Late Tech Adapters Might Actually Get a Better DealPosted: September 30, 2013
Higgatai mentions that “[college] students of lower socioeconomic status, women, students of Hispanic origin, and African Americans exhibit lower levels of Web know-how than others.” The statement is important because as we are thinking about how to best serve the South Madison community and business sector, we must not forget that many of those individuals living and working within that community are directly labeled as at least one of the aforementioned groups.
Once one realizes that the participation of an audience, or lack thereof, stems from an inability to participate, whether caused by lack of resources or education, it is easier to find a solution.
While the gap in accessibility (internet access) and equipment (smartphone/tablet/PC) is a bit harder to overcome, by introducing individuals to the World Wide Web and giving them the tools to interact within it, we might be able to grow the overall participation of the community. The fact that some things might be relatively new to many of the individuals who we would want to engage might even work to our advantage because it allows us to bring newcomers into platforms that are basically fully developed (Facebook and Twitter for example will probably not be changing their basic function anytime soon) and thus one is able to not only interact with the already large user base, but they also avoid any “growing pains” that some early adapters must deal with during the early development pages of any given site.
I believe that this is a large advantage because we would be able to show both how a social media site works and give proof of the positives effects that they have already had on countless other individuals/organizations. This might make it easier to convince newcomers to experimenting with the medium.
This leads to how we might motivate users. I believe that if we can effectively convey the distinct advantages of social media, for example, while also providing the necessary tools to utilize the technology in their setting we can convince them to make technology a growing part of their lives/business while continuing to use it to connect themselves with those outside of their immediate community.
We’ve discussed how college students at the University of Madison and their reluctance to visit the South Madison area serve a crucial role in the current status quo. Yet, these are the same students that often throw caution to the wind as they walk home alone at 2am after a party. To me that’s indicative of a willingness to try things they might enjoy, even if there is a possibility of danger. While I’ve come to learn that the South Madison community actually doesn’t really deserve the stereotype for being a “dangerous part of town”, I think that sentiment is still held by many. Yet, it is obviously one that can be overcome and I think that by more closely engaging the student community through technology and social media sites, we might be able to at least reduce the amount of people staying away from the neighborhood simply because they think it might be dangerous.
One way to do this is to showcase the unique people and places in South Madison through images and videos (produced by/for South Madison community members) so that students see and feel how safe and welcoming the community actually is.
It seems difficult to try and enter a foreign community with ideas that one might think would solve their problems without first trying to live in their shoes. Yet, by showing them not only why, but how new communication technologies could personally help their goals I think we can more effectively teach and motivate South Madison community members.