Digital divide eglobal4

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Seminar Four …

Seminar Four

New Technologies, New Digital Divides

Objective: to understand the importance of new technologies in processes of globalization. To appreciate the nature of various ‘digital divides’ in cyberspace.

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  • 1. SLSP2016 (Director: Austin Harrington, Session lecturer: Rodanthi Tzanelli) Lecture 4: New Technologies, New Digital Divides
  • 2. Summary • Original definition of ‘digital divide’ • Digital and urban spatial divide • IT technologies as media • Why is digital divide important? What are its implications for a globalised world? • Problems and solutions with original definition • Literacy and computing for a better future
  • 3. What is the digital divide? • It refers to some sort of segregation defined on the basis of digital tools and features – but can we define the tools, circumstances, conditions that sustain this divide? Where and how does this happen, in other words? • Original definition: a divide of social nature based on lack of access to IT hardware and software
  • 4. Physical divide corresponds with digital divide but which is partially only a social divide
  • 5. Example: Thessaloniki, Greece Behind main square local business based on histories of city No public face by municipality but also no entitlement to access or courses for them
  • 6. Bogus definition? :-P Compare it with old urban social divides Disregards virtuality’s role in defining ‘space’ beyond physical geographies But does this erase social inequalities in practice???
  • 7. A step back: digital (IT) technologies as media form • Media is a concept inclusive of communicative intermediary products that come in various forms: 1. print (such as books, newspapers and magazines) 2. visual (such as paintings, photographs) 3. audiovisual and digital (film, the Internet) • If the media act as vehicles of socio-cultural messages, mediations refer to the ways these messages are communicated and the very act of their communication (such as transmission). • They are institutions operating nationally but increasingly more transnationally • As institutions they entertain universal recognition like the family or the state, partaking in socialisation processes • Media literacy entwined with production of national and cosmopolitan citizenship (globalization as a developmental discourse: who has access to media spheres?)
  • 8. So in addressing a digital divide we need to take on board: 1. There are poor and socially disadvantaged populations with no access to IT resources 2. There are unemployed groups with not IT skills on their CV 3. There are disabled people with no physical access to social services 4. Etc, etc. etc…… Access to computers and stuff solves the problem!!!!
  • 9. Problems in future heaven () • Addressing such issues conforms to utopian shifts to equal global and national societies • Ou (u=non)+topos (=place) facilitated by placelessness of the Internet for example • All people, irrespective of colour, race, class, physical capability can be ‘world citizens’ in a virtually connected world… • But does focusing on software and hardware pay attention to the ways human and social systems inform technology?
  • 10. A step forward: how did (trans)national institutions respond to digital divides? • ‘Hole in the Wall’, a New Delhi government project: outdoor five-station computer kiosk for one of the poorest slums consisting by computer booths and monitors protruded through walls for street children. No teachers/instructors in line with unfettered educational development principles • Outcome: disrupted Internet access; no special educational provision in Hindi meant few could understand content; no community organisation involvement meant no supervision • Consequences: kids skipped school, learned to use joystick and keyboard and some to surf the web – but to no clear ends….
  • 11. A real hole in the wall… 
  • 12. Developed & developing world: Centralised or networked initiatives • Centralised efforts at regional or national self-presentation valuable, esp. where geographical, political and economic barriers • Existing cultural centres extend their presence virtually too, maximising impact and audiences (Louvre, Tate, etc) • Administrative presence online ensuring accessibility for all citizens (e.g. council sites, health services etc)
  • 13. More holes?  • Such websites require double literacy skills: background knowledge of Louvre’s global function as heritage repository • Social service websites may procure information but extra education on navigating them is necessary • Disability-friendly access uneven across world (e.g. alternative formats for blind or hard of hearing users?) • UK provision of relevant classes to working class users not matched in other countries: ‘digital divide’ geographically uneven (geopolitical divide)
  • 14. Reconsidering digital divide • Wrong to imply digital divide=binarism of ‘haves’ (affluent) and ‘have nots’ (poor) • We must factor in issues beyond physical access and connectivity – what about access to additional technologies enabling good use of computers (‘learning how to…’) • Original definition can be patronising, predicating old conceptions of civilisation on basis of IT capital • Example: US African-Americans often portrayed as ‘digitally poor’, not accounting for differences in access within such minority groups (divide bridged when White- Black income small or non-existent)
  • 15. Reconsidering digital divide • Notion of digital divide implying fixed causality chains – i.e. lack of access to computers and the Internet damages life prospects • Point true to some extent but ignoring how technology and society are compexly intertwined – we need turn attention to the ways social institutions such as the state, schooling or enable uses of technology and how
  • 16. No ‘digital divide’, only ‘social exclusion’ • An older debate rooted in development of social hierarchies on which technology is then hooked (there is no evil technology, only discriminatory practices and people) • Goal of using ICT with various marginalised groups is to further social inclusion by focusing ‘on the transformation, not the technology’ (Jarboe 2001: 31)
  • 17. Technology for social inclusion • Concept originating in European policy discourse, referring to participation of families and communities in society and the maintenance of control over their destiny by access to economic resources, health, employment, housing education • LET’S START TALKING ABOUT MODES OF CIVIC PARTICIPATION INSTEAD….. • Access as ownership or availability of computers ignores full cost (personal maintenance, software updates, Internet connection, institutional training and administration)
  • 18. Technology for social inclusion • Access as conduit: everybody can connect to a communal supply line providing electricity, cable and Internet on a regular basis ignores different supply models in and within different countries. • Mumbai slums and struggles to equal access tells us a different story: Dharavi households buy electricity from neighbours or local ‘lords’ with roots in community; few have Internet access. The only supplier of Internet/computer education is private (Reality Tours) • Access and literacy: people’s ability to make meaningful social use of computers and the Internet
  • 19. Literacy • Common: individual skill or ability to write and read placed nevertheless in specific socio-cultural contexts • Particular (national, regional/idiomatic) language/writing skills make sense in terms of mediation only if others understand you and institutions/organisations use them • Advanced: the mastery over processes by means of which culturally significant information is coded
  • 20. Literacy and ICT • Both present advances in human communication and knowledge production • Literacy prerequisite in participation at early stage industrialisation and capitalism, ICT prerequisite for participation in new capitalist-informational age • Both necessitate connection to physical artefact (book or computer), sources of information via this artefact and meaningful use of this information • Both prompt production of new knowledge and information based on human-artefact connections
  • 21. Acquisition of ICT literacy • Aforementioned connections between humans and artefacts show that ICT literacy is not just a cognitive skill but a question of power, politics and governance (global and national) • It intersects with opportunities to attend relevant classes, inequitable distribution of resources across nation-states and curricula that meet needs and ends of only particular social groups….
  • 22. Good access • Physical resources: access to computers and communication systems • Digital resources: materials made available online • Human resources: literacy concerning uses of computer use and online communication • Social resources: community, institutional and societal structures that support ICT access