Why Transliteracy? Bobbi’s Two Cents (or less)

The Fine Print:
First let me say that I’d would love to write an articulate well thought out response to all of the conversations I’ve seen popping up over libraryland the last couple of days (see list below).  I think these conversation are important and I apologize for not giving each of them the individual response and attention they deserve. Unfortunately, as they say, life trumps blogging and my time and energy is consumed by other issues right now. But I do feel I need to post something to here it goes…

Thank you Lane
I want to thank Lane for joining us here at L&T, he ha’s been a resounding success.

Our Goal(s)
When putting this project together I had two goals: 1. to bring in people who were smarter than me to work on it and 2. to bring in contributors from a wide range of prospectives, backgrounds and disciplines.  I think I’ve done a pretty good job of both if I do say so myself.   When we started this project the we said

Our goal is to be an ongoing resource for those interested in libraries and transliteracy. We will be sharing information related to transliteracy (the new literacies, media literacy, digital literacy, 21st century literacies).
If you are already interested in libraries and transliteracy we hope you’ll find useful information here. If you are not familiar with transliteracy we hope you will find the information you need to become as enthusiastic about the importance to libraries as we are.

Over the past year we have seen it develop into something more. One of the goals for the new year is more substantial posts addressing some of the issues that have been raised and Lane has us off to a great start.

What is and Why Transliteracy?
What appeals to me about transliteracy is that it is a unifying concept of literacy that encompasses all variations of literacy and does not value one form of literacy above the others.

As Renee Hobbs points out:

New types of texts and new types of literacies have been emerging over a period of more than 50 years. Many closely interrelated terms describe the new set of competencies required for success in contemporary society. These include terms like information literacy, media literacy, media education, visual literacy, news literacy,health media literacy, and digital literacy, among others. Each term is associated with a particular body of scholarship, practice and intellectual heritage, with some ideas stretching back to the middle of the 20th century and other ideas emerging in the past couple of years. These terms reflect both the disciplinary backgrounds of the stakeholders and the wide scope of the knowledge and skills involved.

These concepts must not be treated as competitors.

We can consider different types of literacy to be part of the same family. For example, information literacy has typically been associated with research skills.Media literacy typically has been associated with critical analysis of news, advertising and mass media entertainment. Health media literacy has been associated with exploring media’s impact on making positive choices related to nutrition, exercise,body image, violence and substance abuse prevention. Digital literacy is associated with the ability to use computers, social media, and the Internet”. – Digital and Media Literacy by Renee Hobbs

As for Meredith’s question:  “What real impact will it have on our patrons? How will it change the way we serve them? I feel like a cynical jerk sometimes, but I want to see results.”

Let me post a modification of my response on her blog – What sort of proof do you want?(real question, not snark) Transliteracy is a new concept in general and we are working to apply it and I’m ok with it being a work in progress (the blog is less than a year old). I understand that many people aren’t. They want clear rules, definitions guidelines, and measures and pie charts, but I’m not sure I am able to help them at this point. I’m ok with that too. Not in a mean way but in a I-can’t-do-everything-at-once sort of way.

We are reaching people and we are making them think about the needs of patrons in the 21st century and that is making a difference in the lives of our patrons or I wouldn’t be spending so much of my own time on it.

When I think about transliteracy I worry about the second class citizens the  Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, writes about:

“The information revolution is benefitting those in the middle class and up and, in a different way, many young residents of urban and suburban communities. They have never had greater access to more relevant information. But many Americans are in danger of remaining or becoming second-class citizens in the digital age, whether because of low income, language barriers, lack of access to technology, limited skills and training, community norms, or lack of personal motivation. The poor, the elderly, rural and small town residents, and some young people are most at risk. Those who belong to more than one of these groups are especially vulnerable. To take perhaps the most dramatic example of an enduring divide: “Only sixty-eight percent of households on Tribal lands have a telephone; only eight Tribes own and operate telephone companies; and broadband penetration on Indian lands is estimated at less than ten percent.” – Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age

The participation gap Jenkis et. al talk about in Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century by Henry Jenkins

The participation gap The unequal access to the opportunities, experiences, skills, and knowledge that will prepare youths for full participation in the world of tomorrow

and the digital divide and the vast number of organizations and institution that are talking about these issues and looking for solutions and never mention libraries. I think about the professional organizations both inside and outside of libraries creating standards for all the different literacies, they are all so disconnected but they are working towards a common goal. For me transliteracy is a way to bring them all together under one roof without favoring one over the other.

More on transliteracy in general:
Transliteracy lecture by Sue Thomas from IOCT on Vimeo.

Related Reading:

Why transliteracy?

I think I’ll back off the technical writing from the previous post and go from the gut in response to a common concern that keeps on cropping up in the general discussion about transliteracy. David Rothman frames the issue this way:

I can’t find anything on Libraries and Transliteracy that makes a compelling case for why the word should matter to librarians or what it means to you all aside from the need for libraries to be active in working with patrons in the use of new technologies (which is right, good, and almost universally agreed-upon without the need for the word ‘transliteracy’).

I can’t speak for everyone at Libraries and Transliteracy, but I can at least give a justification for why I am interested in transliteracy and why I think it is an important concept for librarians.

Read the rest of this entry »

Collaborative Consumption

One thing which excites me about Transliteracy is, because of its newness, the skills involved are not well-defined. It seems like many people interested in the topic have an “I know it when I see it” approach to identifying skills and these skew toward computer-related skills, which is entirely legitimate since the need to be transliterate most obviously manifests itself when confronted with a new technology. Of course, Transliteracy involves a whole swath of cognitive skills that transcend navigating new technology.

One factor that suddenly seems, to me, so essential to Transliteracy, and not, perhaps, a skill per se, is the issue of trust. This insight dawned on me while watching Rachel Botsman’s TED presentation. Because Transliteracy often concerns itself with social media, the development of trust becomes very important. To a certain extent, trust is a teachable skill and librarians invest a great deal of effort in instilling notions of trust. How do we trust that a web site is reliable? But beyond that, individuals need to learn how and when other individuals are trustworthy. In a way, this notion of trust seems an obvious component of Transliteracy, but it only recently dawned on me how essential it is to our discussion.

Watch what Botsman has to say about trust. Does it seem like trust is an important element of our conversation? How teachable is trust? Can the level of trust she talks about be taught or are we relying on a cultural shift?

Transliteracy and Incommensurability

Hi everyone! I’d like to thank everyone here at Libraries and Transliteracy for inviting me to participate in a valuable discussion. Here’s a start…

I’ve been thinking a lot about Matt Richtel’s recent New York Times article, “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction.” This article has generated a lot of buzz and some fruitful conversations. However, in looking at some of the responses to Richtel’s piece, I have come to recognize an interesting form of binarism pervading certain attitudes towards the future of education in the digital age. Whether past vs. future, digital vs. analog, book vs. ebook, or focus vs. distraction, the binary standpoint manifests itself in many ways, but the message is usually the same: we are in the midst of a paradigm shift between incommensurable literacies, outmoded pedagogical methods, or technological biases. For my first post here at L&T, I’d like to say something about the role of transliteracy in a world of supposed paradigm shifts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Please Welcome Our Newest Contributor – Lane Wilkinson.

Lane has been writing some great posts about transliteracy at his blog Sense and Reference so we are thrilled to welcome him on board.

Lane is a librarian at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he focuses on library instruction and reference services. Originally a doctoral candidate in philosophy, he spent five years as an adjunct philosophy instructor at various metro-Detroit universities. Following his interest in the philosophy of information, Lane made the move to full time librarianship in 2009. His research interests include the philosophy of information, information literacy, meta-ethics, and epistemology.

He writes about libraries, information, and philosophy at his blog, http://senseandref.blogspot.com.

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