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Digital Literacy

Written By: Eric Suh on July 30, 2008 No Comment

Before embarking on the journey that is Education 140, I’ve always been taught that literacy stemmed from one’s ability to able to understandably read and write, and be able to communicate one’s reading and writing to others. However, as I’ve learned in the past 3 weeks in the class, the forms of literacy are shapeless and have no boundaries. Just last week, I was able to drive down to southern California to go camping with a few friends. After an extensive amount of texting each other back and forth, I began to realize that our little “digital conversations” is a form of literacy that is not only widespread in the communicative lives of many teenagers and young adults today, but for many, it is the predominate form of communication. Some would probably disagree with my argument that “cellular texting” is a form of literacy, but if texting is a way that enables and empowers many youths to communicate effectively to each other, why should it not be incorporated into our definition of literacy? Texting, in general, acts to shorten many words, and thus, can be a language in and of itself: lol represents “laugh out loud”, brb is “be right back”, cya shortens the lengthy phrase “see you later”. Texting, although completely disregarding spelling, grammatical usage, and correct sentence structure chooses to break these literal boundaries by its effective way of communication, shortening the length of time it takes to write, and thus, serving its purpose by being read quickly and then to be deleted afterwards.

To some, however, texting is as foreign as another language. While driving home, I texted my mom with the following message: “wll b H 4 din @ 6”, which translates into “will be home for dinner at six”. By rewriting my sentence into an effective message, I was able to save time and effort because I was driving and wanted to put my attention on the road rather than the message. It was at this time that my mother called me and asked me to decipher the message, which she thought was just a bunch of symbols. Any of my friends who would receive that message would be able to understand it instantly, but for people like my mother, texting may not be the best avenue for communication, and thus, I had to verbally say that I would be arriving home for dinner at 6. This was just something that I thought was pretty interesting, regarding literacy, and I hope to have more encounters with it in the future.

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