What do you understand by digital inclusion? Do you harbour an ideal of the logistical barriers to public service being torn down by our ability to access information? I do – which is why I am so frustrated this morning. My motivation is at its lowest ebb for some time. Odd, you might say, given that I recently blogged: “Vertical learning curves are great” over at http://conkertu.tumblr.com .
Motivation is critical to me. In my prior life as a social researcher, I measured it to chart service satisfaction, with my current alter-ego as part-time teacher I use it to keep adolescents engaged. For nearly twenty years, my mantra has been “what is the carrot?” for interviewing, survey design, lesson planning, this site. There isn't much I haven't consumed to ensure that those watching, reading and listening stay focused and continue to do so. Content is king.
But I am increasingly uncertain as to what content means nowadays. As CMS's diversify, there seem to be ever more tools to present material which is less about message than medium. I am reminded of ICT lessons in which kids spend hours experimenting with features instead of focusing on what's conveyed, for an outcome which looks great, but shows little other than a knowledge of how to shift from one slide to the next.
I'm feeling stupid this morning because I'm at a loss with Google Wave. It's yet another tool I need to master in order to disseminate ideas and I don't have enough time to make a decent job of it, yet. Ideas come first. At times like this, I feel I'm constantly playing catchup and I wonder if anyone really has the time to digest anything at all before moving on to the next new medium or API.
Don't get me wrong, I'm exctied by the flexibility. There are some great ideas out there, but set in the context of the superb cider producer I met at a farmers' market last weekend - who doesn't have a website because he hasn't got the time - I for one start to wonder who does? My first reaction was, “well, how stupid is that?” - probably what yours is now, but hang on. You see, if our cider producer chose to have a site, he'd need to research how to create it, find a supplier to host it, then start worrying about traffic once it was live. And if that meant producing less cider, it would be a very great shame.
Supposing he outsourced? There's a host of “experts” who gladly part the unsuspecting from their cash and my guess is our cider producer would probably dodge the bulk of those. Most folk who’ve been in business for a while can spot a cowboy when they see one. Next up are the blind leading the blind, on a road paved with good intentions, those big fish in little ponds who won't admit defeat. I've been guilty of the same myself, for how else do we learn what interests us most? Last but not least, is the myriad of folk who are so with-it that it hurts, and amongst whom we feel stupid for asking what we don't yet understand. Small wonder I'll be phoning for my scrumpy stash!
I don't pretend to have answers. Digital media are with us and with us they shall stay. By no means do I see that as a bad thing, either, for there are a great many good folk out there, inspiring and sharing in all that they do. However, if I, as literate, computer literate and post-graduate educated can find the process a challenge, what of those with fewer skills at their disposal? Digital inclusion is so much more than connection or post. At some point, it has to include a commitment to dialogue and that, my friends, is a two way street.
Posted @ 00:31:17 on 22 October 2009