About Beyond Literacy

Beyond Literacy is a thought experiment. A “what if” kind of investigation about something that is so close to us, so intimate, and yet also just a technology – a tool that can be improved or perhaps replaced.

This “book-like-thing” explores the possibility of a post-literate future. That is, a future in which literacy (reading and writing; visible language) has been displaced, replaced, or exceeded by a new or evolved capacity, capability or tool.

From the perspective of a literate person, the idea of a post-literate world seems frightening. It isn’t. At least it needn’t be. Beyond Literacy views this possibility not as some new Dark Age but instead as a kind of liberation of human ability and interaction. Beyond Literacy is about a positive future. Think about it as a search for Alphabet 2.0.

It is an experiment in scholarly communication. This is an “open book” in that it encourages and facilitates wide and diverse contributions. While I am the lead author and there is a core narrative that I have provided, Beyond Literacy has (and will have) numerous other authors, contributors, commentators, and creators. How it evolves over time will depend on this ecology of the interested.

Beyond Literacy is also an experiment in pedagogy. It is being created in conjunction with a graduate course at the iSchool, University of Toronto. The course, INF2301H – Special Topics in Information: Beyond Literacy, will put the students in the roles of learner, researcher, curator, and contributor in a network-based scholarly dialogue. They will create additional content for Beyond Literacy and they engage in dialogue about the concepts.

Beyond Literacy is intended to be a serious contribution but it is not a traditional piece of scholarship. Think of it as an incubator for some new ideas as well as a pilot for new ways of scholarly communication.

I hope you find Beyond Literacy stimulating and provocative, and I encourage you to join the discussion.

Michael RidleyMichael Ridley
October 2012


Comments are closed.