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The True Story of Lola Slug - How I Defeated My Own Digital Illiteracy.


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This is Lola Slug's "ignite talk" at Scratch Conference Bordeaux 2017 scratchbdx2017.

When I decided to turn my old project "Lola Slug at the Exhibition" into an animated app, I was working in traditional publishing and I had never programmed anything.

There were around some tools, promising to "democratize" digital publishing by allowing designers like me to transform their books into apps without having to learn to code. I spent two years testing one of them until it was suddenly dismissed and I was left with my finished app working only in a broken unpublished copyrighted player.

I felt teased.

I experienced on my own that digital illiteracy acts exactly in the same way as normal illiteracy: you need "scribes" to express yourself, you need to believe them and they have the power to interpret your opinion, emendate it, or just leave you without words.

I had to find a way to learn the "digital language" because my creativity was limited by my ignorance.
Volunteering at Coderdojo, I discovered Scratch and its blocks interface. The best of it was that it did not substitute me, it just reduced the unnecessary difficulty of typing code, leaving me all the freedom and the lovely hardness of thinking with my head and making my mistakes.

Like a child, I tinkered with the blocks of an inspired-to-Scratch software every afternoon and night a whole year long, feeling sometimes like a running-on-mountain old Diesel, but I eventually published Lola Slug at the Exhibition exactly like I had it in my mind, even with some features, like compensatory tools for dyslexic children, that my old "scribe" regarded as "impossible" and "worthless".

Feeling myself illiterate in my late 30s, inspired my mayor personal success and changed my perspective.
From then on I have been taking every single occasion to defeat my and other people's digital illiteracy. Lola and I love to help children discover what is inside our app and encourage them to construct their own stories trough Scratch. Seeing kids at work makes me think the best democratization tool is education.

Published in: Education
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