...being a literate person is not so much about what you know, but about how you know things are connected.
This is a riff on the old adage that it's not what you know, but how you know. I like the extension to connectedness; it feels right. Because we really are living through times -- as the examples of #IranElection and Twitterfall have demonstrated wholeheartedly -- in which understanding how to read the connection is crucial to the understanding of the content or situation at hand.
Just yesterday I got in a comments-argument with a fellow Web-citizen over the value of traditional media versus social media. What amounted to a lot of bickering really made me pause upon reflection this morning that really it's just a matter of how we read the connections made by either media.
It was my interloper's perspective that traditional media was more authoritative because the reporters are professionals. My argument against that is that because they are professionals, they are bound by the customs of their institutions -- whether we're talking about the ethics of their profession or the top-down management of news via the hierarchy that exists in corporate media.
It was my perspective that, though there are obviously dubious positions that will emerge, by and large the critical mass of the blogosphere actually keeps things relatively honest; thereby, videos and pictures and news reports Tweeted by amateurs-on-the-street are just as viable a news source as any professionally tweaked report. Now, an argument can certainly be made that mass-made anonymous media could easily be rife with untruth. Point taken.
In the end result, what it really comes down to is understanding the connection.
How is the traditional reporter connecting to you; what are the filters? Editors? Advertising dollars?
How is the amateur-on-the-street connecting to you? What are the motives? Biases?
We have always taught our students to be aware of bias. But now it's taken a new turn. And it's the turn that hints at the dilemma in 21st century media. Big corporate machines vs. Mr. Nobody. It's an age old story; but now, Mr. Nobody has equal billing.
Make the connections.