Today’s Information Technology Literacy is Nelson’s Computer Lib put into Action

Early in my teaching career I required student in the basic class to display competence in how to use the library. Over the years this has become a requirement for students in the basic Scriptures course demonstrate information literacy including how to navigate the technology in today’s research theological library. This semester Michael Skinner has put this in a form that student can gain access to theological bibliography online.

Most students are too polite to ask why I am making this a requirement in a Bible course.  Well the syllabus says that information and technology skills are meta-professional skills necessary in the area of ministry and biblical studies. Theodor Nelson’s book Computer Lib/Dream Machine abridged in the New Media Reader as a long chapter provides a backdrop for my intuitions. “Any nitwit can understand computers and many do…. Everybody should understand computers.” (Nelson, NMR  p 303) This literacy is necessary so the religious professional not be held captive by what Nelson calls the “computer priesthood.”  Literacy is the key to liberation. Nelson’s computer lib depends on information and technology. The “Do priests dream of electric sheep” post encouraged us to envision a time when the computer priesthood gives way with the “unbridled creativity – our children.

Much of Nelson’s essay portends our exploration of Ivan Illich and the Deschooling of Society.  Rob Rogers points to the psychic work that this exploration on the nature of learning requires. I would want to re-consider Nelson’s attack on “subjects” in education in light of Parker Palmer’s apology for subject centered instruction. The seminar session also pointed to the way that Nelson’s presentation reflects his passion and emotion about education and thereby sometimes hijacks our emotion and passion about that subject. Ashley pushed us to lean into the radicality of the piece.

Nelson calls for a fundamental change in education. This includes even our textbooks. The typical introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament uses old media book. The old media book still does not take advantage of hypertext , “…forms of writing which branch or perform on request; they are best presented on computer display screens.” (Nelson, NMR p. 314)  Jim helped us understand what Nelson was getting at with the concept of hypermedia. Jim asked us to think about the Matrix and Star Wars experience where a narrative universe is created through film, games, novels and short stories.  Of Anti-Westerns and Fish Bowls one gets a glimpse of how hypermedia reflects the cultural interchanges in a global media village. Ellen introduced us to the term transmedia literacy as an expression of the ongoing interpretation of hypermedia.

The concept of hypertext combines with his notion of fantics, the visual-musical-linguistic memes used in communication. The e-reader makes it possible for a reader to experience a fantic

space. I am still a little confused about the concept of fantics. I am not at all clear how one teaches students to create fantic space.

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