Selwyn (2006) covers so many things in his article about digital inequality. Initially, he introduces the current expectations that draw on new technology to the empowerment of younger generation, and reviews the effort that governments and policymakers have made on promotion of ICT utility to eliminate digital inequality. But the present situation is not as good as the previous imaginable. There are two main reasons: firstly, the preceding understanding that technological deficiency is at the heart of digital inequality; secondly, four underpinning hypotheses of digital inequality.
I strongly agree what Selwyn has rethought the above assumptions. I do not think the whole younger generation are eager to joined with new technologies simply because everyone is different. If there is something young people naturally aligned with, that would be they are all “young” which turns into a better adaptability in the changing environment. And in terms of the value of ICT, an ideally outcome relies largely on what and how young people would do if they are able to get access to new technology. Therefore, it is not surprising that the outcome of ICT use is not as planned if the new technology has not been applied in a wanted method.
What I find really interesting is the manner that author put forward his suggestion about policymaking in the future. Selwyn (2006: 8) implies the future of making use of new technology lies in find a certain method to utilize the “real usefulness of technology”. In this case, “real usefulness” refers to the opposite of aimless daily use. This paper therefore resulted in a solution that current socially and culturally orientated ICT interventions and initiatives may only be successful if accompanied by a fundamental shift in the thinking which underpin them. In other word, it is better to follow young people’s own interests and everyday life experience. He also proposed possible outcomes of the empowerment of young people’s digital engagement. One of which derives from what Watt (2006) argues an inherent tension of using ICT for societal purposes. This further promotes a reflective question that who is to take control of the new technology.
After this week’s reading, I was surprised at how readings for each week are interconnected with each other. We reviewed previous discussions on identity for the first week, followed by arguments of “reflective learning and blogging” for the last two weeks. The topic for this week is civic engagement, gender participant and digital inequality, for which I regard as the reflection of self identity in the domain of young people’s attitude towards new technology.
As mentioned in identity, technology provides us newly contexts of identity performance (Merchant 2006). Thus I do not think new technology can profoundly alter what we used to behave, but reinforces the performance of one’s pre-existing identity in the manner of technological dimension. Back to the beginning of this paper, research data show that better educated, relatively well-off, urban-dwelling white males are more likely to enjoy a higher quality and quantity of ICT access and use (Selwyn 2006：3). Meanwhile, ICT utility should not be a privilege but a right for all young people who want to get access to it. Therefore the bottom-up activity that considers more on individual requests rather than macro social-economic development is really needed to be employed. Then where shall we start?
Probably as Selwyn (2006: 13) outlines, many of the suggested changes in this paper offer no guarantee of universal success. We should not assume the assumed public goods are globally suitable. Eliminating digital inequality has a long way to go.
News of this week
The 2014 QS World University Rankings were published early this week. IoE has ranked No.1 in the world for education.
Hope everyone could enjoy and survive in the deadline season…