Name tag that says 'Hello my name is meta'

by findyoursearch CC BY-SA


On my most recent post about the ACRL-Document-That-Must-Not-Be-Named, @valibrarian asked what I thought about metaliteracy. I’ve written so much about threshold concepts in the You-Know-What but I’ve never really tackled that other strange idea. True, I wrote a short “what’s the deal with metaliteracy?” post more than five years ago on the transliteracy blog.

Oh, yeah, transliteracy. I wrote some stuff about that back in the day. Don’t judge.

Anyway, @valibrarian asked:

Excellent thoughts on the current ideas floating in the ethereal digital thinking world on the topic of information literacy. You ponder, “Now, it could be that the frame is just invoking the postmodern ….” in reference to that time of “deconstruction of everything” as part of the quest for meaning. (Glad that is over and we are now in metamodernism which is more hopeful.)

Nomenclature, once again, and choice of phrasing is imperative to understanding, yet continues to be a paradox of ever-changing words. As a former blogger on the Libraries and Transliteracy Project, I am wondering if you embrace the term metaliteracy? I keep colliding with the two terms (metaliteracy and metamodernism) and am working on a paper to defend them as currently useful to identify literacy in global digital participatory culture- where we now live and learn.

To which I responded:

Every presentation I ever gave on transliteracy began with me telling the audience that ‘transliteracy’ was just a silly little buzzword…BUT the issues that motivated people to grab on to that buzzword were (and are) real and substantive. It’s the same way with metaliteracy; I think it’s a largely meaningless buzzword. Honestly, the concept just seems simple and somewhat shallow to me. Literally everything discussed under the aegis of metaliteracy has been studied at great length elsewhere (mass comm, epistemology, psychology, information theory, rhetoric, critical thinking, etc.). Calling it “postmodern” and slapping some Bourdieu and Lyotard quotes on it doesn’t make metaliteracy any more meaningful.

BUT the issues that motivated people to create the buzzword ‘metaliteracy’ are worth looking at. The effects of social media and digital environments on cognition and communication are certainly worth studying and worth considering carefully. I just find the literature in other disciplines more robust and compelling. As to metamodernism, I haven’t heard that one yet. Sounds like post-post modernism.

I guess this is the way scholarship works now: find a popular concept, claim it no longer applies to our “changing world”, slap on a new prefix, and publish the shit out of it for the 2-3 years that people pay attention. Transliteracy, metaliteracy, hyperliteracy, post-literacy, neoliteracy, metamodern, ultramodern, neomodern…which one will be next do you think? Sorry if I seem cynical, I just think we get too hung up on naming and constructing theories and we end up forgetting about the real issues that motivated us in the first place.

And that, dear readers, is what I think of metaliteracy.


Cover of book entitled "Explre Everything" by Bradley L. Garrett,

by byzantium books CC BY-NC 2.0

Hey there! Get ready for the final Frame and some fond remembrances. There’s still 6 years to go before we put together the inevitable task force to completely replace the Framework, so to kill some time, here are links to my other Frame reviews:

Authority Is Constructed and Contextual: A-
Information Creation as a Process:C-
Information Has Value: A-
Research as Inquiry: D
Scholarship as Conversation: F
Searching as Strategic Exploration

Let’s get to exploring!

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Three people seated around a table having a conversation.

by Int’l Research Institute for Climate and Society, CC BY-NC


You know, that last Frame review really bummed me out. I mean, “research as inquiry” is a great concept, but it’s hardly unique to information literacy, and now I’m sort of questioning the whole pretense behind the Framework. But, I’m not going to give up. Time for the penultimate frame: Scholarship as Conversation. To sum up where we’ve been:

Authority Is Constructed and Contextual: A-
Information Creation as a Process: C-
Information Has Value: A-
Research as Inquiry: D
Scholarship as Conversation
Searching as Strategic Exploration

On to the conversation!

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A woman holding a laptop in the library stacks.

by Leo Hidalgo, CC BY-NC

Three down, three to go. Welcome back to another round of “Revisiting the Framework” where I’m going through and looking at how the ACRL Framework changed between the original draft version I reviewed in 2014 and the final, ACRL-approved version. It’s been a week or so since my last post, but I’m smoking some chicken leg quarters and I have some time to write, so here it goes. Here’s where we’re at so far:

So, on to the next one: Research as Inquiry.

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graffiti of the word 'value' on a freight train

by carnagenyc, CC BY-NC

Our library has a journal article reading club and yesterday we read the famous Delphi study that’s at the center of the ACRL Framework. And then I realized I haven’t posted about a Frame this week. So, here you go. I’ve already looked at “Authority is Constructed and Contextual” “and “Information Creation is a Process.” Today I’ll look at the next frame in line: “Information has Value

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photo of a flowchart and template

by Gautler Poupeau, CC BY 2.0

Hey, ready for another round of “let’s revisit the Framework?” Like I wrote last time, I never got around to seeing how the final version of the ACRL Framework stacks up against the draft I originally reviewed. So, over the next few weeks I’ll be revisiting the frames one at a time. Last time was “Authority is Constructed and Contextual;” today it’ll be “Information Creation as a Process.” Let’s dive in.

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An image of wooden framework in which none of the beams line up or meet at right angles. It looks aesthetically pleasing but is structurally unsound.

by Nathan Umstead, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Okay. I really thought I was done with the ACRL Framework. I even wrote what I thought was the final word a few weeks ago…that it doesn’t matter. But, last night I was having a discussion with someone about blogging and the Framework and other stuff; and I realized that most of what I have said about the Framework dates to the Summer of 2014, where I addressed the draft framework. I never actually followed up to see how the final version stacked up. I still think the So, as a writing exercise for a slow reference desk shift, I thought it might be interesting to see what’s changed in two years. So, let’s take another look at the frames, starting with Authority is Constructed and Contextual.

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