Digital Future: the New Underclass

Our colleague at BA English at Middlesex Dr Josie Barnard presented a BBC Radio 4 programme on 3rd Sept at 11am. It investigates the deep social divides created by the digital world.

Hear it here.

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Whether booking a flight to go on holiday or ordering a takeaway, digital technology is so embedded in everyday life that it’s easy to assume everyone is on a level playing field. Or that those who aren’t are part of an older generation who didn’t grow up with computers. But that’s a dangerous assumption.

22% of the British population lack the digital skills they need to get by day-to-day. That’s more than one in five people who struggle with signing their child up to school, filling in a tax return, or even using a smartphone to make a call. And as more and more essential services move online, falling behind the pace of change carries severe consequences.

For young people, the risks of being left behind are buried under the assumption that they are digital natives – that they have supposedly grown up with an innate ability to use digital technology. But as the number of smartphone-only households grows, millions of children are in danger of their digital world shrinking around a tiny touchscreen.

Dr Barnard asks if this is simply a question of affordability and motivation, or whether more complicated factors are at play. She speaks to people struggling to find space at public computer banks to complete their Universal Credit forms, and a group who are jumping hurdles to get online because of their severe dyslexia, and gets behind the screens of smartphone-only teenagers to find out how the kind of device and the way we use it can be just as detrimental as not having it at all.

Presenter: Dr Josie Barnard

Producer: Emma Barnaby

Executive Producer: Deborah Dudgeon

A Whistledown production for BBC Radio

‘Middlesex Echo’ out now

The first issue of The Middlesex Echo arrived on campus on March 16th and is already completely ‘sold out’. The Middlesex Echo is the brand new student newspaper at Middlesex University.

Created and produced by students only, it’s a unique way to hear the voices of Middlesex Students. Natalie Rose, second year BA English student, is the first issue’s editor. The newspaper is full of opinion pieces, feature articles and creative work by BA English and many other Middlesex students.

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They are on the lookout for new contributors and sub-editors and everyone can get involved.

You can follow them on twitter @mdxecho and on facebook.

 

 

Experience Week activities, Friday 11th January 2019

At our first experience week for 2019, students and guests will have the opportunity to participate in a full day of exciting activities that will enhance their learning, personal and professional development.

A Cambodian Spring, Friday 11th January, 12.00-15.30, CG76 
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A screening of award-winning documentary ‘A Cambodian Spring’ followed by a Q&A with the director and the monk who risked his position in his Buddhist community to help Cambodian civilians to protest.

The screening starts at midday, followed by a 30-minute break and then the Q&A 2.30-3.30pm.

Register for a seat here, all welcome: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/award-winning-cambodian-spring-documentary-screening-and-qa-with-director-tickets-53397911591

 

Letters from Myanmar, Friday 11th January, 15.30 – 16.30, WG48

A book reading and discussion by Professor Chris Mabeychris

As a western teenager in the 1960s Chris found himself embraced

by a Burmese family. Since then his curiosity has gradually deepened about the mysterious conundrum that is Myanmar.

  • How can an assertive and glittering empire, ruling over much of South East Asia from the bejeweled palace at Ava be reduced to a secretive and isolated pariah state?
  • How is it that a prosperous economic and educational hub on the Asian subcontinent can emerge, in the second millennium as a repressive military regime?
  • How can a people renowned for their gentle hospitality and steeped in the benign pacifism of Buddhism stand by as students are gunned down in the popular uprising of 1988 or the barbaric ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya since 2017?

Chris will read and discuss some extracts from his forthcoming book. It is a first-hand glimpse from those who have lived through the unfolding history of this beguiling land. Through these ethnographic accounts we sample the distinctive flavours and smells, hear the wit and weariness and touch the fragile fabric of modern day Burma.

 

For the full schedule of all experience weeks’ activities, including optional events, see: Experience weeks 2018-19

 

New book by Middlesex colleague: In Defence of Political Correctness

Are we really free to say what we want in a liberal democracy? Or has being Politically Correct now been replaced by anti-political correctness? In this book, Middlesex Professor, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, argues that PC made public discourse more civilized. And that when people say what they damn well want, you end up with trolls, Trump and Farage and a nasty, toxic environment.

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Journalist of the Year, Yasmin Alibhai Brown is a broadcaster and author of several books. A columnist for the i and the Mirror, she is a well-known commentator on diversity, immigration and multiculturalism. She is the author of Refusing the Veil and her most recent book is Exotic England. She was awarded Broadsheet Columnist of the Year at the 2017 Press Awards.
Yasmin says: – “Libel laws, editorial judgements, broadcasting restrictions, the political atmosphere all impose limits on free speech. And yet when women, minorities, young, LGBT and disabled people object to demeaning language or, indeed, demand equality, traditionalists shout out ‘It’s PC gone mad’.  There are leading voices in this country- people like Boris Johnson, Julie Burchill. Ken Livingstone- who stoke up ugly passions in the name of freedom. Without self-moderation, our streets, schoolyards, public transport, waiting rooms and restaurants would turn into bear pits. Most citizens understand that. Some, however, seem determined to cause disorder in the name of free speech. Powerful, Machiavellian and wealthy individuals are leading this disruption and breaking the old consensus.
Thus, anti-political correctness has taken over the UK and US, spearheaded by some of the most influential voices in media and politics. Invective, lies, hate speech, bullying, intemperance and prejudice have become the new norms. Intolerance is justified through invocations of liberty. Restraint is oppression. A new order has been established in which racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia are proudly expressed.” In this powerful new book, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown puts forth a spirited defence of political correctness, forcefully arguing that, despite many failures, this movement has led to a more civilised, equal and tolerant world. By tracing the history and definition of the term, Alibhai-Brown looks to clarify the very nature of PC, which is ultimately grounded in human decency, understanding and compassion – all of which are essential for a safer and kinder world.

https://www.bitebackpublishing.com/books/in-defence-of-political-correctness