From media literacy to digital skills

By Jan van Dijk,

Alexander van Deursen [29]

Media literacy as a concept was invented for traditional media, specifically print media and broadcast media. With the arrival of the computer, the Internet and other digital media the question rises whether this concept can simply be extended to cover these new media or that these media have different characteristics and usage opportunities requiring other types of literacy. This is the core question in this paper.

Media literacy builds on different underlying concepts and there is no agreement on what media literacy exactly is. There is an overabundance of related terms, e.g., print literacy, audiovisual literacy, critical literacy, oral literacy. A fairly common and broad concept of media literacy is defined by Potter (2004, p. 58-59): “Media literacy is the set of perspectives from which we expose ourselves to the media and interpret the meaning of the messages we encounter. We build our perspectives from knowledge structures. The knowledge structures form the platforms on which we stand to view the multifaceted phenomenon of the media: their business, their content, and their effects on individuals and institutions. (.) The more people use these knowledge structures in mindful exposures, the more they will be able to use media exposures to meet their own goals and the more they will be able to avoid high risks for negative effects.”

This definition is a bit broader than the usual ones, such as those of Pattison (1982), Aufderheide (1993), Silverblatt (1995), Messaris (1998) and Meyrowitz (1998), that purely define media literacy in terms of knowledge of the media. Potter and some others such as Hobbs (1996), Brown (1998) and Adams & Hamm (2001) add the notion of skill. Potter (2004, p. 59) lists a number of skills of media production and seven primary cognitive skills required to attain knowledge: The skills of production (writing, photography, acting, directing; editing, sound recording, etc.) can help people become more media literate by adding more information to their knowledge structures. But the production skills are secondary to the more primary skills of analysis, evaluation, grouping, induction, deduction, synthesis, and abstracting.

Potter and many others working with the traditional concept of media literacy develop a cognitive view on literacy. However, it is doubtful whether even this enlarged concept of media literacy as media knowledge and cognitive (intellectual, analytical) skills to process media messages is broad enough to capture everything that is required to successfully use digital media as they require not only knowledge and cognitive skills but also practical skills of (trans) actions, interactions and all kinds of applications in work, education and leisure time. We will come back to this question below.

In 1981 the term computer literacy was published in the Washington Post (Warschauer, 2003, p. 111). The concept as descried was very narrow and only indicated basic forms of computer operation, like turning on a computer, opening a folder and saving a file. Unfortunately, such narrow definitions of literacy required for computer use have remained customary since that time. Broader concepts appeared under the names of information literacy, computer literacy and digital literacy. The American Library Association (1989) introduced the concept of information literacy indicating that one has the ability to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate and use it effectively. The concept of computer literacy and digital literacy have been used more often. Paul Gilster (1997: 1) defined digital literacy as “the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers”. Clearly, in all these definitions use is put on an even par with media knowledge.

Mark Warschauer (2003, p.111-119) composed a summary of types of literacy required in working with computers and networks. He made a list containing computer literacy, information literacy, multimedia literacy and CMC-literacy. He defined computer literacy as basic forms of computer and network operation, information literacy as managing vast amounts of information and multimedia literacy as the ability to understand and produce multimedia content. He added Computer-Mediated Communication literacy as the skill to manage online communications (email, chatting, video-conferencing) in an effective way keeping to the rules of ‘netiquette’.

A Dutch SCP-research team (Van Dijk, L. et al., 2000) has tried to extend the traditional literacy of print media with numeracy (handling numbers, calculating) and informacy (having the specific skills needed to use and understand ICTs). Finally, the most general definition came from Cees Hamelink. He did not use the concept of literacy, but proposed information capital, as used in the tradition of Bourdieu’s forms of capital (Hamelink, 2001). It indicates four abilities: 1) the financial ability to pay for the costs of computers and networks, 2) the technical skill to deal with them, 3) the capacity to filter and evaluate information and 4) the motivation to look for information and the capacity to use this information in society. This concept is extremely broad; the first ability clearly indicates that it means more than skills. In fact it has become a synonym for access.

Jan van Dijk (2005) further developed the concept of media literacy and used the term digital skills. He regarded digital skills as a sequence of operational skills, information skills and strategic skills needed to work with computer media. Strategic skills refer to the ability to use digital media as means to reach particular personal and professional goals in daily life. Additionally, he made an attempt to apply these three types of skill to print media, audiovisual media and computer media (Van Dijk, 2005, p. 74-75).


1. Formulate the general idea of the text.

2. What does the author mean by saying that “the Internet today is a widespread information infrastructure, the initial prototype of what is often called the National (or Global or Galactic) Information Infrastructure’?

3. What components does the term ‘information literacy’ include?

From media literacy to digital skills -

Fig. 4.5 Information Literacy Components

4. What does the term ‘media literacy’ mean? Use the figures below.

From media literacy to digital skills -

Fig. 4.6 Media Literacy Curriculum Model

From media literacy to digital skills -

Fig. 4.7 Assesment Criteria For Media Lteracy Levels

5. What does the term ‘digital skills’ mean?

6. Do you remember your first experience of using the Internet?

7. How often do you use the Internet?

8. Describe the chart below.

From media literacy to digital skills -

Chart 4.2 Internet Users Per 100 Inhabitants

9. Describe the tables below

Table 4.1 Table 4.2

Internet Users Internet User by Region

Internet users
World population 6.5 billion 7 billion
Not using the Internet 82% 65%
Using the Internet 18% 35%
Users in the developing world 8% 22%
Users in the developed world 10% 13%
Users in China 2% 8%
Internet users by region
  2006b 2011a,b
Africa 3% 13%
Americas 39% 56%
Arab States 11% 29%
Asia and Pacific 11% 27%
Commonwealth of Independent States 13% 48%
Europe 50% 74%

10. Summarize the text.

Text 6

Social Network Sites

By Danah M. Boyd,

Nicole B. Ellison[30]

Social network sites (SNSs) are increasingly attracting the attention of academic and industry researchers intrigued by their affordances and reach.

Since their introduction, social network sites (SNSs) such as MySpace, Facebook, Cyworld, and Bebo have attracted millions of users, many of whom have integrated these sites into their daily practices. As of this writing, there are hundreds of SNSs, with various technological affordances, supporting a wide range of interests and practices. While their key technological features are fairly consistent, the cultures that emerge around SNSs are varied. Most sites support the maintenance of pre-existing social networks, but others help strangers connect based on shared interests, political views, or activities. Some sites cater to diverse audiences, while others attract people based on common language or shared racial, sexual, religious, or nationality-based identities. Sites also vary in the extent to which they incorporate new information and communication tools, such as mobile connectivity, blogging, and photo/video-sharing.

Scholars from disparate fields have examined SNSs in order to understand the practices, implications, culture, and meaning of the sites, as well as users' engagement with them. This special theme section of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication brings together a unique collection of articles that analyze a wide spectrum of social network sites using various methodological techniques, theoretical traditions, and analytic approaches. By collecting these articles in this issue, our goal is to showcase some of the interdisciplinary scholarship around these sites.

We define social network sites as web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site.

While we use the term "social network site" to describe this phenomenon, the term "social networking sites" also appears in public discourse, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. We chose not to employ the term "networking" for two reasons: emphasis and scope. "Networking" emphasizes relationship initiation, often between strangers. While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice on many of them, nor is it what differentiates them from other forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC).

What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks. This can result in connections between individuals that would not otherwise be made, but that is often not the goal, and these meetings are frequently between "latent ties" (Haythornthwaite, 2005) who share some offline connection. On many of the large SNSs, participants are not necessarily "networking" or looking to meet new people; instead, they are primarily communicating with people who are already a part of their extended social network. To emphasize this articulated social network as a critical organizing feature of these sites, we label them "social network sites."

While SNSs have implemented a wide variety of technical features, their backbone consists of visible profiles that display an articulated list of Friends1 who are also users of the system. Profiles are unique pages where one can "type oneself into being" (Sund?n, 2003, p. 3). After joining an SNS, an individual is asked to fill out forms containing a series of questions. The profile is generated using the answers to these questions, which typically include descriptors such as age, location, interests, and an "about me" section. Most sites also encourage users to upload a profile photo. Some sites allow users to enhance their profiles by adding multimedia content or modifying their profile's look and feel. Others, such as Facebook, allow users to add modules ("Applications") that enhance their profile.

The visibility of a profile varies by site and according to user discretion. By default, profiles on Friendster and are crawled by search engines, making them visible to anyone, regardless of whether or not the viewer has an account. Alternatively, LinkedIn controls what a viewer may see based on whether she or he has a paid account. Sites like MySpace allow users to choose whether they want their profile to be public or "Friends only." Facebook takes a different approach—by default, users who are part of the same "network" can view each other's profiles, unless a profile owner has decided to deny permission to those in their network. Structural variations around visibility and access are one of the primary ways that SNSs differentiate themselves from each other.

After joining a social network site, users are prompted to identify others in the system with whom they have a relationship. The label for these relationships differs depending on the site—popular terms include "Friends," "Contacts," and "Fans." Most SNSs require bi-directional confirmation for Friendship, but some do not. These one-directional ties are sometimes labeled as "Fans" or "Followers," but many sites call these Friends as well. The term "Friends" can be misleading, because the connection does not necessarily mean friendship in the everyday vernacular sense, and the reasons people connect are varied (boyd, 2006a).

The public display of connections is a crucial component of SNSs. The Friends list contains links to each Friend's profile, enabling viewers to traverse the network graph by clicking through the Friends lists. On most sites, the list of Friends is visible to anyone who is permitted to view the profile, although there are exceptions. For instance, some MySpace users have hacked their profiles to hide the Friends display, and LinkedIn allows users to opt out of displaying their network.

Most SNSs also provide a mechanism for users to leave messages on their Friends' profiles. This feature typically involves leaving "comments," although sites employ various labels for this feature. In addition, SNSs often have a private messaging feature similar to webmail. While both private messages and comments are popular on most of the major SNSs, they are not universally available.

Not all social network sites began as such. QQ started as a Chinese instant messaging service, LunarStorm as a community site, Cyworld as a Korean discussion forum tool, and Skyrock (formerly Skyblog) was a French blogging service before adding SNS features., a directory of school affiliates launched in 1995, began supporting articulated lists of Friends after SNSs became popular. AsianAvenue, MiGente, and BlackPlanet were early popular ethnic community sites with limited Friends functionality before re-launching in 2005-2006 with SNS features and structure.

Beyond profiles, Friends, comments, and private messaging, SNSs vary greatly in their features and user base. Some have photo-sharing or video-sharing capabilities; others have built-in blogging and instant messaging technology. There are mobile-specific SNSs (e.g., Dodgeball), but some web-based SNSs also support limited mobile interactions (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, and Cyworld). Many SNSs target people from specific geographical regions or linguistic groups, although this does not always determine the site's constituency. Orkut, for example, was launched in the United States with an English-only interface, but Portuguese-speaking Brazilians quickly became the dominant user group (Kopytoff, 2004). Some sites are designed with specific ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, political, or other identity-driven categories in mind. There are even SNSs for dogs (Dogster) and cats (Catster), although their owners must manage their profiles.

While SNSs are often designed to be widely accessible, many attract homogeneous populations initially, so it is not uncommon to find groups using sites to segregate themselves by nationality, age, educational level, or other factors that typically segment society (Hargittai, this issue), even if that was not the intention of the designers.

Popular press coverage of SNSs has emphasized potential privacy concerns, primarily concerning the safety of younger users (George, 2006; Kornblum & Marklein, 2006). Researchers have investigated the potential threats to privacy associated with SNSs. In one of the first academic studies of privacy and SNSs, Gross and Acquisti (2005) analyzed 4,000 Carnegie Mellon University Facebook profiles and outlined the potential threats to privacy contained in the personal information included on the site by students, such as the potential ability to reconstruct users' social security numbers using information often found in profiles, such as hometown and date of birth.

Acquisti and Gross (2006) argue that there is often a disconnect between students' desire to protect privacy and their behaviors, a theme that is also explored in Stutzman's (2006) survey of Facebook users and Barnes's (2006) description of the "privacy paradox" that occurs when teens are not aware of the public nature of the Internet. In analyzing trust on social network sites, Dwyer, Hiltz, and Passerini (2007) argued that trust and usage goals may affect what people are willing to share—Facebook users expressed greater trust in Facebook than MySpace users did in MySpace and thus were more willing to share information on the site.

In another study examining security issues and SNSs, Jagatic, Johnson, Jakobsson, and Menczer (2007) used freely accessible profile data from SNSs to craft a "phishing" scheme that appeared to originate from a friend on the network; their targets were much more likely to give away information to this "friend" than to a perceived stranger. Survey data offer a more optimistic perspective on the issue, suggesting that teens are aware of potential privacy threats online and that many are proactive about taking steps to minimize certain potential risks. Pew found that 55% of online teens have profiles, 66% of whom report that their profile is not visible to all Internet users (Lenhart & Madden, 2007). Of the teens with completely open profiles, 46% reported including at least some false information.

Privacy is also implicated in users' ability to control impressions and manage social contexts. Boyd (in press-a) asserted that Facebook's introduction of the "News Feed" feature disrupted students' sense of control, even though data exposed through the feed were previously accessible. Preibusch, Hoser, G?rses, and Berendt (2007) argued that the privacy options offered by SNSs do not provide users with the flexibility they need to handle conflicts with Friends who have different conceptions of privacy; they suggest a framework for privacy in SNSs that they believe would help resolve these conflicts.

SNSs are also challenging legal conceptions of privacy. Hodge (2006) argued that the fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution and legal decisions concerning privacy are not equipped to address social network sites. For example, do police officers have the right to access content posted to Facebook without a warrant? The legality of this hinges on users' expectation of privacy and whether or not Facebook profiles are considered public or private.

To differentiate the articulated list of Friends on SNSs from the colloquial term "friends," we capitalize the former.

Although one out of seven teenagers received unwanted sexual solicitations online, only 9% came from people over the age of 25 (Wolak, Mitchell, & Finkelhor, 2006). Research suggests that popular narratives around sexual predators on SNSs are misleading—cases of unsuspecting teens being lured by sexual predators are rare (Finkelhor, Ybarra, Lenhart, boyd, & Lordan, 2007). Furthermore, only .08% of students surveyed by the National School Boards Association (2007) met someone in person from an online encounter without permission from a parent.


1. What does the term ‘social networks sites’ mean? Use the figures 4.8-4.9.

2. What SNS do you know?

3. What SNS do you use?

4. How do you think, what are the purposes of the SNS ideally and in real life?

5. What makes social network sites unique?

6. What is the backbone of SNS?

7. Name some SMS which require bi-directional confirmation for friendship.

8. Name some SMS which don’t require bi-directional confirmation for friendship.

9. What do you think about safety of younger users within SMS?

From media literacy to digital skills -

Fig. 4.8 Social Media Components

From media literacy to digital skills -
Fig. 4.9

10. Summarize the text.

Text 7

History of E-books

By Marie Lebert[31]

The book is no longer what it used to be. The electronic book (ebook) was born in 1971, with the first steps of Project Gutenberg, a digital library for books from public domain. It is nearly 40years old, already. But this is a short life compared to the 5-century old print book. The internet went live in 1974, with the creation of the protocol TCP/IP by Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn. It began spreading in 1983 as a network for research centers and universities. It got its first boost with the invention of the web by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990, and itssecond boost with the release of the first browser Mosaic in 1993. From 1994 onwards, the internet quickly spread worldwide. In Bookland, people were reluctant, curious or passionate.

The internet didn't bring print media, movies, radio or television to an end. It created its own space as a new medium, to get information, access documents, broaden our knowledge and communicate across borders and languages. Booksellers began selling books online within and outside their home country, offering excerpts on their websites.

Libraries began creating websites as a "virtual" window, as well as digital libraries stemming from their print collections. Librarians helped patrons to surf on the web without being drowned, and to find the information they needed at a time search engines were less accurate. Library catalogs went online. Union catalogs offered a common point for hundreds and then thousands of catalogs.

Newspapers and magazines began being available online, as well as their archives. Some journals became "only" electronic to skip the costs of print publishing, while offering print on demand. Some newsletters, zines and journals started online from scratch, skipping a print version. Authors began creating websites to self-publish their work or post it while waiting to find a publisher. Communication with readers became easierthrough email, forums, chat and instant messaging. Some authors explored new ways of writing, called hypertext literature.

More and more books were published with both a print version and a digital version. Some books were "only" digital. Other books were digitized from print versions. New online bookstores began selling “only” digital books. Aggregators partnered with publishers to produce and sell digital versions of their books.

People no longer needed to run after information and to worry about living in a remote place with no libraries and bookstores. Information was there, by the numbers, available on our screen, often at no cost. In 2009, most of us would not be able to work, study, communicate and entertain without connecting with others through the internet.


1. Write a short summary to the article.

2. What is your opinion about e-books?

3. Does a problem of disappearing paper books exist?

4. How massmedia interpret this problem?

5. Does the Internet bring print media to the end? Why?

6. Do you read books online? Why?

7. What kind of book is better for your use? Why?

8. Name pros and cons of using e-books.

9. Do you buy e-books? Why?

10. What do e-books bring to libraries?

Text 8

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