Martin Wolske, senior research scientist and lecturer, takes a critical look at digital literacy for the twenty-first century in his paper, "A Radical Reconsideration of Digital Literacy." The article was published in the Summer 2016 issue of Information for Social Change.
Supporting the transformation of information into knowledge for human flourishing within an "information age" and a "knowledge economy" especially points out the important role library and information workers have in advancing people's digital literacy skills. But is it possible that we approach digital technology generally, and digital literacy training and programming specifically, through dominant paradigms that keep invisible the various ways our digital technology and media are controlled and mediated so as to privilege a few over the many? Is it possible that that in our very efforts to "bridge the digital divide" and build "21st century digital literacy skills" that we are actually further deconstructing civil society and civic engagement, and instead furthering magical thinking about technology, a belief in the supremacy of the technocrat, and the centrality of market forces? After a review of the historical linking of the digital realm with neoliberalism, this paper posits an essential need for a radical reconsideration of digital literacy if we are to effectively use sociotechnical products to amplify human forces to advance human and community development for human flourishing.
Wolske teaches courses on community engagement, community informatics, networked systems, and technology. In his work at the iSchool and the Center for Digital Inclusion, he has been actively involved in multiple grant-funded projects in the realms of community informatics and digital inclusion, including Sowing Seeds, Mix IT Up! Youth Advocacy Librarianship, Digital Literacy for ALL Learners, and the Illini Gadget Garage. He is a recipient of the Campus Award for Excellence in Public Engagement and the Library Journal Teacher of the Year Award.