As I think back to my earliest memory of engaging with technology in a way that could be considered to be representative of technological Literacy (the use of the uppercase ‘L’ is intentional), I am led to believe that we, as a society in the current digital age, may be hard pressed to find a significant number of people, who are considered to be actively participating members of our society who do not fit into the box of being technologically Literate.
I understand Literacy as a concept that is based on the status quo and judged against a baseline of what is deemed necessary to participate in the society in which one lives. Almost every aspect of the communicative and participatory natures of our lives has been digitized to some degree. From making phone calls to digitized monetary dealings: we can not exist in this society, in this day and age, without being technologically Literate.
Given the above, I realize that I have always been technologically Literate.
I’ve always been able to exist and do what has been asked of me from a technological perspective. The question of how technologically Literate I am–the notion of comparing my current technological Literacy level to a bar of how technologically Literate one may be–is, however, difficult for me to wrap my head around.
While serving in the military, I worked at the National Security Agency (NSA) and learned to utilize technologies in ways that may surprise many.
I began working at the NSA as a technologically Literate person. I was able to utilize technology in a way that made existing and participating in the society in which I live possible.
While working at the NSA, I developed new technological literacies. These new literacies did not increase my ability to exist within and participate in general society because the new literacies were useful for the specialized communities of society to which the general public (laypeople) do not belong.
For example, knowing how to send an e-mail to a family member, friend, or work associate detailing a change in plans, an occasion to celebrate, or merely sending a greeting is an example of being technologically Literate in the sense of being able to exist within and participate in society. However, opening up an e-mail and adding security caveats, limiting who can see what in the process before sending the e-mail itself represents a set of developed literacies that build upon one’s technological Literacy. The key here is, however, that one’s technological literacy is built upon in a way that does not raise the bar of what is considered technologically Literate as a baseline for everyone participating in society, but what is a possessed literacy for those participating in a particular subdivision of greater society.
Therefore, I believe that determining how technologically Literate I am is a fairly simple task.
I am currently typing this autobiography on technological Literacy using a personal computer and will transfer it to a WordPress blog that I have created which exists online in order to meet the requirements for a class that I am taking which is titled “Digital Writing”. If we are to use the baseline argument for determining technological Literacy (as I have presented it) in gauging my level of technological Literacy, I would say that I have met the societal baseline and am therefore wholly technologically Literate in regards to existing and participating in society through technology.
When we begin to look at subdivisions of society and how technological literacies exist within those subdivisions, I believe that the idea of there being a bar of knowledge (to which people can aspire) comes into play.
While I may be considered to hold a moderately high amount of technological literacies related to my specific category of work done at the NSA, I would be considered to hold next to no technological literacies about the work done by nuclear engineers in a high-security power plant. Likewise, while I may be considered to hold a moderately high amount of technological literacies related to Microsoft Word (by virtue of being a WRD student), a student whose major does not engage with essay writing to the degree to which writing majors do may have a lesser amount of technological literacies related to Microsoft Word, but more literacies related to their major’s technology of choice.
While determining whether one is technologically Literate is a fairly straightforward and objective determination to be made overall, once we begin to consider how society is divided into different segments it becomes obvious that technological literacies must be judged subjectively and based upon the bars set by the subdivision of the society in question.
I am technologically Literate, however, my possessed technological literacies vary in degree according to which subdivision of the population’s bar of sought after literacies my possessed literacies are being judged against.
My life experience with technological Literacy and technological literacies has taught me that the notion of Literacy and literacies are much more nuanced than many are led to believe.