Open Future NZ "Data? Confusion? Propaganda? Information? Truth?"

Information Literacy

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  All real education is self motivated and directed.  


The ideal of an WWWLink"Information Society" is a non-starter because governments and businesses and far too many individuals have a vested interest in making sure that you are so distracted by dis-information that you have no time and energy to do anything really useful or important.  Literacy in the age of the Internet involves much more than the simple ability to read. 

The public have responded to the Internet in unexpected ways.  Most people are unwilling to cope with the flood of email, and they've responded badly to spam and hackers and computer viruses.  The reaction of many has been to minimize their use of the Internet.  That's a negative response to the possibilities of the information age.  We need to engage positively, and that requires that as many of us as possible develop information literacy

Information literacy includes these things together: the confidence to build your own knowledge, to maintain private records of interesting data, to collect important ideas, to discuss your interests with others in an effort to build your own understanding, and to put on public record, if required, your present understanding or knowledge.  These things, together form a set of information literacy skills that everyone has a right to learn and to use. 

Widespread information literacy in the community would enable a process of continuous community learning.  Information literacy could act like a catalyst that enables social, business and political change. 

A significant problem is the word Information itself.  If the new data misleads you, makes you believe something that isn’t true, or interferes with your ability to act effectively it’s certainly not "information".  You own knowledge, particularly your own primary experience is the filter that helps you choose between alternative sources of information or dis-information. 

Our education system teaches us to ignore what we know and to seek information from "expert sources".  We have been taught to be vegetables, passive but absorbing by osmosis other peoples manure (their dodgy data) that's poured over us every day.  We are capable of understanding the motive behind alternative versions of "the news". 

The Internet allows you to actively pursue your own education.  One begins by finding people who share your interests and engaging in discussion with those people.  Those people will help you to see current events in different ways.  They will bring to your notice things you would otherwise not have seen.  Over time, in the process of discussion you will learn not only who these other people are, but a great deal about the diversity of the world.

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