I want to recommend a new post at Culture Digitally, “Digital In/Justice,” both because it may be of interest to the readers of this blog, and because it features Microsoft Research’s Mary Gray. Culture Digitally arranges occasional dialogues, in which two or more scholars go back and forth in conversation on a topic they are just working out in their own mind. It’s meant as a chance to make visible the raw development of ideas, unpolished and engaging. In this one, Mary Gray and Nick Couldry (King’s College, London) tried to develop their idea of “digital injustice,” offering an opportunity to rethink issues like the digital divide, equitable access, voice and opportunity, and the institutional environment necessary for such issues of equity to be addressed and protected. It is at once philosophical and quite personal, and I hope those of you who want new ways to think about digital media and the ethics of public participation will find intriguing ideas in it.
For instance, here’s a tiny clip, a comment by Mary:
Yes, cutting off access to an individual’s capacity to contribute to cultural dialogue and deliberation is, arguably, a case of injustice. But this formulation presumes or, at least, prioritizes individual autonomy and agency as the (pre-public/pre-mediated?) source of voice. If negotiation and articulation of the self are collective acts… then the greater injustice is not the loss of individual access to media as sites of personal narrative and expression. The more pressing injustice is that such a loss forecloses the use of media as processes of contribution, deliberation, contestation, and play in the social construction of the self — from the well of possibilities of a future articulation of self. Simply put, I’m interested in prioritizing information and technology access as a precious cultural resource…
And one from Nick, later in the conversation:
Is this where privatized conditions of digital discourse… bite most, in undercutting the common spaces of debate where claims of social injustice might be made, heard and recognised, and by distributing unequally access to the discursive resources that enable some to command general attention? If so, then I would like to add to your interesting conception of digital media as a ‘space of possibles’ the idea that such a space must allow to be heard and registered claims for the redistribution of ‘actuals’.