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Computers and Phones are not just machines meant to serve a single purpose. For technology that has been around only for a few decades, interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships have seen a change. While society has been used to print literacy – the ability to, and the understanding of how to create and disseminate paper products – recent technological booms have shifted Print Literacy to Digital Literacy. Switching from Print to Digital Literacy has revolutionized connection and communication between individuals while simultaneously allowing for more intricate expression of self.
In this digital age, social media and software innovations have played an enourmous role in expressing identity and accentuating talents. As people become more literate with technology, their capabilities of expression increase. Sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter allow for the voicing of opinions and the showcasing of self. Though self-expression was certainly possible with print literacy, knowledge of how to operate digital technologies leads to more efficient, and more powerful forms of creation. Expression can now take the form of memes, images, and posts, while still utilizing old print forms such as papers, essays, poems, and articles. One can define themselves and develop an identity through digital literacy. Digital Literacy, as opposed to print literacy, allows the publisher to be anybody. For example, if one wished to publish a book of poems fourty years ago, they would have to filter through an editor, a designer, and many other individuals and corporations before their work sees any release (Doctorow “Publishers and the internet…”). However, during the digital age, a student could be literate in the core spacing functions in Microsoft Word to create poetry that conveys messages through negative space. No legal hurdles or age restrictions are preventing the freedom of speech on the internet. An individual is free to create a blog that can express one’s personal side and work. Most importantly, this process of expression is instantaneous, allowing for a constant stream of content to a worldwide audience; something nearly impossible with only Print Literacy. Web sites enable public portfolios, as opposed to having a single solid collection one has to haul to interviews constantly. When one posts online, their content stays there forever and reaches a worldwide audience. The Digitally Literate are not bogged down by the limitations of physical print. Also, an abundance of new programs and software and their integration in society calls for more digitally literate individuals than ever. One is unlikely to become a skilled web designer without being familiar with Adobe software. Publishing standards have shifted to accommodate technology as well. People must be able to express ideas through a range of media (Jones 7). One can be skilled at writing, an integral part of print literacy, but by using digital literacy, their writing can improve. Online dictionaries, programs to improve grammar, automatic citation generators – these are all benefits for the Digitally Literate. Digital Literacy is a new realm where analysis, synthesis, and evaluation can be enhanced (Jones 4). A talent or a passion can be strengthened with a piece of software, as technology can act as an extension of one’s personality. Comedians can use the publicity of Twitter to tell jokes and broaden an audience. Instagram is where budding photographers can hone their skills. Tumblr is a place where the artist can create and develop their talents, free of censors and design trends. Social Media and new software and technologies mean that expressionism is incredibly easy for the Digitally Literate.

By switching to Digital Literacy, society has the capability to become more interconnected than ever before. Knowledge of social media can allow anybody, whether it be a child or a grandparent, to connect with anybody. Because everybody is constantly connected, online communities and local communities have been able to prosper. Using only Print Literacy, an advertisement would be inefficient. Posters made solely by hand would hardly be enough to advertise events. However, by using mass emails, social media, and web pages, the digitally literate can communicate to their audience more effectively. Children, too, despite societal qualms that they are too absorbed in technology, see social media as “cultural forms” (Buckingham 1). Social media for teens is a way to become aware and engage in problems, not run away from them. Celebrities and authors, for example, are no longer separate from their audience. Authors are no longer seen through scarce encounters and group meetups, and a complete stranger can see a celebrity’s personal social media. If one of these celebrities uses the connective methods of Digital Literacy, then they can bolster their popularity even more. If an author directly interacts with fans on Twitter or replies to e-mails, then they are using Digital Literacy. Having a consistently positive image is proficient digital literacy. Connectivity is not limited to local communities anymore. The internet and online gaming allow for communities to formulate between individuals from separate continents. Those who are proficient in gaming or social networks can communicate to their family and long-distance friends. People are no longer restricted to being pen pals. Furthermore, the digitally literate can obtain more news and information efficiently. Social media allows for primary accounts of events, free of propaganda and sensationalism. Video footage leads the way into believable accounts, and the worldwide connectivity allows for moral and fiscal support for those struggling. The digitally literate can be more aware of world issues through articles, essays, forum posts, and videos. The constant connectivity also means that people no longer have to wait for a daily paper; people get their news instantaneously now. Boosted connectivity also allows the digitally literate to personalize and filter through sources they do not trust. Print literacy limits connectivity with the world, as it adheres to a time frame, and news is chosen with local issues in favour of global ones. The local newspaper is limited in its information capacity. The internet for the Digitally Literate provides bountiful connectivity with individuals for their information and relationships.
Though it is somewhat daunting, as society progresses, the digitally literate thrive. Those who wish to improve skills and express themselves more effectively can benefit from countless websites and online programs. Digital Literacy is paramount is boosting connectivity with friends locally and strangers worldwide. As print methods slowly become more and more archaic, society is faced with the challenge of adopting newcomers into the digital age. Tutorials, spoken wisdom, and classes can help newcomers adapt to changing times. The death of Print Literacy is not one to be feared, but one that should be embraced as culture shifts to the digitally literate.

Sources:

Jones, B., and Suzanne L. Flannigan. “Connecting the digital dots: Literacy of the 21st century.” Educause Quarterly 29.2 (2006): 8-10.

Buckingham, David. “Defining digital literacy.” Medienbildung in neuen Kulturräumen. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2010. 59-71.

Doctorow, Cory. “Publishers and the Internet: A Changing Role | Cory Doctorow.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2011. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.

Marsh, Jackie. Popular culture, new media and digital literacy in early childhood. Psychology Press, 2005.

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