INF 103: Computer Literacy
Prof. Melody White
January 26th, 2015
The Digital Divide
Just like Sir Isaac Newton’s law, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction,” I feel that it is safe to say that most everything has drawbacks and advantages. Almost all of us have experienced the conveniences and advantages that have come from the fast-paced progression in information technology. However, not everyone has shared in these experiences. This drawback is a social and economic inequality between people called the Digital Divide.
Our textbook (Bowles, 2013) discusses the ethical concerns of underprivileged people not having access to the “Kingdom of Knowledge” afforded by others. This poses a concern because individuals without computer and internet access are at a disadvantage when it comes to keeping up with those who do have access, and risk falling behind in their careers and studies. Bowles also states that helping individuals gain knowledge in digital literacy is the morally responsible thing to do, and can help close the gap in the Digital Divide, and help ensure that digital knowledge is shared equally.
The article, “The Digital Divide: How Deep and How Wide,” written by B.F. Scholoman (2004) talks about how the issues that make up the Digital Divide are a really complex, global problem. Not only, are the digitally disadvantaged at risk of falling behind socially and remaining outside the mainstream of the digital revolution, but they are also unable to access new health resources provided by healthcare officials, via the internet, that could have a positive impact on their health. The article also argued the fact that the divide is not just one gap, but several gaps in one. Scholoman also talked about how providing computer and internet access is not the answer. Many barriers, such as literacy and language, exist after the access has been provided. Libraries play a huge role in providing access to computers, internet, and staff who offer help with digital literacy, especially in rural areas and small towns. The author thinks that a couple of ideas that could help to bridge the gap in the Digital Divide are in the support of local libraries by citizens, advocating against budget cuts where public libraries are concerned, as well as global initiatives directed at reducing inequities.
The last article that I read entitled,” Does ‘Digital Divide’ Rhetoric Do More Harm than Good (2001)?” touches on how some scholars feel that the issues being discussed about the Digital Divide portray African Americans and other minority groups as being technophobic. Scholars feel that Digital Divide discussions should focus more on developing online content that represents minorities who feel there is nothing online for them, and also shed more light on contributions that African Americans and other minorities have already made in technoculture. Scholars feel that discussions portray African Americans and other minorities as charity cases who have no desire for technology, but Susan Kretchmer, a leader of a scholarly society stated that the Internet is mostly dominated by whites, and most minorities do not go online because they feel it contains nothing they would find relevant, not because of a lack of interest in information technology at all. The article also stresses on the importance of technology, and how computer literacy is as much a staple to education as reading, writing, and arithmetic.
After carefully analyzing the two articles, and my text, I believe that all three sources have the same opinion on the importance of closing the gap on the Digital Divide. They all brought up important relevant points about how income, age, and disabilities have an impact on the divide. They also noted that having access to computers, and Internet is not the whole answer to the problem.