INF 103: Introduction to Computer Literacy
Professor Tara Clark
May 21, 2012
The Digital Divide
The digital divide is most commonly defined as the gap between those individuals and communities that have, and do not have, access to the information technologies that are transforming all of our lives. There are many different groups of people in the world whom either has or doesn’t have access to the internet, this can shape how they learn or communicate with others. This is something that has been around since when the internet was introduced to people all around the world. We live in different geographical areas of the country such as the urban and suburban many of the people are either well off and have the means to have high speed Internet access, as for the rest, the poor and the working class whom either cannot afford the high speed access or has the ability to use restricted wireless access as their connection to the Internet. This is also happening with our jobs, politics, the move in Health Care going online, entertainment, and even schools, this leaves millions at risk of being left behind. It is a fact that those whom are digitally knowledgeable with the access to the internet are more likely to become economically secured and at less risk than those who do not. One of the most significant challenges that are facing countries is the concept of an effective “Digital Divide” strategy. With the use of telecommunication which was believed to have bound us together, has often divided us. It wasn’t until the “late 20th century, were the divide split those with phone access and those without it. Then it was the Web: in 1995 the Commerce Department published its first look at the “digital divide,” finding stark racial, economic and geographic gaps between those who could get online and those who could not”. (Crawford, S 2011) It is certainly not difficult to show that the digital divide in this sense has been closing in the past 10 years, with regard to both the Internet and mobile telephony the following graph was taken from the latest World Telecommunication/ICT Development Report 2006. The real question, however is whether these differential rates of growth in rich and poor countries will continue in the future, become equal or perhaps even be reversed over time (James 2008) Although for some time the method used to reach the internet was through the use of the telephone lines, this was the only way one could find their way into the Information Age. When the personal computer and the modem can around this was what individuals had to use in order to gain access to the internet. It was rapidly growing throughout the world according to the information in a New York Times article, “if you were white, middle-class and urban, the
Internet was opening untold doors of information and opportunity. If you were poor, rural or a member of a minority group, you were fast being left behind”. (Crawford, S, 2011) The following table shows “the digital divide between the developed and developing countries by dividing the different rates in the developed world by the rate in the developing world. Rates are rounded, whereas the digital divide is calculated based on actual numbers” (Ahmed, 2007).
“The digital divide is not indeed a clear single gap which divides a society into two groups. Researchers report that disadvantage can take such forms as lower-performance computers, lower-quality or high price connections (i.e. narrowband or dialup connection), difficulty of obtaining technical assistance, and lower access to subscription-based contents” (Internet World Stats, n.d.). “The Digital Divide can and should be made smaller. This idea has found eco in many private and public organizations. One of the companies that have taken an active and leading role in this effort is AMD (Advanced Micro