Everything, absolutely everything, is in the process of becoming digital. We are witnessing a total mutation of knowledge, which affects at the same time embodied knowledge and life wisdom. Daily life is what is first upended, in all its dimensions.

Bernard Steigler. The Digital, Education, and Cosmopolitanism

It is obvious that everything is in the process of being digitised, that we are part of a rapidly changing digital era. However, we are not exactly flying down the home straight. We are a long, long way away from any sort of optimistic, technological finishing line. It is much more fitting to describe ourselves as twitching around at the start line, shuffling in our blocks, waiting for the pistol to fire.

It is easy to dismiss digital exclusion. Being a part of this digital movement obscures from view those that don't have the capability, capacity or the interest to participate. The implicit belief in technology's social narrative is that everyone will eventually become included. Everyone will soon acquire, through the technology itself, the capacity and the capability to participate.

Exclusion however will always persist.


haver01

The ways in which we are communicating, creating information and verifying its credibility are changing, and the rate at which these changes are taking place is increasing. Instead of technology making information clearer, more accurate and more relevant it is diversifying, with new channels and systems emerging, and new formats, methods and practices to understand and learn.

This is not just about how an ageing society is able to adapt. Active consumers of all ages have different motivations to understand new interfaces and learn new ways of being part of dynamic and exciting communities online. Far bigger concerns lie in the abilities of businesses to remain relevant, in how our public services can be delivered equitably and affordably, and how systems are able to adapt to changing consumer behaviours, attitudes and trends.

Technology is creating remarkable opportunities to make content easier and quicker to produce and share. However making important information accessible, understandable and appropriate for the benefit of the audiences it is designed to reach is a challenging field of work. Where these two fields converge we will see tremendous advances and benefits. For all the periods of time in between, and for all the spaces and places in which there is no convergence, many people will be left disillusioned, misinformed, alienated, and excluded.


haver02

At Mortar our product Hoop'd makes it easier and quicker to organise information and apply intelligence to make it more accessible and appropriate for those that need it. We have begun working with organisations that have a shared interest in creating inclusive environments and reaching those at risk of exclusion.

For the London Borough of Havering this has involved the design and development of digital triage tools and more dynamic directories to help support those experiencing exclusion in finding appropriate services and support. These tools are needed to both engage and guide people in how to access and utilise local area resources and services as well as to support those on the front-line of service provision who require fast and effective tools to assist the signposting process. This is especially important when resources and support are required in alternative languages, or when people present specific access or disability needs.

It is in these areas that new technologies can make access to information more equitable, simultaneously relieving front-line service staff of overwhelming workloads. It also presents opportunities to more effectively analyse the quality and reach of the services themselves, contributing to the continuous integration of systems in which referrals and signposting can be more effectively monitored and improved.

It isn't possible to comprehend the phenomena of exclusion. You, as am I, are experiencing it unknowingly, as we type and read. All modes of communication and information are continually reforming to adapt to the enduring demands of technology, "changing the way we create, consume, learn and interact". We can however get much better at recognising and identifying exclusion, and designing our services and systems to combat and reduce its debilitating impact.


haver03

This situation cannot last very long.