The Web and Illiteracy — Putting the Cart Before the Horse

What was Jon Katz thinking when he wrote this little ditty,

The Net and the Web have revolutionized certain areas like academic and scientific research. But they’ve done little to eradicate illiteracy or poverty, or alter education for most students.

I think it’s the other way around — the web presupposes literacy. Saying the web hasn’t helped eradicate illiteracy is a lot like saying that television hasn’t helped eradicate blindness.

And illiteracy is going to be the ultimate source of the over-hyped “digital divide.” Channel surfing past CNN the other day they had the mayor of Washington, DC, begging for more government funds. The voice-over claimed that a survey of DC residents indicated that up to 40 percent of them were functionally illiterate to the point where they would not be able to read and understand a classified ad for a job.

The web isn’t going to be able to touch that level of mismanagement except indirectly.

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