An Age of New Literacies

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Studying with my roommate in our apartment last week, I glanced at his computer screen and was dazzled by what I saw.

Instead of poring through the dense collection of information in a textbook in order to acquire knowledge about the content his class was covering, my roommate was participating in a virtual scientific laboratory experiment on his computer so lifelike that he was essentially wearing a white coat and doing the work in-person.

This is just one example relating to the slew given by Clive Thompson in chapter 4 of his book Smarter Than You Think, titled “The New Literacies.” Just as technology helped my friend attain a comprehension of material in a more effective and even intriguing form, the new literacies of today’s age are allowing people to peruse and understand a wealth of information in a better and more timely manner that is only possible with the help of a computer and its ever-developing software, and this is evident in the meticulous analysis and beneficial problem-solving that has resulted.

From a tool called Moodscope that helped one person dealing with depression track her moods and pinpoint the causes of it, to software allowing for the correction of corrupt politicians’ gerrymandering, the new literacies are affecting and improving the lives of people on both a personal and widespread scale.

The tool Wordle is even being used to highlight the most-used words of candidates in elections so that voters can uncover what they stand for the most. New literacies are evolving and increasingly becoming more relevant in the various doings of more and more people, and it’s easy to see why.

For a first-hand example, a Wordle is below. Click here for more information on new literacies.




mkozma's picture

Hey Gavin

Hey Gavin,

I personally am not a fan of the "Wordle," but you have some interesting points about how it is actually used for more psychological reasons in politics--which I also agreed was very thought-provoking in Thompson's chapter on new literacy as well. I also thought it was interesting how far technology has been taking this--the possibilities are endless!

I definitely agree with you that these new methods are more effective!

laurenew's picture

Technology is changing the future

Though I'm pretty awful with technology, I can definitely appreciate how much it's facilitated learning by offering a hands-on experience. I had never heard of Wordle until reading Thompson but it's pretty cool! As a political science major, I can also definitely appreciate the software exposing gerrymandering. Great post!