What does it mean to be literate at a time when you can search over billions of texts in less than 300 milliseconds? Although you might think that “literacy” is one of the great constants that transcends the ages, the skills of a literate person have changed substantially over time as texts and technology allow for new kinds of reading and understanding. Knowing how to read is just the beginning of it—knowing how to frame a question, pose a query, how to interpret the texts that you find, how to organize and use the information you discover, how to understand your metacognition—these are all critical parts of being literate as well. In this talk Russell review what literacy is today, in the age of Google, and show how some very surprising and unexpected skills will turn out to be critical in the years ahead.
Daniel M. Russell is the Über Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness for Google where he studies how people search for and organize information. He earned his PhD in computer science at the University of Rochester (NY), specializing in artificial intelligence until he realized that magnifying and understanding human intelligence was his real passion. Twenty years ago he foreswore AI in favor of HI, and enjoys teaching, learning, running and music, preferably all in one day. He has worked at Xerox PARC before it was PARC.com, was in the Advanced Technology Group at Apple where he wrote the first 100 web pages for www.Apple.com using SimpleText. He has also worked at IBM as a senior research scientist, and briefly at a startup that developed tablet computers a few years before the iPad.