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Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age by Virginia Eubanks




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"If we're to move forward as a society we'll need to abandon many of the platitudes and utopian musings that characterize computerization and actually start doing the work that needs doing. This is what Virginia Eubanks lays out in Digital Dead End. Is she the Jane Addams of the digital age?"
--Douglas Schuler, author of Liberating Voices: A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution and New Community Networks: Wired for Change

Leslie Regan Shade, Journal of Information Policy, Volume 1, 2011
"In Digital Dead End, Virginia Eubanks offers a trenchant feminist critique of the deployment of digital technology in American society, arguing that programs and policies exude a glaring blind spot in their consideration of race, class, and gender inequalities...Eubanks’s book works at many levels and for diverse audiences – scholars and activists. As a methodological resource guide for conducting participatory action research amongst community groups, the appendices provide exemplary guides and exercises for designing popular technology programs. As a critique of digital divide policy in the United States, Digital Dead End offers an incisive analysis, countering liberal claims that technological equity is merely an “add and stir” solution. And for feminists concerned with the democratic potential of IT for women’s citizenship, Eubanks offers a critical and constructive agenda for the design of an information society where people matter."

Christina Ludost, Hactivism-Software Freedom-Feminism, June 29, 2011
Hactivism Joins Social Justice: "When Virginia Eubanks visited Montreal a couple weeks ago, she stayed at my place. Before she left, I asked her to sing her book for me. At the end, she said: 'And thanks for teaching me what hacktivism is.' If I were to sign a book for Virginia, I would say: 'and thanks for teaching me what popular technology is'.

Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, Indypendent Reader, April 24, 2011
"As many declare that the internet will bring about democracy – that social networking sites started the revolutions in the Middle East – and that the Information Age will save us all – Virginia Eubanks, author of Digital Dead End, pulls us back into reality. Working from a concept deemed the “Digital Divide” Eubanks spent four years studying working-class women at a local YWCA in Troy-Cohoes. She analyzed the meanings behind some people's access to technology and others' lackthereof. She discovered that access normally was categorized along the lines of race, class, and gender. While the privileged believe technology to be the cure-all, Eubanks found that many disadvantaged populations saw technology as a source of oppression and surveillance. However, with these women, Eubanks examined how technology can be utilized for social justice. 'I have bad news and good news,' Eubanks stated, 'Bad news: Twitter didn't start the Egyptian Revolution. Good news: The people did.'"

Amelia Bryne, Deep Tech, April 23, 2011
Digital Dead End is a must-read. Throughout the book Eubanks talks from her own experience, writes clearly about complex issues, makes her research methods transparent, and includes – directly – the voices of her co-collaborators through short transcript excerpts and longer “portraits”...via the voices of the woman of Troy, NY, “Digital Dead End” offers a refreshing perspective on the digital divide. The women argue that a true bridging of this would mean that people on both sides of the divide would start talking with and listening to each other.

The women specifically suggest that the one most useful thing that government could do vis-a-vis helping “the disconnected” with technology is to inquire about what is going on in communities – that are perhaps unlike their own – and at what life is truly like for people in the information age.

Digital Dead End FEATURED in the Chronicle of Higher Education's weekly New Scholarly Books column, March 21, 2011.

LibraryJournal.com Science & Technology Reviews, February 15, 2011
Eubanks (Women’s Studies, SUNY at Albany), an antipoverty and welfare rights organizer, vehemently argues against many of the central ideas held by today’s information economy pundits, scholars, and policymakers.
Drawing on rich fieldwork experience and research with marginalized populations, Eubanks refutes the idea that technology development and use will provide us with better social and economic equity. Policies and institutions formed to address a perceived digital divide are in fact deepening inequality. Lessons learned from her programs are presented and possible solutions are given a framework for development, but there are few signs of light in the dark world vividly portrayed here. She offers a new approach to the challenge—shift the focus from teaching technical skills to nurturing technological citizenship. The book at times reads like a protest-march documentary. Readers learn the who, what, where, when, and why, but the how is elusive. VERDICT A great backgrounder on technology-enhanced hardship, albeit light on proposing action to address the situation faced by far too many, this will appeal to the technological and sociological minded alike.
—James A. Buczynski, Seneca Coll. of Applied Arts & Technology, Toronto

"By presenting the experiences of a population of predominately working-class women whose perspectives are largely ignored in the debates about the impact of technology on our world, Digital Dead End argues that equity-based responses to the 'digital divide' are often misguided themselves. Any person who is working for social justice in the world of technology would benefit from reading this book."
--Jane Margolis, Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access, UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, and author, Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing

"Eubanks offers a path-breaking work that challenges the redistributive paradigm associated with many digital divide initiatives. She gets at the heart of how technology contributes to social stratification and how technological designs that are attentive to issues of social relations and power are necessary to enable and empower economically challenged groups. This is a book that all those caught up in digital advocacy should read, in order to better understand the socio-technical dynamics in which they operate."
--Atsushi Akera, Department of Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute