Technology as a means to an end

Earlier this month, there was an op-ed in the New York Times titled “Internet Access Is Not a Human Right.” One of the main points of the piece was that internet access is always a means to an end – the “end” being some kind of content or service or tool.

It’s not an exact parallel, but this reminded me of the difference between information literacy – the ability to recognize the need for information, and to locate, evaluate, and use that information effectively – and information technology skills. Likely, you’ll need certain technology skills in order to locate information, but just because you know how to use search engines, databases, or online catalogs does not mean you have all the other skills as well.

As the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) states, “Information literacy, while showing significant overlap with information technology skills, is a distinct and broader area of competence. Increasingly, information technology skills are interwoven with, and support, information literacy.” However, they aren’t the same thing. The means to access information has changed, is changing, and will continue to change in the future; ensuring that everyone has the right to access and the skills to do so  is the important thing.

2 thoughts on “Technology as a means to an end

    • As it says in the New York Times article, “technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself.” So, while access to information may be a right, the Internet itself – i.e. the means to access that information – may not be.

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