Sunday, December 31, 2006

Revisiting Digital Divides

Before I left the MLA to fly home, I did catch my colleague Ellen Strenski's talk about "Electronic Equity or Exclusion? Four Campus Digital Divides." She cited the research of Kenneth Keniston, who locates four digital divides in contemporary India that are similar to those in supposedly high-tech colleges and universities. I liked the fact that she raised the issue of pre-programmed templates for English discourse with limited computer-friendly vocabularies, to which users had little access to the code for purposes of personal customization. (PowerPoint, of course, is the classic example of this.) It's a divide that Manuel Castells and Stuart Moulthrop have also written about. She also argued for observing the more subtle and more insidious aspects of the standard divide in access to the Internet that is emerging even in the developing world, when campus access can be hindered by corporate incursions into Network Neutrality or the edicts of the RIAA. Strenski was on the panel with Jonathan Alexander, author Digital Youth: Emerging Literacies on the World Wide Web, although he didn't talk about digital issues yesterday.

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