Digital division

Digital division

: At last week’s journalism education confab, Jay Rosen, Hossein Derakhshan, and I were all taken aback by this kneejerk response to blogging:

Asked the kneejerks: What about the people who can’t or won’t blog because they (a) don’t have computers or (b) don’t have broadband Internet access or (c) don’t spell well?

Hossein shook his head and said to a few within earshot that folks in Iran and Iraq have those problems but still manage to blog.

Jay shook his head and said for all to hear, to paraphrase: Yeah, so, what do you want us to do about it?

As they say on Family Feud: Good answer. Good answer.

My response: Well, there’s one helluva lot more access to blogging than there is to printing presses and broadcast towers!

Blogging does not cure society’s ills. It does not make have nots haves. Blogging is not meant to be done by all.

The point of blogging is simply that those with the will now have the way. Those who want to publish something to the world can. They can find a PC and Internet access and if they can’t, well, I’m sorry, but it’s not as if there is a universal right of blogging.

And it’s not as if blogging should be deemed worthless — the limousine of free speech — just because not every person on earth can or does partake in it.

The odd thing is that I’ve attended many a blog conference where just this point was raised and the neckjerk reaction of the crowd is to start nodding heads in unison: Oh, yes, we all should be concerned about those who cannot blog. Well, hell, if you’re so concerned, then invited the great unblogged into your home to share your PC and your cable modem!

It’s a silly PC argument that is ultimately empty and silly.

: UPDATE: In the comments, see lots of good notes from Kathy Shaidle and this from Jay Rosen:

This point–blogging sounds great but what about the digital divide?– was raised at all three panels I was on in Toronto. When I finally lost patience with it, I first asked the woman: so what’s your solution? She looked shocked and said, “well, I don’t know.” Neither do we, I said. “We’re doing about it what you’re doing about it.”

She looked confused, and came up to me after to explain that she didn’t mean to suggest that she had any answers. (No kidding!) But she didn’t really have a question, either, and that fact had eluded her. All she had was a PC reflex. It’s kind of sad.