Understanding of digital technologies

How to navigate in a digital world

The digital world has become an integral part of our lives - for better or worse, and it is important to be aware of how this affects us both in our private, work and study life.


On this page, we focus on how you as a student can navigate a new digital reality, and put a spotlight on concepts such as digital literacy, understanding of technology, algorithms and digital self-defense.


Enjoy

Digital literacy

What does it mean to be digitally literate?

Digital literacy is about us as individuals learning to understand the digital age and the mechanisms that apply. The objective is to become able to take a critical stand, avoid being manipulated, and make wise decisions and participate democratically in a digital reality.


Being digitally literate is not just about mastering all of the services and digital opportunities that are available, but is also a matter of being critical and reflective of the information you collect, and not least pay attention to what kind of data you leave behind, and how it can be used.


There are a wide range of issues that can be linked to the digital age, e.g. fake news, shitstorms, polarization and behavioral design (e.g. constantly checking for likes). Digital literacy is about these phenomena, their history, and how digital technology can also be designed against our interests.

"Consider to what degree digital media control your attention"

"Digital literacy is about understanding digital phenomena"

"Be critical! Is there a hidden agenda?"

Digital self-defense

How do you design a safe, digital study environment?

The purpose of digital self-defense is to design your computer behavior to protect your privacy.


Unfortunately, there are many free services on the web with a business model based on intercepting data about your behavior - either in order to sell advertisements, or in the worst case, to hack you in various ways. With free services you pay with your data. And one thing is for sure, the house always wins!


In 2016, the Personal Data Regulation GDPR was introduced. GDPR is legislation developed by the EU to protect citizens' personal data. But although there is legislation in place to protect you, you still have to think for yourself. You can easily be lead astray, either because the services are deliberately trying to mislead you, or simply do not comply with the law.


Fortunately, there are a variety of tools that can protect your privacy. For instance search engines that do not store your search history, browser extensions that block ads, chat apps that are encrypted etc.


Remember, it is always a good idea to be aware of whether sensitive data around you is available to others.

"Design your digital behaviour to protect your privacy"

"Use software and services that limit 3rd party sharing"

"Be aware of what you share. Check you search history, and consider whether you are OK with sharing it"

UNDERSTANDING OF TECHNOLOGY

HOW DOES TECHNOLOGY SHAPE OUR CULTURE AND WORK HABITS?

Understanding of technology is about how digital technologies affect our society, work and social lives. Introduction of new technology always has other consequences than those you immediately expect - they are not just neutral.


In recent years, there has been a perception that when something is digital, it is also automatically better. For example, many elementary schools purchased large quantities of tablets in the early 10s. The idea was, that if you had a powerful, user-friendly universal tool for collecting and processing knowledge at hand, learning would automatically follow. That was just not the case, and today digital tools are seen more as a supplement on top of a strong pedagogical and didactic foundation.


In fact, much research indicates that digital media can counteract good learning. Perhaps you have tried for yourself how a high consumption of streaming services late at night can affect sleep, and weaken your ability to internalise knowledge the next day!

"Technologies are not neutral. Be aware of the indirect consequences of using them"

"Understanding of technology is about the influence of technology on all aspects of our life"

Algorithms

HOW DO ALGORITHMS WORK?

There is a lot of talk about algorithms being smart and accurate, but there can also be negative effects associated with the way algorithms work.


For example, Google's algorithms value popularity and actuality very highly. This means that the knowledge you gain from using Google is predominantly popular and current knowledge.


In some contexts, this can be good, but it can overshadow the fact, that outdated or unpopular knowledge can be extremely useful. For instance, it has been a long time since Pythagoras' doctrine was current and popular, but it is still very relevant!


The same goes for all sorts of other services we use; Instagram, Facebook, Spotify and Momondo are all examples of algorithm-driven services that get to know us and our preferences. Of course, tailor-made content that fits into an existing worldview can feel nice, but it also creates the risk that digital life becomes an echo chamber, with no new impulses in form of e.g. new attitudes, music, knowledge, etc.

"Even the most innocent algorithms are coded on a background of selection and rejection"

"CONSIDER WHETHER GOOGLE ALWAYS GIVES THE MOST INNOVATIVE ANSWER. MAYBE THERE ARE BETTER OPTIONS"

Links

Here you can find further inspiration.

Books

  • Kritik af den digitale fornuft  
  • Hvordan bliver vi digitalt dannede?