes like those outlined by danah boyd (rich kids tend to use facebook, poor kids myspace)? Can read-write be codified into one class or does it cut across the normal curriculum?

  11. azhcba@yahoo.com'

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