ASR Installment 7: The iCitizen

The term "digital citizenship" can mean anything from the practice of acceptable internet manners on an email server to the practice of global activism through the farthest reaches of the internet.

At Middlesex, we talk a lot about what to do and what not to do in the online village named  But what are our rights, responsibilities, risks, and rewards as participants in a global digital culture? 

This installment presents a preliminary view of how digital citizenship, global citizenship, and plain good citizenship relate to each other.

How this Works

Consult the following 3 selections, an assortment featuring an animation, an introduction/video from a website, and a fill-in-the blank exercise (another optional installment of Character 140). 

The quotations and questions following each selection are meant to stimulate and support.  While reading and thinking about all the selections is required; responses are entirely voluntary (and entirely possible through the ASR contribution link).  

Further Reading provides reference and elaboration on the ideas contained in the selections. 

Tune in on September 19th for the FINAL installment of the ASR. 

SELECTION #1 caution: intersection of politics and technology ahead

Backstory: The animation you are about to see is a (very cool) visualization of a speech given under the aegis of, the modern, online manifestation of the British Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, founded in 1754.  Its current mission is to foster "ideas and actions for a 21st century enlightenment."  The speaker is Evgeny Morozov, who has been a visiting scholar and fellow at numerous institutions, including Stanford, Georgetown, and...Yahoo!  The title of the talk from which this animation is taken is "The Internet in Society: Empowering or Censoring Citizens?"


"The assumption so far is that the internet is basically a very good thing when it comes to promoting democracy."

"We tend to confuse the intended uses of technology with the actual uses."

"There are a lot of dangers and fears which we do not totally understand at this point."

"We hear a lot about this distinction between digital natives and digital immigrants.  What you don't hear about is the distinction between digital renegades and digital captives, which I think is a much more important one."


1.  Does digital technology itself have a political leaning (is it inherently liberating, inherently progressive, inherently conservative, inherently revolutionary)?

2. Does your use of technology tend to make you more active or more passive in terms of your role as a citizen?

3. Is political activism safer or more dangerous, courtesy of the internet?

Watch  Selection 1

SELECTION #2 rejoice: intersection of politics and technology ahead

Backstory: The Personal Democracy Forum (as opposed to the RSA above) is an entirely new online entity founded on the conviction that, "Technology and the Internet are changing democracy in America."  Particularly given the events of the last year in the Middle East, their focus has certainly expanded  beyond the borders of the United States.  This selection consists of the following 2 pieces:

1. Read the brief "About Us" introduction on the Personal Democracy website.  You can stop after the "Welcome" and "Manifesto."

2. Watch the following video, which is a talk titled, "Generation Mubarak and the Power of I," given at the 2011 PdF meeting by Mona Eltahawy, a freelance Egyptian-American journalist who has taught at the University of Oklahoma and The New School in New York.  One note: Eltahawy mentions a person named "Alaa" several times in her talk.  She is talking about Alaa Abd el Fattah, a major figure in the social media side of the revolution in Egypt and another presenter at the PdF 2011 event.   If you would like to see Alaa's talk or a balancing point of view on the role of social media, witness, and transparency in political activism, go to further readings.  But fow now, just watch the following:


"Today, for almost no money, anyone can be a reporter, a community organizer, an ad-maker, a publisher, a money-raiser, or a leader. "

"All the old institutions and players-big money, top-down parties, big-foot journalism, cloistered organizations-must adapt or face losing status and power...Personal Democracy, where everyone is a full participant, is coming."

"It's just a bunch of kids with messy hair like you who think that anything will change."

"The 'power of the I' reached out of my laptop, grabbed my throat and shook me and convinced me that something amazing is happening in Egypt."


1.  Does the nature of the internet challenge authority and traditional systems of power?  Or is it just another form of authority and a newer system of power?

2. Do you find the internet to be personally empowering (i.e. does it leverage or dampen your personal sense of power and reach)?

3. Do the qualities of online communication lead to moderation or extremism (or have no particular unique effect) in political dialogue?

Read  Selection 2.1

Watch  Selection 2.2

SELECTION #3 character 140 (Part 4): Fill in the blank

Backstory: Character 140= quick thinking yielding deep thinking.  Ideally, you would respond to the following AFTER viewing the above selections.  Either way, if you're inclined to respond, simply click below and fill in the blank with text that comes to mind.

Prompt:  Anyone with an internet connection can __________.

Read  Selection 3

No, Leave the Life360 reel off of this page.
Menu Style: 
Show siblings and children of the active menu item
© Since 2011 Middlesex School