Harder, not Easier

If anything, the Internet makes it harder, not easier, to get people to care, if only because the alternatives to political action are so much more pleasant and risk-free. This doesn’t mean that we in the West should stop promoting unfettered (read: uncensored) access to the Internet; rather, we need to find ways to supplant our promotion of a freer Internet with strategies that can engage people in political and social life.

— Evgeny Morozov, The Net Delusion (2011): 75


E-residency is a form of supranational digital identity issued, for the first time, by a country. It’s the online self, now with a government imprimatur.

— Estonia has become the first country to issue an officially recognized digital identity

Burke on Big Tech

I’m not too sure that, in the present state of Big Technology’s confusions, any educational policy, even if it were itself perfect and were adopted throughout the world, would be able to help much, when the world is so ardently beset by so much distress and malice.

Kenneth Burke, “Definition of Man” in Language as Symbolic Action (1966): 20.


Far from Lear

Human in this [modern, technological] construction is far from Lear’s “unaccommodated man,” “a poor, bare, forked animal”; rather, human in developed countries now means (for those who have access) cognitive capacities that extend into the environment, tap into virtually limitless memory storage, navigate effortlessly by GPS, and communicate in seconds with anyone anywhere in the world (who also has access).

— N. Katherine Hayles

How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (2012): 96f.


From Pakistan to Posting

An individual person has freedom to create his own identity in this complex world. Personally, I have experienced years of my life with no technology access before I moved to Austin, Texas from an underdeveloped country named Pakistan. It was a life changing moment for me. Austin has become a technopolis city where everything is interconnected with technology. I believe that the world is moving forwards in term of technology but gap of digital divide still exists to certain extent. Author writes in the book digital divide about technology diffusion, “… technology adoption and diffusion could increase traditional structural inequalities such as income and education.” (Straubhaar et al)

The issue of digital divide exists everywhere around the globe. When I was 16 years old, I was studying in an English medium school so I can go to an American university to get top quality education. In my school there was lack of access to technology. We were taught how to use computers and their hardware components but not the virtual world of internet. I had personal access to dial-up connection at my house which was 100 times slower than today’s internet speed. Secondly, there was no internet access on cell phones. There was no means of connecting online socially. The situation is getting better as there are more broadband connections across the country.

I moved to America when I was about to turn 21. I supposed that it was like a dream come true. My friends used to tell me about the adventures of their trip to America. I was back to my school life but the first requirement was access to internet. From my admission to exams everything is dependent on technology. I realized that there are public libraries which are very helpful to those who do not have access to internet. The two countries were completely different economically, socially, politically and technologically. I analyzed that having the knowledge of information and communications technologies (ICT) can also raise the issue of digital divide.

I joined University of Texas, where I met students of different race, culture and religion. In my opinion discrimination still exists. It’s not the same as it used to be in the segregated Austin as mentioned in the book, digital divide. Technology has given a platform to connect and socialize with others around the world. The usage of internet is sharply increasing but there are some who are not aware of the internet. We discussed in class about the articles on neighborhoods in Austin, Texas. We found out that neighborhoods with majority of white residents had a full length description on Wikipedia compared to African American and Latinos neighborhoods. I was amazed how digital divide can take place. I was just wondering that if it matters to me. My belief was that everyone is equal but reading several articles changed my mind.

My stand on issue of digital divide generates more questions in my head. Why only 8% of users on Tumblr are rich? Or why is Instagram female oriented? Or why African Americans use more Twitter than Facebook? Social networking leads to identity construction in this technological society. People use Twitter, Facebook or any other social networking website to portray themselves with the help of status updates, tweets, pictures and videos. Identity constructed online would be completely different in an offline environment.

The new world of technology has completely changed our lives. Everything is done online. Most of the time we browse internet using our cellphones, tablets or computers. It used to take forever to send a letter to someone but now it happens in few seconds via electronic mail. I think the issue of digital divide still exists in the society.. In near future the access to internet would be available to everyone. I believe it will the end the issue of digital divide.

This post was written by a student, and has been left unedited by the admin.

Divides on the Bridge to Communication

Through my years of using the internet as a means of communication, the idea of digital divides never really occurred to me until after taking the RHE309K Arguing the Digital Divide course. This class made me think of how everyone including myself are divided digitally in some way. When I used the internet to connect with my cousins from China, I saw technology playing its role as a bridge to connect myself to them. For the longest time, I only saw the bridge, and I failed to notice the obstacles that were on that bridge. When online and connecting to people in China, users need to be aware of what they say, but when there is a language barrier, it acts as an ever bigger obstacle towards communication.

Occasionally, I would communicate with my cousins using e-mail in English since the most Chinese I have taken was one semester of class. Since English is a required foreign language in the Chinese education curriculum, I assumed that their English is pretty good, but of course English is one of the hardest languages when learned as a second language, meaning there is a limit to their abilities compared to the level of native English speakers. This brings me back to the time in high school where my grandmother and parents wanted to try communication through video chat which was free instead of using the traditional method of calling. Since most of my cousins in China had a QQ account, it made sense for me to create my own QQ account to connect with them; however it was easier said than done. The QQ site did not have the option of changing languages and everything was in Chinese. My dad, who could read Chinese but did not really understand the vocabulary of basic computer usage, tried to translate everything on the page to me. We eventually downloaded the program and created an account, but we had trouble getting the video to work. We ended up giving up and had my cousins create Skype accounts. We have been communicating with Skype during holidays ever since.

I recently went on QQ for this assignment and apparently they have a QQ international now. Unlike Skype where there are many language options, QQ international only has English, Simplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese. Even though English is a language that is growing as it is being taught all over the world, it acts as a divide for older generations from foreign countries from using it. It is not just the foreign languages but also the computer language that acts as obstacles on the bridge the internet creates for communication. In addition, people usually prefer using the language they are more proficient in than a second language. If QQ international is trying to become truly international, and allow the world to gain access to it, it needs to provide as much language options as possible. For one to conquer the personal digital divide, one must understand the languages, languages that act as obstacles on the bridge, the bridge to communication.

This post was written by a student, and has been left unedited by the admin, with the exception of any hyperlinks.