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2.6 Digital Literacy and Openness

2.6 OpennessWith the rise of digital technology new issues concerning access, publication and ownership have emerged. In contrast to the way in which print texts are tied to location (a personal bookshelf or library), dependent on transport for distribution, and often restricted in other ways, digital texts are far more pliable. Potentially, at least, they can be made available to a wide range of users at a relatively low cost. At the same time they can be easily re-purposed and customised to meet the needs of specific groups. In this way, consumers are simultaneously producers (Bruns, 2008, describes this phenomenon as ‘produsage’). Consequently ‘openness’ has a direct connection with digital technology reflected in the range of concepts that openness has been applied to. For example, we are familiar with ‘open source software’, ‘open access publishing’, ‘open data’ and so on. In this section we explore these ideas, which are based on the fact that:

  • Digital practices allow for resources to be made freely available although at the same time barriers to access demand careful consideration. Although openness and participation are key concepts in current debate, these have to be seen alongside persistent barriers to participation (Jenkins et al, 2006) and associated issues (see 2.6.5 Digital Citizenship). Here issues of access and accessibility are important to address (see 2.6.4 Accessibility)

Bruns, A. (2008) Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage. New York: Peter Lang.

Jenkins, H., Purushota, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M., and Robinson, A. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: media education for the 21st century. Chicago: MacArthur Foundation. http://digitallearning.macfound.org/site/c.enJLKQNlFiG/b.2108773/apps/nl/content2.asp?content_id=%7BCD911571-0240-4714.

Lessig, L. (2008). Remix: Making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy. London: Penguin.


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