Readings, and Related Inspirations

The Digital Divide and Gadgets


This week’s readings are an interesting mix of ideas involving techno-literacies (or New literacies) and arguments about the divide between the connected and the un-connected.

Selber gives us very useful (if a little outdated) information on ‘functional literacies’ – which involves students understanding not only the uses of the technology, but also its limitations. I can’t express how often I get students blindly trusting their grammar checker to fill in a thousand semi-colons because the student suffered from an incurable bought of comma-splice-itis.

Further, Cynthia Selfe (in her 1999 article “The Perils of Not Paying Attention [an article many of us got familiar with in Harker’s course]), give us a bunch of statistics from the Clinton era, that were very startling when they came out. I remember hearing a lot of it in the news.

Grabill‘s essay then, (and he used to be a GSU prof, for those of you who didn’t know) looks even deeper into the issue of the digital divide among class, race, and gender, and gets us into the idea that the interface we are so familiar with may be a little… culturally idealistic.

In the interest of bringing everyone in the Computers and Composition course this semester more up to speed with what has been happening very recently, I will be showing you a few ‘new literacies’ that I have picked up just in the past few months. I will use twitter, storify, and a few other ‘tricks’ to illustrate how there is no such thing as a digital native, and that there is, in fact, quite a divide in what our young writers are bringing to the composition classroom. After the presentation, I will post the storify for all of you to look at more closely. It will have a bunch of links you can follow, if you are interested in pursuing this topic further.
For now, I leave you with a few, more up to date, statistics in a friendly form.

Below is an infographic from the Pew Institution (the information for the site was sent to me through Helen [thank you!]) showing what percentage of adults own internet-capable gadgets, separated out by several factors: age, income, education, and race & ethnicity

While this infographic is certainly interesting, it’s not the whole picture. Pew has a bunch of other stats and interesting facts, which I encourage you to surf around in this weekend.


6 thoughts on “The Digital Divide and Gadgets

  1. Hi, Valerie. I look forward to your presentation about multiliteracies. Although I have a Twitter and a Google Plus account, I would not consider myself especially literate in either of them at this point, because I have trouble finding the time to use more than one social networking site simultaneously. I was resistant to the usage of Facebook at first as well. I presented a paper at PCA in Boston this past April, entitled “Private and Public Life: Crossing the Great Divide,” which discussed how my usage of social networking has changed me as an individual.

  2. Hi, valerie, look forward to your presentation, too. I am also not very literate on the use of social networking systems, especially those fancy and extremely new ones. I also plan to read Bradford’s paper, which I guess situates in the juncture of new literacies and digital identities.

    The digital divide and new literacies actually triggered more emotional whirling in me because I have been brought up in a developing country which is struggling to get its people digitally literate, but the divide still exists. The gap is gigantic between China and the US because we really have a large population who either does not own or cannot use a computer. Although the situation in educated people is promising, there is a huge part of the nation on the dark side of the divide. I personally visited villages and towns where there are only five or ten computers in an official office which is called “information transferring station” where people can spend money to become literate on a computer or the internet. What I saw was astounding because those who were using the computers are largely students who slipped away from their classrooms or people who committed themselves to social networking system where they can get to know some interesting people they may never meet.

    In a word, the digital divide between developed countries and developing countries, between developing countries and underdeveloped countries, and different groups of people in developing countries is huge.

  3. I love the graphs. A picture…. The most surprising graph was by ethnicity. Since this field is new to me, I enjoy listening ( includes listening online) to all of you in class who are so much more knowledgeable than I.

  4. Dear Valerie, your presentation was great and other classmates were talking, so I didn’t get the chance. However, I learned a lot today despite the fact that I am not familiar with some issues here in the US. My literacy on this level is in desperate need of improvement. Ha.

  5. It strikes me that Ownership by Income and by Education trend consistently upward across all groups. I think it can be explained that higher income makes you more likely to purchase superfluous items if you earn in excess of your expenditure needs. Education, however, may link into the discussion from class this week. Can we say that the more we advance in education, the more we are exposed to the varied and useful application of gadgets, and therefore we are better able to identify a personal benefit of owning these devices?

    Of course, there is the general trend between education and income level to consider, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s