What Kind of (Digital) Citizen?

Alec Couros, Katia Hildebrandt, Open Thinking, Jun 07, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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There has been a lot of discussion recently on the concept of the digital citizen. A lot of the talk is focused on what we might call Right Behaviour. For example, here's Bonnie Stewart on digital platforms: "They do not lend themselves to good digital citizenship because they shape and direct human behaviour in ways that privilege capital and circulation and extremes, rather than, say, collaboration or empathy." But maybe there's a concept of citizenship beyond the concept of responsibility. That's what Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt explore in this post. So we have the personally responsible citizen, the participatory citizen, and the justice oriented citizen. More on the current conversation herehereherehere and here. Twitterstream here.

I'm not really happy with any of those. Not because I oppose responsibility, participation or justice. But rather because I don't see those as definitive of my place in society. We need to base society on voluntary cooperation, rather than involuntary collaboration. I have the right (or responsibility) to oppose as much as to support, and this isn't inherent, but follows from how I create my own place in society. If I am doing nothing, I have no inherent duty or responsibility to act or care. You don't get to define me; I define myself. My citizenship begins with, and is defined only by, my actions. (This is a new concept for me but I think it's an important one.)
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