New Post for Benton.org on Digital Equity Planning

bentonBrandon Brooks (Queens University of Charlotte), Angela Siefer (National Digital Inclusion Alliance), and I have a new blog post up on the Benton Foundation’s Digital Beat Blog.  In the post, titled “Digital Equity Planning in U.S. Cities,” we share preliminary findings from our study of digital equity plans in Austin, Portland (OR), and Seattle.  Here’s an excerpt from the post:

Based on our preliminary examination of the digital equity plans created by the cities of Austin, Portland, and Seattle, and through our own interviews with local policymakers, we offer these recommendations to federal policymakers, local governments, and other key stakeholders interested in creating effective digital equity plans:

  • Local governments should employ a central planning and coordination office with legitimate authority to facilitate digital equity planning.
  • Local planners should ensure that traditionally-excluded groups are included in digital equity planning.
  • Local decision-makers should use research from a variety of sources to inform digital equity planning.

We offer these preliminary findings and recommendations as key insights to assist local, state, and federal policymakers in creating effective digital equity plans.

Read the full post here.

New Article in Information, Communication & Society

ICSDr. Miriam Sweeney (School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alabama) and I have a new paper published in Information, Communication & Society. In the article, titled “Creating Caring Institutions for Community Informatics,” we develop a feminist ethics of care framework for researchers and practitioners in the field of community informatics.

Here is the abstract:

This paper explores the potential affordances of applying a feminist ethics of care approach to community informatics practices in public internet access facilities. As feminist technology scholars have long observed, technology and technoculture are strongly encoded as masculine, privileging traits such as scientific knowledge, rationality, objectivity, and distance. These characteristics are expressed in traditional infomediary practices in a variety of ways, including notions of expertise, ways of conceptualizing technology, emphasis on skills attainment, and deficit-based models of user behavior. In contrast, ethics of care emphasizes the importance of relational and situated knowledge, pluralistic voices and experiences, and relationships bound by mutual interdependence. Traditionally, caring has been feminized and thus necessarily excluded from technoculture and relegated to invisible and unpaid labor. Caring and associated affective labor practices remain an under-examined subject in infomediary practices. Public libraries and community technology centers are logical places to explore for care work, given that they share many characteristics of the spaces where care work has historically been performed. We argue that an ethics of care framework has several possible affordances for infomediary practices in these institutions, including highlighting the gendered power dynamics that define and shape existing practices; distributing care work and making existing care work visible; and envisioning a more holistic and ethical approach to engaging diverse publics. We translate Tronto’s seven warning signs for ‘bad care’ in institutions into seven positive guidelines for providing ‘good care’ in public internet access facilities, then contextualize these for community informatics institutions and practices.