Wilk's chart struck a chord with me, as I've been trying to put my finger on this distinction but finding it slippery. In my own experience, I can see that my 14-year-old daughter is more literate than I am in specific "communication" categories (Facebook comes to mind), and she might be considered more transliterate than I am because of the ease with which she moves between communication tools. On the other hand, through the sheer advantage of years, I have broader literacy than she does in the "evaluative" categories, so, applying Wilk's taxonomy, I might be considered to have a higher level of information literacy.
Wilk goes on to employ a container/content distinction, and says that: ". . . information literacy addresses the problems of meaning, [while] transliteracy addresses the engineering problem . . . We need information literacy so we can think about the meaning of information. We need transliteracy so we can think about the communication of information" (Wilk, 2011, Containers and Content sect., para. 6).
So, is transliteracy separate from information literacy? Thomas et al. (2007) state that, "Our current thinking (although still not entirely resolved) is that because it offers a wider analysis of readings, writing and interacting across a range of platforms, tools, media and cultures, transliteracy does not replace, but rather contains, 'media literacy' and also 'digital literacy'" (Tracing transliteracy sect., para. 1). This statement doesn't stake ownership over information literacy - but implies that the breadth of transliteracy does allows it to contain many kinds of literacy.
In the comments section of Reorganizing Literacy, one reader comments that youth may have stronger ability to communicate across media, while older people may have stronger evaluative ability. Wilk responded by saying that:
". . . creating 'information literate' students may exceed our reach. Transliteracy, on the other hand, is well within our grasp as librarians...at least, transliteracy in the restricted sense in which I'm approaching it . . . As a librarian my first concern is whether, and if so how, students are able to access the right information at the right time" (2011, Comment 4).
Wilk's suggestion that teaching transliteracy may be easier than teaching information literacy helps to reinforce the distinction between containers and content. It also sheds some light on one of this week's questions regarding how libraries position themselves to remain relevant. It makes sense for librarians, who stay at the forefront of information and knowledge management, to help library users find their way through the increasingly complex media ecology by teaching transliteracy "best practices". In contrast, becoming information literate in one of Wilk's "specific" evaluative categories would require deeper study, and would be beyond the scope of the services libraries provide.
However, media literacy and critical literacy, both listed by Wilk as "non-specific" evaluative literacies, are particularly entwined with the tools of transliteracy. If I were to rework Wilk's taxonomy chart, I would probably move the non-specific evaluative literacies into the communicative literacies.
I'd be curious to know others' thoughts on this distinction.
P.S. - As a bonus to those of us in the MACT program, in Wilk's post there's a nice tie-back to the Comm Theory course we all started out with - Wilk quotes Shannon on the "engineering problem" of communication. I had sort of moved cybernetics into the back of the cupboard, so it was interesting to see its relevance to this question. McLuhan is also standing at the doorway on the container/content discussion. To what extent is the medium the message? I can't say I have the answer but it's still somehow reassuring to see course content dovetailing, and oddly rewarding to see how the breadth of material we've covered in the program allows us to consider a variety of perspectives on questions like this.
Thomas et al. (2007). Transliteracy: Crossing Divides. First Monday, Volume 12 Number 12 - 3 December 2007. Retrieved March 23, 2011, from:
Wilk. (2011). Reorganizing literacy. Sense and reference: a philosophical library blog. Retrieved March 23, 2011, from: http://senseandref.blogspot.ca/2011/09/reorganizing-literacy.html