Digital Literacy & Common Sense

It’s been a while… A lot of impressions of the wonderfull things we’ve seen are left in our minds. The vast lands we’ve crossed, the wonders of nature we’ve seen and the beautiful early dwellings of native Americans, leave us humbled and in awe. This land is so different from our European roots, there’s so much space, so many things to see, distance becomes a mere vague accident, so inferior to beauty.

The (private) Facebook group we’ve created to keep in touch with our relatives is going strong. We try to post daily reports on what we’ve done that particular day and what the exeptional things were we’ve encountered. We take pictures and make short videos to record and share the things we’ve seen. People on the homefront are very gratefull for that, but not all is going as planned…

Although I’m amazed by the availability of wifi in the different hotels and locations we visit, not all the people we’d love to reach are comfortable with this new form of communication. A phonecall, for instance, was regarded as “more real” and “more assuring” than the digital timeline of our trip. Communicating via the web is experienced (by some) as “something out there” and less as “a heart to heart conversation”.

I guess the thing I’m talking about is digital literacy. To me this means “being able to rely on some basic technological skills that enable you to access information digitaly or communicate with others by means of new (non-linear) media”. A lot of people still struggle with this! For some the internet is a vast and dangerous landscape where digital pirates come after you to steal all of your treasures. It looks like a place where privacy is non-existent and where cybercriminals will follow your every move. The more optimistic person could have a different view on things, but let’s focus on the people who struggle with it. To them cyberspace is a land yet to be mapped and therefor only accessible by the bold and foolhearty.

It is such a big lesson to learn today, that the online world actualy runs on the same one and most important rule of all: “common sense”! A while ago I emailed Stephen Downes about this and he showed me that there is no difference between an offline and an online world (click here). If you don’t do the obvious “stupid things” online like you wouldn’t offline, you probably will be ok! Yet, it is this very thing that scares a lot of people, simply because our world is becomming less tangible. A lot of the things around us are happening digitally instead of phisically. Like the phonecall makes you in control of the conversation and you probably won’t be interupted by a total stranger, communication via Facebook is out of your control. You don’t have all the puppetstrings in hand anymore. So for me digital literacy has a lot to do with “letting go”, taking the step of not wanting to be in control, but instead surfing the wave of life and making the most out of it.

To be continued…

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