In the late 20th century, the world was in the middle of great change and expansion when it comes to knowledge due to the computer and its many functions. These functions were new and exciting in the world of composition because of the easy to use word processor and the birth of the Internet.

The rapid evolution of the computer age technology lead to many people fearing what the future may bring. Dennis Baron saw this growing trend and went on to discuss the possibility of how this technology may change literacy in his article, “From Pencils to Pixels: The Stages of Literacy Technologies”, which was published in 1999. In doing this, Baron explained how literacy has changed throughout different eras and how with every new technology, people will have some fear and reluctance when it comes to accepting the new technology.

Dennis Baron, author of From Pencils to Pixels

Dennis Baron, author of From Pencils to Pixels

Baron begins by looking back to the invention of the pencil, Morse code, the printing press, and the telegraph while discussing the issues with the widespread availability of these technologies and whether what is produced when using these technologies is authentic and reliable. Another reason that emerging technologies are met with resistance is that many of these technologies are changing literacy. Technological language and written language are different from spoken language. As with all languages, different rules and social norms apply. After securing many of his points, Baron discusses how language has moved from just merely text; the use of graphics on computers has also been regarded as a type of language. With the adoption of graphics into this family of language, they too could be used fraudulently.

Pixelized Pencil

Pixelized Pencil

Dennis Baron wants to dispel the negative feelings about the advancement in technology, literacy and writing. Baron wants the general public to learn to use these technological advancements to their benefit and to not be afraid of change.

Youtube user, Michael Wesch , uploaded a video in early 2007 called Web 2.0….The Machine is Us/ing Us. The video, which has been viewed over eleven million times, is focused on the transformation of digital writing. He artfully uses many digital formats to explain his message. While using these digital entities, Wesch works chronologically to show the transformation of digital texts. He shows the viewer how change can bring forth progress, and also should not impose fear.

Wesch is merely explaining the change in literacy on the Internet and Baron is speaking of all the change in literacy up until 1999 and their approaches are completely different. Their approaches are most likely different due to the difference audience and the further progression of technology between the time that Baron published his article and Wesch posted his video. While Wesch focuses on the Internet, it’s coding and the way it has progressed and become more user friendly, the video also draws to the idea of authenticity. If posting information becomes easier for the user, it is also easier for the user to post false information.

The Internet’s validity has been a major issue in current society. Growing up with information being posted on the Internet, most of the millennial generation knows not to trust many homemade websites. It is easy to spot them for most millennials, the issue with mass accessibility to posting information on the Internet is that not every eye can spot something that is false.

One website that has been criticized for it’s gaps in validity is Wikipedia. The website is a well-known Internet encyclopedia. Many people have found themselves enthralled with the mass amount of information on this encyclopedic site. Due to it’s mass amount of criticism, it now has become a site that is being monitored, but it was originally created to be a site that was formulated to give information to the masses, from the masses. It was user created, therefore any information could have been placed onto this site. Now however, the site has been asking it’s users for help in clearing out the fraud.


Although Wesch and Baron had different mediums when constructing their message, both express a sense of urgency to an ongoing problem. Validity is an issue that tends to mask the benefits of an ever-evolving definition of literacy. Hopefully, that mask can one day be removed and the general public can see the beauty in the expansion of what used to be known as literacy.