Connect, connect

The Edinburgh Book Festival is a stunning mix of interest and engagement, and this year it is online and free. I have just watched “Healing The Digital Divide” where three incredible people engaged with the task of tackling what is actually digital inequality and poverty. They told me some of what they do and what might become possible if enough of us start to recognize that in our present world connectivity is thought about as just as basic and important as a water supply.

If you think that is a strong statement – watch the talk here, and then say if you agree or not.

Rich Frankl is working to connect impoverished people all over the world – anywhere from refugee camps to, surprise surprise, our own supposed developed western countries, where of course we do know there is inequality. The other speakers Iain McRitchie and Marjorie Lotfi Gill were working locally in Scotland but their kind of work may well be replicated in many other communities. The links on their names take you to websites for more info.

I found the talk was just full of ingenuity and generosity and understanding of ideas like relationship and the kinds of personal connection we need for our mental health, as well as … digital. These people are both practical and hopeful.

There was brief mention in the chat box – that won’t be available now – of the tech giants and their contribution to connectivity and/or poverty. I also thought that it is not just the apples and microsofts that give mixed messages, but also the communications industry, like BT and Virgin in UK, and ATT and Verizon in US, and others in your places where you are. The internet is in principle DISTRIBUTED but communications giants lobby hard

to make it less so, as they would like those who pay more to have preferential services, already access is more decentralized than open to all. [They would be like Amazon Prime, say, if you pay you get faster service.] Action groups like Open Media ask for support to continue their research and opposition to the telecoms pressure.

The talk finished with a question: In a digital landscape who are our guides?

Answer: It is not just the access that needs to be created or safeguarded, there is also the empowerment of people so that those who want to stay with paper or phones can do so, and those who are willing but find the learning curves steep can have companions, and all of us connect in community. Connect is about us, people.

Every word has its ‘frames’ – try all the different kinds of connection. Connect, Connect. Be well in your relationships however they are mediated by a “platform”.


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