Note — May 19, 2020

Civil Society in a Digital World

I’ll have to be weary of featuring everything Rachel Coldicutt writes but she does so so beautifully and clearly, what can I do? The article introduces Glimmers, a collaborative research project led by her new outfit, Careful Industries, and Plot. They will be looking at the glimmers of what comes next, and the new roles technology is creating for civil society. Great area of research and very well laid out intent in this piece.

Digital technologies allow us to be both more individualised and more connected, all at the same time, but much of that change has drifted unevenly into being and our social infrastructure is in a liminal state — caught between centuries. So the social glue that holds us together is sticking us differently now, for better and worse. […]

[T]is project pokes at something more diffuse — what support do we need in the ways we live now? How can civil society support more people in a world where technology both individualises and connects individuals, families, workers, learners and whole communities? […]

Negative outcomes tend to hide in the shadows, and the sensing function of civil society is vital to shine a light on these. Technological change produces winners and losers, and critiques of that change should not always be characterised as old-fashioned or luddite; forward movement needs a counterbalance, a weight in the present and the past. […]

Meanwhile, the information collected and understood by civil society is often not translated into the kinds of “data” that are used to power big technology projects. The intelligence of frontline workers — for instance — is not captured in ways that easily fill data stores or inform algorithms.