Limits to Connectivity?


My questions for this hot seat are about the limits to connectivity – how much of it do we (students, teachers) really want, and what are the demonstrable benefits?


I don’t see why there should be any limit to connectivity from a technical point of view. Good sense and moderation will limit the actual use.

One aspect is reasonable parity within a community or assumed shared space. The UK has very variable bandwidth and this creates division in how people think about things.

My current ambition is to use video conferencing edits for bits of radio, later maybe some form of television. Eventually broadcast could all be online but this is some way off. The images have very variable quality but the sound from a phone is often ok for broadcast. So the benefit of just a bit more connectivity would be a wider range of views through communication.


I might not have understood what is involved in connectivity. I had assumed just bandwidth. But there are other resources involved. Not much required for communication though. In schools, is it always ok to use a phone?


If we take connectivity to mean what is done to us rather than what we choose to do, i.e. by Facebook and the like, then - as Will says, why should there be any limit to connectivity.

But if we are talking about connectedness in the sense that Jose Van Dijck talks about it (mentioned in Risks of Connectivity and Privacy Controls thread) then the question is how much individual power do we have to limit connectivity and connectedness.

My perspective is that we don’t have much power to limit connectivity. It would take too many of us across the globe to overthrow Twitter hearts for example. But individually, for ourselves, I don’t see why we can’t work out our own boundaries. For example two of my three adult children are not on Facebook. The first has never had an account and the second closed his account out of disgust. The third has an account but as his mother he defriended me :slight_smile: - he chose to limit his connectedness to me and I respect that. I am connected to him in all the ways I care about. I don’t need Facebook for my relationship with him and hopefully he feels similarly.

Connectedness is a benefit and a choice. We can use it to our advantage. Am I naive in thinking that we don’t have to be controlled by it?


I have been thinking about individual and collective power in relation to how things might be different on social media. I like the examples you give of your adult children’s choices of connecting to you or not on Facebook. Maybe they work because you have the alternative of regular f2f connection. I am contemplating my own Facebook “suicide” and one of things that makes me slightly reluctant is the loss of informal happenstance connection to family abroad and to valued contacts whom I rarely meet. On the other hand Facebook’s manipulation of the stream has made me realise that the happenstance was diminishing to accommodate what Facebook wished me to see and respond to. Twitter was going to be my backstop but I think it’s only a matter of time before it goes the same way.
But having thought about trying to manage my connectivity without too much loss of connectedness, I have realised that Google is also very important spread across phone, tablet and computer in ensuring my connectivity and making my goal of controlled disconnection such a challenge.
I do think there is a role for collective action though. As educators and parents, we can listen and join in conversations with young people that can generate collective inquiry /wisdom. As users of tech services, we can object as well sometimes voting with our feet. And we can explore alternatives. Reclaim Hosting, who have done such good work with higher ed institutions in helping people manage their own web content, are now working with Known, to explore something similar with community/network interaction
One way of thinking about this is to expand concepts of digital literacies to include questioning of assumptions and of platforms.


I definitely agree that digital literacy should include critical questioning of assumptions and platforms. It’s vital we understand that parameters that define our social media experience and that shape or bias our search or networking.

One thing that’s striking about young people is their willingness to get off Facebook or take up Instagram or divide their social networks across several platforms, and then change it all. It is those of us who are older who, I suggest, value the longer-term network possibilities (keeping our history, happenstance links to distant relatives, curating lots of photos, etc). This makes us more vulnerable to the manipulations of the companies, who can begin to mess with our message feed and we feel stuck, unable to give up on the sunk costs of our personal investment in a particular platform. Younger folk would just switch, and escape!

I noted also this week that younger people are more likely to use ad-blocker software ( suggesting a greater willingness to use ‘resistant’ software to counter the big platforms. Perhaps there’s some hope there that the imbalance of power could tip a little more in favour of the public.

As you suggest, we may not be locked into an ever growing world of corporate power, simply, since this power itself breeds the means (social, literate, technical) by which people can resist. That means, I think, that as education increasingly occurs on proprietary platforms, teachers must increasingly take a stance in managing and resisting the ab/uses of platform power…


Will this go as far as subscribing to a service? The commercial social networking sites have grown on the basis that everyone assumes the internet is free. So the ads and metrics are not really surprising. I looked at Known and they have an option to subscribe to more options. In the USA YouTube has launched Red which is a sub that gets rid of advertising and maybe finds more content. Games and music so far but I guess this could be lectures and interviews if there were enough vocal subscribers. There could be a completely different platform but I will be looking at Red out of interest.


Thanks Sonia. I agree that teachers have a responsibility in their own and students’ acquisition of digital literacies but I am hoping that there can also be learning between youth and older people that realises their ranges of experience and isn’t restricted to formal education. It could even include forms of activism. Does this make any sense ? I know you have rich understanding of young people’s knowledge and behaviours.


Great question Frances. So much of school stratifies children neatly into their year group, and one thing the digital can do is build connections across the age range (as long as we can conquer and manage anxieties about stranger danger etc). In traditional societies, youth learning from older people by engaging, sharing, being mentored or apprenticed, etc., was so important, and now we struggle to permit this. So yes, the potential there is considerable.