“Network literacy is not merely knowing about this, it is doing it. It is in this doing that we can understand that literacy is an applied knowing, or if you prefer a knowing through doing…it is marked by your participation – you contribute to them and in turn can share what others provide.”
This course has caused me to debunk all of my pre-ordained theories about what being network literate may mean. Simply using the Internet to share, consume, and produce media, as a high population of the world is able to do, does not make us literate. Rather, it is knowing about the consequences of all these actions, being able to validate what it is that you’re consuming, being aware of exactly who is viewing your content and how it is that they got there. It’s having ‘a deep understanding of the logistics and protocols of these networks’ (Miles, 2007).
In 1994, Charles McClure wrote that this kind of literacy was saved for the ‘elite few, typically academics, researchers, technology enthusiasts and “network junkies”’(p.115). Twenty years later and it seems that this reality has only shifted slightly. Taking an alarmingly long time to do so, this kind of learning has only just began to see implementation in education, while many begin to realise it is the way of the future.
So, what does the future therefore hold for an aspiring journalist such as me? One thing can be said for sure, is that there will be constant change. According to Adrian, part of being network literate is being comfortable with and recognizing the ‘day-to-day conditions of knowledge production and dissemination, and recognizing that all of this may change and appear differently in six months” (2007). Already, the journalism industry has undergone significant change, mainly with the introduction of online news, which can simultaneously posses ‘storage, immediacy, directness, freedom, diversity in perspectives, interactivity and multimedia capacity’ (Mei & Tan, 2011). In order to completely understand the broad possibilities that the web holds, journalists need to have an adequate level of network literacy, as it is their job to ‘contribute to (these networks) and in turn share what others provide’ (Miles, 2007).
In an industry that is focused primarily on quickly and succinctly distributing information to audiences, the ever-changing and growing network means that journalists must possess more than traditional journalistic skills. At once now, they must be able to dissipate the same story across all platforms of media. This includes a newspaper article as well as its online counterpart (which would facilitate a completely different structure), a TV broadcast segment, a radio broadcast segment. They must share it across all social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And they have to understand how the impact of the story alters according to the medium. This is having an understanding of mass media.
Although media could have once been labeled as a canonical source of information, this is no longer the case. Journalists not only have to compete with rival media organisations, but they are competing with the public itself. Citizen journalism has been a byproduct of the public becoming more network literate and participating in the interactive nature of networks. Learn more about that here.
McClure, Charles 1994, “Network Literacy: A Role for Libraries?” Information, technology and libraries, vol. 13, no. 2, pp.115-125
Miles, Adrian 2007, “Network Literacy: The New Path to Knowledge.” Screen Education Autumn no.45, pp. 24–30