Lax: Equality and Access to New Media

The author in this article discusses aspects of inequality, accessibility, meritocracy, and technological determinism


According to Lax, not everyone has access to new technology especially in developing nations, but even those who do may not use them effectively. Lax argues that access alone isn’t enough to get people to use digital media. Governments are making technology accessible, but not educating people about it, and as a result it isn’t utilized as much as it could be. 

We live in an information society which identifies information as a key point. It not only specifies access to information, but also “what you do with it” (204). Therefore, anyone can become a successful user of information in a meritocratic society. “If they apply their skills successfully, then they deserved whatever reward came their way; should they be unsuccessful, then really they could not complain” (208). Despite this, there is a growing belief in the idea of a meritocracy. The internet allows everyone to be equal, free from being judged based on their race or gender and able to succeed or fail based on their merits. The idea is an information society: everyone has access to the technology, and that anyone with access and knowledge can create something.

He also argues against technological determinism. Technological determinists believe that technology is the main force behind social change, but Lax argues that it’s actually the other way around: society influences technological growth. There would not be advancements in technology without society.

This relates to class because we’re learning to use the technology available to us. We already have access, one way or another, and learning digital writing is equipping us to use information in a creative way. Therefore, academic success in the class doesn’t depend on access to the technology, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. but on desire and ability to learn of each individual. As Jenkins said in his article, “It matters what tools are available to a culture, but it matters more what that culture chooses to do with those tools” (Jenkins 2009).

Works Cited

Lax, Stephen. Access Denied in the Information Age. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Jenkins, Henry. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2009. Print.