New Literacies for Digital Citizenship (Week 10)

Simsek, E., & Simsek, A. (2013). New Literacies for Digital Citizenship. Online Submission

Seeking to contrast old definitions of citizenship (and how technology did not guide it) with new definitions of citizenship (and how new forms of technology definitely play a significant role), authors Simsek and Simsek (2013) began by exploring various theories of technology in civic society.  The theory of autonomous technology claims that technology “evolves in its own course, regardless of outside factors….Technological determinism defends the idea that technological development itself has created social changes because technology has such a revolutionary power” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 127).  The political selection approach claims that “technology has been determined by political forces and capitalist needs” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 127).  A final emphasis, called the critical approach, is fully negative toward technology and society, positing that “technology hides reality by mass communication devices” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 128).

After this discussion, the authors explored the various literacies of modern culture– information literacy, computer literacy, media literacy, communication literacy, visual literacy, and technology literacy–stating that it is the civic duty of all in the modern day to manage all of these well and to participate in citizenship responsibilities that use all the modes of modern  technology.  Further, they expect that “in the new world of virtual technologies, digital citizens are expected to combine cognitive, affective, psycho-social, and technological skills.  The interaction of all of these skills produces an ideal digital citizen for the 21st century” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 131).  They admit, however, that having the technology will not guarantee participation and that “there is not an ideal world in which new media and democracy interact” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 134).

Authors Simsek and Simsek researched extensively to write this article, summarizing various other authors’ descriptions of the digital citizenship opportunities apparent in the 21st century.  The several paragraphs that explain the various positions move quickly with brief descriptions and little interpretation or evaluation.  The idealist tone of the article surrounded the idea that responsible people must use technology well to participate in a global digital community and promote democracy through the new modes of technology available.  The enthusiasm of the authors culminated with the comment that “digital citizenship could create a more transparent, connected, and participatory democratic environment via its interactive, non-hierarchical, user friendly nature” (Simsek & Simsek, 2013, p. 132).

I expected the article to focus on the new technologies primarily, and upon citizenship secondarily.  Such was not the case.  There were two lists of tech options new to modern citizens and many paragraphs of theories and conceptual frameworks from those in the conversation.  The political tone was not motivating for this reader.  A follow-up article could certainly approach the topic from a more technological paradigm.