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Trolling in the Telegraph

A friend forwarded an article by Milo Yiannopoulos in the daily Telegraph entitled "'Recasting the Net' was another promising debate hijacked by worthies". I never like putting in links to something that I really would prefer didn't gain by those extra click-throughs but it can't be helped.

I wasn't at the conference (I really need to sort that out. I do not go to enough conferences. As in, I do not go to conferences. Anyway, an aside). Two things stood out for me in this article, apart from his ridiculous assertion that the Telegraph's analysis of the expenses scandal was based on investigative journalism (rather than a cheque book). No.1 was that I had no idea that Tom Loosemore was now dying his hair - apparently a "stupid colour" (excellent - is it green?). Second, I had to stop reading the article for a few minutes at this point, because I felt so angry:

"(Helen) Milner seems to think that internet connectivity is some sort of fundamental human right. She even said as much: “70 per cent of people in social housing don’t use the internet… but digital skills are a basic right.”
Err... come again? Is making sure that Tower Block Tracy has access to MySpace really a priority for Britain? How is having a Facebook account going to get an unemployed joiner back to work? Shouldn’t we be more worried about teenage pregnancies and gun crime? Or basic literacy?"

Presumably this was written to inspire indignant  response, to increase his notoriety. All very tiresome, but the point is that this is published in a national newspaper, pandering to the worst prejudices in its audience - in, ironically, a newspaper which is spending enormous sums and has done, invigorating its online proposition.

So. How can one respond to the above.

  1. A large proportion of children in my daughter's class do not have a computer at home, let alone internet access. Without access at school, they would be missing out on a key learning, empowerment and proactivity tool that some children, thankfully, get to take for granted. 
  2. Without internet access at home, parents are disempowered in terms of joining together in support of each other, which may sometimes be necessary in dealing with particular issues, relating to school or other local issues involving their children. Those with internet access can. Schools in affluent areas often maintain solid websites and parent groups via the internet.
  3. Single parents living in council accommodation or otherwise, fighting hard to give their children the best they can (and just as importantly, to break the cycle and give their kids the opportunity *not* to be single parents in council housing), could have their lives made concretely better by regular access to email, online council services, information and again, the empowerment tools that exist not just only on the internet, but best served from the internet (www.theyworkforyou.com for example). At present, regular, easy contact with the legislature, local council services and even online support forums is restricted to a digital elite. Certainly, that elite is not necessarily well off anymore, but they certainly are not poor.
  4. I know one such family, for example, where the Mum goes to work, semi-full time, and she and two lovely kids live in one room. She fights hard to remove negative influences from those children's lives, but it is very difficult for her indeed. With access to the internet, not only could the children receive help with their homework, but she could find access to organisations which might be able to help. Everyone in that situation would win.
  5. Teenage pregnancy is a symptom of an under-educated, disempowered underclass. Need I really elaborate on how regular access to the learning power of the internet, giving teachers the opportunity to generate learning environments beyond the classroom, giving children access to creative activities that didn't include... er... creating, might be useful in reducing teen pregnancy whilst increasing opportunities for children to escape what appears inevitable?
  6. Having  regular, uninterrupted access to the internet will give an unemployed joiner a far better chance of getting a job, or researching opportunities for retraining, or discovering new opportunities in a different geographical area... and so on, and so on.

... I could go on. I think I've made my point.

Slight tangent: Again, looking at some points above, I am struck by how much local councils and the legislature should be adapting the information they already have online for a mobile context. I don't think a phone can ever replace a computer (unless you get to the point where you can use it as a hard drive, and plug it in to a keyboard/monitor/mouse. Not inconceivable) but I do think that phones are the way to start to breach the digital divide. Lest anyone start wrinkling their noses, wap enabled phones are now right down in the cheap-phones bit of PAYG, and believe me, networks are making data very, very attractive for consumers now. Those people currently making apps for i-phones instead of spending investment elsewhere are partially doing the right thing. It won't take long before all phones being sold will have access to single subject apps, but the ubiquity of the browser and the relative ease with which a simple structure can be built for access over the phone means that contact with councils etc should be made a lot easier.

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