[iDC] How does social media educate?

danah boyd zephoria at zephoria.org
Sun Feb 11 14:27:05 EST 2007

Ulises wrote: "So Web 2.0 is a platform that supposedly guarantees  
all these wonderful opportunities for participation and change, but..."

I think that many (read: most tech folks i know) _want_ to believe  
that web 2.0 is this great equalizer just like we _want_ to believe  
that public education can transform everyone.  With just a little bit  
of thought, we realize that compulsory American public education is  
primarily a form of control (installed by the labor movement during  
the Depression) that perpetuates the ideals of the middle class to  
the detriment of working class people.  Well-intentioned middle and  
upper class idealistic adults tells themselves that they are helping  
the working class while they perpetuate hegemonic values.  Meanwhile,  
the working class realizes that this is a farce and refuses to play  
along (see: Willis), creating an SES cultural divide which all too  
often results in "those dumb poor people not knowing what's good for  
em!" and other such condescension by the more privileged  
populations.  Sure, there are the kids who want to make a run for it  
who now have doors opened to them, but i find that education is  
typically invoked more as a facade than as an actual solution.

But anywho... here's a question: what values are embedded deeply into  
the web 2.0/social media ethos that we are perpetuating by 1)  
building these systems into the infrastructure of social life; 2)  
idealizing them as the great equalizer?  From my POV, closing the  
"digital divide" did absolutely nothing to end a participation divide  
(that is now greater than where we were at pre-digital).  What  
divisions will increase and which will be bridged?

I also think that Grayson's note on my lurking is quite relevant  
here.  What do we gain from valuing participation?  And what does it  
mean that participation in some arenas is perceived as more valuable  
than others?  (And what does it mean that enforced participation  
makes me sulk in a corner like a two year old throwing a temper  


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