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Digital Fusion

A Society Beyond Blind Inclusion


Joy Pierce

The first national recognition of disparities in access to information technologies – a digital divide – surfaced in a 1995 report by The National Telecommunication and Information Administration. Despite efforts to close the gap and promote digital inclusion, statistical data over the course of nearly 20 years indicate a significant disparity remains in poor and minority communities. In this accessible yet scholarly work, Joy Pierce illustrates the need to examine the societal status of information technologies at the micro level. Digital Fusion is a sustained and integrated project that combines more than a decade of community participatory research in two regions of the United States. Using qualitative research methods and drawing from critical cultural studies and social theory, Digital Fusion is an interdisciplinary project that engages digital literacy and social justice issues related to race, ethnicity, language, class, and education. Thought-provoking, multi-vocal, and multi-lingual narratives from racial and ethnic minorities as well as institutional administrators lay the groundwork for potential policy implications and digital infrastructure and design. Digital Fusion illuminates the complexities of digital access and use at the micro-level and offers a participatory project that seeks to co-create a digital space; one that speaks to the specific cultural, linguistic, and social needs of underrepresented communities.
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Foreword by Susan B. Kretchmer


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Susan B. Kretchmer President, Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide

During the 2000 National Communication Association (NCA) Annual Convention exchanges of particular note took place between communication scholars and leaders of the primary constituencies at the forefront of the effort to bridge the digital divide. That unique dialogue led to the appointment by then NCA President Jim Applegate of the NCA Task Force on the Digital Divide of which I was Co-Chair along with Rod Carveth.

As part of our work, we wrote a number of articles for various scholarly association publications, including NCA’s monthly member newsletter Spectra. Shortly after one such Spectra piece in 2001, I received an email from a doctoral student at the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She explained that she had read the article and was interested in NCA’s initiative as she was writing her dissertation on the digital divide and that her work stemmed from the experience of having recently volunteered as an instructor to low-income and unemployed participants in a program to bridge the gap. She asked that I let her know how she could “contribute to not only the discussion, but more importantly, any action as well.” That doctoral student was Joy Pierce.

As Pierce completed her Ph.D., the momentum within academia and beyond to combat the digital divide grew. The NCA Task Force completed ← ix | x → its tenure at the end of 2002....

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