Overcoming the Digital Divide
The Digital Divide (DD) can, basically, be described as the reality that the nation, as well as the world, is divided into two camps - people who have access to information and communications technology (ICT), and those who don't. This is important because, in today's digital world, access to ICT (including high speed internet, tablet computers, smart phones, etc.) is critical to economic success and personal development.
The Digital Divide (DD) exists between those in the cities and those in rural areas. For example a recent study showed the vast majority of Internet delivery was to the 20 largest cities. The DD also exists between the educated and the uneducated, between economic classes, and globally, between the more and less economically developed nations.
Individuals with access to internet connectivity, generally, have more opportunities to achieve enhanced social and cultural capital, as well as, higher levels of economic productivity gains. Therefore, access to information and communications technology (ICT) is critical to overcoming the DD.
Access to ICT is determined to a large extent by income. Studies show individuals at higher socio-economic levels have greater access to ICT than those at lower levels. One solution to overcoming the DD is to lower the costs of ICT. Another solution is to share access to ICT. One way to address the access problem is to provide public spaces where people can access computers, the Internet, and other digital technologies. Examples of this would be public libraries equipped with computers, school-based technology centers, community telecenters, etc.
An additional solution to help overcome DD is to develop strategies and policies to help raise more people out of poverty.
ICT access is not the only barrier to overcoming the DD, especially for economically disadvantaged and rural communities. Two additional obstacles are 1) inadequate infrastructure, and 2) the capacity of users to comprehend the information the internet provides. There is a new French term, 'illectronisme', which refers to electronic illiteracy. Thus, more focus is needed on building additional ICT infrastructure, and improving electronic literacy and computer skills. A greater awareness is, therefore, required to achieve, not only, increased ICT access and usage, but, also, more effective ICT access and usage.
Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, and LinkedIn are both manifestations, and means by which to overcome the DD. These social media networks empower users from communities with less ICT access and literacy to increase their knowledge of digital terminology and technology, practice computer skills, and access and share information, services, and economic resources.
Finally, overcoming the DD would ensure the opportunity, not only, for effective ICT access and usage at the individual level, but also for effective access and usage at the community level, providing the means for more effective use of ICT for community betterment and empowerment, to include issues around access to and use of 'open data'.
For more information on overcoming the DD see the following links:
Comcast and Khan Academy Announce Multi-Year, Multi-Million Dollar Partnership to Help Close the Digital and Educational Divide - Comcast
Close The Gap - close-the-gap.org
The Digital Divide: Resource Roundup - Edutopia
The Digital Divide Will Ensure A Broadband Ghetto - gigaom.com
Mending the Breach - Overcoming the Digital Divide - Edutopia
Obama Announces Public and Private Investments for High-Speed Internet in Schools - Washington Post Online
Open Data Yields Apps For The Civic Minded - sfgate.com
Your City Needs These 7 Open Data Apps - Mashable
What suggestions or recommendations do you have for overcoming the DD (Digital Divide)?
Until next time,
Hi! I'm Kenneth Lillard, author, ordained minister, and motivational speaker. This blog is an expression of some of my thoughts and opinions. I'm glad you stopped by. Hope you'll share some of your comments while you're here. Be Blessed!