Posts Tagged ‘government’

OSI discussion: The Impact of the Internet on Democratic Culture, Institutions, and Engagement

Posted by nicholaspelafas on July 19, 2011

Over at the Open Society Institute, I found an interesting discussion entitled Through A Web Darkly: Does the internet spread Democracy or Ignorance?.  It deals with the melding landscapes of technology, information and government control.  I would recommend listening to it as it touches on some key issues being discussed in technology circles, but in terms of multi-literacy I think it really gives us some important things to think about.

One of the themes that arose on a couple of occasions was that of the ‘fragmentation of media platforms and experiences and their relationships to media literacy.’  Similarly, another panel member’s states that there are now different (yet specific) types of intermediaries for organizing information and directing attention.  What we are seeing then is that being literate is taking on an increasing number of forms and that the way we interact with these new literacies is determined in a growing number of ways.  In some cases, the way we adapt to these new literacies is determined by very specific key players, namely Google and Facebook (among others let influential ones).

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Africa 2.0 & African Literacies

Posted by nicholaspelafas on July 16, 2011

In an article titled ‘Africa 2.0: Myth or Reality’ from Pambazuka News ( the author brings together various perspectives on the role of technology in Africa at a moment when discussing its potential has become popular.  While the concerns of the various contributors are quite diverse, some important points are made that can help us to think critically about multiliteracy in a global context.  One author writes:

“In many contexts, new media does not have the same pervasiveness or reach as mediums such as newspapers, radios and mobile phones. At the local level, the tools required for change are often already in people’s hands; the challenge is making them work effectively to meet the needs of the context.”

This means that it may not be necessary for African or other non-Euroamerican countries to pursue the proliferation of new media in same way as the West, and that if we are focusing on setting priorities for improving quality of life via cooperation and communication, perhaps we should not valorize new western literacy technologies before we consider the potentials of existing technologies and literacies.  This is further complicated by existing realities on the continent, as pointed out by another contributor:

‘The literacy divide. I’ve blogged here before about the fact that slowly growing rates of literacy and rapidly growing rates of mobile internet access might mean that inability to read, rather than lack of access to the technology, will soon become the key barrier to accessing the internet. There are lots of great examples of how mobile communications can be used to promote literacy, but the point still stands. And again, it’s largely up to governments to make sure that literacy expands fast enough to keep up.”

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