Partly because I am a first-generation college student hailing from the Deep Southern United States who didn’t have a computer until I purchased one for college in 2003, I’ve become increasingly interested in the entire set of assumptions, biases, and problems surrounding class within and surrounding the academy. Several things about my history (simply to use an example) put me in a strange position; for instance, I didn’t have access to the web until I left home for university, and my childhood family and friends largely communicate by means other than the digital. In a very real sense, the contemporary revolution (which is how I think of it) in the ways in which knowledge is being stored, accessed, and worked with–and the impacts of those things on learning, both at the university level and in education in general–has largely passed them by. This is, I believe, part and parcel of a larger problem of access to knowledge.
I propose a panel to, rather vaguely I must confess, get together and discuss the thorny nexus of class, technology, and access to knowledge we are being faced with more every day. Speaking solely for myself, I think this could be a productive encounter for several reasons: First, we might begin to get some sort of sense about how many of us are truly digital natives, as so many under 25 are taken to be (I also haven’t a clue what the demographic makeup of this THATCamp is going to be, so this could be fun!). Second, it seems like this might be an ideal way to begin and extend transdisciplinary discussions already ongoing, discussions circling around access to quality education, how that translates into access to higher education, and how both of those impact career potential, socialization of the next generation, etc. Third, it seems like a great idea to (especially) start discussing these problems and how they might impact our own digital work; as a first year PhD student in literary studies and the digital humanities, these are issues I’m beginning to realize I will have to face–or at least should want to. In other words, how can those of us working on the forefront of the changing face of knowledge access equalize that access?
This is quite fuzzy, and I have no idea where it might go! I’d welcome comments, commentary, and ideas, either online or in a session this weekend.