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eLiteracy and social exclusion: a global perspective

Joint, N. (2003) eLiteracy and social exclusion: a global perspective. In: eLit2003: 2nd International Conference on Information and IT Literacy, 2003-06-11 - 2003-06-13.

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Abstract

E-literacy is the new literacy, the literacy of the digital age. However, many of the faults of the old information order - particularly its social dislocations - remain visible in today's new information world. Logically, the theory and practice of e-literacy will also show this pattern. Writers from South America see information functioning as a capital asset, one which is made to circulate and grow in a way that ignores the requirements of those who need it most. Information literacy and IT literacy are simply ways of maximising the information consumption of those who are already information-rich. In a world information order of over-production and data superabundance, it is vital to up-skill the saturated consumers of information assets in order to stimulate demand for the information output of the developed world. Ironically those who are most in need of information empowerment to overcome their economic disadvantage are rarely if ever the focus of the e-literacy industry - if information is regarded simply in terms of its economic value, then e-literacy initiatives for the poor are pointless, since they do not have the economic wherewithal to consume it. Inclusive information policies should involve more than facilitating access and removing economic barriers to networks and computing infrastructures (vital though this is). It is possible to aspire to a vision of information and IT literacy for the socially excluded which bridges the gap between infrastructure-based information initiatives and their target market of the excluded and dispossessed. This paper will examine attempts from South America and Sub-Saharan Africa to fulfil this aspiration.