One Journey Ends, Another Begins

One Journey Ends, Another Begins

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Source: Black Butler

Here we are! We’ve reached the end of this journey, and we all learned great things. It is time for me to reflect on my experience and think about the future. I decided to use Gibbs’ reflective cycle (Gibbs, 1988) to illustrate my progress through this module, in order to clearly go through what I did and what I was feeling during the semester.

 

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What happened?

As part of The UOSM2008 Living and Working on the Web module, we each created a blog as a platform for our research, ideas and discussions. For every topic, we had to write a main post showcasing and analysing the theme, comment on other people’s posts, and reflect on our newfound knowledge at the very end.

Of course, besides the basic tasks, there were also some unspoken rules to follow. The blog should invite you in, have well-structured interactive or informative content and open up a conversation that the readers would be able to continue. It should also represent the writer and link to social media, which would open other channels of communication.

The topics of discussion were centered around three major themes, each of them representing a great part of what is currently happening in the Internet world today, as summarised below.

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Source: Iarina Dafin using Piktochart

 

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What was I thinking and feeling?

When I started writing, I was self-aware that it might not be good from the beginning. Because my background is in Computer Science, the introductory topic allowed me to test my performance in completing such a unique set of tasks and I was able to perform much better in future posts.

The module stressed the importance of an appealing and detail-oriented online presence, and at the very beginning, I was lacking. One humorous example is how my introductory blog post was anonymously compared with another entry, with mine being given as a more boring example. This made me more ambitious, so I started experimenting with interesting titles and visually pleasing material.

I, therefore, reinvented myself, which involved becoming a true citizen of the Internet, with a well-defined identity and contribution. I joined Twitter and started broadcasting my updates to #uosm2008. This change was most evident in my writing confidence, as I felt much more heard and established as a blogger in my new community.

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Source: Iarina Dafin using Piktochart

The following are a few examples of how my online presence changed and how I tried to facilitate the communication with others on my blog homepage.

 

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What was good or bad about the experience?

There were countless positives to my experience in the module. Firstly, I had the opportunity to explore such interesting and current issues, which I knew some things about, but in not any more than surface-level detail. I ended up enjoying the topics so much, that I even started telling my friends and family about my research, further sparking discussion. Secondly, my writing skills definitely improved and I was able to become a real blogger for the duration of the semester. Finally, I joined and completed my first MOOC on FutureLearn.

On the other hand, I found myself stressing about other deadlines and not being able to obtain the right amount of inspiration every time. Keeping and updating a blog is a creative activity, which was many times inhibited by my other technical assignments.

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Source: Iarina Dafin using Piktochart / Original: Introductory Topic

 

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What went well? What went wrong? How did I contribute?

The contribution of everyone in the course helped me expand my perspective. Reading comments and other posts inspired me to extend my knowledge for my reflection in every topic. Furthermore, I was very proud of some of the comments I left on other people’s posts, as many times I was able to provide either information I knew from before starting the course, or information personal to me (e.g. from my home country). For example, during the digital differences topic, I was able to leave a comment (seen in the slideshow below) on how my home country brought fibre Internet to a village with no electricity.

My contributions were well-received by my peers, having discussions with a few of them on every topic. While I tried to keep my content neutral and informative, I enjoyed adding small doodles or cartoons I found online to make my conclusions lighthearted.

The introductory topic on digital residents vs visitors was definitely difficult and now, looking back, I could’ve done so much more. But by the start of the first topic, I obtained a lot more ideas about how I could express my ideas better and create more thoughtful content. A big contribution to that were the infographic creation websites Canva and Piktochart, as well as various materials found in newspaper articles.

Below, you can find a collection of all the 9 comments I left on other people’s blogs.

 

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What might I have done differently?

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Source: Iarina Dafin using Piktochart

While my experience was very positive, there is one thing I believe I could have done better, after looking at my stats and browsing my blog. Overall, I feel like the discussions that I participated in could have been longer, or at least more diverse. Most times, I completely agreed with my peers about certain topics, and the threads did not go any deeper than the proposed ideas of the initial comments. In other cases, unfortunately, some comments of mine received no replies, so not much could have been done there.

 

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What would I do next time?

If I were to start again, with the knowledge I have now, I would be able to more swiftly make my way through the concepts and concentrate them into my desired content. I feel much more prepared for such writing tasks, so much that I used some of my newfound skills in completing my third year individual project report. Finally, regarding the knowledge I obtained while researching the module topics, I will definitely be able to apply all of it, such as protecting myself from identity theft or fake news.

 

Word count: 968 words

References

Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Oxford: Further Education Unit, Oxford Polytechnic.

 

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Who Are You Going to Be Today?

Who Are You Going to Be Today?

Image Getty Images Design Ashley Britton SheKnows
Image: Getty Images Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows

In my previous post, we uncovered what it means to have multiple identities online: the fact that we need them to get jobs, we curate them for our followers or we protect them for the freedom of self-expression. We concluded that it is also very important to be wary of where our personal information ends up.

Reading my fellow bloggers’ posts and having some conversations on this topic, I stumbled upon a very different side of the story and asked myself some other questions.

 

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Anna created a post on what it means to have a multiple online identity crisis. But after some research on my own, I discovered that the opposite happens as well. A whole different type of crisis.

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Marco Melgrati
Source: Marco Melgrati

Reflecting on my own experience in creating and curating my profiles, I’m guilty of not being 100% authentic. This reminded me of a video (DitchtheLabelORG, 2017) I watched a while ago, portraying the ways people exaggerate their life online.

These situations bring many issues to people that start feeling compelled to live a similar “perfect” life. As a University of Michigan study on young adults found, our Facebook use can predict our well-being and prolonged use of the social media platform boosted the participants’ unhappiness levels (Kross, Verduyn, Demiralp et al, 2013).

 

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My behaviour online and my experience with my online identities don’t tell me as much as I hoped when it comes to the greater issues in the world, but I am able to protect myself from possible threats linked to online exposure, such as cyberbullying or identity theft. As existing solutions are created, though, as many threats to our data security are discovered. Therefore, we must always stay of top of what we have to do to keep our data safe.

Word count: 293

Comments: on Anna’s blog and on Tom’s post.

 

References

Berkley, S. (2017, April 28) Solving a Global Digital Identity Crisis. MIT Technology Review. [Accessed on: 18/04/30]

DitchtheLabel. (2017, February 20) Are You Living an Insta Lie? Social Media Vs. Reality. [Accessed on: 18/04/30]

Kross, E., Verduyn, P., Demiralp, E., Park, J., Lee, D. S. , Lin, N., et al. (2013) Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Well-Being in Young Adults. PLoS ONE 8(8). [Accessed on: 18/04/30]

 

Online Identity: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Online Identity: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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Source: American Nurse Today

UPDATE: reflection post available here.

We all create different versions of ourselves online, either because we want to hold back from oversharing or because we want to match our image to the platform we’re using.

 

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I choose to adapt what I share online. I created all types of identities, ranging from completely anonymous to mostly authentic. I do this so that I can separate my interests from personal profiles, which has been discussed by many prominent figures (Krotoski, 2012).

Authenticity vs anonimity
Source: Iarina Dafin using Canva

 

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There are many ways that both the governments and the media are trying to make people aware of the importance of managing their online identities:

There are also pursuits from companies working on tomorrow’s technology. An example is Civic, a company that tries to decentralise our identities online using “cryptographic hashing and blockchain technology” (Chester, 2017).

 

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Once you post your identity online, you risk it being used by malicious parties if not protected properly. In the UK, a personal information bundle can cost up to £820 on the dark web (Gibbons, 2018).

There are, though, several ways to secure your information.

OnLINE identity safety
Source: Iarina Dafin using Canva

 

 

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Trusted companies that you share your data with are supposed to protect it. But this won’t always happen, as proven by the recent Facebook scandal (Cadwalladr & Graham-Harrison, 2018) that shifted the public’s perspective on the social media giant.

Sometimes, it’s not even the case of a company forsaking the users, but a government-level action against Internet rights. China’s Cyberspace Administration forces the population to disclose their real identities online for control (BBC Monitoring, 2017). This is a serious threat to free speech, which is already limited enough there.

 

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There is much controversial information to ponder on, but I, as always, will share with you this heart-warming, iconic cartoon.

online identity cartoon
On the Internet by Peter Steiner

Word count: 315.

References

BBC (2013, December 18) Job hunting: How to promote yourself online . [Accessed on: 18/04/23]

BBC Monitoring (2017, August 27) China web users debate new rules on online identity. BBC News. [Accessed on: 18/04/23]

Cadwalladr, C. & Graham-Harrison, E. (2018, March 17) Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach. The Guardian. [Accessed on: 18/04/23]

Chester, J. (2017, MArch 3) How The Blockchain Will Secure Your Online Identity. Forbes. [Accessed on: 18/04/23]

Gibbons, K. (2018, February 28) Online identities fetch £820 on dark web. The Times. [Accessed on: 18/04/23]

Krotoski, A. (2012, April 19) Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?. The Guardian. [Accessed on: 18/04/23]

SoulPancake (2016, June 13) Online vs. Offline Self: Who is the Real You? | New Age Creators . [Accessed on: 18/04/23]

The Employable (2014, October 28) How blogging can help you get a job [blog post]. [Accessed on: 18/04/23]

 

Further reading

Reuters Staff (2017, November 21) Just one password? Swiss groups plan single online identity. Reuters. [Accessed on: 18/04/23]

Young, R. (2017, May 17) Your Online Identity: Your Strongest Brand or Worst Nightmare? Huffington Post. [Accessed on: 18/04/23]

Who Do We Trust Now?

Who Do We Trust Now?

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Source: Toby Morris for Radio NZ

Main post can be found here.

The old dispute between reason and feeling is now on a new ground.
(Popescu, 2017)

In my main post, I mainly concentrated on describing the issues and pervasiveness of the post-truth era that we face today, while also giving some examples of how a normal Internet user would be able to stay protected. You can guess that the story barely unfolded at that moment.

I read many of the other posts dedicated to learning in an information-rich world and I had the chance to find out more details about some topics that I was only aware of before.

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Source: Iarina Dafin using Piktochart

A further notable mention related to the expertise paradox is how academics now feel marginalised as being the biased elite, instead of being encouraged to continue delivering facts to the population (n.a., 2017). This, like the issue I discussed in my previous post about true news being labelled as fake, unveils that malicious intentions can get very creative and can go very far.

 

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On my last post, Tewsdae asked me if other people may be as careful as I am online and if universities should be doing more. My thought process was that universities and schools can only help those that attend them, which is young people. Older generations might get left behind, thinking that all online content must be trustworthy. We both concluded that complete Internet literacy might be the standard in a few decades time, we just have to adjust to it first.

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Source: geckoandfly.com

 

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A big influence over your digital presence and activity can be your personal learning network. Within the MOOC, I did generate my own and I can clearly see where I’m getting my information from and how I manage to burst my bubble.

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Source: Iarina Dafin using PLN Map

 

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These last two weeks have taught me a lot, not just about what’s out there, but what to do when I’m out there. I have discovered that the post-truth era is just getting started, but I feel more confident in using this knowledge myself, while also educating the others around me.

“There’s nothing like a good existential crisis to mobilise people”.
Paul Andrew, vice president for communications at Harvard in Times Higher Education (Baty, 2017)

 

Word count: 319 words

My comments: on Bivash’s blog and on Chloe’s blog.

 

References

(n.a.) (2017, December 17) What place (if any) for academics in our post-truth era?. University Foundation Ethical Forum. [Accessed on: 19/03/18]

Baty, P. (2017, June 21) Universities must rethink how they communicate in a post-truth world. Times Higher Education. [Accessed on: 19/03/18]

Popescu, I. (2017, December 7) Post-Truth Era. UMEC-WUCT. [Accessed on: 19/03/18]

When Will Post-Lies Replace Post-Truth?

When Will Post-Lies Replace Post-Truth?

Update: reflection post here.

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Source: Edutopia, by Shutterstock

The term post-truth refers to the overlooking of facts in favour of emotional or personal beliefs. It has become such a hot topic in the last few years that it even became Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year in 2016, due to its extensive use during events such as Brexit and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

On the Internet, the term fake news has been used much more than post-truth, being popularised by people like President Donald Trump. Velshi (TEDx, 2017) and Attkinsson (TEDx, 2018) mention that while fake news is indeed a problem, it might be an even bigger issue that we can be made to believe that true information is fake.


000Post-truth spreads in many domains, even outside of the online world. In Steve Fuller’s words, “truth is no longer the arbiter of legitimate power but rather the mask of legitimacy that is worn by everyone in pursuit of power” (Fuller, 2016).

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Source: Iarina Dafin using Canva

 

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Source: Iarina Dafin using Piktochart

 

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Source: INFLA

While the above infographic contains fact-checking-oriented advice, this article (Ball, 2017) outlines more profound, life-long ways to fight against the post-truth era.

 

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At the end of her TED talk, Attkinsson left an unsettling thought to her audience, bringing up media literacy, one of the very important subjects of my learning in the past month. She mentioned that certain organisations are tainting its purpose and masking their real intentions, those of adding “another layer between you and the truth” (Attkinsson, 2018).

 

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I think I do pretty well in filtering information and growing out of my own bubble. My comments from last week’s MOOC can offer some additional insight into how I do that and my opinion on the matter.

 

 

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I decided to focus on discussing post-truth, as it deeply impacts our society and it has the potential of being the root of many other issues that would have a very negative effect on everyone’s Internet use. There will be many attempts at fighting against it, and it won’t be an easy battle.

truth vs post truth
Source: Martin Shovel

 

Word count: 315

 

References

(n.a). (2016) Word of the Year 2016 is…, Oxford Living Dictionaries. [Accessed on: 12/03/2018]

Ball, J. (2017, May 16) How can we fight back against fake news and post-truth politics?. New Statesman. [Accessed on: 12/03/18]

Fish, W. (2016). “Post‐Truth” Politics and Illusory DemocracyPsychotherapy and Politics International14(3), 211-213.

Fuller, S. (2016, December 15) Science has always been a bit ‘post-truth’. The Guardian. [Accessed on: 12/03/18]

TEDx. (2017, March 9) How Fake News Grows in a Post-Fact World | Ali Velshi | TEDxQueensU . [Accessed on: 12/03/2018]

TEDx. [TEDx] (2017, June 30) From post-truth to pro-truth | Alex Edmans | TEDxLondonBusinessSchool . [Accessed on: 12/03/2018]

TEDx. (2018, February 13) How Real Is Fake News? | Sharyl Attkisson | TEDxUniversityofNevada . [Accessed on: 12/03/2018]

The Graduate Institute Geneva (2017, July 5) Fake News: The Role of Confirmation Bias in a Post Truth World . [Accessed on: 12/03/2018]

 

Further information

A brief discussion on cognitive ease by educational science channel Veritasium.
Muller, D. [Veritasium] (2016, July 21) The Illusion of Truth . [Accessed on: 12/03/2018]

A discussion of the issues surrounding scientific studies and fake information.
LastWeekTonight. (2016, May 8) Scientific Studies: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) . [Accessed on: 12/03/2018]

Mirror, Mirror, on the Digital: Reflecting on Digital Differences

Mirror, Mirror, on the Digital: Reflecting on Digital Differences

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Credit: Getty Images Sourced from: Wired

Original analytical post can be found here.

The last two weeks have been nothing short of surprising as I discovered the nooks and crannies of an old, but very actual subject, that of digital differences.

After researching the topic and putting together my blog post, I had a few fellow bloggers leave me some very interesting questions regarding the subject. They were not very controversial, as we all agreed on all the topics, but they gave me a good insight into additional issues surrounding digital differences.

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Created by Iarina Dafin using Piktochart (2018)

Reading other people’s blog posts, I found many more approaches when explaining digital differences. Phoebe dedicated a good part of her post to outlining her experience in the context of macro factors, mentioning that she was lucky.  Many young people in the U.K. do not have the computer literacy to find opportunities online (Media Policy Project, 2016). When I asked her how she developed her skills in school, she said that she was taught basic skills when young, and then she was encouraged to keep using her laptop while doing school work. We both agreed that having this chance to be supported by our education system was key to succeeding.

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Luke‘s post unfolds the situation from the U.K. in greater detail. This made me curious about how digital inequality would be impacted by political events such as Brexit. Having found this article (Tamblyn, 2017) that investigates the effects of losing net neutrality from under EU laws and knowing that net neutrality encourages equality (Katz & Levine, 2015), I asked Luke about it. He mentioned that in the event of it being altered, access to high-speed Ínternet would restrict the experiences and opportunities for many. He is sure, though, that the lawmakers would most probably keep it under strict protection.

There are many facets to this issue and it is difficult to approach many of them. As a lighthearted conclusion, I recommend this small doodle series on digital inequality in healthcare.

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Credit: mHabitat Sourced from: Pinterest

Word count: 310.

Comments: on Phoebe’s post and on Luke’s post.

 

References

Katz, V. S. and Levine, M. (2015, March 12). What Net Neutrality Means for Digital Inequality and Schools. Future Tense. [Accessed on: 05/03/18]

Media Policy Project. (2016, December 07). Digital Inequality: Disadvantaged Young People Experience Higher Barriers to Digital Engagement. [Accessed on: 05/03/18]

Tamblyn, T. (2017, December 15). What Is Net Neutrality And Does It Affect The UK?. Huffington Post. [Accessed on: 05/03/18]

 

The Hardest Gap to Bridge: Digital Differences

The Hardest Gap to Bridge: Digital Differences

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Illustration by Tim Lahan for MIT Technology Review

Heads up! Credits to pictures can be seen when hovering over them.

We all use the Internet differently, and that not only says something about us, but also about the society we live in.

Going at the roots, we encounter the term ‘digital divide’, the gap between the populations of accessing digital technology. Researchers have already identified an extensive list of why it is happening and Robinson et al. (2015) provides a good overview of all possible aspects of this issue, like age, gender or government decisions (Guillen, M. F., & Suárez, 2005).

Iarina Dafin using PowToon (2018)

I created a map of internet penetration rates while researching this topic for my COMP1205 Professional Development module, and it can be used to better understand where we stand. While I was updating the data, I was surprised to find out that not much has changed in the last 3 years. A very small number of countries dramatically improved their situation, while the geographical divide is still apparent, as we can easily identify the North-South problem of uneven development (Reuveny & Thompson, 2007).

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Iarina Dafin (2014, updated 2018)

Digital inequality feels like a much more modern term (DiMaggio & Hargittai, 2001), as it not only observes that some might not use the Internet, but it also recognises how various people of the world will inevitably use the it in different ways. This is very accurate where I come from, as Romania has a wide variety of Internet users, ranging from tech experts and casual users, all the way to countryfolk that have never used a cellphone.

When it comes to my experience, I cannot imagine doing what I currently do without the Internet and I expect that without it, my life would be much different. I get my news, my knowledge and my entertainment online, I change bits of who I am everyday as I learn, so not having that source of information would only leave me in the dark, unable to reach my full potential.

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Iarina Dafin using Canva (2018)

As further insight into my Internet habits and opinions, I attached my comments from the course MOOC.

 

 

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Count (no citations): 315 words.

 

References

DiMaggio, P., & Hargittai, E. (2001). From the ‘digital divide’ to ‘digital inequality’: Studying Internet use as penetration increasesPrinceton: Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University4(1), 4-2.

Guillen, M. F., & Suárez, S. L. (2005). Explaining the global digital divide: Economic, political and sociological drivers of cross-national internet usSocial Forces, 84(2), 681-708.

Reuveny, R. X., & Thompson, W. R. (2007). The North–South divide and international studies: A symposiumInternational Studies Review9(4), 556-564.

Robinson, L., Cotten, S. R., Ono, H., Quan-Haase, A., Mesch, G., Chen, W. & Stern, M. J. (2015). Digital inequalities and why they matterInformation, Communication & Society18(5), 569-582.

 

“The Digital Difference: A Comparison” sources

(n.d). Essential guide to Papua New Guinea. Lonely Planet. [Accessed: 26/02/18]

(n.d) Papua New Guinea. Internet World Stats. [Accessed: 26/02/18]

(2016, July 15). Papua New Guinea’s internet is gaining speed. Oxford Business Group. [Accessed: 26/02/18]

Jackson, M. (2017, May 22). ONS 2017 Update – 4.8 Million UK Adults Have Never Used the Internet. ISPreview. [Accessed: 26/02/18]

 

Further information

Cullen, R. (2001). Addressing the digital divideOnline information review25(5), 311-320.

Talbot, D. (2016, December 16). The Unacceptable Persistence of the Digital Divide. MIT Technology Review. [Accessed: 26/02/18]

Van Deursen, A. J., & Helsper, E. J. (2017). Collateral benefits of Internet use: Explaining the diverse outcomes of engaging with the Internet. New Media & Society.