How I am thinking about digital literacy, digital readiness, and the digital divide.

The next series of blog posts are going to focus on digital literacy, digital readiness, and the digital divide.  I am then going to look at the intersection between Digital and Financial Literacy.

ALA defines digital literacy as Digital Literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills”

This is how Pew Research Center defines digital readiness.

When organizations, such as libraries, think about digital readiness, it is usually about whether people have the skills to use information technology, as well as the digital literacy tools to help people determine whether the online information they access is trustworthy.”

digital divide is an economic and social inequality with regard to access to, use of, or impact of information and communication technologies (ICT). The divide within countries (such as the digital divide in the United States) may refer to inequalities between individuals, households, businesses, or geographic areas, usually at different socioeconomic levels or other demographic categories.” As defined by Wikipedia.

Digital Literacy is a large concept, how might we as a public library wrap our arms around this concept and operationalize? Goal 2: People will achieve higher levels of personal success through digital literacy.

One way, is to break digital literacy down into skill level. Novice, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. This way we would look at the knowledge level and create a path for them to grow.

So much of our lives is now digital. Our bank accounts, medical data, credit scores, spending patterns and correspondence.

There are people out there that want to steal your information or just destroy your files and data, or most recently hold it for ransom. Encryption is your friend and helps you protect your data and communications.

Encryption protects your data from strangers.

The New York Times reprinted a November 2016 article on May 16th 2017 with needed updates. “Protecting Your Digital Life in 9 Easy Steps”

These are things that I think everyone should know something about.

  1. Use “Signal” for text messaging. I use this tool because it encrypts my text messages. It is a free application and it is open source. While there have been reports that the government can decrypt it, it is a better solution than clear text transmissions.
  2. Anti-Virus tools are now a must; the article shares some options that are available.
  3. Bitlocker protects your hard drive by encrypting all the data. The downside is that this feature is not available for the home editor of Windows 10.
  4. Password creation and management. Creating strong passwords is important and there are some great tools to insure that the passwords you create cannot be easily hacked. I use Keeper but am thinking of changing to LastPass.
  5. Turn on two-factor authentication for your email. I have done this for my Gmail account. Anyone signing on to Gmail with a new device will have to go through a two-step authentication process.
  6. Install the plugin HTTPS everywhere. I use Chrome as my default browser and I had not installed this extension. Once installed it means that you are using secure and encrypted transmissions that prevent surveillance and hacking. It took me about 30 seconds to install the plug-in.
  7. Invest in a VPN, that stands for Virtual Private Network. When you connect to the county from outside the county network, you are using a VPN. If you are a business I would invest in the technology but as an individual, I personally think it is overkill.
  8. Remember Incognito mode does not hide history from your employer or your internet service provider. It just prevents your computer from remembering where you have gone on the Internet.
  9. If you are paranoid that Google is tracking every search and you should be aware that they are but have stated that they do not keep the data for longer than a two-week period, you can use This search engine will not track your searches. I am not that paranoid so am happy to stay with Google. The installation of the plugin is simple and works on Chrome.



The next post will dig a little deeper into the Digital Literacy for the Novice.