There are a lot of ideas coming to life right now thanks to social media and networks. A year or so ago, I asked -- Has Web 2.0 has made you happier? Are your online relationships as productive or satisfying as your real ones? And if the answer here is "yes," do you have many real relationships?
Has Web 2.0 empowered your customer service people -- or just thinned out traditional marketing and personnel budgets? Are email, Twitter, and IM services helping you to communicate better -- or just flooding you with noise?
Have all the social bookmarking services brought you closer to great content, or has it just added to your workload? Has greater access to information about everything created more opportunity for learning and enriching thought -- or has it just created a bigger divide between those who can think critically and those who can't?
Two of the main cultural threads coming together are:
- the concern that the real time Web is destroying our ability to contemplate and process information thus impoverishing our critical thinking -- if you're reading this post on your iPad, while tweeting and IMing, bookmarking and sharing, you may see only the bolded words in the post
- the enormous potential of connecting readers with authors, artists and collectors, thinkers and doers, learners and knowledge, directly; the opportunity to collaborate, co-create, and crowdsource that comes from seeing what other people are working on
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as the "ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society."
Get there earlyI believe that every child at birth has the potential of Leonardo da Vinci.
Literacy is my passion cause, the reason why I buy tons of copies of How to Teach Your Baby to Read (Amazon affiliate link) so I can give the book to every expecting parent. Reading is the beginning of the gift of literacy, the gateway that opens up the world to a child. Parents are the first teachers.
Buy the book, enjoy the experience with your child, get there early.
Getting connectedThere are many other worthy organizations that help children, from the global to the very local. Here are a couple:
- Room to Read, founded by former Microsoft executive John Wood, collaborates with local communities, partner organizations and governments, to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond
- Pennies for Peace, founded by Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea
- Donors Choose is an online charity that grew out of a Bronx high school where teachers experienced first-hand the scarcity of learning materials in our public schools and wanted to connect donations directly to the schools/projects [hat tip RaynaNyc]
The Web is helping us connect with those organizations and follow the progress of their mission.
What about staying connected?Does TV help with literacy? You don't have to answer that, just think about it.
Linda Odell shared one of her favorite
moments with Literacy Kansas City, an agency focusing on teaching
adults to read, from a different student. On Facebook, she wrote about a middle-aged
man who spoke proudly of having progressed the the point of being able
to read "Little House on the Prairie." "I was really surprised," he
said, "to find out how much better the book was than the tv show."
There may or may not be a loose correspondence in the list of most literary cities and that of top cities on Twitter.
At TED, Ethan Zuckerman highlighted the issue that cripples social media and ultimately potentially the power of the internet to really connect humanity -- the fact that we have increasingly segregated conversations online imprisoned in filter bubbles and what he rather brilliantly called 'imaginary cosmopolitanism'. [hat tip Richard Huntington]
Indeed, in the words of a Sufi, "Knowledge that takes us not beyond ourselves is worse than ignorance." [hat tip Elik Şafak, TED]
Are we on board with the world of connection and possibility, are we looking beyond our own ideas, statistics, and world and using our gifts to reach out to others and share what we know? Or are we merely gravitating towards what we think we know?
Choose to make a difference today.
Buy How to Teach Your Baby to Read (Amazon affiliate link) for a colleague, a friend, yourself, or a stranger who is beginning the wonderful adventure of parenthood. Go find an organization that supports literacy. Or broaden your horizons in social media beyond the circle that follows you and agrees/disagrees with your every word. Stay connected.
PS: there are rumors today it's my birthday :)