This week's readings mentioned something it seems we've only briefly discussed in class, the digital divide. I thought it was great to hear that the people in the Philippines were able to have their voices heard partly through the use of text messaging to gather groups and show solidarity. However the "Poor People Power" movement seemed to also have a fairly large following, but was largely ignored and definitely not celebrated in the way that "People Power II" was.
In fact according to Castells they were described by the English-language media of the Philippines as violent, drunk, unruly, thugs. While some of them may have been (mobs of people tend to attract at least a few of those types) they were also "poor people who had legitimate complaints" (pg 190). Castells attributes the disparity in the description of the two groups in part to "deep-seated class problems" in the country (pg 190).
While I don't know much about the Philippines and it's political or class structures, it makes me wonder how often this type of thing happens in general. The middle and upper classes have access to the media, technology, and other ways of making their voices heard, while the poor have to rely on someone else (typically of the middle or upper classes) to take an interest in their story and broadcast it. Now sometimes these new technologies can work for the disenfranchised if someone takes up their cause and spreads it (ex. the fair trade coffee movement), but again that involves someone from another class and/or culture acting on their behalf (and projecting what they believe is in the best interest of the disenfranchised).
So while all of this new technology sounds great in terms of challenging the powers that be and giving the people a voice, does it really only promote the middle-class status quo, without giving a voice to those who have never had one? Is there a way to bridge the digital divide so that everyone has a chance to have their say, not just those who can afford it?