I had the opportunity to attend the 29th annual Computers & Writing Conference last month. In one memorable session, Leigh Gruwell of Miami University presented on “The Mechanization of Knowledge: Wikipedia’s Silenced Voices.”
She explained that only 9-13% of Wikipedia’s editors are women. Given the prevalence of Wikipedia (it contains 30 million articles in 286 languages and is the sixth most visited site in the world), Gruwell contends that Wikipedia may not be as collaborative or as democratic as many assume.
Leigh’s presentation reminded me of a crucial element of engaging with digital technology: the ability to critically challenge and assess the increasingly invisible constraints placed on our use of the technology by its developers. It’s easy to feel grateful when our students are quickly able to engage with a digital tool without much instruction or reflection, but we must remember to push them to reflect and critique and question the tools that increasingly dominate their lives!