Network Society, Network Neutrality & Teacher Librarians

social_network_analysis_visualization
Grandjean, M. (2013). Social Network Analysis Visualization.  CC attribution -SA 3.0 Unported

In my reading from INFO281 (Seminar in Contemporary Issues: Globalization and Information) this week, I got a look at globalization theories.  I was particularly interested in Manuel Castells’ Network Society.  Perhaps it is because I was inundated by neoliberalism, or that I couldn’t help but equate Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire theory with Star Wars— Emperor Palpatine and the Rebel Alliance and all. Whatever the case, Castells’ Network Society theory was like a breath of fresh air, because I felt like it resonated with me.  It’s not because “technological change exercises underlying causal determination in the myriad of processes referred to as globalization” (Robinson, 2007, p. 132), although that does play a big part.  Honestly, I appreciate a theory that, rather than focusing on the economic or political pieces of globalization, sees something like advances in technology making an impact on the various, interconnected parts that make up what is, to my budding understanding, globalization.  The reason it resonates is because I, in my role as a teacher librarian, thoroughly embrace Sir Francis Bacon’s famous saying, “knowledge is power.”  Part of the theory of Network Society is the idea that the economy is knowledge based.

So how does that relate to network neutrality?  Well, the September/October 2017 issue of American Libraries includes a news article, “ALA fights for an open internet” (p. 8). Part of librarianship for any librarian is the support and championing of freedom of information: as ALA president Jim Neal notes, “Network neutrality is all about equity of access to information.”  It’s necessary to support the 2015 Open Internet Order, which puts in place rules that protect access to information.  The article’s author reminds readers that “access to the internet and other library resources empowers all to participate fully in today’s digital economy.”

The language current to most of today’s school standards focuses on students that are able to function in a digital environment, with the understanding that today’s technology does empower as it breaks down barriers to knowledge (see AASL Standards for 21st-century learners, 2007 and NGSS “The need for standards” & Monica Burns’ 2015 Edutopia article “The Common Core and digital skills development”).  All of the standards recognize the fact that successful students are prepared for life in a highly technological society.  In order to support these students, it’s imperative that knowledge is accessible, that it’s not restricted by government and commercial internet service provider interference.

References:

American Association of School Libraries. (2007). Standards for 21st-century learners. [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/files/guidelinesandstandards/learningstandards/AASL_LearningStandards.pdf

American Library Association. (2017, September/October). Ala fights for an open internet. American Libraries 48(9/10), p. 8).

Burns, M. (2015, July 1). The Common Core and digital skills development. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/common-core-digital-skills-development-monica-burns

Next Generation Science Standards. (n.d.). The need for standards. nextgenscience.org. Retrieved from https://www.nextgenscience.org/need-standards

Robinson, W.I. (2007). Theories of globalization. In G.Ritzer (Ed.), Blackwell companion to globalization (pp. 125-143) Malden, MA: Blackwell.

 

 

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