The Empowerment: Different People, Digital World
People do have different features and abilities. For some features there are certain positive or negative stereotypes - "Blondes have more fun", "All Asian people are short, black-haired and hard-working", "Men with long hair are nerds" etc. In different cultures, there are minority subgroups - sometimes based on ethnicity (Russian-speaking people in Estonia), sometimes on race (Native Americans in the US) or religion (Christians in predominantly Muslim countries). While these groups tend to vary, there are groups which tend to be marginalised almost everywhere - of those, perhaps the most prominent are people with disabilities. Only in recent decades, the related legislation to promote greater inclusion of these people have been accepted more widely.
Equality in the MIT hacker ethic
As seen from the previous lecture, the MIT hacker culture developed as an environment optimised for creativity. A lot
The presence of people with disabilities among the original MIT hackers is not mentioned by Levy or others. However, they readily accepted people who were quite radically different from mainstream Americans (Richard Greenblatt and his "blattlies" is a good example). Levy also writes how the hackers shunned arrogant Ph.D. students but readily accepted 12-year old Peter Deutsch who was able to display sufficient skills. This suggests that disability would not have been an issue for them if the 'mental plane' was suitable.
As suggested by the Jargon File, the reason for such a notable colour- (and other feature-) blindness resulted in predominate use of text-only channels for communication. From the early communication platform to e-mail, Usenet and mailing lists to today's web forums and instant messaging, people have been what they write and not what they look like. It would be an interesting experiment to get two pairs of people strange to each other and let them communicate - one pair locked in a room together and the other pair locked in with text terminal connection. The idea would be to determine which pair learns more about the partner in a given timeframe - the comparison would be quite interesting.
minorities in the emerging Net
- empowermentzone.com by Jamal Mazrui 1996-2000
- The Access symbol
- empowering features of Internet
- today: towards inclusive network society
- the new hacker ethic and different people