Simple information is taken for granted
nowadays because it is super easy to
get. However, this amount of useful
information is the cornerstone for a
better society. If the information we
need were to be inaccessible in our
society, then this society is not
democratic. For example, the landlord
responsibilities towards his/her
tennents. If the tenants didn’t know
their rights, the landlord can be
authoritarian with them.
That’s why democracy cannot exist
without information equity.
Personal agency and social capital
are two different but related terms.
Both of them are means of getting
information about a certain matter
but through different resources.
Personal agency is affected by
decisions made by the government
and corporate actions. On the other
hand, social capital is impacted by
our social network. Weblining is a
term that means treating people based
on their digital selves. For example,
the ads on social media. Information
equity is not just about all people having
the same kind of access to information,
but rather about people having access
to the information they can understand
Redlining is a set of policies and IT
practices which creates boundaries on
the access of information. One of the
consequences of redlining is that
education turns to job training such as
community colleges. Redlining is clearly
a huge problem but it is not recognised
because the “higher level” education isn’t
affected by it as well as many students
have internet access byond campus.
The danger of redlining is that
policymakers decide what is appropriate
for a certain group and what is not.
Software engineers are not innocent
also, because they are the ones who
design filters and create the redlining.
It is true that they are just doing their jobs
but they must notice what is ethical and
what is not as not everything that is legal
is ethical and vice versa.
After reading those two articles,
I remembered many situations where
more information would have helped me
greatly. For instance, when I applied to
join AUC, the admission lady told me
that it’s “better” to go in as an undeclared
student when my high school grades
were sufficient enough for my major of
choice. I did not know that back then,
I had no one to ask so I just had to trust
her. Another example but this time about
filtering, Egyptian government decided to
block certain websites as they promote
“fake news”. Here we see that
policymakers decide what is good and
what is bad based on what they think.
I conducted a small survey where I asked
9 of my friends if they have ever heard
of the term information equity. 7 out of 9
said no and only 2 said yes. The fact that
people don’t even know about information
equity proves that we are far far away
from achieving it. It’d be a great start to
make the term more popular so that
people would know the importance of
information and how to use it.
Maybe then we would be on the right track
for achieving information equity.