Thursday, March 03, 2005

Diffusion and Class

The Stanley article, "Psychosocial Barriers", was by far the best article this week. It brought several threads together of what we've been discussing. In breaking down patterns of ownership and use, Stanley writes that complex reasons of fear, identity, and relevance actually underlie the obvious non-ownership reasons for infogaps. And she also mentions diffusion. Some have argued that diffusion of innovations are driven by the desire for new information alone, all other things equal, but others have argued that microcultures of one's economy, class, education, and relative power are the largest drivers of innovation use. If I think about the almost "instant diffusion" of computers among certain groups of people, what can best account for this: desire for new information or the cultural complex? I have to conclude that it comes down to cultural relevance: if any innovation, no matter how seductive, is not relevant to me, I do not feel the desire to adopt it.

For example, iPods have been around for a few years, and even my own dad has one. It's quite a diffusion. Although I never drive without my radio blasting, or work late at night without CDs playing, I find no relevance in the MOBILITY of an iPod. Without that relevance, I don't adopt the technology. I can extend this to Stanley's conclusion that awareness and relevance motivations could do more to bridge the CTC gap (414) than just ownership of hardware. In other words, it's often a one-to-one personal exchange that brings relevance to computer use. If William Julius Wilson (6) stressed that diffusion of human understanding through everyday partnerships could close class-race gaps, could it be that one-to-one human outreach to potential users would be more effective in exploring relevance than one-size-fits-all computer classes?

1 comment:

  1. One-on-one interaction would probably be the best route for bringing computer interest to the non-computer users out there. However, the cost effectiveness would be impossible. I think the Psychosocial Barriers to Computer Literacy article brought up some good solutions with the CTC programs and community outreach. I think the best strategy would be for these community technology centers to offer very specified services for their community. Education could happen on a larger scale, but the scope of what is taught would best suit those needs specified.