Explore A Post-Literate Future With “Beyond Literacy”

Beyond Literacy logoACRL and the Ontario Library Association (OLA) announce the online publication of Beyond Literacy by Michael Ridley of the University of Guelph. Beyond Literacy is an interactive serialized online thought experiment exploring the demise of literacy and the rise of other capabilities, capacities or tools that will effectively and advantageously displace reading and writing. The work is freely available for reading, comment and discussion on the project website.

While the prospect of the end of literacy is disturbing for many, it will not be a decline into a 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. In Beyond Literacy, Ridley examines the nature of literacy and its shortcomings, explores the possibilities for a post-literate capacity and imagines the transition to this very different future.

“Humans have made changes before; when we moved from a society based on the oral tradition and stories handed down in families to a society based on the written word and accessed by an increasing circle of people beyond the village,” said  Gale Cengage Learning Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Markets and noted library visionary Stephen Abram. “Michael Ridley explores the concept of the post-literate society from the perspective of a futurist who sees and imagines what this post-literate world might look like. This ‘book’ will expand your mind and your thinking.”

Issued as a digital open access publication, Beyond Literacy is designed to foster dialogue and debate, either as part of the book’s web presence or in other Internet venues. The work is being created in conjunction with a graduate course at the University of Toronto iSchool. The course, INF2301H — Special Topics in Information: Beyond Literacy, will place students in the roles of learner, researcher, curator and contributor in a network-based scholarly dialogue as they create additional content for “Beyond Literacy” and engage in dialogue about the concepts with each other and the broader community of readers.

Beyond Literacy is a prime example of the new forms of scholarship in academic librarianship that embrace the exploration of  cutting-edge  ideas, philosophies, models and pathways as we develop the twenty-first century library,” noted Coalition for Networked Information Associate Executive Director and ACRL New Publications Advisory Board Chair Joan Lippincott. “Academic librarians can support advances in knowledge creation by engaging students in developing new types of content, such as Ridley’s Beyond Literacy thought experiment.”

Beyond Literacy will be serialized in two online installments in late Oct. and early Nov. 2012.