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Flipping Literacy

November 2, 2009

The boundaries and varieties of reading experiences continue to expand and evolve.
– Tom Peters

This quote comes from an article on Library Journal titled “The Future of Reading“.  It’s an interesting article questioning the future (and current state) of reading.

I like to think about the history of reading and our relationship to the written word over time. With the internet and digital media we’ve written a whole new chapter in the relationship between human and word (pun intended?). The internet has powerfully changed reading, and we’re only just coming into full stride in exploring the possibilities therein.

At the forefront of things-in-general is, once again, Google. Fast flip is a web application still in the Google labs phase. But it is worth checking out. It provides us with a platform for performing the now widespread reading skill of skimming and browsing a wealth of documents quickly. It’s a good example of  just how much reading has changed over the last decade.


Fast flip


Of course, I should check myself. When talking about reading, one inevitably, eventually, dives into the realms of issues of literacy. When I say that reading has changed with the internet, it has of course only changed for those who actively use the internet. The ability to read written words is a part of literacy, but literacy itself is a broad and complex concept, and a very relative one at that. It includes the ability to identify, interpret, understand not only text, but pictures (like graphs) and numbers. In addition, the concept of literacy can include being able to use and create text/pictures/numbers for communication and self-betterment. Put another way, literacy is about knowledge making and knowledge sharing.

Pondering the rate of change and the future of reading while considering issues of literacy, I just can’t help but think that there are a lot of people out there who fall further behind on the globally relative scale of literacy each time those of us who are digitally and internet connected make another distinguishable adjustment to the ways we read.

For a wealth of interesting discussions on literacy (in English) you can check out the key publications on the UNESCO site.

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