As a Black person in the United States, the concept of democratized knowledge is extremely important to me. The disenfranchisement of Blacks, especially in the South, and knowing that there were tactics to keep information away from Black people for centuries particularly by White people leads me to encouraging my peers and Black people around me to never ever take a wooden nickel. The fact that we literally have the world in our palms now makes me want to learn and take advantage of every opportunity.
Casey Coleman, a writer with GSA Online University wrote, “Every year brings new discoveries, inventions, and products that make our personal and working lives easier, increase our productivity, and save money. The growth of resources available to anyone with Internet access is truly astounding. Better yet, technology has a “democratizing” effect, eliminating barriers and granting access so that new ideas can spread.”
And since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing technology and information become even more readily available to individuals who may not have access otherwise. Examples of this include school districts providing tablets and laptops to homes that do not have one and even stipends and grants for home internet. Dallas Independent School District has implemented a program in which qualifying families are able to apply for free in-home internet access.
However, in the RadioLab episode, it definitely gave me an uneasy feeling. The thought of being able to just erase unsavory moments feels a little bit like the rewriting of history. They say that history is written from the side of the victors and as I get older, I’m realizing that more often than not the victorious parties are typically colonizing oppressors. Journalists are essentially playing “god” with the notion that they get to decide content and what lives on and what does not. I’m not saying that this is the case but then morality gets a dollar amount. Who’s to say that a check written for a certain amount doesn’t ensure that somethings wrong doings get swept away in modern records.
Another issue in the democratizing of knowledge are pay walls in news and academia. Pay walls are just another example, of ways that have systemically and continuously keep underrepresented groups, just that–underrepresented. Open access for academia is available but has not been able to overcome the elitism that it brings in topics such as science for instance. A person make have access to open courses with something like Harvard and have the knowledge at the end of the day, but will they receive a degree at the end of the journey — nope.
All in all, the societal hierarchy that decides who has access to which information and how much should be eradicated.