Deep Literacy



Deep Literacy is required for success in the 21st century but the language and culture around it is still mostly associated with social misfits – read ‘nerds’ – or boring work. However, deep literacy is really about deep self-realisation. Deep literacy is the mindset to excel as who you really are, freed from previous conventions and able to express yourself through getting more intimate with your work through improving your skills.


To be literate originally only meant to know the letters. Deep literacy however, is authoring and reading beneath the surface, connecting and collaborating deeply.


Deep literacy means means authoring honestly, cleanly and clearly - providing deep citations to increase the credibility and comprehension. It equally means that the reader is responsible for active, thoughtful interpretation.


Deep literacy is about knowing the tools and techniques of your trade very well, supporting your ability to thrive immersed in your work, while continuously updating your knowledge of new tools, perspectives and developing deeper connections - deep literacy is not something acquired once, like the ability to ride a bike - it comes from skills and perspectives nurtured over a lifetime.


You become deeply literate when you no longer just try to stay on top of your information - you become deeply literate you dive in - when you work hard on getting the most out of your  mental and computer tool sets.


“Deep Literacy emerges when cognitive strategies enhanced by powerful computational tools enable knowledge workers to interact effectively with the ever growing inter-connection of digitized information needed to carry out their work successfully.”
Livia Polanyi



Interactivity & Connections


The most fundamental aspect of the universe is interactivity and in terms of deep literacy it is interactivity through which we can join mental and digital connections into links: Connections & Links





Don’t throw away 200,000 years of human evolution - you cannot be deeply literate if you start entirely from scratch. Nurture your curiosity, learn as much as you can, whether from a teacher or a book, YouTube or online courses. Feed your spark  - when something catches your attention, when something feels odd, when you have a question or an intuition - look it up, ask someone - do anything to feed your spark... Deep Learning Manifesto




Document Interactions


Documents need to move from paper simulacra to richly interactive digital documents to truly serve the intellectual needs of coming generations: Socratic Authorship






The deeply literate student has the same attitude as a Kung Fu acolyte - Kung Fu it simply means ‘work’ and ’accomplishment’.  Do you work to become a deeply literate Kung Fu master?


Deep literacy is about developing the skills to deeply understand, deeply communicate, deeply collaborate and to quite simply deliver - if you are not an expert with digital tools in the 21st century and you believe you can live on your ' vague notion of 'creativity', you are not keeping up. Deep Literacy Tools


It's simply not enough to complain about issues with the tools we have, we need to actively work together to build ever more effective tools to augment our ability to become ever more deeply literate: Tool Development






As Doug Engelbart remembers from his epiphany which would lead to his great insight and his pioneering work on computer augmented work:


“Boy, the world is complex, jeez, the problems are getting more complex and urgent and have to be dealt with collectively - we have to deal with them collectively.”
Doug Engelbart


Deep literacy is not a solo pursuit - deep literacy is about how you effectively work with others in a common direction: Deep Collaboration




The Future of Text


To support deep literacy I host an annual symposium, work together to create the document formats of the future which will be both the substrate and 'soil' - where new media and new interactions can grow - and we develop tools for knowledge work. Please join us at The Future of Text Symposium.


BTW, I use the term ‘deeper’ rather than higher since it’s about getting into your information, not floating at a distance above it :-)


Frode Hegland





(deep literacy for this site is being discussed on this blog: