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A Multicultural Approach to Media Literacy in the Twenty-first Century


Antonio López

Traditional media literacy models are mostly left-brained, inherited from the legacy of alphabetic literacy, the Gutenberg press revolution, and industrial mass media production. New digital media radically alter the environment: their nonlinear, multisensory, field-like properties are more right-brain oriented. Consequently, rather than focus exclusively on deconstructing the products of design objects (such as an advertisement «text»), digital learning should respond to the design of the system itself, including cultural and cognitive bias.
Mediacology proposes a design-for-pattern approach called «media permaculture», which restructures media literacy to be in sync with new media practices connected with sustainability and the perceptual functions of the right brain hemisphere. In the same way that permaculture approaches gardening by establishing the natural parameters of its ecological niche, media permaculture explores the individual’s «mediacological niche» in the context of knowledge communities. By applying bioregional thinking to the symbolic order, media permaculture redresses the standard one-size-fits-all literacy model by taking into account diverse cognitive strategies and emerging convergence media practices. Antonio López applies a practical knowledge of alternative media, cross-cultural communication, and ecology to build a meaningful theory of media education.