Connectivity Doesn’t End the Digital Divide, Skills Do #social_media

I wrote an article at the Scientific American blog highlighting digital divides – or digital inequalities, if you prefer – from other perspective, pointing out that these digital divides go far beyond pure infrastructure issues and need to become a key focus of engagement for profit and nonprofit organizations as they continue their missions to develop programs for social and digital inclusion.

Everyone’s talking about internet access: from European media to US media, stressing connectivity issues that merely compounding existing social inequalities as “new digital divides”, as if they are something new in the networked society. They are not.

According to the available measures, the selected indicators (such as gender, income, occupation, online experience, internet penetration, type of internet connection, etc.) are significantly related to the levels of (one’s country) per capita GDP, literacies, education, level of democratization, etc.  Being as one of the contributors for the forthcoming Routledge book on Digital Divide, I have presented some of the findings from my research, where I used the combined methodology: from web desktop analysis to online surveys and qualitative semi-structured interviews (N-125).
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The Internet and Social inequality: social media and digital divide

This is a post on what I was working on in the last few weeks, writing a book chapter for the great edition on the Internet and digital inequalities in International perspective including International contributors, and submitting some other papers on social networks and communication dynamics online.

Since many of you asked me on Twitter, email, Skype what the book chapter is about – I wanted to share with you a piece of it (the book is supposed to be published next year). It is individual work that is the result of several years of experience, qualitative research (semi-structured interviews), observations, recent talking and writing on different kinds of digital and social divides, social media and communication practices present on the Internet, and recently measured by quantiative (online surveys) and qualitative (semi-structured interviews, web desktop analysis, observation, etc.) research of mine. In short my focus for this book was on Internet and social media in European perspective – Balkan countries. My manuscript is theoretically grounded on social theories developed by the classical sociologists like Max Weber, Giddens, Meyorwitz and I applied them to the issues of Internet inequality.  (more…)

Robots and New Technologies: Programmed to Understand and Interact

Blogging,blogs,Cyberculture,internet,media,Science,technology — Danica @ 10:19 pm, September 16, 2011

When I’m not exploring social media, writing, researching, consulting, travelling, creating photography and else, I’m curious about other things that are interconnected with Information-Communication technologies. This is my first text for the Scientific American blog on robots and new technologies. From the Scientific American blog:

My first experience with robots was through popular culture and literature when I was a little girl. I was fascinated with the first computers, space and robots:  Star wars and R2D2 (first indication of my geekiness), watching many times and dreaming of Blade runner, reading short stories by I.Asimov. Later on, during college, courses on information systems, cybernetics caught my attention, from the cybernetic communication models to cybernetic organisms being described as cyborgs and the larger networks of communication. I was interested in techno-science and feminist-cyborg studies of Donna Haraway and S.Turkle’s cyber-analysis of the robots sociability, her studies on intimate bonds we form with our artifacts (robots and computers),  and how they shape who we are. Finally, with the Internet expansion my interests switched to Information and communication technologies and Computer-Mediated Communication, networked  and learning systems.

Then, last December at TED Women I’ve reached a  “robotic moment” watching a roboticist from MIT, Cynthia Breazeal, who (more…)

Internet on The Balkans

Blogging,communication,general,GlobalVoices,internet,Serbia,technology — Danica @ 9:14 pm, August 9, 2011

This weekend the Internet has celebrated the twenty years of the World Wide Web that on 6 August 1991 became publicly available; and Sir Tim Berners-Lee published the first ever website. Back then, he posted a short summary of the project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup. I was trying to remember my first html page back in 1996, probably stored on many floppy disks, maybe one day I will be able to extract the data and go back to the 90s.

Also, this weekend, I gave a short overview on the recent findings of a study of the Internet usage in the Balkan region. It is interesting to know (more…)

Digital Serendipities in Southeastern Europe – Featured Interview

I have been interviewed last month for the Open Society Foundations Blog on various topics related to digital use, online social interactions, digital divide, social networks and young adults in Southeastern Europe. I’m finding some interesting patterns that show what kinds of strategies policymakers should use to create and implement in education, government, etc.

Currently, I’m into data analysis, EDA, and writing, so you may not see me around that often. Check my Twitter updates and for the urgencies, comments, sharing, and caring feel free to email me.

[crossposting] Digital Serendipities in Southeastern Europe

Danica Radovanovic, Oxford, UK

As an Open Society Foundations Chevening scholar at the University of Oxford in 2009, and now as a PhD student at the Oxford Internet Institute, Danica Radovanovic focuses on the use of social new communication technologies in Southeastern Europe. Following her presentation on the “digital divide” in higher education at a recent Open Society Scholarship Programs conference for alumni from the Balkans, I spoke to Danica about the impact of online social interactions, especially in the Balkan region.

Why is it valuable to research online social trends, and how do you see your research contributing in that area?

It is important to understand and evaluate how people, markets, the economy and politics are moving from offline to online worlds and vice versa. I believe that research in social media and new communication technologies plays a crucial role in analyzing our society (more…)

Conference ‘The Future of Democracy in the Balkans’ and my talk on Digital Divide

I have just returned from OSF/Chevening conference where I’ve talked on the higher education panel, as the University of Oxford Alumni, the only Internet scholar, and information management specialist, on bridging the digital divide in the super connected world.
Slides of my presentation are on my SlideShare and the podcast is at my account on SoundCloud with all descriptions, credits, and tags. The recorded talk covers three major concerns in Internet and social media and higher education, all applicable in other areas: literacies, knowledge gap, and notworking/not collaboration. Interaction, thoughts, and comments of the audience are not included. I talked pretty fast, since I wanted to give more space for discussion, thoughts, sharing. I hope you will understand what I was talking about.

Call for Papers: Making Sense of Microposts

I would like to inform you that Call for papers for the workshop Making Sense of Microposts (MSM) at the Extended Semantic Web conference 2011 is announced. The workshop is interdiscipinary and gathers academics and professionals from the Semantic Web technologies and Social/Web Science studies. Also, have in mind that we will have a best paper award. (I’m on the Steering committee.)

Information about the topics of interest, submissions, and important dates could be found on the MSM web page.

“Making Sense of Microposts” (MSM), will cover the topics of: information extraction and leveraging of semantics from Microposts; making use of Microposts’ semantics; and social studies related to Microposts that could help build appealing new systems based on this type of data. The workshop has two main points of difference from existing Social Semantic Web workshops which partially treat Microposts: (a) the interdisciplinary nature and interest to bring together the Social Sciences and Semantic Web research; (b) the focus on Microposts’ usage in making appealing tools for Web users and showing how the Semantic Web makes a difference in those applications. One of the main goals of MSM is to bring together the researchers from various disciplines treating the question of Microposts from different angles. We are particularly interested in submissions describing theories from the Social Sciences related to the creation and potential usage of Microposts that could inspire the creation of data structures, ontologies and finally interfaces that make advanced use of Microposts. We also envisage submissions that describe the application of Semantic Web technologies, either in enabling the inference of new facts, or the gleaning and enriching of knowledge from collections of such data.

Ten years of Wikipedia – my personal greeting

It has been (already!) ten years since the Wikipedia started its activities as self-organized encyclopedia, global phenomenon gathering many volunteers world wide to collaborate in and contribute to this information and knowledge entity. As Social web researcher and an Internet Scholar I believe in the power of knowledge and collaborative ideas, actions as well as in free and open source information and knowledge, online communities and their power to make a difference. I’ve been writing (my Master thesis), bloggingparticipating, and contributing to this project, and for me Wikipedia is an excellent example of transparent, collaborative, and participatory information and knowledge movement and growing online community.

Working for over a decade in a related area, I perceive Wikipedia as an upgrowing phenomenon, a sustaining global change, where participation and interaction between contributors and users are very important. All of these present the future of the next generation of Web so Wikipedia has a bright future. With some concerns.

Being someone who’s involved indirectly and directly in Wikipedia and Wikimedia activities I want to emphasize three important points (not the only issues that Wikipedia has to embrace) in the years to come, as Wikipedia evolves globally sharing free information. First, it is increasingly important to have strong local chapters which are accessible to everyone. Achieving the balance is hard, but I believe that through the participation it is possible. All of you are showing every day that the focus on motivation and the mixture of the “ideology and fun” will deliver the strongest results. Beside further chapters formation, I’m also looking forward to seeing more lead initiatives in the higher education: engaging schools, universities and libraries, and social technology implemented in Wikimedia projects, which will increase the quality and the credibility of the content. And third equally important point is: I hope the focus, in the adolescence years of Wikipedia, will be on activities and projects in the developing countries, emerging, third world countries, where the access to the open and free information many times is not available. Also, I hope that the sharp divide between global West and global South and other developing ares in the world will slowly diminish.

With good hopes and good spirit, lots of good cheer, I wish everyone who is contributing to Wikipedia to stay creative, motivated, positive and inspired. I’m looking forward to collaborating with you in the upcoming years, I’m wishing you a happy birthday Wikipedia!

TEDWomen: innovators, idea-generators, architects of change

The Asphalt Orchestra today have opened the TEDWomen, conference dedicated to women who are (re)shaping the future, sharing an amazing talks from the fields they have pioneered. Event is taking place in Washington, DC,  December 7-8, 2010, and I have been privileged to get the access, live tweet out,  right now there is a break in between the sessions.  You can find my tweets here (with #tedwomen), talks are changing very fast and the schedule is not necessarily strictly prompt. Follow the hashtag #TEDWomen for all other tweets on live talks. TedWomen started on Day One with hilarous Hans Rosling who talked about the usage of the earth energy and the environment in the Western and emerging counties using ingenious allegories, while  Hanna Rosin talked on the importance of education and gender equality, some stereoptyes in this context, and new female superheros.  Elizabeth Lindsey, ethnographer of the National Geographic Society, gave an amazing performance of chanting on stage, talking about navigation and information overload; while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talked on balancing business and private life.

The next day women from the sessions “Composers”, “Harmony &Discord”, and “Crescendo”, got my attention with inspiring talks on various topics. MBI (molecular breast imaging) inventor Dr Deborah Rhodes, showed how gamma method is more punctual than mammography in breast cancer detection, stressing out that the manuscript on MBI was rejected by four scientific journals because “the conflict of interest”, and it is finally to be published in Journal of Radiology. Something to think about science, humanity, ethics, and scientific publishing.

Amber Case, digital philosopher and Cyborg Anthropologist, started her talk with “All of you are Cyborgs every time you look at computer screen”, emphasising that people don’t take time for mental (self)reflection anymore, and kids today live the instant button clicking culture. Cyber anthropology is interdisciplinary area so there’s a lot to say about the above mentioned topics. Kate Orff, environmentalist architect,  introduces the new invention, hero of the ecology and urbanism ‘the oyster” that improves ecosystems. Roboticist, Cynthia Breazeal, who founded personal robot at MIT, talked about robots (applications) in the communication technologies: screen, mobile, expressive, performing collaborative tasks, and social engagement.

Surprise speaker on stage was The US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, talking about women issues world wide, introducing the new project with the deployment of technology: Mobile Justice initiative in the third world countries, e.g. Africa, where women can memo their testimonials or record the files on the mobile phones. Naomi Klein, author and activist, talked on the recent oil disaster, climate crisis and the environment, emphasising that the problem is our master narrative: “we are going to be saved”, but our secular religion is technology. Jody Williams, Nobel peace laureate, had the punch line: taking the action to reclaim the meaning of peace.” I liked her creative idea that planting the trees may be the solution to peace and for the environment perseverance.

Iranian artist in exile Shirin Neshat shared her personal story and life challenges through identity, politics, religion, and talked about her debut film: Woman without Man, based on the banned novel by Shahrnush Parsipur who spent five years in prison. Joan Halifax, Zen Priest, addressed an issue of the compassion and its challenges, in a similar pathos as Donna Karan, fashion designer, who shared her story on birth and death transformations in the critical moments in her life.

The culmination of  TEDWomen conference was touching, wonderful story of  Eve Ensler, best known for her play Vagina Monologues, founder of V-Day movement to end violence against women and girls globally. Beside The Monologues, she talked about other women stories world wide, how she perceived her body, how she felt her body when she realised that she had a cancer, and how she is perceiving it now. This brave women finished her talk with “if you are divided from your body, then you are divided from the body of the world”, giving the recipe for the survival of women with issues and challenges: attention and resources are that everybody deserves.

Those were my personal notes (in short) and tweet highlights, for other information check out the full program and the bios of the speakers. It was an interesting conference and I’m looking forward to see in the future more inspiring, strong, creative, innovative women world wide who are reshaping the world and making the difference while, as the former  US Secretary of State mentioned, supporting each other. Maybe next time I’d come up with my innovative ideas to share them with you. Now I’m asking: what you can learn from these strong women who inspire, and other powwerful women in your surrounding?


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