There's a new World Disasters Report
focused on technology coming out soon, and a shiny, polished video
paired with it. I would love to hear your thoughts on the video, as I think it overlaps with a lot of what HASTAC Scholars are doing. What first strikes me about it is its use of the unexamined technological-utopian hype that I'm trying to break through in my research. All we need is more technology and data, and then inevitably and evenly the world will be, simply, a better place. In its producers' desires to see "people in the most remote areas of the world have access to the same information and technology that we praise," they seem to express a neo-colonial desire to leave nobody outside the systems of knowledge and economic production of the global North. In that quote there's an Othering process happening: "us," "them," and assumptions about what "those people" have, don't have, need, and the ways "they" must be in the world.
I see this as relating to the digital divide in the sense that, right now, some are marginalized from using technology on their terms, in ways that they deem beneficial for their own well-being. Newer research on the digital divide makes a productive turn from more foundational research by suggesting that the root of the digital divide is not simply access to technology, but having the skills and power to use technology, and to shape the ways those technologies impact your environment. Thus, the goal of advocacy and public scholarship research should be seen not simply as getting more people incorporated into existing technological paradigms/software/hardware, but helping people and communities leverage technologies in new ways, often in conflict with the purposes for which those technologies were developed. One aspect of this might entail "tweaking" technology to capture different epistemological frameworks and political-economic imperatives. Such research is already happening (within my discipline of geography) in qualitative GIS and anti-capitalist activist technologies.
What are your thoughts?