Media Literacy

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Media literacy is the concept that in a technologically advanced society, one must understand many types of media in addition to the written word. In order to interact with technologically advanced worlds, one must first understand the conventions of the mediums used. Literacy, in this context, denotes the ability to understand and participate in the use of new media. When watching a movie, because we have been exposed to the conventions of editing from a very young age, our brain is able to comprehend the flow of time and images in a cut. In this way a person must understand certain conventions of a medium in order to create new content, take old content and re-use it and to engage in the content. Henry Jenkins argues that being literate in new media landscapes encourages skills such as play, performance, appropriation, multitasking, distributed cognition, collective intelligence, judgment, transmedia navigation, networking, and negotiation.

To be able to participate in a growing Networked public sphere, Jenkins argues that citizens should focus less on what media is diong to use, instead subscribing to the more active approach of what we are doing with media. He stresses in his book, Convergence Culture, that in order to "fight against the corporate copyright regime, to argue against censorship and moral panic that would pathologize these emerging forms of participation, to publicize the best practices of these online communities, to expand access and participation to groups that are otherwise being left behind," we must make media literacy and the development of media skills a priority for children as well as adults, if we wish to become full participants in our culture [1]. He also promotes a shift away from self-contained learning in a formal classroom setting, towards a more communal, participatory mode of education. He suggests that to shape the future of media culture, "we need to rethink the goals of media education so that young people can come to think of themselves as cultural producers and participants, and not simply as consumers, critical or otherwise" [1].


[1]Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture. New York: New York University Press, 2006.