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August 6, 2014 » 6:23 am

Sophistication Versus Literacy

I frame my work and mission around this notion of collaborative literacy. The idea is that our ability to collaborate effectively can be thought of as a type of literacy, something that we can develop and enhance through practice.

There are lots of great examples of how this manifests itself in other fields. A few weeks ago, I talked about cooking literacy in a Faster Than 20 blog post entitled, “Chefs, Not Recipes: The Tyranny of Tools and Best Practices.”

Tony Zhou’s wonderful video (brought to my attention via Alan Murabayashi’s blog post) talks about movie-making literacy using action film auteur Michael Bay as his subject. It’s a thoughtful breakdown of the difference between visual sophistication and visual literacy. At worst, if you’re a movie fan, you’ll walk away with a very concrete understanding of “Bayhem.”

I see a similar phenomenon in a lot of collaborative processes, where people patch together tools and “hot” concepts into experiences that seem collaboratively sophisticated, but that aren’t particularly collaboratively literate. Getting people into a circle and putting up lots of stickies does not necessarily equate to a great collaborative experience. I’d like to help prevent collaborative Bayhem.

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