The Tech Shock Podcast - Simeon Yates
This week Vicki and Geraldine are joined by Simeon Yates, Professor of Digital Culture at the University of Liverpool and leading authority on digital poverty and media literacy. On the agenda: data literacy, exclusion, and online surveillance.
Simeon begins by clarifying what it means to be ‘literate’ in the digital age. Although we might be familiar with the fact-checking and scam-spotting required for media literacy, this doesn’t automatically mean we’re literate when it comes to data.
He stresses that data isn’t just there to make our lives more convenient. If you’re ignorant of some applications of data – and what personal data you’re sharing – then there can be serious material consequences, affecting anything from housing, healthcare, or the very culture we’re exposed to.
The group then discuss digital poverty. Might data illiteracy only amplify existing inequalities or ‘digital divide’? And can devices like smartphones really be considered ‘luxury’ items when they’re used to access so many basic services?
Simeon unpacks his upcoming work on digital exclusion. It’s vital, he says, that we understand what a family with children needs in order to be a digital household in a digital society. Adequate equipment and accessibility are just starting points – what else is required to get families not just literate, but engaged?
Finally, Is there any way around being surveilled whilst we’re online? Is it possible to have free, civic online spaces where our data isn’t logged? And should we, Simeon suggests, stop blaming tech and start being more critical of the people behind it?
Next week Kat Dixon, researcher and fellow at the Digital Poverty Lab, joins Vicki and Geraldine for a discussion all about data poverty – why you don't have to be poor to experience it, and why some solutions to the problem might be less desirable than others.