Michael Ridley, former Chief Librarian and CIO of the University of Guelph and past president of the Ontario Library Association has a very interesting new project in the works. Check it out:
Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post-Literate Future
Michael Ridley, University of Guelph
A thought experience co-published by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Ontario Library Association (OLA).
“Reading and writing are doomed. Literacy as we know it is over. Welcome to the postliterate future.
Beyond Literacy is a thought experiment about the demise of alphabetic literacy and the rise of other capabilities, capacities or tools that will effectively and advantageously
displace reading and writing. While the prospect of the end of literacy is disturbing for many, it will not be a decline into some new Dark Age but rather the beginning of an era
of advanced human capability and connection. The post-literate world is to be welcomed not feared. Of course, getting there could be a bit disruptive.
Why post-literacy? It’s not that reading and writing aren’t good, they are just not good enough. The alphabet, the extraordinary basis of visible language (reading and writing),
is a tool, an invention. And a fairly recent one. The complexities and challenges apparent and emerging in the contemporary world will require new solutions and new
tools to enable them. Humans are natural and accomplished tool builders. Our history has demonstrated repeatedly our capacity to create new tools in response to new
challenges (the alphabet itself is an example of this). We need Alphabet 2.0.
What is post-literacy? What could be sufficiently powerful and advantageous that it could replace a capacity so central to our experience? Perhaps nothing in the near term,
but on the horizon are trends, developments, and possibilities that point to extraordinary changes. Advances in bio-computing, cognitive neurology, neural enhancements,
machine intelligence, and even human evolution are a few of these developments.
These are disruptive advances that will shape and transform what it means to be literate. After examining the nature of literacy and its shortcomings, the e-book will
explore the possibilities for a post-literate capacity and imagine the transition to this very different future.
Beyond Literacy is an experiment in creation and publication. Issued as a digital open access publication, the e-book is designed to foster dialogue and debate, either as part
of the e-book or in other Internet venues. This distributed discussion will engage a broad community interested in exploring new ideas and frontiers.
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: Exploring a Post-Literate Future will be published in sections beginning in October 2012 at:
Michael Ridley is a librarian at the University of Guelph where until recently he held the position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Librarian. He can be reached at
Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post-Literate Future
(draft list of chapters)
2 About Reading
3 Is Reading an Addiction?
4 Literacy Under Siege
5 Achieving Literacy
6 Information Overload
7 The Effects of Literacy
8 Characteristics of Post-Literacy
9 Examples of Post Literacy
9-1 Cognitive Prosthetics
9-1-1 Dance your PhD
9-3 Collective Conscious
9-3-1 Quantum Entanglement
9-5 Post Humans
9-6 Machine Intelligence
10 Physiology of Information
10-1 Memory and Forgetting
10-2 Total Recall
11 Techno Contrarians
11 What About the Artifact
12 Transition Issues
12-1 Postbiological Universe
12-3 Dark Side Issues
Beyond Literacy: What I’ve Been Up To …
“For some time I’ve been working on a project about the idea of “post-literacy.” It’s a positive, upbeat, and enthusiastic exploration of the end of literacy (and the rise of some more profound and advantageous alternative). Cool. Strange. Exciting.
The launch of the so-called “book-like-thing” will happen October 23rd. I’m delighted (and amazed) that the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Ontario Library Association (OLA) want to co-publish this “thought experiment.”
The “book” is open access and open dialogue in its design . I want to encourage a wide and diverse discussion and I want to engage as many voices as I can. Think of this community as the ecology of the interested. Perhaps you are among this group.
The project is also an experiment in pedagogy. The “book” is being published in conjunction with a graduate course I am teaching (provoking?) at the iSchool, University of Toronto. The students in the course will be learners, researchers, curators, and contributors to a network-based scholarly dialogue. They will create additional content for Beyond Literacy and they will engage in dialogue about the concepts.
If this interests (or enrages) you, please have a look at the site and follow the chapters (and the discussions) as they are released:
And, of course, there is a Twitter account to follow: @BeyondLiteracy .
The fun starts October 23rd.”