“Information wars in emerging markets may not represent as big a threat to Facebook’s business as angry lawmakers in Washington. But people are dying, and communities are tearing themselves apart with the tools Facebook has built. That should qualify as an even greater emergency in Menlo Park.”
It is digital literacy that may produce the real separation between the haves and the have-nots. I’m not talking about knowing how to use a computer or a phone. I’m talking about being able to navigate the bullshit and misinformation that dominates these social networks and news platforms.
The new digital divide–along the lines of the book–is not about access but about people who have the time, energy and skills to develop new media literacy and those who don’t.
Consider the analogous divide in health and nutrition–and its deadly consequences. Part of society, with disposable income and access to healthy foods, can avoid the perils of an industrial food culture designed to addict people to the things that are making them fat and sick. (Or they can hire personal trainers to mitigate the effects). The other part–stuck in food deserts with kids to feed before they start their evening shift–eats what’s cheap and convenient…
A portion of the population will be stuffed with hormone-injected garbage (Huffington Post slideshows, Facebook linkbait and other Cheetos-like information) while the other portion lives in its own reality of tailor-made, high quality information that makes them increasingly wealthy and utterly detached. One side will be able to influence, direct and exploit the other side because one controls the media while the other is at its mercy.
Spreading literacy is never just about teaching people to read, it is also about imposing specific values about how and what people ought to read. In the same way, we might question whether Internet.org’s goal of spreading “connectedness” isn’t also tied to a desire for people to “connect” in a specific way. Though we often ascribe an innate democratic and participatory spirit to the Internet, almost all of our Internet activity today is mediated through platforms whose protocols impose a very specific logic on the ways we use sites and connect to one another. And the data generated from such activity – much like the information spread through the teaching of literacy – can be used to exploit just as easily as it can be used to liberate.
There’s a lot of discussion in the world about the two billion that are connected. We spend all day talking about the issues of e-commerce and start-ups and globalisation and so forth, and we forget that the majority of people are not online and that they will come online, the majority of them in the next five years.
It’s going to happen very fast. It’s going to happen in countries which don’t have the same principles that we in America have from the British legal system – around law and privacy and those sorts of things. All sorts of crazy stuff is going to happen. Human societies can’t change that fast without both good and negative implications.
…The future for us is great. The quality of life of the first world just gets better and better and better. But for these people, they’re going to go through a rough patch where all this information shows up and they can’t quite figure out what to do.
1 in 4 teens are “cell-mostly” internet users, who say they mostly go online using their phone and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.
Young people today have lots of experience… interacting with new technologies, but a lot less so of creating [or] expressing themselves with new technologies. It’s almost as if they can read but not write.
No one guessed Wikipedia’s success, not even its founders. We simply didn’t know that, without a work plan, a lesson plan, or a taxonomy of what “counts” as knowledge, without leadership or payments or designated roles, people–non-experts–would build the largest encyclopedia the world has ever known, because we love to share what we know with others, and we’re even willing to spend endless hours creating our own community standards, editing, and making it right.
None of these students had met one another in person. The class directory included people from 125 countries. But, after weeks in the class, helping one another with Newton’s laws, friction and simple harmonic motion, they’d started to feel as if they shared the same carrel in the library. Together, they’d found a passageway into a rigorous, free, college-level class, and they weren’t about to let anyone lock it up.