Littered with Literacies

In the Digital Age, new literacies are popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain.

New digital tools and applications are causing new literacies to emerge the way the first spoken words required the development of syntax and the first writing implements led to reading.

The advent of the cell phone and the smartphone, for example, spawned the new literacies of texting and tweeting. Digital cameras gave birth to the need for image editing skills. The Internet and browsers required us to develop new forms of information literacy. Facebook exploded on the scene with a suite of new literacies for connecting and interacting online. Videogames begat new literacies for puzzle solving and navigation in virtual spaces. The list goes on.

The emergence of new literacies is not unusual in human history, but the pace at which they are arriving is. Our electronic creations are morphing at the speed of light and with them the literacies we need to survive and thrive. Many of the new literacies are learned formally. Many more are acquired in a kind of osmosis that occurs as we engage in the everyday world using our new hardware and software.

Our ability to flex, adapt and respond to the changing realities of the Digital Era–or any era–depends on our ability to acquire new literacies as they arise. It is an ongoing and never-ending process.

Literacy 2.0 is not digital literacy on steroids, as some would define it. And it is not merely the next step after traditional literacy (Literacy 1.0). It is the basket that holds all the skills, attributes and attitudes we need for living in the Digital World. It’s the whole package of new and emerging literacies.

Keeping track of the new literacies is a literacy itself. So, in this post, let’s see how many literacies we can identify. Anyone is invited to add to the list, insert a definition, or argue against any of the entries.

You’ll see that some of the literacies in the list existed long before the Digital Era, but they are included because they have acquired new meaning and new importance in a Literacy 2.0 context.


device literacy
media literacy
information literacy
interface literacy
emotional literacy
social media literacy
health literacy
mobility literacy
software literacy
identity literacy
ICT literacy
copyright literacy
IT literacy
textual literacy
financial literacy
cyber security literacy
presentation literacy
visual literacy
political literacy
privacy literacy
broadband literacy
digital policy literacy
biocultural literacy
screen literacy

navigation literacy
connectivity literacy
context literacy

ethical literacy


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  • Philip Merrill

    “broadband literacy” (FCC) & “ICT literacy” (UNESCO) are also in use, not that I think they add anything so meaningful to your list. Personally your “IP literacy” works for me, but I note that some prefer “copyright literacy” or the broader “IPR literacy” – I think mostly to distinguish intellectual property from Internet protocol.

  • admin

    Your suggestions have been added to the list. Thanks.

  • …………….Higher education discourse is clotted with a surfeit of claims made by advocates lobbying to attain the status of a literacy for the particular configuration of abilities skills or forms of knowledge and competency fostered within their purview. The Chronicle to give just a few examples has carried a that in the end we are all poorly served by an academic community that does not promote biocultural literacy and of major foundation support for digital-media literacy.

  • admin

    The Library Developments blog ( posted these new literacies, which make good additions to the list:
    * Screen Literacy – involving learning new graphics and symbols
    * Navigation Literacy – involving navigating the internet
    * Connectivity and Context Literacy
    * Ethical Literacy



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