Dewey, Mitra, and the “technological proletariat:” Democratizing the information revolution

In his 1939 essay, “Creative Democracy – The Task Before Us,” John Dewey described democracy as “a way of personal life controlled not merely by faith in human nature in general but by faith in the capacity of human beings for intelligent judgment and action if proper conditions are furnished.”1 While this may seem an odd definition, it is emblematic of the reconstructive tendency in Dewey’s philosophy. If we are to achieve a truly democratic society, we must reconstruct democracy itself – our personal lives must become more democratic if we are to have hopes for our political institutions. And central to this reconstruction, as Dewey points out in this essay, is a recognition of the roles of communication and education in the interest of democratzing ends. It seems hardly worth mentioning the role played by information technology in our contemporary modes of communication and education, given the centrality of the personal computer and the Internet in our everyday lives. For most of us in this room, and especially for those under the age of 25, it is difficult to remember a time before the home computer, before e-mail and instant messaging. But it is vitally important to bear in mind that the technological advantages of Western life are not universal – large..
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