How have I helped the community? I asked myself this after listening to Kalia’s presentation on the Community Access Group. I found it strange to hear about a problem that I have not given much thought to. The problem in this case is that new communications technologies, like the Internet, are not accessible to members of the community who are unable to afford the technologies.
I recently wrote a paper in on this subject. My paper discussed craft and social literacy in relation to digital media. Craft literacy is the kind of literacy you connect with a specialized skill. A skill that one needs specialized tools and skills gain something from the technology. Social literacy is more widespread. More people are able to gain something from the technology because, in one way or another, it is more accessible.
It was strange to hear someone talk about an organization that related so closely to what I had just written about. Groups like VCN and the Community Access groups are helping those who are less fortunate gain access to the Internet. It wouldn’t be possible for a lot of people to gain access to the Internet without the help of groups like this. As computers get more expensive they become more out of reach for the poor and underpaid. The internet is a tool that can promote social literacy but remains more on the craft literacy side of things.
Another thing that caught me off guard about Kalia’s presentation was the fact that there are people who can’t afford to gain access to the Internet in the same way as I do. Well, its not that I was surprised, it was more like it was weird to hear it being talked about. It is something that I take for granted. I think a lot of people just assume that everyone has easy access to the Internet. Sure, there are libraries and community centers all over the place with free internet access and there may be places where you can go to use the internet for free but that doesn’t mean that everyone can use it. How do you think the connection and computer got to these places? A magic internet fairy? Nope, it is with help from non-profit groups that free internet access is available in a lot of these free zones. That is what I took from the presentation. People are out there helping the less fortunate with things that I had never thought about. How have I helped the community? Well, I haven’t helped too much. But hopefully by letting people know about groups like Kalia’s the issue will be more widely discussed. That is what I hope to accomplish. That is where I will start.