Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Frau Meigs identifies important MIL isues at #GlobalMILweek

Divina Frau-Meigs (Professor, Sorbonne Nouvelle University) gave the first keynote speech which I am liveblogging from the feature conference of Global Media and Information Literacy week.
She felt we needed to change the metaphors and terminolgy. She identified that MIL was important lifewide. She saw it as an ecosystem that has changed drastically. Whereas the first image of the internet was about surfing (being free and open) but as it developed, continents have developed. For example there are social media, search engines, navigators and exploitation systems owned by companies (she saw this as the blue continent) and the orange continent, with similar systems but operated as open access or as alternatives. From the metaphor of surfing, we have gone to the metaphor of mining and what she called the black continent with private and illegal networks and systems. With the black continent have come threats such as cyberterrorism.
Frau-Meigs, went on to talk about the information disorders associate with these developments. The first was: disinformation in the "blue" continent. In some cases it brought back problems that it was thought had been conquered. She highlighted some research in this area, including how people react emotionally to social media and the life cycle of fake vs. true news. Secondly she mentioned use of the "black" continent used to fuel radicalisation and hate, noting how "extremists are early adopters" who also use the "blue" continent to produce their own narratives of victimhood, war etc. Research she was involved in has identified that the internet is not a cause of radicalisation, but it is a facilitator.
Digital engagement, critical MIL, counter narratives, multi-stakeholder engagement were all needed to address information disorders. She noted the rise of fact-checkers as a response to these problems e.g. Whilst she thought this was good for fact checkimg, she was not so sure it was good for MIL. This was because fact checkers were not always really aware of MIL, and there were also other issues: problems of sustainability, lack of clarity of objectives, lack of communication with those involved in MIL, specialisation on text, little evaluation of effectiveness, risk of subjective evaluations, low use of automated solutions.
Frau-Meigs also stressed how it was importance to promote these issues into policy, and not to just rely on good practices: these good practices needed to be promoted into policy. This implied external evaluation of good practice. She noted also that these good practices were often not based on frameworks of MIL competences (whether national, international, produced by associations etc.)
She finished on the opportunities for Media and Information Literacy. MIL has changed, and she acknowledged that MIL is not just about news, but also about all kinds of documents and data: she saw these as three interacting environments. This formed a huge ecosystem of information that could be turned into malinformation, which can go as far as threatening countries' stability and democracy. This had also widened her idea of the scope of MIL. She identified "MIL and digital citizenship education" as being important and presented a "butterfly" of competences associated with it: she also talked of this beig a discipline which was needed from primary school level.
Frau Meigs highlted the EC work she has been involved with and noted one weakness was the current private-sector (rather than public sector) funding.

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