Thoughts and ramblings on tech, media, culture, and food. Plus some other stuff, I'm sure.

Digital Class Struggle

That earlier re-blog I did of Brad King's Shut Your Digital Native Piehole (52 of 90) got me thinking about the differences in literacy levels. And as I followed the line of reasoning it came around to one thing: class struggle. I think this works.

In the main throws of media literacy we see that a huge difficulty is adoption level. A lot of people can use a computer but they don't know how to create with it. How do we pull the message away from the medium? Because when it comes down to it, these are all just tools: mouse, keyboard, blogging platform, Twitter, Facebook, PHP, CSS, HTML, Java... And when we look again, this time at the people interfacing with the tools, I think we can split them into two groups: technical and non-technical. Or literate and not-so-literate.

So maybe there is a coming class struggle? At some point -- probably when the non-technical decide they don't want to pay for these soon-to-be-ubiquitous tools -- the technical are going to get fed up with having to do all of the "hard" work (not that it's hard for them, just for the end user as show next).

An example: As a university web guy, I get calls from people having trouble with our CMS. But, it's not really the CMS itself that is the issue, it is the WYSIWYG editor. Because users expect it to work like MS Word, and it obviously doesn't, they have to call me when something doesn't take. So say a user keeps trying to hyperlink a phrase on a page, but once saved the link doesn't take. I know right away what the problem is. Most likely there's some junk code in the HTML causing it to mess up. The user has full access to look at the code, but if she did, she wouldn't know what to do with it. She's non-technical.

I look, and sure enough, somehow the tags have gone from orderly to bedlam. So many changes have been made in the graphical editor that there is nothing short of 8 tags all canceling each other out and making visual editing nearly impossible. It's a simple fix but, here at this school, it takes a person with years of web expertise to remove those tags.

Don't get me wrong: this isn't a complaint. It's an observation. At this point in time there is a drastic rift between the technical and the not-so-technical, the administrator and the user, the creator and the consumer. In most cases. Convergence culture is shaping some of the cross-over here, but in the end even most of the creator-consumers are confined to the software or the website or the tools they are using.

So, is there a class struggle here? That's the question.