UOSM2008: Topic 1 reflection

This post is part of a series published as part of the University of Southampton’s Living and Working on the Web module. To find out more, including links to all of this year’s student blogs, check out the UOSM2008 website.

Having previously explored digital inequalities as part of SOCI3073, it was interesting to explore a wide, more specific array of thoughts on digital differences. Personally, I could not find any factors that impede my digital usage or access to opportunity, hence I chose to look deeper at efforts to provide tools and skills to less digitally privileged users.

Here, Carl Leckstein commented (with a 2012 Guardian piece) that internet access should be considered a human right. Ultimately, I agree with what his reflection concludes – access is essential for today’s way of life and this will only increase globally as technological adoption and provision increases. We must, however, neither ignore concerns nor accept divides as inevitable.

Chloe Cripps’ blog raised an interesting question about MOOCs and how they deliver on their promise of education for all, and researching this led me to Coursera data (Zhenghao et. al., 2015) on who actually uses their services and why. Aleph Molinari’s TEDx talk – as highlighted by Chloe and others – is promising, as his work looks to close digital divides with eco-friendly social hubs and rapid digital literacy education rather than mere infrastructure, as in my example of OLPC.

Elsewhere, on Chloe Cheung’s blog, we discussed more international contrasts after she discussed using Chinese services. This led me to The Verge, where Shannon Liao (2018) explores WeChat’s ubiquity and how China’s government has helped it grow into from messaging into a state ID system. However, as Chloe responded, this hostile approach is not ideal.

We cannot force digital usage upon [communities]. We can only educate them to understand the wider benefits of the Web.

Regretfully, other commitments mean I have been unable to work significantly towards increasing multimedia usage on the blog or participating more frequently in comments and MOOCs, but topic 2 looks right up my street…


Word count: 300

Author: Xavier Voigt-Hill

I write words. Sometimes say them on the radio too.