What Digital Divide?

from the not-as-big-a-deal-as-expected dept

While there has been a ton of hype about the “digital divide”, where those in poorer communities in the US would miss out on the benefits of computers and the internet, it appears that things aren’t nearly as bad as predicted. Most students today, even in the poorest schools, have some sort of access to the internet, and many in poorer communities say that while there is some lag in education and training on computers, there are opportunities to learn. It’s not a case of people being shut out from opportunities, but one where the opportunities took a little longer to get there. Hopefully, over time, this gap will continue to disappear.

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Comments on “What Digital Divide?”

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David Brake (user link) says:

That's pretty determined optimism...

1) It concentrates on the digital divide within the US – outside the west there’s still a huge digital divide.
2) Internet access at a public school terminal or in a community centre is not comparable to Internet access at your convenience at home.
3) Digital divide isn’t mainly a race question – it’s an income and education issue – “When he controlled for education and income, he found that broadband had been deployed more rapidly in minority areas than in white neighborhoods over the past two years.” Sure – but if minorities are predominantly poorer and less educated the effect is the same.
4) They correctly identify that 42% of Americans don’t go online but state (without showing any statistical evidence) that “the divide that does exist between the Web and non-Web proficient is no longer defined simply by income, gender, race, or education.” Well, not simply by those factors – but they are still factors. The key factor they miss is that choosing not to be interested in the Internet is probably itself a choice linked to lower education.
Take a look at this table and you can see clearly that all kinds of divides still exist.

Chris says:

No Subject Given

This also assumes that kids need Internet access in schools. I haven’t seen any hard evidence that little Johnny can read, write and do his math homework better or quicker because his school has T1 access. Wire the libraries I can live with. But wiring every school in America at taxpayer expense just seems to a huge wealth transfer from the taxpayers to those select telcos that get the access contracts, all without any verifiable evidence that it does any good.

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