Book Review: More Zeros and Ones - Digital Technology, Maintenance and Equity in Aotearoa New Zealand by Anna Pendergrast & Kelly Pendergrast


This is a sequel to Shouting Zeros and Ones - Digital Technology, Ethics and Policy in New Zealand and follows a familiar pattern. It's a series of essays looking at digital issues from a uniquely NZ perspective.

There is a fair bit of Te reo Māori (Māori language) in the book. It's great that the language is enjoying a resurgence. Most concepts are explained in context - although you may need to rely on your eReader's dictionary function a few times.

Ideas like ‘social licence’ for me is hōhā, terrible, because it’s based on the fact that the government has trust. I think that’s a fundamental assumption that the government doesn’t have the right to assume, especially after 180-plus years of colonisation.

Some of the lessons it teaches are specifically relevant in a Māori context - for example whether the local iwi may only have signed and acknowledge He Whakaputanga and not Te Tiriti. But the lessons are broadly applicable to to every community.

It really focuses on the systemic issues which can lead to people being (self) excluded from fully participating in digital life:

As well as general mistrust of government, there is a lot of intergenerational ill-feeling in Māori communities and organisations about over-consultation by researchers and government staff.

It doesn't just focus on Māori issues - there are lots of stories about how participatory design should be used to ensure services are move inclusive and equitable.

When the NZ COVID Tracer app was first launched in 2020, the mandatory and seemingly simple act of placing QR code posters in shops and cafés excluded certain sectors of the community. Many businesses displayed the posters in places inaccessible to wheelchair users, which made them unable to comply with the directive to scan in.

It's a great book for the modern digital practitioner with a social conscience.

Verdict
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