Searching for a Signal

Digital Literacy, Civic Engagement, and the Building of a Community Wi-Fi Network in Miami’s Urban Core

Authored by: Moses Shumow

International Handbook of Media Literacy Education

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138645493
eBook ISBN: 9781315628110
Adobe ISBN: 9781317240068

10.4324/9781315628110.ch16

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Abstract

By the second decade of the 21st century, the idea that there is a digital divide that exists between individuals, households, and communities with access to reliable, affordable high-speed broadband Internet (defined by the FCC as 25 Mb/s or greater [James, 2015]) and those without is widely accepted (Eubanks, 2011; Rainie, 2015; van Deursen & van Dijk, 2014). More recently, as poor, rural and communities of color have fallen further behind in terms of access—by some estimates, connectivity in these communities can fall as low as 30%, compared with rates of 85% and higher among more affluent, urban households (Siefer, 2015)—greater attention has been paid to this divide as having the potential to be one of the defining civil rights issues in coming decades. The stakes are simply too high: as more and more of modern life is lived online—from education, politics, and commerce, to transportation, labor and workforce participation, social networks, and mobilization—the gap between those with access and the Internet and those without does not simply stay the same, but continues to grow wider every day. There are wide-reaching implications for citizens in these communities if they are unable to fully engage in the civic promises of networked societies that have been explored in an array of scholarship elsewhere (Dahlgren, 2007; Mihailidis, 2014; Papacharissi, 2010).

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