This expert blog post ‘Warning Social Computing could be good for your health’ led me to the speech by the Secretary of State for Public Health (who doubtless has to neither shop on a budget nor be restricted by the stock in his local Nisa). Most of the nine pages is typical government rhetoric about inherited problems and solutions that neatly bypass the source. With regard to social media, Andrew Lansley, actually says very little and the phrase ‘the power of new technologies and new media’ bypasses digital exclusion issues of which I have much to say. If you need a reminder of contemporary attitudes, here is some feedback on a funding bid to research digital exclusion and visual impairment.
“Readers said they were surprised about some of the statements about accessibility as there is special software for those with special needs and there is guidance for software developers related to meeting the needs of those with special needs.”
Ok, you could say ‘yes’ to both (ignoring for now the old medical model of disability that’s implicit here), but in the real world the industries who are responsible for each rarely talk to each other. As a result the more the Internet is used to communicate then the more people are being excluded. (If you doubt this click the digital divide/digital exclusion links under my blog categories.)
Back to public health – in a stunning display of political hyperbole, Andrew Lansley misses the point completely. Alongside education for behavioural change, policy should address the environmental issues too such as cut-price alcohol and the processed gunk that passes for ‘ready’ meals. The monopoly of giant food corporations like Coca Cola and McDonalds, and their cheap alternatives, has led to mass consumption of chemical concoctions designed to increase profit margins regardless of damage done to health. The people the government claim to want to help are the very same who are inadvertently supporting their own privileged and financially secure lifestyles. If you need more evidence try We are being ruled by a junk food government and Business Interests fight obesity