Literacy 2.0 is more than a skill, more than a suite of tools, more than a capacity. It is an evolutionary adaptation. It is what we need in order to live with and within our technological creations. We have invented the swimming pool and now must learn to swim.
This is nothing new, of course.
One of the great ironies of human history is that as soon as we oh-so-cleverly create technologies to help us with such life tasks as getting water, growing food, getting rid of waste; making travel faster, easier and cheaper, making war faster, easier and more expensive; communicating across vast distances, peering inside our own bodies; curing diseases, curing ailments caused by our cures; and not to forget building shelters on land, or the sea, or on land we repossess from the sea in hurricane zones, we immediately must begin adapting to the changes we have wrought.
The examples fill thousands of excellent books and innumerable lousy PhD dissertations. Just think for a second about how we had to scramble to adapt ourselves to the Industrial Age. Many of the earliest machines we created for creating things required waterpower. Therefore, many of the first factories were built next to rivers. Factories also require workers, who in the early days of the original i-Age were spread out all over on farms and in small towns, villages and hamlets where they practiced individual crafts, grew crops, raised animals and occasionally picked their teeth with straw. To serve the factories we had to plow under the existing agriculture-centric social structure and put people in cities next to rivers–disrupting economic systems, family systems and all sorts of other old-reliable systems and also ringing the death knell for wedding night callathumps.
It was as if our technology lowered its voice, pointed its finger and said, “Build me a city!”
We did as we were told and promptly created new technologies to help us adapt to life in the cities. The cycle continues at this moment, only today instead of adapting to engines and conveyor belts we are adapting to ones and zeros. Once again, the social disruption is immense in scale. There is not one of our old-reliables that is not struggling to adjust. Healthcare, education, communication, manufacturing, finance, the military and all the rest are playing catch up and frenziedly reinventing themselves in an effort to be digital.
We are in the pool, and some of us are already busily winning 16 Olympic medals. Others are dogpaddling side to side. Still others are waist deep in the shallow end. Some are dipping their feet in. Some are pacing worriedly up and down the deck wondering when and how to get in. And finally, some are sitting in patio chairs with their arms crossed saying, “Not me.”
The thing is, no one has a choice. We all have to get in. We all have to adapt…to be aquatic…to grow digital gills.
Literacy 2.0 is a way of being in a world of our own making. It is, therefore, to be recognized as integral to the next iteration of a species that seems forever bent on giving itself a lot of catching up to do. Whatever the motivation, we keep pushing our limits to find out if we will sink or swim.
Last one in is a rotten egg!