Week 3

The ‘digital divide’ has a profound impact on the lives of all Australians and can determine the state of internet use across the nation.

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The ‘digital divide’ has a profound impact on the lives of all Australians and can determine the state of internet use across the nation. As such, the ‘digital divide’ can be described as the disparity between those who have access to devices (e.g computers) and the internet, and those who do not. Over the years, the internet has become an essential component of everyday life, even so far as to claim it as a basic human right (Council of France). However, it is evident that not all demographics within Australia can take advantage of this right. This is due to the fact that certain Indigenous communities are not even able to communicate with others, depending on where they live.

Mark Warschauer’s, ‘Technology and Social Inclusion: Rethinking the Digital Divide’ (2003) succinctly encapsulates this notion as he emphasises the need for social inclusion through an understanding of digital literacy. For instance, an “Information Age Town” was developed in Ireland in 1997 as a way of addressing the issue of the ‘digital divide’ (Warschauer 2003, p. 3). Attempts were made to bridge the gap between Ireland’s emerging business center of ICT production, and those communities that had limited use and knowledge of ICT. Subsequently, the unemployed were given computers and internet connections at home, and were instructed to sign in and receive electronic payments, rather than coming into the social welfare office each week. The problem with this meant that most, if not all of the unemployed could not work out how to use the equipment. They would avoid this method of online transaction if it meant they were missing out on something more ‘worthwhile’, such as a social event or personal leisure time (Warschauer 2003, p. 3). Consequently, many of the computers were sold on the black market and a large number of people returned to their old methods of signing into the social welfare office to collect their payment.

Through a deeper understanding of the ‘digital divide’, it is evident that greater effort needs to be made in order for an “Information Age Town” to be successful. To elaborate, the planning process is quintessential in this sense as “developing awareness, planning and implementing effective training, and setting up processes for sustainable change” (Warschauer 2003, p. 4) will create a more holistic shift forward. There needs to be a focus on becoming a more digitally literate society, as opposed to just purchasing equipment and devices. Therefore, this lack of knowledge is what fosters the ‘digital divide’ and explains why 1 in 5 Australians don’t have access to the internet. As such, more action needs to be taken to improve the state of digital inclusion in Australia and thus, overcome barriers in everyday living, education, employment and health (2016, tutorial, 18th August).

In essence, digital literacy articulates the “ability to use technology to navigate, evaluate and create information” (IT Futures 2014, 1:04). As a result, societies have been able to evolve and successfully operate under these circumstances, making it a requirement in virtually all walks of life. However, the ‘digital divide’ is an impediment on this ideal world, and elucidates the need for social and digital inclusion in order to work towards a more digitally literate society.

(537 words)

Reference List:

IT Futures 2009, What Is Digital Literacy?, video recording, YouTube, viewed 22nd August 2016, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESSIcLO3Z_Q>

Warschauer, M. 2003, Technology and Social Inclusion: Rethinking the Digital Divide, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts.

Week 2

‘Digital literacy’ is a form of language that utilises various forms of technology to shape and express a unique form of digital communication.

As discussed in week one, ‘Digital literacy’ is a form of language that utilises various forms of technology to shape and express a unique form of digital communication. Skills and knowledge of this network are assumed, thus developing a sense of ‘inclusion’ or ‘exclusion’ within a variety of social, cultural and political spheres. It is this type of interaction that enables society to evolve, particularly focussing on ‘who’ or ‘what’ individuals give value, meaning and power to.

To elaborate, diverse systems of interactivity are generated through various mediums, such as video games. Augmented realities become prominent in this sense, therefore contributing to the complexity of digital storytelling. Halo 2 is a prime example of this as there must be a fine balance between the level of interaction within the music and the action. Abraham (2011) reiterates this notion and explains that individuals must be prepared to open their minds to new experiences and possibilities that differ from the music itself (p. 65). As such, digital literacy can be multifaceted and have different meanings for different sectors of people.

Week two’s tutorial encapsulated Abraham’s sentiments in the form of an interactive narrative. ‘Twine’ was the program of choice, which allowed us to simulate a first person digital story. Although quite simple in its execution, Twine is both seamless and complex in terms of its user interface. When used in conjunction with various forms of technology, Twine is a perfect example to elucidate the link between interaction and synchronicity.

Moreover, the ‘shower scene’ in Hitchcock’s film, Psycho succinctly encapsulates this notion as there must be certain level of synchronicity between the ‘player’ and the music. To perfectly execute this sequence, all constituents must directly correlate, thus highlighting its digital power and effectiveness within the film (Abraham 2011, p. 62).

Subsequently, this brings it back to the idea that music in games can foster a shared experience that may enhance specific social variables such as race, class and gender (Abraham 2011, p. 66). It is evident that linear experiences of games articulate a form of digital literacy that creates meaning and value to one’s “emotional journey” (Abraham 2011, p. 67). This emotional journey is what establishes a response and enhances the individual’s interaction with their digital environment. For example, the user journey is paramount in explaining this notion and is particularly evident in games such as Halo 2. First person narrative is common in this type of gameplay, which reinforces Marshall McLuhan’s ideology that digital media is an extension of the human body. The musicality of sound effects is a supplement to the game’s design and mechanics, therefore illustrating a form of digital expression (Abraham 2011, p. 70). Consequently, an interactive dialogue is brought to the fore and is encapsulated through a shared appreciation of a digitally literate society.

(466 words)

Reference List:

Abraham, B., 2011, ‘Halo and Music’ in Cuddy, L. (eds.), Halo and Philosophy, Open Court, Chicago and La Salle.