Technology changes, moves, and advances at a higher rate every year. To continue to communicate effectively in our advancing world, we must constantly adapt to the new mediums of literacy. This is not an easy task for all involved and many get left behind. While learning a new medium of literacy can be difficult, it can still be an enjoyable experience. It can even provide a few laughs. There have been many phone calls from my grandpa, who is 87, about help with his new iPhone and Macbook. Teaching him how to text, use his email, log into Facebook, and all the passwords involved, is something that doesn’t come easy when most of your life consisted of picking up a phone and calling someone or writing on a piece of paper and mailing it with USPS. When he called me one day and said, “I’ve lost my Google!”, I just about died of laughter. It’s fascinating to watch one adapt to these new mediums of literacy, melding the old with the new.
Literacy’s history and effects on civilization have been debated by many scholars over many centuries. The topic is quite expansive and its effects can never be fully measured. Some scholars agree with one another and others disagree on its varying degrees of effects and influences. The topic will surely continue to be discussed for many years to come, as technology and media move us into new these new realms of reading and writing. James Gee, in his book Social Linguistics and Literacies, discusses interesting points about literacy’s effects and ideologies, and displays many different scholarly perspectives on the subject. He presents Brian Street’s ideological model of literacy which “claims for literacy, in particular for essay-text literacy values, whether in speech or writing, are thus “ideological.” They are part of “an armoury of concepts, conventions and practices”” (80). Gee continues that “literacy of whatever type—has consequences only if it acts together with a large number of other social factors, including political and economic conditions, social structure, and local ideologies” (80). In other words, literacy’s effects take place in conjunction with a large number of factors. Like my grandpa, he has witnessed first hand, many evolutions of literacy. As the world evolves in all aspects – politically, economically, socially – our literacy must evolve also. We all have the choice whether or not to evolve with it, and it is fun to see my grandpa making the effort.
Gee, James Paul. Social Linguistics and Literacies, 3rd ed., Routledge, 2008.