Posted by: bluesyemre | June 21, 2018

The First principles of being #DigitallyLiterate by W. Ian O’Byrne

digital literacy

First principles thinking is the act of boiling a process down to the fundamental parts that you know are true and building up from there. Learning, developing, and planning from a set of first principles is an effective strategy that you can employ to break down complicated problems and generate original solutions.

Great thinkers throughout time have employed first principles thinking to challenge big problems and systematically innovate. One of the most recent examples of thinking and problem solving as guided by first principles is found in Elon Musk. In an interview with Kevin Rose, Musk indicated the following: “I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy.” He continued, “The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy.” “[With analogy] we are doing this because it’s like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths … and then reason up from there.”

The First Principles of Being Digitally Literate

Principle #1 Search, sift, skim, and scan…while knowing what to ignore.

The Internet is an attention grabbing, time-sucking environment. Keep your focus and save your energy. Always focus your efforts on doing the most with the least amount of effort.

Principle #2 Think critically, look for mentors, and choose your own path.

Most of the things we think we know about the practices, skills, and dispositions needed in these online spaces is wrong. The Internet is still relatively new, and we’re still trying to figure out how to adapt to its influence in our lives. We must think critically about experts and sources who many times use old thinking and guidance to adapt to new times.

Principle #3 Be a healthy skeptic.

Develop an ultra-critical and evaluative stance in the face of all content, whether shared by your most trusted friend or someone you don’t know. Every click, share, like, and reaction adds to the digital breadcrumbs and algorithms that frame your digital identity. Think about your own perspectives and assumptions, and evaluate the source, bias, and perspective of what you learn online.

Principle #4 Create and curate the digital identity you want.

Being skilled or savvy in digital spaces has nothing to do with your age, or other factors. You can learn how to engage, communicate, and participate online. Connect with others. Follow their lead and learn from them. Identify who you want to be. Trust your gut and be yourself.

Principle #5 Embrace the chaos…go with the flow.

Be flexible, yet persistent as you learn and grow. You need to have an appreciation for the randomness, noise, and ambiguity that is present online. As you learn, focus on growth over time. Believe that there are iterations of your work and identity…and improve between each one. Feel free to “fail fast” and stop projects, or change if they do not work.

Principle #6 Don’t work more, work differently.

Truly engaging in these digital contexts involves a focus only the final product, but more importantly the process involved. This means that you need to actively develop a system and processes to help you live this lifestyle. This needs to be a cohesive strategy and plan that you regularly review over time.

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