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The Promise of Access: Technology,…
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The Promise of Access: Technology, Inequality, and the Political Economy… (editie 2021)

door Daniel Greene (Auteur)

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Lid:quillis
Titel:The Promise of Access: Technology, Inequality, and the Political Economy of Hope
Auteurs:Daniel Greene (Auteur)
Info:The MIT Press (2021), 272 pages
Verzamelingen:Jouw bibliotheek, Home Office
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The Promise of Access: Technology, Inequality, and the Political Economy of Hope door Daniel Greene

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Really interesting study of how public institutions have adopted “startup” models of innovation, trying to turn the citizens they serve into well-trained entrepreneurs who can fend for themselves in the new economy, and the severe limits baked into that model. While the startup model provides real benefits—it seems to be one of the few ways to get some investment out of legislatures; it reframes poverty as a manageable problem of skill mismatch; and it provides the professionals who staff libraries and schools with a coherent framework for understanding their jobs and thinking they’re doing good—it also has fundamental flaws for institutions that can’t and shouldn’t pivot to new customers if the current ones aren’t good enough, or go bankrupt without harming the citizenry at large. His informants include homeless people queueing to use the public computers at the main DC library, who are generally relatively smartphone-savvy; they don’t lack digital skills but safe places to sleep. (They have to wait to use the public computers in part because only entrepreneurs are allowed into the special incubator area for startups with more tech.)

There’s a great example of the conflicts here where the official ideology was that using the computers for porn was “doing the library wrong,” as opposed to submitting job applications. But it was also “clear that porn was a positive example of the sort of service librarians believed they should provide: giving people the space and the materials they could not get elsewhere.” So the librarians felt conflicted because the institution was supposed to be, but also could not be, both “a public service library that welcomed all comers and a bootstrapping library that trained digital professionals.” He tells similar stories about teachers at charter schools who struggled with students’ use of technology in unapproved ways; if the students didn’t perform, the school might not survive, not to mention that the consequences for students of not getting an educational credential could be dire, so the administration shifted to more test-driven and directive measures over time despite their ideological resistance to punishment. Ultimately, “places like schools and libraries cannot help but fail in their duties, but, “because those duties are so important to their survival and that of the people they serve, they will inevitably keep trying. Even if the people served are further marginalized in the process.” ( )
  rivkat | Jul 19, 2021 |
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