Thursday, October 14, 2004

Information Literacy: A New Frontier. This is a short editorial on information literacy written by Philippe Queau. It appeared in UNISIST Newsletter, V29, N2, 2001, pp. 3-4.

From the site:

Information Literacy is essential in an ever-growing and complex Information Society. Being literate in a world where the written word dominates not only requires good reading and writing skills, but also the ability to think critically, to read between the lines, to share ideas and to build collective action. Literacy in the Information Society also demands these skills but additionally, requires new mental and operational capabilities, enabling us to deal successfully with a highly fluid, evasive and yet strongly – though sometimes invisibly – structured environment. Not being able to attain the right level of literacy implies some degree of alienation, a dispossession of the right to fully and meaningfully participate in society. Conversely, being in command of the right mental tools engenders empowerment, the capacity to act and to think for oneself and for the common good.

Information Literacy, or the lack of it, is perhaps the most crucial facet of the so-called digital divide. But because it has very deep roots in the social and economic inequalities that govern access to education, it is much harder to solve than the provision of access to networks or to hardware.

In a globalized world, any divide is a threat to all. It must therefore be high on any global political agenda that strives to bridge the various divides that menace us. Among these, the Literacy Divide seems to me the crucial one to address and fix, because it is a precondition for self-empowerment.

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