Mass to Molecular Media

"The shift is one from the mass to the molecular media." (Tapscott, Growing Up Digital, p. 300).

One important "new" media literacy skill is organization. In the late 70s, when I was in high school, someone else had done the organizing. We learned how the card catalog worked, how to use indexes to search encyclopedias, and how to use the Guide to Periodicals, even though my high school only subscribed to a small number of magazines listed. Basically, we learned how other people organized the world, and it seemed like it was mostly alphabetical by last name or title.

How is the world organized now? Increasingly by tags and keywords that can be sorted and re-sorted in a variety of ways using search techniques that may be different from the ones I learned. For instance, rather than going for the "L" volume to find stuff on Abraham Lincoln, in Google I would simply type Abraham Lincoln to search for information on our 16th president. (Actually, searching on Lincoln, Abraham gets you the same search results.)

I observed in a school a few months ago and watched the media specialist deliver a class on how to use the paper almanac.  At the time, I wondered why she was pursuing this. After all, if I want to know how far it is to the moon, I'm just going to Google or  It occured to me, but I have never confirmed it, that using the world almanac is a testable skill.  Hmmm…really?  Shouldn't students be learning how to create efficient organizational methods for themselves?  How to develop folksonomies that help categorize.

This is a whole new way of thinking of information.  Instead of file cabinets and file folders as the metaphor to describe storage and organization, the network is a much better idea.  A constellation or cloud of keywords that can be combined and recombined to show how knowledge is related. Certainly, any media literacy should help students how to organize this new media.


  1. 1 Education» Blog Archive » (Adult education career) Permalink

    […] PermalinkMass to Molecular Media “The shift is one from the mass to the molecular media.” (Tapscott, Growing Up Digital, p. 300). One important “new” media… […]

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