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Digital literacy and power

In the classic text: Power, technology and the phenomenology of conventions: on being allergic to onions. Susan Lee Star shows how it is more difficult for MacDonald’s NOT to put onions on a burger than to do so. Standardization is to give preference to certain actions at the expense of others.

For those who are not standard(ized), those who do not fit in the network and thus in the intermingling with the standardized technologies, a material-discursive misfit occurs. This stress acts of discrimination—what is considered good or bad, sufficient or insufficient, normal or deviant—and what kind of power asymmetries that emerge in such enactments. Consequently, the ordinary or normal is never just neutral.

Digital literacy can perhaps be regarded as skillsets needed to fit into society.

This is not new, of course, different technologies have, at different points in history, brought radically different needs for citizen knowledges, and have at the same time changed the preconditions for citizenship. With each new (media) technological era, follows discussions about the increased potentials and growing dangers—but also new needs for new skills. The television, the radio, the car, and the printing press, to name just a few of the most noticeable technologies, have all required thoroughly new aptitudes from citizens. However, who is (or is constructed as) skilled has always been a matter of power. Because this enveloped conceptualizations of the normal, and the ‘othered’, of those who need to be adjusted, and those who do not.

With a sincere excuse for shameless self-promotion, this article of mine discusses digital “losers” over time, i.e what groups have been targeted for digital skills education since the 1950s.


2 responses to “Digital literacy and power”

  1. Thank you Lina for yet another inspiring post! I am lingering with the thoughts of who will be the “losers” in five to ten years from now. Will it be those who are not yet grasping the pervasive effects of AI, or perhaps something completely else? I have Max Tegvalls Life 3.0 ( on the bedside table at the moment. Perhaps that is why AI pops up… Have you read it? All the best! Karin


  2. My dear Karin, I haven’t read it but ordered it now. Thanks for the suggestion. What do you think about it? I’m eager to read Sad by design ( have you read that?


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