My parents and other elders often ask me questions about the Web — the way it works, how it really got started, how it’s evolved, and how why it changes so much.
I have the answers to many of these questions and willingly take the time to explain, but often wish I could hand the questioners something to read. Each of my answers teaches an individual one time. By providing an article or other resource that can be consulted again and again and is eminently readable, I offer a person the opportunity to learn or relearn over and over.
A good discovery is the Washington Post article, A Unified 20-Year History or the Radically Changing Way We Relate to the Web. Despite it’s somewhat unwieldy title, the article provides concise information with a broad overview of the digital world’s evolution over the last 20 years and why our digital literacy skills also change. Written by Doug Belshaw, the December 3, 2014 article divides the the history or the World Wide Web into five eras (four past and the one we are living in right now) and describes in some detail the changes and emerging practices that occurred in each era.
A key to helping people understand how the connected world evolves is helping them to see why the skills that we taught “yesterday” are not the digital skills that people need to learn today. If many older adults are to continue acquiring more digital skills, it is critical to help them figure out why the older computer skills that worked so well just a few years ago are now, in may ways, outdated. Belshaw lays everything out clearly, sharing the tones of the times, the metaphors, the terminologies, and the all-important skills that are required to do new things and, more importantly, to communicate now.
The Web functions as a new source of information demanding new strategies of handling this information, as well as brings along new ways of communicating.