Technology a cultural equalizer


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Lecture presented at the PLAI National Congress on the theme “Libraries: Preservers and Promoters of Culture and the Arts" held at Punta Villa Resort, Iloilo City

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Technology a cultural equalizer

  1. 1. “Technology: A Cultural Equalizer?” By Fe Angela M. Verzosa PLAI National Congress on “Libraries: Preservers and Promoters of Culture and Arts” Punta Villa Resort, Arevalo, Iloilo City November 20-22, 2013
  2. 2. Introduction Is Technology a cultural equalizer? Can we promote technology to be a cultural equalizer? How can we preserve our Culture in an age of virtualization? Is there something we can do about the “digital divide”? 2 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  3. 3. 1. Who have access to technology?    3 “Lack of access” means “Lack of opportunity.” Only 35 percent of the world’s population is connected to the Internet, and people in rural and poor communities are the least likely to have online access or the skills to navigate the digital world. Through the Internet, individuals search for employment, access government programs, learn new skills through online courses, research important health issues, and engage in social interactions with distant family members and friends. Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  4. 4. 1. Who have access to technology? Today, there are 4.6 billion people who do not yet use the Internet for a variety of reasons: cost availability need 4 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  5. 5. 5 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  6. 6. Source: 6 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  7. 7. Internet Access    7 "Freedom on the Net 2013" report, a study that evaluates 60 countries, based on obstacles to access, limits on content, and violations of user rights. The Philippines ranks 10th worldwide, despite monitoring and filtering activities in the workplace as reported in the country. The study indicates, despite nearly unrestricted access to the internet in the country, only 36% of an estimated 96 million Filipinos were connected online in 2012. Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  8. 8. Internet Access    "Usage is concentrated in urban areas, with rural areas largely underserved.” "A significant number of users still rely on dialup connections, as just two percent of the population had fixed broadband subscriptions in 2012.” “Steep broadband subscription fees stand in the way of higher penetration.” (In 2013, even as legislators urged telecoms to cut rates by 50 percent in order to promote universal access, the average cost of broadband subscriptions remained between $7 and $19 a month). 8  "An industry monopoly has contributed to inflated costs." Fe Angela Verzosa
  9. 9. 1. Who have access to technology? In developing countries, there are far more men than women online, and the reasons for this Internet gender gap often have more to do with culture and environmental factors than anything else. 9 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  10. 10. 1. Who have access to technology?     10 25% fewer women than men have access to the Internet, and the gap soars to 35% in SEA, and nearly 45 percent in other regions like Africa. Aside from lack of access, almost 40 percent cite lack of familiarity or comfort with technology. Lack of awareness of the Internet’s potential benefits keeps women from tapping its potential. In India and Egypt women believe the Internet is not “appropriate” for them, and their culture disapproves. Source: Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  11. 11. Internet Gender Gap 11 Source: Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  12. 12. 12 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  13. 13. 2. Is Technology really culturally neutral? Well the physics aspect of technology might be universal, but the user experience is not. People need to be comfortable using a tool. The more barriers to its use, the less likely it will used effectively: language age attitude education access gender Or is this the case of the “digital divide” ? 13 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  14. 14. 14 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  15. 15. 3. Is FB the great Cultural Equalizer? Everything is posted on Facebook– from simple food choices to religious convictions, political advocacies, to witty jokes, wise sayings, photos of different people, various events, etc. On Facebook, everyone has the ability to be a creator, editor, producer and distributor. 16 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  16. 16. April 2013 Updates on Facebook Stats •Total number of Facebook users: 1.06 billion •Daily active Facebook users: 618 million •Total number of Facebook pages: 50 million •Average number of monthly posts per page: 36 •Total number of Facebook mobile users: 680 million •Total number of Facebook apps: 10 million •Total number of Facebook friend connections: 150 billion •Average number of friends per Facebook user: 141.5 •Total number of Facebook likes since launch: 1.13 trillion •Average daily Facebook likes: 2.7 billion Source:
  17. 17. Global Facebook Rank 1- US 2- India 3- Indonesia 4- Brazil 5- Mexico 6- Turkey 7- UK 8- Philippines 9- France 10- Germany
  18. 18. Of the Philippine Facebook population, 39% of users are 18-24 years old and 24% are 25-34 years old. Combined, this accounts for 63% of the total Facebook population.
  19. 19. 14.43 million Filipinos are active social networkers 60% are messagers 73% are content sharers 46% are joiners and creators of groups
  20. 20. Philippines has been tagged as "The Social Networking Capital of the World”
  21. 21. g
  22. 22. II. Can we promote technology to be a cultural equalizer? Starting Assumption: The role of libraries as cultural equalizers
  23. 23. The Role of Libraries as Equalizers  With their existing infrastructure, dedicated staff, and mission to connect individuals to information, libraries are uniquely suited to offering public access and technology training to people who would otherwise be left behind in the digital world. 24 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  24. 24. The Role of Libraries as Equalizers Libraries are essential to an educated and enlightened community because, next to schools, they are the most effective equalizer between all socio-economic and demographic groups. 25 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  25. 25. The Challenge  Although the Internet is often hailed as “The Great Equalizer,” allowing everyone with a connection access to libraries and their wealth of information in an instant, the unfortunate and perhaps surprising truth is that access is not distributed equally to all segments of the population. 26 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  26. 26. The Opportunity  Everyone deserves the best possible education we can provide, regardless of: – – – – – – – – 27 Socioeconomic status Gender Religion Citizenship status (Dis)ability Race or ethnicity Sexual Orientation Etc. Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  27. 27. The Challenge  Libraries – – – – 28 are NOT culturally neutral they decide which materials to acquire, what resources to use… they decide how users are to be served, what they should access… they decide how to engage (or not engage) their users in the learning process… And so on... Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  28. 28. The Opportunity Libraries uniquely provide programs for literacy and reading, opportunities for research, cultural events and information to all. 29 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  29. 29. Libraries using Web 2.0 tools     Promoting general library services - 88% Marketing specific programs/services 72% Providing quick updates to users - 75% Reaching a new audience of potential users 54% Source: Social Media, Libraries, and Web 2.0: How American Libraries Are Using New Tools for Public Relations and to Attract New Users — Fourth Annual Survey, November 2011.
  30. 30. The Challenge  31 Technology is “moving so fast.” It is a critical instrument of innovation transforming the ways we live our personal and professional lives. But only a narrow and exclusive sector of our population is learning the skills and techniques imparted by technology. Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  31. 31. The Opportunity  Libraries can reinvent themselves and embrace an expanded role as online information and learning centers  A recent study shows that library users tend to access more information about health, government, education, and culture than those who use the Internet at other public locations. 32 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  32. 32. The Problem of cultural inequity  33 The problem of cultural inequity is one of consciousness, not only one of practice – Impossibility of implementing a multicultural environment if one doesn’t think and see multiculturally – “I cannot teach against racism if I am a racist” – Shaking free from traditional models of teaching and learning… Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  33. 33. III. How can we preserve our Culture in an age of virtualization? Libraries as “The Equitable Learning Environment”
  34. 34. Libraries as cultural promoters   35 The multicultural nature of society has changed libraries world-wide resulting in the need for significant changes in the types of services, programs, and collections provided to culturally diverse communities of users. Transforming libraries into multicultural institutions will require culturally competent professionals who understand and respect the diverse backgrounds of individuals, and who have developed a high level of expertise and knowledge about culture and its significance in all aspects of librarianship. Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  35. 35. Developing Cultural Competencies    36 “Cultural competence is a highly developed ability to recognize the significance of culture in one’s own life and in the lives of others; “and to come to know and appreciate diverse cultural backgrounds and characteristics through interaction with individuals from diverse linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic groups; “and to fully integrate the culture of diverse groups into services, work, and institutions in order to enhance the lives of both those being served by the library profession and those engaged in service.” Source: Fe Angela M. Verzosa papers/Patricia_Montiel-Ove.pdf
  36. 36. Developing Cultural Competencies Cultural competence is simply defined as” the capacity to understand and respect differences of culture”, and “to address issues of disparity among diverse populations competently”. Note: ACRL has recently released the “Cultural Competency Standards for Academic Libraries.” These standards represent an excellent step towards inclusivity and cultural pluralism -- a necessary part of the continuing conversations about social justice and the importance of diverse perspectives in civic life. 37 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  37. 37. Developing Cultural Competencies   38 it means having the ability to create and maintain a more equitable environment for library users, including the ability to establish and maintain relationships among diverse cultural and ethnic groups. “Cultural competence does not end with knowledge about diverse cultures. It begins a lifelong process of learning about cultural differences to effectively reach those who would benefit the most from library services.” ontiel-Overall2009Cultural%20competence%20a%20conceptual%20framework %20for%20LIS%20professionals.pdf Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  38. 38. Developing Cultural Competencies Identify and work to eliminate biases, prejudices, and assumptions Example: Race/ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, (dis)ability, first language, etc.  Identify and work to broaden your teaching learning, and research style to suit patron needs (and not your preferences)  39 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  39. 39. Developing Cultural Competencies     40 Provide services in the dialect of the community. Provide access to popular literature of interest to diverse cultural interests of library users. Plan for instructional methods in the “language of the users” and vary instructional materials with various learning styles. Work to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots. Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  40. 40. Closing Reflection Libraries are the great equalizer. Libraries serve people of every age, education level, income level, ethnicity and physical ability. For many people, libraries provide resources that they could not otherwise afford---resources they need to live, learn, work and govern. - ALA Declaration for the Right to Libraries 41 Fe Angela M. Verzosa
  41. 41. Questions?