Monday, April 23, 2012

The State of Now: Digital Literacy

Jill Hurst-Wahl speaking at #140cuseLast week, I spoke at #140cuse, a social media conference that was really about "The State of Now."  Most speakers had 10 minutes for their presentations and I used mine to talk about digital literacy.

Since late 2011, I've been thinking about digital literacy more because of a consulting project I was involved in.  According to
Literacy represents a person’s ability to read, write, and solve problems using both spoken and written language. Digital literacy is the ability to apply those same skills using technology such as desktop computers, ebook readers and smartphones.
Yes, there are people all around us with smartphones and feature phones, but do those phones make them digitally literate?  No. Because a people can use a feature phone, does that mean that the person can use a laptop computer?  No.  And keep in mind that there are tasks that people often need to do that cannot be done on a smartphone like completing a job application or filing tax returns.

During my talk, I gave three important statistics (source):
  • "In New York State, almost 2.7 million households are not connected to the Internet."
  • In 2010, the US ranked 15th out of the top 31 countries in terms of broadband penetration.
  • Among the G7, the US ranks 5th in terms of broadband penetration.
Yes, all of the work we do to make information available digitally is important.  However, we can't forget that there is still a digital divide.  In fact, we all need to work to ensure that the divide is eliminated.

Addendum (5/7/2012): Here is the video of my presentation.

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