I'm sitting at my my desk while in the belly of the C4 building the Digital Media Literacy Summit is in full swing. I've been keeping half an eye on the blogs, particularly Robin Hamman and Kevin Anderson at the Guardian, and the half baked blinding-flash-of-the-obvious thought has just struck me that media literacy is really synonymous with communication skills.
This from Kevin:
- How can people be empowered with the skills, competencies and confidence to get the most out of Web 2.0 media in the ways they relate, interact, work and create today?
- How can 'critical thinking' and awareness about media - sources, editing and ownership - best be 'taught' or encouraged? And by whom?
- Is the Charter for Media Literacy still fit for purpose?
- What collaborations between government, the media industries, education and cultural organisations - as well as with parents and users - are needed to develop a media literate UK?
- What new opportunities for creativity and participation do Web 2.0 capabilities offer people as citizens or as consumers, and in their various communities?
Isn't this at its most basic form a way of thinking about our comms skills now? We used to define "good communication skills" (in CVs and elsewhere) as "being quite good at talking to people in person and on the phone, and generally ok at writing stuff down in a way other people can understand". And media literacy was about understanding how things got on telly, and trying to spot bias in newspaper articles.
Given our wired/wifi, socially networked, interactive world, where users are broadcasting as much as they're consuming. These two threads are intertwining. If we think about web natives (usually, but not exclusively, young folks), they need to know what they're broadcasting on the web when they construct their blog/facebook/myspace/a.n.other profiles. It's basically outward facing communication - how you project yourself and communicate yourself to others. They also want to be adept at translating the messages they receive from the wider media world, filtering for relevence, bias etc. So, inward bound comms - are you listening closely?
As the more and more organisations harness digital media as a mechanism for holding conversations with their audiences/consumers, in the same way that individuals harness it to converse with each other (facebook groups, blogs etc), digital media literacy is surely about helping people decode those conversations well.