From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The digital divide is the gap between those with regular, effective access to digital technologies and those without. In other words, those who are able to use technology to their own benefit and those who are not.
Dimensions of the divide
The digital divide is not a clear single gap that divides a society into two groups. Researchers report that disadvantages can take such forms as lower-performance computers, lower-quality or high-priced connections (i.e. narrowband or dialup connections), difficulty in obtaining of the Internet and technological advances in developing economies. Many people can get low cost access in local Internet Cafes, but the evidence still suggest that people are much more likely to make regular use of an Internet connection at home than anywhere else. Today the discussion is moving from the technologies themselves to skills and literacy. Training people in computer skills entails teaching them to read and write first and then how to search and use information effectively but regular practice and the access to practice will still be a limiting factor.
Another key dimension of the Digital Divide is the global digital divide, reflecting existing economic divisions in the world. This global digital divide widens the gap in economic divisions around the world. Countries with a wide availability of internet access can advance the economics of that country on a local and global scale. In today's society, jobs and education are directly related to the internet. In countries where the internet and other technologies are not accessible, education is suffering, and uneducated people cannot compete in our global economy. This leads to poor countries suffering greater economic downfall and richer countries advancing their education and economy. The digital divide is a term used to refer to the gap between people who have access to the internet (The information haves) and those that do not (The information have nots). It can also refer to the skills people have – the divide between people who are at ease using technology to access and analyse information and those who are not.
Other issues include the following:
- gender issues
- disability issues
- role of language
- cultural inequality regarding the content available on the World Wide Web
- the role of educators in reducing the digital divide in the classroom
The United Nations is aiming to raise awareness of the divide by way of the World Information Society Day which takes place yearly on May 17.
National interest and social benefit
There are a variety of arguments about why closing the digital divide is important. The major arguments are as follows:
- Economic equality: Some think that access to the Internet is a basic component of civil life that some developed countries aim to guarantee for their citizens. Telephone service is often considered important for the reasons of security. Health, criminal, and other types of emergencies may indeed be handled better if the person in trouble has access to a telephone. Also important seems to be the fact that much vital information for education, career, civic life, safety, etc. is increasingly provided via the Internet, especially on the web. Even social welfare services are sometimes administered and offered electronically.
- Social mobility: If computers and computer networks play an increasingly important role in continued learning and career advancement, then education should integrate technology in a meaningful way to better prepare students. Without such offerings, the existing digital divide disfavors children of lower socio-economic status, particularly in light of research showing that schools serving these students in the USA usually utilize technology for remediation and skills drilling due to poor performance on standardized tests rather than for more imaginative and educationally demanding applications.
- Social equality: As education integrate technology, Societies such as in the developing world should also integrate technology to improve the girl-child life. This will reduce the gender inequalities. Access to information through internet and other communication tools will improve her life chances and enable her to compete globally with her Contemporaries even in the comfort of her rural settings.
- Democracy: Use of the Internet has implications for democracy. This varies from simple abilities to search and access government information to more ambitious visions of increased public participation in elections and decision making processes. Direct participation (Athenian democracy) is sometimes referred to in this context as a model.
- Economic growth: The development of information infrastructure and active use of it is inextricably linked to economic growth. Information technologies in general tend to be associated with productivity improvements even though this can be debatable in some circumstances. The exploitation of the latest technologies is widely believed to be a source of competitive advantage and the technology industries themselves provide economic benefits to the usually highly educated populations that support them. The broad goal of developing the information economy involves some form of policies addressing the digital divide in many countries with an increasingly greater portion of the domestic labor force working in information industries.
Digital divide in the context of e-democracy
The theoretical concepts of e-democracy are still in early development but in practice 'blogs (web logs), Wikis and mailing lists are having significant effects in broadening the way democracy operates. There is no consensus among scholars, about the possible outcomes of this revolution in the realm of state operations. One of the main problems associated with the digital divide and liberal democracy, is linked to the capacity to participate in e-government. At the extreme, exclusively ICT based democratic participation (deliberation forums, e-voting etc) would mean that no access meant no vote. There is therefore a risk that some social groups will be under-represented or others over-represented in the policy formation processes and this would be incompatible with the equality principles of democracy.
Overcoming the digital divide by FLOSS software and Open access to knowledge
Many devotees of the Open content, FLOSS and Open access movement hope that the outcome of their activities will help or has already helped decrease the digital divide. Projects like One Laptop per Child aim to reduce the digital divide, yet they would hardly be possible without the existence of open standards and free open source software.
- REN and Bangladesh Digital Divide via Divided Higher Education
- University Libraries in Bangladesh With and Without Digital Library Access
- The Pew Internet & American Life Project tracks internet usage in the United States. Their 5/28/2006 report found a 40% increase in broadband usage from 2005 to 2006, mostly among 'middle' Americans.
- Digital Divide Network
- Community Technology Centers' Network
- Bridging the digital divide: An opportunity for growth for the 21st century Strategy White Paper
- EU policies EurActiv.com
- EU study reveals big digital divide in Europe Xinhua. 2005-11-15.
- World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)
- A Site on The Digital Divide
- Digaria Digital Divide Project of Rotary International's International Fellowship of Digital Technology Rotarians
- The Analog Divide: Technology Practices in Public Education. (Research article)
- The Information Society - The way to equitable globalisation and development? News reports and features by IPS Inter Press Service
- The Information Age
This e-primer provides a comprehensive review of the digital and information and communications technology revolutions and how they are changing the economy and society. The primer also addresses the challenges arising from the widening digital divide.
- ICT in Education
This e-primer provides comprehensive information on the types of ICTs utilized in education with focus on e-learning, and learner – centered environment. ICTs effectiveness in education in terms of how ICT can improve quality of education, issues in the use of ICTs in education with reference to cost, and access, as well as, key challenges in integrating ICTs in education are also identified.
This e-primer provides comprehensive information on the importance of e-government. Details on the goals of e-government, challenges, approaches to a national strategic framework, e-readiness assessment, and public – private partnership involvement are also defined.
- Genes, Technology and Policy
This e-primer provides comprehensive information on the science of biotechnology with emphasis on the biotechnology applications in medicinal areas such as drug production, genetic therapy, and biotechnology applications in agricultural areas with focus on genetically modified (GM) foods, and international agreement policies. Access to and ownership of biotechnology is also discussed.
- Internet Governance
This e-primer provides comprehensive information on the development and concepts of Internet Governance. Details on various Internet governance models, and concepts, issues of Internet governance at the infrastructure, logical, and content layers, role of “trust”, and self-governance, as well as the future, and best practices.
- Legal and Regulatory Issues in the Information Age
This e-primer provides comprehensive information on the UNCITRAL Model Law, different legislative approaches towards electronic documentation, signatures, and authentication. The legal and regulatory issues around intellectual property, domain name disputes, consumer privacy / protection, as well as cybercrimes, and censorship are also identified.
- Nets, Webs and the Information Infrastructure
This e-primer provides comprehensive information on the various technologies utilized to improve the contents, and infrastructure of the Internet such as references to wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, as well as broadband, and mobile wireless devices. Topics on viruses, privacy, and security issues related to the same are also identified. Also, Government involvement in the digital divide with reference to policies on utilizing open source, and promoting convergence of technology with respect to infrastructure are also defined.
- Information and Communication Technologies for Poverty Alleviation
This e-primer provides comprehensive information on information technologies capable of alleviating poverty. Development strategies are discussed with reference to the use of ICTs, experiences, and lessons learned, as well as a policy framework for sustainable poverty alleviation. Case studies on applying ICT for poverty alleviation are also provided as examples.
- E-Commerce and E-Business
This e-primer provides comprehensive information on e-commerce, e-business, its applications, and usages in developing countries. Specific consideration is given to different types of e-commerce such as B2B, B2C, B2G, C2C, and M-Commerce. Issues in e-commerce, with briefs on current e-commerce practices in developing countries are identified. Definitions, and concepts on e-banking, e-tailing, and online publishing, as well as information on the role of women, and role of government are provided.
- Knowledge divide
- ^ 'Statistics' CitizensOnline.org.uk (2006). Retrieved 27 August 2006.