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Ethnographic Interviews on the Digital Divide
Unformatted Document Text:  Ethnographic Interviews 24 divide must confront the problem of how to encourage positive, desirable uses without giving unfettered freedoms to the corporations who stand to benefit from both the desirable and less desirable uses of computers. Moreover, the leisure-oriented consumption uses of computers actually undermine support for civic and educational programs that emphasize access and increased competence for all. This allows corporate interests to more easily (in some cases seamlessly) articulate their own interests at the expense of those related more to self-improvement, democracy, and civic engagement. Conclusion This paper has demonstrated ways that the “first language” or dominant discourse of individualism shapes, distorts, and limits the possibilities for challenging the current market-driven approach to computers, which we believe privileges corporate interests at the expense of any other interests. We note how the various themes that emerged in conversations about the digital divide – technological determinism, educational benefits, and consumer choice – are each shaped and distorted by the dominant discourse of individualism. Moreover, as the concerns of citizens have been transformed into a self- identification as consumers, a formidable barrier to political resistance has been erected (Gibson, 2000). Thus, it is not easy to envision how the evidence of this “third language” might be translated into effective political resistance. While some questioned the assumptions of individualism out of their lived experiences of economic disadvantage, therefore, we argue that their contradictory comments offer less evidence of the seeds for political resistance than an echo of contradictions that have long been at the heart of corporate advertising and current social policies regarding computers, and that are inherent to the promises of the digital era itself.

Authors: Clark, Lynn., Demont-Heinrich, Christof. and Webber, Scott.
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Ethnographic Interviews 24
divide must confront the problem of how to encourage positive, desirable uses without
giving unfettered freedoms to the corporations who stand to benefit from both the
desirable and less desirable uses of computers. Moreover, the leisure-oriented
consumption uses of computers actually undermine support for civic and educational
programs that emphasize access and increased competence for all. This allows corporate
interests to more easily (in some cases seamlessly) articulate their own interests at the
expense of those related more to self-improvement, democracy, and civic engagement.
Conclusion
This paper has demonstrated ways that the “first language” or dominant discourse
of individualism shapes, distorts, and limits the possibilities for challenging the current
market-driven approach to computers, which we believe privileges corporate interests at
the expense of any other interests. We note how the various themes that emerged in
conversations about the digital divide – technological determinism, educational benefits,
and consumer choice – are each shaped and distorted by the dominant discourse of
individualism. Moreover, as the concerns of citizens have been transformed into a self-
identification as consumers, a formidable barrier to political resistance has been erected
(Gibson, 2000). Thus, it is not easy to envision how the evidence of this “third language”
might be translated into effective political resistance. While some questioned the
assumptions of individualism out of their lived experiences of economic disadvantage,
therefore, we argue that their contradictory comments offer less evidence of the seeds for
political resistance than an echo of contradictions that have long been at the heart of
corporate advertising and current social policies regarding computers, and that are
inherent to the promises of the digital era itself.


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