Digital literacy has become as important as literacy in the traditional sense. In fact, the two have fused together to create something completely new.
With the rise in popularity of digital assets, it’s safe to assume that we are currently living in a new golden age of technology. There have been many others in the past, but this one is unique in that it centers around money. Once upon a time, money was solely a physical item you keep in your wallet or in a bank. Nowadays, it is becoming digital information, or pieces of data.
Since its inception in 2009 with the launch of Bitcoin, cryptocurrency continues to attract more and more attention. This recent boom in technology has seen the alteration in design for most mediums. These include communication, entertainment, everyday commodities, and of course, finances. Alongside the emergence of cryptocurrency, there has been the development and inevitable rise in popularity of online banking.
To put simply, money has gone through a noticeable expansion. In regards to cryptocurrency, we have gone from a handful of digital currencies to hundreds being put on the market. Bitcoin’s influence on the field is monumental, to say the least, and we wouldn’t be where we are without it.
Digital literacy and behaviour
With this evolution of technology comes an additional change and this one relates to human behaviour. We have undoubtedly become reliant on technology for many things, so it makes sense that we, too, adapt. We learn, we absorb, and ultimately, we thrive. While we have always had this ability, we have to acknowledge that technology has had a hand in how we apply it in the current era.
The best way to look at this specific method of taking in information is to look into ‘digital literacy.’ Moreover, we need to take a look at how this helps people understand cryptocurrency.
What is Digital Literacy?
First and foremost, we must properly define what ‘digital literacy’ is. Right off the bat, it seems fallacious to dismiss this form of literacy as a passing trend. Not unlike most outdated pieces of technology that we are quick to dismiss. Furthermore, it is not limited to dealing solely with technological aspects. That means it goes beyond ICT proficiency, which represent the basic abilities necessary to navigate technology.
“Digital literacy is as much a key part of learning about history and learning how to study history, and learning about science and learning how to study science, as it is about learning about ICT and learning the skills of using ICT. Indeed, possessing digital literacy is an important set of life skills to complement and extend the skills and knowledge already taught in school.”
It refers to a person’s capability of finding, evaluating, and composing clear information. It is the person’s ability to do these things by way of writing and other mediums on digital platforms. You evaluate a person’s digital literacy by an array of factors. This includes their skills in grammar, composition, and typing. Not only that, but also their ability to create writings, images, audio, and designs with the use of technology.
Digital literacy’s initial focus was on digital skills and stand-alone computers. However, the arrival of the Internet and frequent use of social media shifted the focus to mobile devices. This literacy does not replace traditional forms of literacy by any means. Rather, it builds upon the skills that shape the general foundation of traditional types of literacy, expanding it into new technological realms.
There are five key concepts when it comes to digital literacy:
Concept #1 – Digital media operates with a network.
Unlike traditional media, digital media does not consist of any one-way connections.
In traditional media, content only flows one specific way. Producers construct it, then they either sell or license it to distributors, who in turn bring it to you.
Conversely, in digital media, you’re not the final link in a distribution chain. Instead, you are a node right in the center of a vast network. You are able to share content with other people as easily as a producer or distributor may share it. Singular creation and broadcasting are not the norm; collaboration and dialogue are.
Digital content is, above all else, permanent. Though you may delete a portion of it (or all of it) at some point, it still exists somewhere.
Everything you transmit is then stored somewhere and others can search for it. With the concept that digital media operates with a network, this means that others can copy and share this content. Even things that are seemingly temporary (ex: photos on Snapchat) are vulnerable to someone copying them. Moreover, they are almost always put on the platform’s servers.
Concept #3 – This type of media usually has an unknown and unpredictable audience.
With the first two concepts in mind, there is another thing you must understand. The content you share online may be seen by people whom you didn’t want to see it.
Your ability to control who sees what has some restrictions. Content creators, conventional gatekeepers, and distributors don’t have much power to control what happens to it after its posting. This effectively makes it difficult to manage audiences. On top of that, there’s the potential risk of context collapse. This means that what was strictly for one audience is unwittingly seen by another.
Concept #4 – The experiences are real, yet they don’t always feel real.
Operating as a network essentially means that all digital media are – to an extent – interactive. Never once are we just passive viewers; we are always a part of what’s happening.
Being interactive means that we respond to things online as though we are really there. However, a majority of the hints that inform us of how we and others feel are not present. One particular result of this can be ‘empathy traps.’ These are the features of network interaction that prevent us from feeling empathy. An example of this is a general sense of anonymity or the absence of a voice tone or facial expression. These kinds of traps often make us forget that what we do online can have actual consequences.
For similar reasons, it can be tricky to determine someone’s actual meaning and motivation during online interaction. This is the popular phenomenon, “Poe’s Law.”
Concept #5 – The architecture of the platforms influences how we respond and behave, which reflects the creators’ biases and assumptions.
As Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message.”
One of the most basic observations of digital literacy is that the medium influences how we read and experience a text. This remains true in digital media, though the network effect results in a different meaning. That being the framework of a platform – the user interface we interact with and the algorithms that determine content delivery – affects the meaning and message of digital media. Moreover, it affects our own behaviour whenever we use them.
For instance, on the most elementary level, the networking nature of digital media creates something of a centripetal effect. The hyperlinks actively encourage us to go to various other texts and platforms.
Now that you have a better understanding of digital literacy, you are probably wondering what this has to do with cryptocurrency. How does any of this relate to virtual cash?
While it would be easy to answer this with, “Digital literacy operates on a network, cryptocurrency operates on a network, therefore they share a connection.” Obviously, there is so much more to it than a quick, one-sentence response. By this, I mean that there is an abundance of ways you can link digital literacy with cryptocurrency. There is the network comparison, of course, but there is also the primary factor that is finding and evaluating information.
When you are learning about a new subject, broadening your knowledge requires research. If you recall in the aforementioned quote, digital literacy is…
“…as much a key part of learning about history and learning how to study history.”
Cryptocurrency is a complex topic, and as such requires you to know your stuff before dedicating yourself to it. Because of its complexity, there are a ton of components and by-products that one must have some basic knowledge of. Some subjects are fundamental, like blockchain technology, Bitcoin, and cryptocurrency itself. However, there are others that are more elaborate, like technical analysis, ‘Proof of Stake’, and numerous computational systems.
There are hundreds of subjects connecting to the central topic that is ‘cryptocurrency.’ With this extensive amount of data, doing research may appear to be an intimidating task to carry out, let alone start. There are, however, two noteworthy websites that you should check out.
Investopedia is a website that focuses primarily on investment and finance education. Additionally, it consists of reviews, ratings, and comparisons of a variety of financial products such as brokerage accounts. The articles are plentiful and range in an array of topics that fixate on all aspects of finance. They will help you comprehend complex financial concepts, develop your investing skills, and teach you how to manage your money.
One of the most notable qualities of these articles is that they break down the concepts they talk about. They open with a straightforward definition before diving into the details. Not only that, but they also include hyperlinks to other related articles. This occurs both at the end of the article and throughout if there are any appropriate key terms.
Because of the wide range of topics in cryptocurrency, there are too many to list. For now, here are some to look at for those who are novices in the field:
- Cryptocurrency. This breaks down the concept of cryptocurrency and discusses its benefits and drawbacks in great detail.
- Bitcoin. This is an extensive guide on everything Bitcoin. How it works, who was responsible for its creation, receiving and investing in it, the list goes on.
- Blockchain Explained. Blockchain technology is an integral part of cryptocurrency and record-keeping as a whole. This informative guide thoroughly explains a wide variety of sections concerning blockchain. This includes what it is, how it works, the pros and cons, and what private and public keys are.
- Mining. This breaks down what exactly the cryptocurrency mining process is and what its overall significance is. It explains how it is performed and the hardware that goes into it.
Our HedgeTrade platform houses a cryptocurrency of its own. However, we also have a lot to offer in our blog in the form of helpful and informative articles. Here, you are able to access an abundance of texts that break down cryptocurrency concepts, platforms, trading, and gadgetry. On top of that, you’ll find how-to guides on certain procedures and articles centering on the latest in cryptocurrency news. We do this all with the intent to help newbie crypto enthusiasts, as well as introduce traditional traders to crypto. The end goal is to help everyone learn the ropes and trade successfully.
The articles are categorized by an array of tags and filters. These categories include “cryptocurrency”, “technology”, “trading”, “what is”, and a host of others. With this feature, you can find the articles that best suit what exactly you are searching for.
Much like Investopedia, there is a wide range of topics on this platform. Below are a handful of the best articles to look at if you are starting out in the cryptocurrency field.
A great place to start if you’re new to crypto:
- What is a Crypto Token? This explains the most fundamental asset of digital currency. Additionally, it illustrates the differences between cryptocurrency from ‘altcoins.’
- How does Cryptocurrency Work? This is an in-depth look into how cryptocurrency operates. Furthermore, it explains the applications of blockchain, the limitations, and what the top cryptocurrencies on CoinMarketCap are.
- How to buy Bitcoin. This gives a concise explanation on how one goes about purchasing Bitcoin. It includes a look into the variety of wallets that exist, how to purchase with regular money, and how to store a private key.
- What is a hardware wallet? Hardware wallets are important for cryptocurrency, so it’s important to know what types are out there. This article provides notable examples and describes the security, as well as the limitations.
- How Does Blockchain Work? As mentioned before, blockchain is a vital element in a cryptocurrency’s function. This article goes into great detail on numerous corners of blockchain technology, like decentralized networks and cryptography.
Understanding digital currency – even if it’s only the basics – will aid in our adaption to the technological evolution of money. Digital literacy is probably the best method of educating ourselves in this field. With the platforms provided, that method just became easier.