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Interaction Literacy and Participatory Design

The term “literacy” usually refers to the ability to read and write functionally. The emphasis is on interaction with the written word - taken for granted as the cornerstone of education. But momentum may be building in the direction of a more visual and auditory literacy. With greater numbers gaining access to more diverse formats and sharing them across social networks, there’s an ever-increasing amount of “live” documentation of personal experiences. If this form of storytelling is experienced in a way fundamentally different from strictly textual reading, it may also require a different understanding of literacy.

In this session, Razorfish Health's Erin Abler explores the concept of "interaction literacy," a potential framework for clarifying the elements of multi-mediated, participatory forms of experience. Presenting a model for further development, she explores how insights into the elements of human experience can be used to create new design processes.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. How does the experience of multimedia/interactive storytelling differ from the experience of strictly textual narrative?
  2. Why do we need a new concept of literacy to frame our thinking about human interaction?
  3. What examples can we take from oral tradition to rethink existing concepts of literacy?
  4. What kind of vocabulary can we use to describe a literacy that integrates, rather than separates, various skill sets?
  5. How do we design experiences that engage the most appropriate modalities?



Erin Abler, Content Strategist/Information Architect, Razorfish Health

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