Essay on Online and Offline Communities. Part 2

Social Networks

What Does It Mean to Be a Literate User?

Definitely, each of us considers ourselves to be literate. Of course, after all, we are able to use search engines, communicate in social networks, post photos on Instagram and even order essays on However, is this the case?

In many ways, the high-quality combination of online and offline realities depends on the person, namely, on their willingness or intention to correctly adjust simultaneity and distribution of their presence in all available habitats, including in the technocentric digital ones. Sometimes this intention is associated with the desire to master digital literacy – a set of such skills that a person can master for a high-quality and effective interaction with a digital component (in the form of specific objects, software or practices generated by them) for purposes that are fundamental to the comfort of their life.

Since there are no representations about the only true online behavior or norms of the relationship with technological reality, people quite often intuitively and almost arbitrarily build the trajectories of using it.

Someone considers a smartphone to be a set of isolated functions like "calculator + voice recorder + text editor", and someone – a means for establishing remote management or solving design problems. The same is true for applications: you can practice app hunting – regularly review new items in the software and discover more convenient and practical ways of implementing writing, photo and video editing, communication.

But it is not forbidden to remain faithful to some old tools like the same Microsoft Office suite. There are people who are accustomed to financial responsibility on the Web, for example, who prefer to pay for content, buy applications, subscriptions, participation in crowdfunding fees. For them, alienation of small resources for obtaining a specific online product is the norm. There are also those who stand for promoting the ideology of free software as a way to combat corporations’ earning on users.

There is also a mutually beneficial exchange. This concerns the academic sphere. You pay for the essay and get a first-class product. Everything is simple and without deception.

And What Do You Know About Digital Literacy?

Experts in the field of information, computer, and digital literacy suggest that in interacting with machines, algorithms and data, a person must constantly show curiosity and a desire to learn. The subject digital world – all the hardware that allows us to be on the Web – is changing no less than software. And the average person for whom the Internet and gadgets have been and remain the means to solve particular problems, is unlikely to specifically comprehend the basics of higher mathematics and be interested in specific programming languages. However, the lack of this knowledge does not mean the inability to master the norms of using technological reality.

For example, artists, architects, and professionals working with the visual environment constantly use digital tools and even master the open programming language. And modern businessmen do not shy away from digital marketing to adjust the best interaction with customers.

Each of us in one way or another is familiar with online payments, online banking, digital insurance. All these practices become conscious at the very moment when people are attentive to the norms of digital reality and their variability. They begin paying attention to existing conventions regarding the security of data transmission or their confidentiality, for example.

Digital literacy, therefore, consists of the ability to responsibly treat an ever-changing digital environment, and also of understanding. Despite the fact that our activities in the digital world are largely programmed with the hardware and software used, it is we who are responsible for the comfort of digital presence and, if it is required, we have to defend the rights of the comfort of a special order, as was, for example, in the case of a precedent with the struggle for the right to oblivion. To control your online practices in everyday life and professional environments means not just being able to use some tools but also realizing their fundamental value.

A Citizen as a User

If almost all types of human activity are mediated by a digital component, then a person exists in a new habitat. It is interesting to wonder what happens with the former spaces of existence, for example, cities, and how the townspeople change under conditions of total digitalization. In this regard, it is now quite often said about the participatory city as the future of urban space.

The choice of this term somewhat shifts the focus of futuristic expectations of urbanists, who previously used the words "cyber and smart city". Along with ideologists and visionaries, many researchers publicly propose to discuss the hypothesis about the impact of modern digital environments (algorithms, software) on habitats rights.

Unlike them, the proponents of the concept of participatory city assume that the main effect of digitization is the involvement of citizens in the management and design processes, the appropriation of areas and locations by merging into proactive and active communities interacting in the offline and online registers.

Now we may not just testify the need for civil intervention but also assume that the city belongs to the townspeople as users. The main thing is to be able to show one's will and intensify the effects of these activities with the help of any possible tools, including the online ones. Actually, to demonstrate readiness for civil complicity in the production of social and cultural meanings (for example, in the format of crowdfunding or sharing of benefits) to the same party is considered to be one of the key features of digital presence.

Is It Possible to Study Interaction?

A lot of things have changed since the first studies of the online community. For example, there has been a diversification and specialization of expert communities, now centered on the study (note, with the help of a very different methodology) of specific elements of communicative acts or private cases of grouping. The groups themselves are also multiplying, they begin to demonstrate new practices partly related to the use of certain channels and means of communication, which, we note, often remain outside the attention of representatives of social and humanitarian knowledge.

In turn, you can always join the supporters of online solutions to academic problems and order papers from professionals.

The diversity of widely differing points of view (and the views of scientists from the fields of computer science and cultural studies, even digital humanities, rarely coincide) raises the question of the quality of scientific expertise of the digital world. In addition, the positions of a qualitative popular science in this field are rather poorly represented in many countries. The popularizers usually shoulder the burden of translating scientific interpretations into a language accessible to the widest audience.

As a result, a user who takes a reflexive position and wants to listen to the voices of various experts with the goal of constructing his or her attitude to the problem, faces either an infinite number of points of view of researchers, each of which does not pretend to be true, or coaches whose goal is to transfer specific skills and abilities needed in a given situation of digital presence. So, it turns out that the question is quite open to study. However, this study, not continued with stories of popularizers and media, unfortunately, has little effect on the level of digital literacy or the development of user responsibility.

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