By Pat Shelly
Where do you get most of your news of the world?
What are skills needed for digital literacy?
Do you use social media for any part of your school or professional work?
Will universal digital literacy lead to world peace?
The Age of Digital Literacy is Now
The University at Buffalo observed the 2016 International Education Week with lectures, film, student events, exhibits and a keynote: “The Media Revolution: What it Means for You” by Geneva Overholser.
She has worked as an editor, ombudsperson, journalist at many top papers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. She lived in and wrote from Paris and Kinshasa over a period of five years.
Overholser spoke of the radical change from traditional, or “legacy” media – newspapers, radio, network television, cable TV – to new media technologies. These include social networking, instant messaging, blogs (coined from “web” and “log”), internet video (YouTube), digital media sites (Vice, Vox, Gawker), radio podcasts, political news outlets (Politico, Democracy Now!), social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr). All are accessible from the palm of the hand through smart phones and other mobile devices.
The cost of such technology is becoming less and less expensive. One survey she cited found that Africa is leading the world in the rate of adoption of mobile internet use.
Ms. Overholser spoke to the necessity of being literate in this new realm of media. “[N]ow, thanks to new technology, EVERYBODY owns a press.” We are our own reporter, editor, and publisher. “… thanks to social media, each of us has a limitless, unmediated space for communicating with one another.”
We both consume and contribute to this public space.
What’s in your diet?
Living in the digital age also means maintaining an healthy diet while consuming media, and avoiding too much of the media junk food. This diet comes from “countless numbers of sources – a cacophony of information that runs the gamut from useless to reliable, from base to inspiriting.” She warned that anything anonymous lacks accountability. Regulating one’s diet has another dimension: sometimes we need to refrain from consuming toxic elements.