Is Visuality the New Literacy?

Kevin Kelly’s recent piece “Becoming Screen Literate” (NY Times 11/23/08)  details our transition from text literacy to screen literacy. This movement has great implication for education. Information in our schools is organized in text-based lineal fashion. Our students live in a mosaic, imaged-based world in which visuality has become the new literacy.

Screens are everywhere. YouTube videos and Flickr images have become rich databases of component images and videos for yet new mash-ups and user-generated content. Kelly predicts this visual content will soon surpass our linguistic content as new tools will enable users to search, copy, modify and reassemble visual content with near word-processor efficiency.
 
Kelly writes, 

The rich databases of component images form a new grammar for moving images… After all, this is how authors work. We dip into a finite set of established words, called a dictionary, and reassemble these found words into articles, novels and poems that no one has ever seen before. The joy is recombining them. Indeed it is a rare author who is forced to invent new words. Even the greatest writers do their magic primarily by rearranging formerly used, commonly shared ones. What we do now with words, we’ll soon do with images

Below a TimeTube mashup creates a genealogy of most popular user-generated videos tagged Global Warming. 

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