Web Literacy the next must— using is not having control — Cycling vs Webmaking — An Open Invite

The term Web Literacy is under lot of confusion since different people have their own set of definitions. But, like any other literacy web literacy does not stop with just read and write. It includes a third and very important element of this digital century — Participate.

As a formal definition, the ability to read, write and participate in the web is known as web literacy. Even with this definition, there is lack of clarity on what is meant to be read, write and participate. Some people believe their ability to use the digital devices to access the web makes them a web literate.

However, having the complete control of their life over internet said to be a trait of web literates. Knowledge on using the web is different from having the knowledge of “How the web itself works” — the mechanism or operations that happen behind the screen when we read, write or participate in the web.

So, a web literate must have complete understanding of the mechanism behind the web which will help to have complete control of all his actions on the web. At several occasions during my presentations, there were lot of questions and concerns raised on the need of understanding how the web works to be a web literate.

The two things that we need everyone to understand are,

  1. Importance of Learning by Making
  2. Having complete control

I usually explain this to the audience with cycling analogy. One normally will not need any theoretical knowledge to start riding a cycle. One will learn on seeing others and trying the same themselves or with support from others.

Mostly, first few days of cycling will be very challenging and more chances of falling off. In the beginning it will be a bitter experience. However, more we continue to try again and again we will get better at it by learning by making mistakes.

For instance, once we slip off the cycle for not reducing the speed by applying break at the turns. Once we understood our mistake and the root cause for it to happen, it wont be repeated.

In short, once we understand how the cycling mechanism works we can then have the complete control of our cycling experience.

Likewise, to have the complete control of our life over the web it’s important to understand how it works. Using the web does not mean having control. But, in order to understand how the web works, it’s important to know about the building blocks of the web — the HTML, CSS, JS, Etc..,

Picture of initial brainstorming on the analogy taken 2 years back.

For many people, these building blocks of the web are for technical enthusiast but it’s no longer the case. They are the basics necessities to be a web literate and to have a controlled online life experience.

Mozilla with it’s Mozilla Learning projects taking effort in connecting people who are web literates with those who want to be web literates and/or those need to have control of their web presence. With their tools like, Mozilla Thimble and Light beam they have made it easy for any to show — 1. Web is not secure, we are being tracked 2. Learning of building blocks of the web are easy and simple — based on Learning by Making ideology.

With their impactful work on making well-informed citizens of the web. Mozilla is now started a new movement “Internet Health” to make Internet a much more better and safe place for everyone. To achieve such a point where Internet is healthy we are in need of addressing the five issues currently being faced,

  1. Open Innovation
  2. Digital Inclusion
  3. Decentralization
  4. Privacy and Security &
  5. Web Literacy

Personally, as a Community and Digital Literacy activist I will be contributing to two issues that I think can address the rest of the issue.

  1. Digital Inclusion
  2. Web Literacy

I am willing to form a team of like-minded people who are also interested in the above issues to comeup with effective solutions and projects that can address the issues.

If you have any suggestions or feedback please do share.

You can reach out to me at gauthamrajelango@gmail.com or twitter or facebook.