Sunday, July 25, 2010

danah boyd: Information Literacy and Engaged Citizenry

The New America Foundation recently published an article, "Community Media and Information Literacy in the Digital Age," that ties in nicely with community informatics and the importance of information literacy. The digital divide is not only about access to information, but it also includes an interpretation of information:
boyd argued that people need access to multiple interpretations of information and the training required to contextualize. She concluded her talk with a call to action, saying that while information is power, interpretation is even more powerful and government transparency is not enough. The facts do not always speak for themselves, after all.

Therefore, as boyd explains, government transparency is only one part of the equation. Literacy through engagement is often the catalyst that brings private citizens into public life. However, information literacy is still reserved for the privileged few.

I love this quote because it speaks to the heart of why intellectual freedom and democracy are so important today. If we want to reduce the digital divide among underserved populations, we must reach out and educate these communities on how to evaluate their resources. Then, these communities become engaged citizens who can more accurately interpret the world around them. Otherwise, we can only committing information overload.

UPDATE (9/16/2010): Librarian by Day has a similar post on how librarians play a vital role in 21st century literacies.

No comments: