Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Social Networking Online

A Pew Internet and Americal Life report titled "Social Networking Websites and Teens" released on January 7 points out that more than half of all American youths between ages 12-17 use online social networking sites. This report suggests that online social networks are primarily used to reinforce offline social networks, thus supporting the notion of channel complementarity I proposed in my earlier work.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Question about Media Worlds

My colleague and author of one of the MacArthur chapters in the Race and Digital Media volume Antonio Lopez raises important questions about the nature of participation of subaltern groups on digital platforms in his posting "Media Worlds in Collision." He asks us to further examine the ways in which digital media co-opt the participatory processes of subaltern groups and ultimately seek to assimilate them, thus reinforcing the status quo.

Rethinking the Digital Divide

In spite of the trends in decreasing gaps between the higher and lower SES groups in terms of access to computers and the Internet, current research suggests the necessity to rethink the digital divide debate not simply in terms of access and inaccess, but rather in terms of the knowledge necessary to use new media for beneficial purposes.

More specifically in the realm of health, recent studies suggest that critical gaps exist between the haves and have-nots in terms of the knowledge regarding the use of new media for health-related purposes. This suggests the increasing need for reconceptualizing the digital divide not simply in terms of access to new media technologies, but rather in terms of technology literacy.

There is a growing need for creating literacy programs that build community capacity for using new media technologies for health enhancing purposes. Health information capacities need to be developed in underserved communities that train community members in skills necessary for (a) identifying health information and information about health resources, and (b) evaluating the quality of this information. Furthermore, these technologies need to be developed in ways that are responsive to the cultural and communicative needs of the underserved communities.