Post-Literacy: A Working Definition

What do I mean by “post-literacy”?

My focus is on alphabetic literacy; reading and writing. While there are many other literacies and literacy practices, visible language is preferenced among them all.

It is hard for us to imagine a positive, vibrant world without reading and writing.

And yet the alphabet is simply a tool we created. It seems likely (inevitable?) that we will create a new tools, capacities or capabilities that will displace or replace reading and writing.

While not strictly part of the definition, I hypothesize that post-literacy will be advantageous. It is certainly possible that the opposite is true and we are headed towards some new dark age. However, that doesn’t particularly interest me (although I have to acknowledge this as a potential outcome).

I have referred to this state as “beyond literacy” (see the Beyond Literacy e-book) and my colleague John Miedema has called it “after reading.”

Together these terms describe a situation in which alphabetic literacy is no longer our primary means of literacy practice. Whatever post-literate practices are remains a part of my research.

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