At the nextMEDIA conference in Toronto on Monday, famed author, poet, and essayist Margaret Atwood talked about the Internet, technology and its connection with literacy.
According to Atwood, the Internet and social media outlets such as Twitter shouldn't be shunned or thought of as stunting one's literacy. Instead it can be used as a great tool to boost literacy, if used correctly.
Speaking at the nextMEDIA conference, Atwood said, "A lot of people on Twitter are dedicated readers. Twitter is like all of the other short forms that preceded it. It's like the telegram. It's like the smoke signal. It's like writing on the washroom wall. It's like carving your name on a tree. It's a very short form and we use that very short form for very succinct purposes," the CBC reports.
She adds, "People have to actually be able to read and write to use the Internet, so it's a great literacy driver if kids are given the tools and the incentive to learn the skills that allow them to access it."
Reading, even if it's only 140 characters long, is engaging, said Atwood. It's active and a commitment you make, however short it may be.
In a recent Tweet from this morning, Atwood writes further, "Literacy isn't the ability to be James Joyce. It's the ability to read and write. You can then improve it. Or not." Some have replied in agreement or disagreement, but Atwood remains firm, noting that many critics make their point via Twitter and the Internet.
Atwood embraces technology, but believes that it is limited. Speaking at the nextMEDIA conference, Atwood said, "Web 10.0 is going to look a lot like Web 3.5. There's only so far you can go. Every technology we make is an extension of human capabilities, desires and fears, and that smorgasbord is limited," reports CTV News.
Addressing the common fear among book-lovers, that bookstores will soon disappear, Atwood remarks, "Will we be sorry if bookstores vanish? We should be, because they enable serendipity. Online is terrific if you know what you want..."
Atwood, 72, is one of Canada's fore-runners when it comes to technology and literacy. An avid Twitter user, Atwood has produced nearly 7,000 tweets and has racked up more than 280,000 followers. She is also instrumental in the founding of companies Syngraffi (formerly LongPen) and iDoLVine, which allow writers to interact with fans and sign autographs remotely.