I know I have blogged (ranted) on the subject of web literacy before (here), however that particular thought was aimed more at ‘thought-leaders’ and the like. This post is aimed more at thinking about people (regardless of sector) who have to use the web on a day to day basis. For these people I believe that some basic level of coding should be a mandatory skill. You wouldn’t let someone who didn’t have basic literacy skills draft and send a press release or write copy for a brochure so why isn’t the same basic level of ‘digital literacy’ required of people who output content on/for the web on an almost daily basis?
I’m not talking about the ability to juggle python, ruby, php and asp simultaneously, what I’m trying to describe is a better understanding of things like basic HTML markup (that actually conforms to standards!), or simple CSS. I think that the time has passed where these are ‘specific’ skills that should only be expected of people with ‘digital’ or ‘online’ in their job title (although lots of those don’t understand this sort of thing either…). If, for example, you work in a marketing department and produce copy for e-comms on a regular basis shouldn’t you have some idea as to how this should be marked up? I know a lot of time is spent by people wrestling fruitlessly with crap WYSIWYG editors that a basic knowledge of HTML would solve in an instant.
However there seems to be a fundamental mental block with lots of people whenever this sort of thing is mentioned. It is unfortunately seen as geeky, inaccessible and hard. Maybe this is a result of the lamentable way that IT has been taught in schools for too long? Whatever the reason I really do think that a basic understanding of this sort of thing would help lots of people in lots of very small ways to do their job (or help other people do their job) in a more efficient, effective way.