Tag: digital literacies (page 1 of 5)

Teaching kids about anonymity

This website, riskyby.design, is a project of the 5Rights Foundation. It does a good job of talking about the benefits and drawbacks of anonymity in a way that isn’t patronising.

Chat app with anonymous user

Online anonymity can take many forms, from pseudonyms that conceal “real” identities to private browsers or VPNs that allow users to be “untraceable.” There are also services designed specifically to grant users anonymity, known as “anonymous apps”.

Often conflated with privacy, true anonymity – the total absence of personally identifying information – is difficult to achieve in a digital environment where traces of ourselves are left every time we engage with a service. Anonymity is best considered on a continuum, ranging “from the totally anonymous to the thoroughly named”.

People have lots of reasons for being anonymous online. While anonymity affords a degree of protection to people like journalists, whistle-blowers and marginalised users, the lack of traceability that some types of anonymity offer may prevent people from being held accountable for their actions.

Source: Risky-By-Design | 5Rights Foundation

On the digital literacies of regular web users

Terence Eden opened a new private browsing window and started typing “https…” and received the results of lots of different sites.

He uses this to surmise, and I think he’s probably correct, that users conflate search bars and address bars. Why shouldn’t they? They’ve been one and the same thing in browsers for years now.

Perhaps more worrying is that there’s a whole generation of students who don’t know what a file system structure is…

There are a few lessons to take away from this.

  • Users don’t really understand interfaces
  • Computers don’t really understand users
  • Big Data assumes that users are behaving in semi-rational manner

Source: Every search bar looks like a URL bar to users | Terence Eden’s Blog

Nostalgia, friction, and read/write literacy 

I probably need to revisit this (and the references) but I really enjoyed reading Silvio Lorusso’s essay on computer agency and behaviour.

Alan Kay’s pioneering work on interfaces was guided by the idea that the computer should be a medium rather than a vehicle, its function not pre-established (like that of the car or the television) but reformulable by the user (like in the case of paper and clay). For Kay, the computer had to be a general-purpose device. He also elaborated a notion of computer literacy which would include the ability to read the content of a medium (the tools and materials generated by others) but also the ability to write in a medium. Writing on the computer medium would not only include the production of materials, but also of tools. That is for Kay authentic computer literacy: “In print writing, the tools you generate are rhetorical; they demonstrate and convince. In computer writing, the tools you generate are processes; they simulate and decide.”

Source: The User Condition, Silvio Lorusso