Digital Inclusion: From Connectivity to the Development of Information Culture

Digital Inclusion: From Connectivity to the Development of Information Culture

Aurora Cuevas-Cerveró (Complutense University of Madrid, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8740-0.ch004
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This chapter discusses digital inclusion from a social, educational and cultural dimension. The author considers concepts that have been of great importance in the historical development, such as culture, citizenship and education in the interest of raising an overview of the digital inclusion reflective and critical. Different perspectives of digital inclusion are described, from the perspective more socially oriented to eliminate the gap of digital access to the current perspective, the integration of the citizenship in a mediated society by the emergent information technologies with needs oriented towards the training in access, use, evaluation and communication of information. The chapter concludes by stressing the importance of information literacy to prevent social inequalities but proposes that training of citizenship is made from a humanistic perspective that transcends the merely instrumental and approaching what we call a culture of information, understood as a necessary prerequisite for integration of citizens in society.
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Major theorists of the XX century were determined to name the society in which we live. The American sociologist Daniel Bell (1973, 1991 and 2001), raised one of the concepts that have been more successful in Western discourse, Information Society, trying to highlight the strategic value and great social, economic, political and cultural impact that information has had on advanced industrial societies. In the early nineties, this concept was complemented by a new notion, Knowledge Society (Drucker, 1993) that took root in the European Community policy and international institutions such as UNESCO (2005). During the Lisbon European Council in 2000, heads of State and Government marked a common goal for Europe: the effort to become a more competitive knowledge economy and, simultaneously, in a more inclusive knowledge society. It was argued that in this new economic and social structure, knowledge would be one of the main causes of growth together with capital investment o resources and employment. Therefore, the production of knowledge-intensive products was highly relevant as well as services based in knowledge, and the importance of education and training processes were emphasized, both in their educational and initial training dimension as well as throughout life.

Other scholars have referred to our society with a surprisingly variety of terms: learning society (Hutchins, 1970, UNESCO, 2005) network society and information era (Castells 1999, 2001) global village (McLuhan, 1996), postindustrial society, third wave society (Toffler, 1986), “telepolis” (Echeverría, 1999), surveillance society (Lyon, 1995 y 2001), interconnected society (Martin, 1980), interconnected intelligence society (Tapscott, 1996), digital society (Mercier, 1980; Terceiro, 1986; Negroponte, 2000), cyber culture or virtual culture (Levy, 2001; Picistelli, 2002).

When the different approaches and theories, or the results from the indicators or methods for measuring the information society, are analyzed in depth; and when the policies that drive public or private national and international institutions that operate in this area are examined, the picture drawn is neither homogeneous nor encouraging, and is subject to a variety of interpretations and perspectives.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Citizen: Citizenship implies a social and judicial recognition by which a person has rights and obligations that link their to a communit. Citizenship is not innate to humans. On the contrary, it is a historical conquest associated with the struggle for the acknowledgement of rights that are really substantial to the human being. The concept of citizenship, as well as the literacy, are historically constructed, they are enriched or impoverished if they don’t evolve enough.

Information Culture: It is a combination of values, attitudes, behaviors, knowledge and skills that conduct to an intelligent use of external information and contributes to the diffusion and correct use of information. It is a culture of collective exchange and enrichment of citizenship that is lying in the intersection between the information, communication, and education and computing sciences.

Information Literacy: It is to acquire the ability to know when and why you need information, where to find and how to evaluate, use and communicate ethically. It is considered a prerequisite for effective participation in the Information Society and is part of the basic rights of humanity for lifelong learning.

Culture: The term culture has a literal, etymological acceptation, that makes a reference directly to the farming or cultivating, to the growth of land, and another extensive meaning that alludes to the growth of the qualities and skills of the human being. This is the metaphorical sense that corresponds to the training or education. In relation to this meaning a well-bred person will be therefore well informed (or educated).

Digital inclusion: The digital inclusion focuses on the incorporation of all people in the information and technological society, specially those collectives who have more difficulties to access ICTs, either physically or facilitating the access by implementing standards and accessibility guidelines; but always through training and education.

Media and Information Literacy: Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is an approach recently developed by UNESCO that take into consideration the new cultures emerging from the Information Society. Some prefer the terms Media Literacy, News Literacy, Digital Literacy, Information Literacy and Media Studies. Researchers and librarians world-wide are also contributing to the development of these educational initiatives.

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