CritLit2010: Filtering the truth and more

[I hesitated to use the tag CritLit2010 of the new connectivist online course because I am not really a participant, and I followed almost none of its activities. But even only skimming and reading the interesting headings, does inspire me to think about the topic of Critical Literacies, especially in conjunction with this week’s focus on pragmatics.]

When politicians argue, it is often not important whether they say something that is true but why they say it. For me this is a good example of pragmatics, and it affects the skill of critical judgement beyond the truth analysis of an assertion.

Similarly, the literacies required for an internet user are more than critical examination of sources and the truth of statements. But they seem to be so strikingly related to the critical evaluation that they are almost synonymous. Why is that?

I think it is because the basic skill for the internet citizen is to filter and cope with the abundance and find the gems. This is the new “cognitive tool” whose permeation is comparable with the development from the oral tool to the literal tool that K. Egan described so impressively.

Since the new literal tools were associated with great new intellectual affordances (arising from the new asynchronous processing mode, e. g. more abstraction), “literacy” became strongly connotated with superior intellectual capabilities and is sometimes almost synonymous with “erudition“.

Similarly, the skill of filtering truth from abundant resources, is associated with, or akin to, many more essential abilities for benefitting from the wealth of the internet through filtering and selection and picking skills. These range from evaluating the truth of a single source, to the trustworthiness of a whole site, to recognizing the relevance of a single source and the trust that a certain site rarely contains irrelevant contents; to the quick determination whether a resource contains relevant ideas (via scanning and skimming), to the often unexplainable detection of content or writers that “strike a chord” or “resonate” with one’s own immediate interests and thinking patterns (a concept that Jenny brought to my attention and has intrigued me ever since, leading to great discussions with her).

Therefore, I think, many more internet era literacies are connotated with the critical evaluation in the narrow sense, and hence the term critical literacy may become synonymous for much more, just like literacy is synonymous for much more than reading and writing. In particular, the skill of trusting the right sites and people, is essential for me, because I cannot evaluate the truth of all the information by myself alone.

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