Archive: Feb 2019

“It’s easy to look around a college campus and think – there’s no digital divide here,” begins a blog post on a new digital divide by sociologist Jessica Calarco. Despite the ubiquity of digital devices on today’s campuses, Calaraco argues that college students are still very much divided into haves and have nots: “the digital divide on college campuses has shifted from one of technology access to one of technology maintenance. [In a recent study] we [found] big gaps in the quality and reliability of the technology students own.” Inside Higher Education also has a story about new digital divide research of Professor Calarco and others.


Wired magazine is reporting that San Francisco, CA could become the first United States city to ban its agencies from using facial recognition technology. The article notes that for critics of facial recognition technology, “[i]n the hands of government…it enables all-too-easy access to real-time surveillance, especially given the availability of large databases of faces and names (think your driver’s license or LinkedIn).” The city’s Board of Supervisors is considering a new ordinance that would implement the ban. Additionally, “the ordinance would require city agencies to gain the board’s approval before buying new surveillance technology, putting the burden on city agencies to publicly explain why they want the tools as well as the potential harms. It would also require an audit of any existing surveillance tech—things like gunshot-detection systems, surveillance cameras, or automatic license plate readers—in use by the city; officials would have to report annually on how the technology was used, community complaints, and with whom they share the data.” There should be very spirited debate about this proposal!

In the new Atlantic article “Could Black English Mean a Prison Sentence?” John McWhorter argues, “court stenographers often misunderstand Black English, and their mistakes could affect people’s lives at crucial junctures.” This provocative article includes links to other analysis of the linkages between race and linguistics, such as “What Does It Mean to ‘Sound’ Black?”