Sunday, August 28, 2011

Children and Tech Series - Post #5

Hacking and making your own safety
Monday, February 7th, 2011

The video Hacking Human featuring Michelle Levesque is really really great. And so is the Stranger Danger article. They intersect for me in thinking about the policing of thinking, and cultural policing in general. We all buy into the dominant culture to a certain extent and work within it’s restrictions to get that thing called life done, and so to a certain extent participate in a form of cultural policing – this is cool, that is not, this is popular now, I make my decisions based on these ideas that I heard about…it’s kind of the way that cultural cohesiveness is maintained.

However, what we don’t want is our tools policed in a non-transparent way. I really like the emphasis Levesque put on transparency in her lecture. If we are going to have institutions creating structures within which we construct our meaning (and we are, there just isn’t much of an escape from that) we need to make sure that those structures are built right, with as open and honest policy as possible. We need to know what is being blocked/censored/monitored for us, and we need to agree to it. Transparency is key.

Thinking about transparency on a larger scale makes, in terms of large cultural systems of value and information sharing and education and political ideologies etc etc etc gets me thinking about transparency on a more personal scale – parents and kids and families. I’m doing a lot of reading and thinking about safety for my Major Research Project, and so I see how all this stuff applies. The more we box things in for our kids, and for ourselves – the more restrictions we build into our systems – the less empowered we are to make our own decisions, or have conversations with our children, or do things and our thinking for ourselves.

Which then brings me to hacking culture, and forgive me for rambling all over the map with this one but the goal is to tie it all up together by the end – when we feel empowered to do things for ourselves, and learn the skills we need to know to be able to do what we want, we are participating in the broadly defined hacking culture that Levesque spoke about in her lecture, and that Nolan, Raines-Goldie and McBride (2011) talk about in their paper. When we have a conversation with our children about how to take care of themselves when navigating the Internet sea in their awesome little submarines (it’s back!), we aren’t only helping them to learn and empower themselves and encourage them to stand on their own two feet and live their own lives, but we are also deflating the ideas that skulk around in the shadows of culture that tell us that it’s just so unsafe out there.

The statistics are down. The climate has changed. Things are actually way more safe than even when I was a kid, not so long ago but longer than for a lot of my cohort participating in this blog. Yet, our cultural policing, and those shadowy fearful ideas are constantly whispering to us that there is danger everywhere, that our kids are at risk and incapable, and that we need to protect and be vigilant and relay on others to create our own safety.

When instead we should be working to make our own culture of safety, ourselves

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