Digital Citizenship and Human Subjects

Digital citizenship is a broad conceptual category comprised of guidelines for best practices in digital publication and networked relationships, as well as civic engagement such as participatory politics and media activism. Common to the discourse of digital citizenship is the desire to empower greater user participation in the cybersphere: proponents of digital citizenship advocate diminishing the "digital divide." Proponents further recommend that digital citizens take responsibility for the network systems in which they interact. Since all online activity such as social media, e-commerce, games, website administration, etc. depend on networked self-other interaction, attention to digital ethics is paramount. Just as in the literal public sphere, the rights of users to engage freely with digital texts and one another must be weighed against the rights of users to safeguard themselves and their inventions from malice. Though the discourse surrounding digital citizenship advocates greater user responsibility, best practices for government or institutional surveillance, regulation, and penalization of network interaction remains divisive.

Doman of One's Own gives students the tools to publish, curate, and archive work to a site they design and maintain. In this way students become both multimodal writers and site administrators, who invent the narrative in which their digital presences exist. Concerns over content recede when user produced narratives have the greatest visibility in web engine searches. That is to say that even as some advocate for more censorship of online content, stronger copyright laws, and/or withdrawal from social media, users may safeguard themselves and their content via a personal cyberinfastructure.

Campbell, Gardner. "A Personal Cyberinfrastructure." Educuase Review, 2009.

An advocate of projects such as Domain, Gardner suggests universities utilize new technology to assign all incoming students with web server space and a domain name. From admission to matriculation, students may manage their sites by experimenting with tools and widgets, and producing and showcasing content. Through "A Personal Cyberinfastructure... [Students] would become, in myriad small but important ways, system administrators for their own digital lives" (59). When students become content producers and administrators they take on greater responsibility for their online lives and open up the university to new learning potentials.

Goode, Luke. Cultural Citizenship Online: the Internet and Digital Culture." Citizenship Studies 14.5 (2010): 527-42.

This article attends to the gap between those with access to digital technology and those denied that access. While the Goode points out that historically marginalized people and regions have lately acquired and deployed digital technology advantageously, problems persist. The gap in user literacy persists due to "...financial constraints, [and]...the reach of litigious opposition interests or censorious state agencies" (528). Goode argues that "attention meritocracy" or SEO is one method that can reduce the digital divide (532). While the ideology of digital commons stimulates the grassroots, activist potential of personal cyberinfastructure via remix projects, Goode suggests the "remix aesthetic/ethic" may also hurt the very people on whose behalf it agitates. Remix projects remove bits and pieces of digital texts from the very same context that enabled control and visibility to begin with. What might remix do to cultural representation that requires preservation more than representation?

Heider, Don and Adrienne L. Massanari ed. Digital Ethics: Research and Practice. New York: Peter Lang, 2012.

This collection of essays provides an overview of ethical discourse post Web 2.0 such as "Research Ethics," "Digital Ethics in Practice," Subversive Uses of Online Spaces," and "Emerging Issues in Digital Ethics." The following articles speak most fully to Digital Citizenship as a normative discourse: Jessica Roberts and Linda Steiner's, "Ethics of Self-Journalism," and Brian Carey's, "Permissible Piracy?"

Mossburger, Karen, Caroling J. Tolber, and Romano S. McNeal. Digital Citizenship: the Internet, Society, and Participation. Cambridge: MIT UP, 2008.

"Digital Citizenship examines three aspects of participation in society online: economic opportunity, democratic participation, and inclusion in prevailing forms of communication. The authors find that Internet use at work increases wages, with less-educated and minority workers receiving the greatest benefit, and that Internet use is significantly related to political participation, especially among the young. The authors examine in detail the gaps in technological access among minorities and the poor and predict that this digital inequality is not likely to disappear in the near future. Public policy, they argue, must address educational and technological disparities if we are to achieve full participation and citizenship in the twenty-first century" (Google Books).

Our Cultural Commonwealth. Report by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) that advocates for the improvement of cyberinfastructure in the sciences and humanities. The report details constraints, a framework for action, and five goals for a cyberinfastructure (3).

Plough, Thomas. Ethics in Cyberspace: How Cyberspace May Influence Interpersonal Interaction. Heidelberg: Springer Dordrecht, 2009.

As Plough explains in the introduction, his book, "...focuses on the possible consequences for moral agency of mediating interaction by means of computers. It seeks to clarify how the conditions governing certain kinds of interaction in cyberspace differ from face-to-face interaction, and how this difference may come to affect the behavior of interacting agents in a way that has relevance for ethics. More specifically, the book endeavors to shed light on some of the factors influencing our conviction that a particular other person is real, to suggest how this conviction may be affected by moving the setting of interaction from outside to inside cyberspace, and finally to show how these changes may lead an agent to behave differently, ethically speaking, in the two settings" (3).