Positive Use of Social Networking #10 – Reading and Writing

During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #10.

Can one have an online social network without reading and writing?

The answer, “NO.” It’s impossible to participate in blogs, wikis, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, Technorati, Flickr, 43 Things, Library Thing, del.icio.us, and so on without reading and writing.

Of course some of the social networking technologies require more or less in terms of reading and writing. But all of them require these forms of literacy to at least some degree. For example:

  • Go to Digg and access content without reading. Or go to Digg and add content without writing. Impossible!
  • Go to Technorati and find a blog without reading. For that matter be involved in blogging in any way without reading and writing. Impossible!
  • Go to your MySpace account and participate in the space without reading. Impossible! Participate in the space without writing notes and comments to friends. Impossible.
  • Go to Flickr and find a photo without reading and writing. Impossible! Add photos to Flickr without reading and writing. Impossible!
  • Go to 43Things and find out what others are interested in doing with their lives without reading. Impossible! Tell others what your life goals are without writing. Impossible!
  • Visit Wikipedia and find information without reading. Impossible! Visit Wikipedia and update an article without writing. Impossible!

A few months ago Jason Fried of 37 Signals talked in an interview about what the company looks for when they hire project developers, software developers, and so on. One of the things he said was that they want people who can write. Not just people who can write code but people who can articulate their ideas in writing in order to sell those ideas, make a point, etc. Social networking technologies give teens the chance to practice reading and writing literacy skills in real and meaningful ways. When teens use social networking they aren’t just writing and reading for out-of-context classroom experiences, they are writing and reading in in-context experiences that have something to do with their real lives. Is there a better way to learn how to get ideas out there and find out what others are saying about the world in which we all live? If DOPA passes these real-life meaningful opportunities to read and write will be severely limited for teens.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.
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