Digital Differences is a concept I find is often overlooked, so I was pleased to have time to explore the concept. In Web Science, I looked it Digital Differences last year in Prof Susan Halford’s excellent SOCI3073 module. I noticed that this module chimed closely with Section 1.11 of the Learning in the Network Age MOOC. The view here, and one that I support, is that our online appearance and activities (if we are online at all) is shaped very closely by our offline context. This is proves the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to studying the Web, particularly in technical and sociological field. van Dijk’s paper on “Inequalities in the Network Society” is an excellent read to explore this further (van Dijk, 2013). He gives the networked society a tripartite structure (see Fig1). There is an elite, who can network globally, securing value. Then, a group of middle masses, using the web for entertainment, and other activities. However, there remains an excluded minority, but one that this still significant. It is also useful to consider preferential attachment. This concept, borne of network theory, states that those with most connections, get more connections. This is useful for thinking about the growth of the web, but also the people that use it.
Considering the differences identified in the MOOC Section 1.13, analysed my own Digital Differences (click on each one to expand):
This analysis led me to believe that I am lucky. Whilst I felt that I suffer very little from Digital Differences, conducting this analysis opened my eyes to how, for others, it is possible to be very affected. This is why I believe it is important to not just plough ahead with innovation after innovation, but consider the wider affects, and who might be left behind.
Word Count: 300 words
Van Dijk, J. (2013) ‘Inequalities in the Network Society’ Orton-Johnson, K. and Prior, N. (2013) Digital Sociology