Practical Implications on “How You Theorise the Internet”

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Earlier in the week, I published a post looking at different theoretical understandings of the internet. Here I have produced a follow up looking at the practical implications of these ideas.

Here are the four ideas;

  1. Instrumental – people have agency over the introduction and can use it for themselves.
  2. Social – the internet brings us into contact with other people who act on us as much as we act on them.
  3. Technological – the shape of technology has effects on us beyond how we use it.
  4. Political – the internet is a contested space on which we are brought into contact with powerful actors such as governments and corporations.

So how can you use these ideas in practice? To start exploring this I would sketch out 3 different tasks that career practitioners could engage in.

  1. Equipping – this focuses on supporting clients in making good use of the internet for themselves. It would focus on how they can use it and develop their own practice through it.
  2. Building – this focuses on developing online spaces and applications that provide better spaced for career development.
  3. Critiquing – this focuses on helping clients understand the internet and issued related to it. It focuses on the need to understand the internet and problematizing aspects of the internet for clients.

I would argue these different ideas may have more or less relevance to different views of the internet and are likely to fill out these aspects in different ways.

Equipping Building Critiquing
Instrumental
Social
Technological
Political ✖ (✔)

Instrumental – this obviously almost entirely leans towards equipping, if people can use the internet then you need to support them in actually developing the skills they need to make use of it.

Social – combining all three. You could approach social by equipping people with the skills they need to develop relationships online. Or by developing systems which allow people to develop better relationships online (e.g. e-mentoring systems). Or you could engage critically with how social systems online create or replicate social inequalities.

Technological – people with this view are likely to downplay equipping because of the view majors on the effects outside of human control. Responses could be to build better systems which could have better effects or to think through critically the part technology plays in our lives.

Political – this almost entirely falls into the critical stance as the point is to help people understand how power dynamics work online and agitate for alternatives. What I haven’t included but you could argue is that careers work could play a role in organising spaces online to develop critical consensus and action in light of online power dynamics.

This is day 17 of my 30 days of blogging challenge

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