‘For the New Year, Let’s Resolve to Improve Our Tech Literacy’

Farhad Manjoo, writing about tech illiteracy in the New York Times:

This year we began to see the creaking evidence of our collective ignorance about the digital age. The sorry showing ought to prompt a resolution for the new year. In 2016, let’s begin to appreciate the dominant role technology now plays in shaping the world, and let’s strive to get smarter about how we think about its effects.”

The article chides those leaders and institutions whose tech naïveté made them look foolish this past year. And Manjoo is right; tech now figures prominently into many headline news stories. It’s no longer possible to govern or lead effectively without understanding technology’s impact.

Tech dominates the news because tech now dominates our lives. Our computers fit in our pockets, and they accompany us from dawn to dark (then on through the night). We rely on cloud services for everything from settling bar bets to storing baby photos to driving safely through new locales. Tech is now the air we breathe, the sea we swim through, and the language we speak.

Yes, tech-literate leaders govern more effectively. But tech literacy also helps us to live well. On the one hand, tech can streamline our lives—making time for those things that truly matter: self-awareness, family, relationships, and community.

Conversely, when used thoughtlessly, tech can amplify bad habits and empower self-destructive behavior. Our gadgets isolate us from each other. Online anonymity brings out our gross, secret hatreds. Instant access to information devalues knowledge and tempts us to stop learning.

Yes, as Manjoo implores, we should commit to tech literacy in this new year. And that resolution certainly means we should understand how technology impacts government and society. But we must also think critically about tech at the scale of our day-to-day.[1]

  1. I’m hoping that this blog can explore such issues in 2016.Who needs another speeds-and-feeds rundown or list of app features? There are a thousand other writers who handle those topics better than I ever could. To be honest, I’m a rank amateur in traditional tech fields. I know enough JavaScript to be dangerous, but my code is cludgy. I appreciate good typography and can do basic work in the Adobe suite, but that hardly makes me a world-class designer. I’m familiar with some marketing principles, but I’ll never become a titan of business.So what can I contribute to the conversation? My educational work in biblical criticism familiarized me with hermeneutics, semiotics and interpretation. I’d like to point these skills at tech and see what happens.  ↩