Mar 29, 2010 Comments Off
I found both of this weeks readings very relative to the world today. Internet use and information technology is a huge aspect of some parts of the world, and many people in other areas do not have the means to use it. The digital divide discussed in these readings talk about the divide between people who do have this technology and people who do not. We have discussed this inequality some in class, but these readings dug a little bit deeper by examining why it is possibly happening, what may be done to bridge the digital divide, and what the digital divide does to the world.
According to Pippa Norris, there are many countries that have digital divides and international agencies are getting involved. The poorer countries and areas of the world such as Southern, Central, and Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South-East Asia are all behind the internet savvy United States and other well-off countries (274). I think it is important to try and bridge these gaps as quick as possible. In addition, within countries, lowers rates of internet use have been associated with “African-American and Hispanic populations, rural communities, and among women and girls” (278). I believe this is because of cost and that women and girls may not need to use the internet for their jobs, or may not even hold as many jobs as men. Also, latest data shows that age, income, education, and disabilities matter significantly to whether there is internet use or not (278). In Internet Use American Adults, the data is also clear and shows that income and education is the major reasons for the digital divide among American adults. I feel as though most of these reasons are common sense. Since there are so many explanations for why a digital divide exists, it may be impossible to fully bridge this gap. However, I do feel as though over time, the gap will shrink as some of these issues are resolved.
Many countries, organizations, and companies are working hard to try and bridge the digital divide. For example, “Microsoft, Intel, AT&T, and Hewlett-Packard all have foundations that strive to increase technology and internet access by donating equipment” (278). In addition, the British Government has created a network of city learning centers that allows many people to have internet access when they normally would not (278). It is important for the leaders of this technology to take a stand and show that they are willing to try and help the world be connected. Not only would it more likely make them more money in the end, but a fully connected world can really benefit everyone.
The digital divide has major issues in government and politics. The wealthier and more educated people who have the technology hold much more power and influence. For example, presidential candidates used the internet and their websites as “essentially glossy shop-windows”, etc (280).
The themes throughout these readings was clear – not everyone has the same access to the internet and their are a variety of reasons for that difference, such as cost, education, sex, age and others. Many groups are trying to help close this digital divide, but that may be an impossible feat. Only time will tell!
One observation of the readings this week that I found interesting was that there were a lot of questions. I feel as though this shows that even the experts don’t know what will really happen with the digital divide. Will it shrink or grow? There are so many questions that no one knows the answers to yet, but over time, the answers will emerge.