Internet Access Here

One of the concepts that resonates with me is the challenge of offering universal access to these networks. Even free social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter present challenges to access in terms of the haves and have-nots. Free sites still have barriers for those with limited internet or computer access. Those of us lucky enough to have portable devices have distinct advantages over those who do not.

Politics are also at play for access- the control of bandwidth- limiting customers’ usage will have huge consequences in terms of who can afford to download freely. Fighting for the access to this commodity will shape the future of the web. It’s still the Wild West in a lot of ways, with everyone going ahead to stake out their territory, making that incredible Berner-Lee’s  topographical map. Benkler chimes in that communities can now spring up free from the constraints of time and space, and does not result in alienation. The participation can lead to a richness in ties. But I don’t think this includes the forgotten  ghetto of non-users. Who are those feeling like they are on the other side of the fence, like Marc’s wife in her interview situation with her cane.

But Berners-Lee urges us not to forge ahead unthinkingly in our path to structure our webbing structures- to thoughtfully steer our ship towards a goal to orchestrate a purposeful path for the web.

Tim Berners-Lee conveys that he is just part of the layering of the tapestry- that he added to the existing bricks and mortar already in place. He has that Wikipedian mindset-at first thinking that the web is like a wiki that anyone can edit, but then goes further to urge forward thinking and planning to the unfinished W3 project.

His view of the Web as a body of living intelligence follows the same metaphorical language as the organization as an organism in organizational communications theory. At what point do our tools and constructs become separate entities from the user? Do they go beyond the role of enhancer to have a life of their own? Just as we learn that we shape our tools, to what extent do they shape and influence us?

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4 thoughts on “Internet Access Here

  1. T. Findlay says:

    Totally agree that one of the pieces we can’t forget when we are looking at participatory culture is that access still serves as a barrier.

  2. marcbavin says:

    You’ve named an issue we really haven’t talked much about in our class, which is the fact that access is indeed still an issue. We very much take being ‘networked individuals’ for granted while there are still hundreds of millions of people who are unable ot obtain access. If we look at the world in aggregate, are we just the rich and connected getting even more rich and connected due to our luck of being born in ‘middle-class’ Canada? Great post, Carolyn.

  3. deliuk says:

    Good points and so true. An issue, but often not discussed … as we take our access for granted. Interesting to consider this, in light of the federal government cut-backs: “Ottawa cuts CAP public web access funding” http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/04/06/ns-cap-funding-cut.html

  4. Sylvia says:

    Great post Carolyn. When I worked with you last year on our presentation, I remembered that you brought up the consideration of the Digital Divide and since then, I’ve thought about it in context to every course (so thanks!). In response to your final question, I think tools and humans (and everything connected to them as Latour would argue) shape each other.

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