I was disappointed in the BBC’s Virtual Revolution series. It completely failed to address the potential of technology to ensure equal access to the Internet. The invisibility of this issue is really quite sad. For all the parallels made with the legacy of Gutenberg there was no awareness that from Gutenberg to Google those in need of assistive technology are having access denied. Even with all the technical assistance in place, most of today’s virtual environments remain inaccessible. Current debate on the BCAB forum reaffirms this – BMI Baby and Easy Jet should know better or do they just not care?
Episode 4 started promisingly but didn’t really go anywhere. It asked if the Internet is altering us but failed to cover issues like those raised in the CIBER report about the changing behaviours and attitudes of young people online and the implications this has for ensuring appropriate future digital literacy. Maybe my horizons are too narrow. I accept programmes have to be selective but I believe passionately in equity of access – how could they not care about such blatant discrimination – and I worry about the effect of continual digital engagement on young brains. Which is my other point and it’s not the Internet. Heavy Rain is the new PS3 game by Quantic Dream. Described as a classic film noir thriller, the level of available interaction is amazing. The graphics are so fantastic you’re not sure if you’re watching a film or playing a game. I had to watch because I couldn’t play it. I struggled with Grand Theft Auto and Heavy Rain was totally beyond me. My brain isn’t capable of the multiplicity of actions required to operate at this level and I’m not sure I really want to. I’d rather be out in the sun on the allotment. I suspect the greatest danger of virtual environments is as Sherry Turkle said in Virtual Revolution 4 ‘We are no longer nourished but we are consumed by what we have created.’