Digitally Connected: Global Perspectives on Youth and Digital Media

Sandra Cortesi, Urs Gasser, SSRN, Apr 07, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This open (I think; it uses an SSRN redirection service) online book contains the proceedings of a conference funded by an array of charitable institutions and United Nations agencies that only an institution like Harvard can assemble. From the abstract: "With a particular focus on voices and issues from the Global South, the symposium addressed topics such as inequitable access, risks to safety and privacy, skills and digital literacy, and spaces for participation, and civic engagement and innovation. The event also marked the launch of Digitally Connected — an initiative that brings together academics, practitioners, young people, activists, philanthropists, government officials, and representatives of technology companies from around the world who, together, are addressing the challenges and opportunities children and youth encounter in the digital environment." 130 pages PDF.

I can't even remotely do justice to this large work (which I'll be nibbling at for days) in a single post, so let me confine myself to a quibble. Nishant Shah writes, "The edge, then, is not an outer limit, but a route that marks the transfer of data from one point to another. Moreover, the nodes are also not predefined permanent points but rather points in a network that gain intensity (and hence value and valence) because of the frequency with which data travels and intersects at that particular point." No node is more or less valuable. If the node gains sufficient intensity as a result of incoming signals, then (according to a probabilistic signalling function) it fires, and the intensity is set to zero (or some other function-defined number). A node that fires frequently is not more valuable than one that fires rarely; indeed, extremes at either end subject the node as a candidate for deletion. Do not, in a network, confuse frequency with value. Ever.

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