I’m of the last generation –who grew up on the United States’ West Coast, anyways- who remembers a time when the Internet wasn’t readily accessible. Then, easing into using more websites than books for research starting in junior year of high school, I began to believe we could never go back to taking in information only as quickly as we can find the right book and page, then line by line.
However, according to Jessamyn West, Danah Boyd, and Michael Bhaskar, there are still many in this country who still only have this, either because of late/refusal to adopt, socioeconomic barriers, or those immersed in tech putting too much faith in the code and not understanding that information needs humanity to remain relevant.
Most striking of all was Boyd’s quote: “And today’s technology is valued — culturally and financially — based on how much it’s used by the most privileged members of our society.” This brought me back to Tim Wu’s The Master Switch, where I learned that technologies can only be as disruptive as they fulfill a societal need. But which society’s if only part of the population, the wealthy and established, is getting served?
The Luddites in West’s geography and those enjoying consumerism-on-demand through technology mentioned by Bhaskar are underserved in their own ways, the former not given much to choose from, and had, thus, preferred to abstain, while the latter given too much. Communities becoming truly hyperlinked will help show these people more of the options available and, therefore, make better informed decisions.