Digital divide

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Global digital divide)
Jump to: navigation, search
The global digital divide in 2006: Computers per 100 people.

A digital divide is an economic and social inequality according to categories of persons in a given population in their access to, use of, or knowledge of information and communication technologies (ICT).[1][2] The divide within countries (such as the digital divide in the United States) may refer to inequalities between individuals, households, businesses, or geographic areas, usually at different socioeconomic levels or other demographic categories. The divide between differing countries or regions of the world is referred to as the global digital divide,[1][3] examining this technological gap between developing and developed countries on an international scale.[2]

Definition and usage[edit]

The term Digital divide is used to describe a gap between those who have ready access to information and communication technology and the skills to make use of those technology and those who do not have the access or skills to use those same technologies within a geographic area, society or community. It is an economic and social inequality between groups of persons.

The gap in a digital divide may exist for a number of reasons. One telling fact is that "as income rises so does Internet use […]", strongly suggesting that the digital divide persists at least in part due to income disparities.[4] Most commonly, a digital divide stems from poverty and the economic barriers that limit resources and prevent people from obtaining or otherwise using newer technologies.

However, research shows that the digital divide is more than just an access issue and cannot be alleviated merely by providing the necessary equipment. There are at least three factors at play: information accessibility, information utilization and information receptiveness. More than just accessibility, individuals need to know how to make use of the information and communication tools once they exist within a community.[5] Information professionals have the ability to help bridge the gap by providing reference and information services to help individuals learn and utilize the technologies to which they do have access, regardless of the economic status of the individual seeking help.[6]

Conceptualization of the digital divide has been described as follows:[7][8]

  • Subjects who have connectivity, or who connects: individuals, organizations, enterprises, schools, hospitals, countries, etc.
  • Characteristics of connectivity, or which attributes: demographic and socio-economic variables, such as income, education, age, geographic location, etc.
  • Means of connectivity, or connectivity to what: fixed or mobile, Internet or telephony, digital TV, etc.
  • Intensity of connectivity, or how sophisticated the usage: mere access, retrieval, interactivity, innovative contributions.
  • Purpose of connectivity, or why individuals and their cohorts are (not) connecting: reasons individuals are and are not online and uses of the Internet and information and communications technologies ("ICTs").
  • Dynamics or evolution, whether the gap of concern will increase or decrease in the future, when the gap of concern would be maximized.[9]

In research, while each explanation is examined, others must be controlled in order to eliminate interaction effects or mediating variables,[10] but these explanations are meant to stand as general trends, not direct causes. Each component can be looked at from different angles, which leads to a myriad of ways to look at (or define) the digital divide. For example, measurements for the intensity of usage, such as incidence and frequency, vary by study. Some report usage as access to Internet and ICTs while others report usage as having previously connected to the Internet. Some studies focus on specific technologies, others on a combination (such as Infostate, proposed by Orbicom-UNESCO, the Digital Opportunity Index, or ITU's ICT Development Index). Based on different answers to the questions of who, with which kinds of characteristics, connects how and why, to what there are hundreds of alternatives ways to define the digital divide.[8] "The new consensus recognizes that the key question is not how to connect people to a specific network through a specific device, but how to extend the expected gains from new ICTs".[11] In short, the desired impact and "the end justifies the definition" of the digital divide.[8]

Emergence of the gap in the United States[edit]

During the mid-1990s the US Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) began publishing reports about the Internet and access to and usage of the resource. The first of three reports is entitled “Falling Through the Net: A Survey of the ‘Have Nots’ in Rural and Urban America" (1995),[12] the second is “Falling Through the Net II: New Data on the Digital Divide” (1998),[13] and the final report “Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide” (1999).[14] The NTIA’s final report attempted to clearly define the term digital divide; “the digital divide—the divide between those with access to new technologies and those without—is now one of America's leading economic and civil rights issues. This report will help clarify which Americans are falling further behind, so that we can take concrete steps to redress this gap.”[14] Since the introduction of the NTIA reports, much of the early, relevant literature began to reference the NTIA’s digital divide definition. The digital divide is commonly defined as being between the “haves” and “have-nots.”[14][15]

Means of connectivity[edit]

Infrastructure[edit]

The infrastructure by which individuals, households, businesses, and communities connect to the Internet address the physical mediums that people use to connect to the Internet such as desktop computers, laptops, basic mobile phones or smart phones, iPods or other MP3 players, Xboxes or PlayStations, electronic books readers, and tablets such as iPads.[16]

Gini coefficients for telecommunication capacity (in kbit/s) among individuals worldwide [17]

Traditionally the nature of the divide has been measured in terms of the existing number of subscriptions and digital devices. Given the increasing number of such devices, the conclusion has been that the digital divide among individuals has increasingly been closing as the result of a natural and almost automatic process.[18][19] Recent studies have measured the digital divide not in terms of technological devices, but in terms of the existing bandwidth per individual (in kbit/s per capita).[20] As shown in the Figure on the side, the digital divide in kbit/s is not monotonically decreasing, but re-opens up with each new innovation. For example "the massive diffusion of narrow-band Internet and mobile phones during the late 1990s" increased digital inequality, as well as "the initial introduction of broadband DSL and cable modems during 2003–2004 increased levels of inequality".[20] This is because a new kind of connectivity is never introduced instantaneously and uniformly to society as a whole at once, but diffuses slowly through social networks. As shown by the Figure, only since 2009 do we have first time "clear evidence that the level of informational equality among average global citizens is lower than in the pre-digital era" of the late 1980s.[20] This means that during 1986 and 2009 communication capacity was more unequally distributed than during the time when only fixed-line phones existed. The most recent increase in digital equality stems from the massive diffusion of the latest digital innovations (i.e. fixed and mobile broadband infrastructures, e.g. 3G and fiber optics FTTH)". While this is good news, the bandwidth divide might well once again re-open with the next digital innovation.[21]

Location[edit]

Internet connectivity can be utilized at a variety of locations such as homes, offices, schools, libraries, public spaces, Internet cafe and others. There are also varying levels of connectivity in rural, suburban, and urban areas.[22]

Applications[edit]

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group based in San Francisco, surveyed almost 1,400 parents and reported in 2011 that 47 percent of families with incomes more than $75,000 had downloaded apps for their children, while only 14 percent of families earning less than $30,000 had done so.[23]

Libraries and the digital divide[edit]

Attempts to bridge the digital divide include a program developed in Durban, South Africa, where very low access to technology and a lack of documented cultural heritage has motivated the creation of an “online indigenous digital library as part of public library services.”[24] This project has the potential to narrow the digital divide by not only giving the people of the Durban area access to this digital resource, but also by incorporating the community members into the process of creating it.

Another attempt to narrow the digital divide takes the form of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC).[25] This organization, founded in 2005, provides inexpensively produced "XO" laptops (dubbed the "$100 laptop", though actual production costs vary) to children residing in poor and isolated regions within developing countries. Each laptop belongs to an individual child and provides a gateway to digital learning and Internet access. The XO laptops are specifically designed to withstand more abuse than higher-end machines, and they contain features in context to the unique conditions that remote villages present. Each laptop is constructed to use as little power as possible, have a sunlight-readable screen, and is capable of automatically networking with other XO laptops in order to access the Internet—as many as 500 machines can share a single point of access.[25]

To address the divide The Gates Foundation began the Gates Library Initiative. The Gates Foundation focused on providing more than just access, they placed computers and provided training in libraries. In this manner if users began to struggle while using a computer, the user was in a setting where assistance and guidance was available. Further, the Gates Library Initiative was “modeled on the old-fashioned life preserver: The support needs to be around you to keep you afloat.”[26]

Correlating variables[edit]

Obtaining access to ICTs and using them actively has been linked to a number of demographic and socio-economic characteristics: among them income, education, race, gender, and geographic location (urban-rural), age, skills, awareness, political and cultural and psychological attitudes.[10][27][28][29][30][31][32][33] Multiple regression analysis across countries has shown that income levels and educational attainment are identified as providing the most powerful explanatory variables for ICT access and usage.[34] Evidence was found that caucasians are much more likely than non-caucasians to own a computer as well as have access to the Internet in their homes. As for geographic location, people living in urban centers have more access and show more usage of computer services than those in rural areas. Gender was previously thought to provide an explanation for the digital divide, many thinking ICT were male gendered, but controlled statistical analysis has shown that income, education and employment act as confounding variables and that women with the same level of income, education and employment actually embrace ICT more than men (see Women and ICT4D).[35]

Overcoming the digital divide[edit]

An individual must be able to connect in order to achieve enhancement of social and cultural capital as well as achieve mass economic gains in productivity. Therefore, access is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for overcoming the digital divide. Access to ICT meets significant challenges that stem from income restrictions. The borderline between ICT as a necessity good and ICT as a luxury good is roughly around the “magical number” of US$10 per person per month, or US$120 per year,[34] which means that people consider ICT expenditure of US$120 per year as a basic necessity. Since more than 40% of the world population lives on less than US$2 per day, and around 20% live on less than US$1 per day (or less than US$365 per year), these income segments would have to spend one third of their income on ICT (120/365 = 33%). The global average of ICT spending is at a mere 3% of income.[34] Potential solutions include driving down the costs of ICT, which includes low cost technologies and shared access through Telecentres.

Furthermore, even though individuals might be capable of accessing the Internet, many are thwarted by barriers to entry such as a lack of means to infrastructure or the inability to comprehend the information that the Internet provides. Lack of adequate infrastructure and lack of knowledge are two major obstacles that impede mass connectivity. These barriers limit individuals' capabilities in what they can do and what they can achieve in accessing technology. Some individuals have the ability to connect, but they do not have the knowledge to use what information ICTs and Internet technologies provide them. This leads to a focus on capabilities and skills, as well as awareness to move from mere access to effective usage of ICT.[36]

The United Nations is aiming to raise awareness of the divide by way of the World Information Society Day which has taken place yearly since May 17, 2001.[37] It also sets up the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Task Force in November 2001.[38]

Social media websites serve as both manifestations of and means by which to combat the digital divide. rwerThe former describes phenomena such as the divided users demographics that make up sites such as Facebook and Myspace or Word Press and Tumblr. Facebook and Word Press are considered "white" in their more complicated and up-to-date user interfaces while Tumblr and Myspace are considered "black" due to their less sophisticated appearance and functions. While this dichotomy does exist, black communities are using the Internet, especially websites like Tumblr and Twitter, to narrow the gap of the digital divide. Each of these sites host thriving communities that engage with otherwise marginalized populations. An example of this is the large online community devoted to Afrofuturism, a discourse that critiques dominant structures of power by merging themes of science fiction and blackness. Social media brings together minds that may not otherwise meet, allowing for the free exchange of ideas and empowerment of marginalized discourses.

Effective use[edit]

Community Informatics (CI) provides a somewhat different approach to addressing the digital divide by focusing on issues of "use" rather than simply "access". CI is concerned with ensuring the opportunity not only for ICT access at the community level but also, according to Michael Gurstein, that the means for the "effective use" of ICTs for community betterment and empowerment are available.[39] Gurstein has also extended the discussion of the digital divide to include issues around access to and the use of "open data" and coined the term "data divide" to refer to this issue area.[40]

Implications[edit]

Social capital[edit]

Once an individual is connected, Internet connectivity and ICTs can enhance his or her future social and cultural capital. Social capital is acquired through repeated interactions with other individuals or groups of individuals. Connecting to the Internet creates another set of means by which to achieve repeated interactions. ICTs and Internet connectivity enable repeated interactions through access to social networks, chat rooms, and gaming sites. Once an individual has access to connectivity, obtains infrastructure by which to connect, and can understand and use the information that ICTs and connectivity provide, that individual is capable of becoming a "digital citizen".[10]

Criticisms[edit]

The knowledge divide[edit]

Since gender, age, racial, income, and educational gaps in the digital divide have lessened compared to past levels, some researchers suggest that the digital divide is shifting from a gap in access and connectivity to ICTs to a knowledge divide.[41] A knowledge divide concerning technology presents the possibility that the gap has moved beyond access and having the resources to connect to ICTs to interpreting and understanding information presented once connected.[42]

Second-level digital divide[edit]

The second-level digital divide, also referred to as the production gap, describes the gap that separates the consumers of content on the Internet from the producers of content.[43] As the technological digital divide is decreasing between those with access to the Internet and those without, the meaning of the term digital divide is evolving.[41] Previously, digital divide research has focused on accessibility to the Internet and Internet consumption. However, with more and more of the population with access to the Internet, researchers are examining how people use the Internet to create content and what impact socioeconomics are having on user behavior.[44][45] New applications have made it possible for anyone with a computer and an Internet connection to be a creator of content, yet the majority of user generated content available widely on the Internet, like public blogs, is created by a small portion of the Internet using population. Web 2.0 technologies like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Blogs enable users to participate online and create content without having to understand how the technology actually works, leading to an ever increasing digital divide between those who have the skills and understanding to interact more fully with the technology and those who are passive consumers of it.[43] Many are only nominal content creators through the use of Web 2.0, posting photos and status updates on Facebook, but not truly interacting with the technology.
Some of the reasons for this production gap include material factors like the type of Internet connection one has and the frequency of access to the Internet. The more frequently a person has access to the Internet and the faster the connection, the more opportunities they have to gain the technology skills and the more time they have to be creative.[46]

Other reasons include cultural factors often associated with class and socioeconomic status. Users of lower socioeconomic status are less likely to participate in content creation due to disadvantages in education and lack of the necessary free time for the work involved in blog or web site creation and maintenance.[46] Additionally, there is evidence to support the existence of the second-level digital divide at the K-12 level based on how educators' use technology for instruction.[47] Schools' economic factors have been found to explain variation in how teachers use technology to promote higher-order thinking skills.[47]

The global digital divide[edit]

Internet users per 100 inhabitants
Source: International Telecommunications Union.[49][50]
Worldwide Internet users
  2005 2010 2013a
World population[51] 6.5 billion 6.9 billion 7.1 billion
Not using the Internet 84% 70% 61%
Using the Internet 16% 30% 39%
Users in the developing world 8% 21% 31%
Users in the developed world 51% 67% 77%
a Estimate.
Source: International Telecommunications Union.[52]
Internet users by region
  2005b 2010b 2013a,b
Africa       2%             10%             16%      
Americas 36% 49% 61%
Arab States 8% 26% 38%
Asia and Pacific 9% 23% 32%
Commonwealth of
Independent States
 
10%
 
34%
 
52%
Europe 46% 67% 75%
a Estimate. b Per 100 inhabitants.
Source: International Telecommunications Union.[52]
Worldwide broadband subscriptions
  2007a 2010a 2013a,b
World population 6.6 billion 6.9 billion 7.1 billion
Fixed broadband 5.2% 7.6% 9.8%
Developing world 2.3% 4.2% 6.1%
Developed world 18.0% 23.6% 27.2%
Mobile broadband 4.0% 11.3% 29.5%
Developing world 0.8% 4.4% 19.8%
Developed world 18.5% 42.9% 74.8%
a Per 100 inhabitants. b Estimate.
Source: International Telecommunications Union.[52]
Broadband subscriptions by region
Fixed subscriptions: 2007a 2010a 2013a,b
Africa 0.1% 0.2% 0.3%
Americas 10.9% 14.1% 17.1%
Arab States 0.9% 1.9% 3.3%
Asia and Pacific 3.2% 5.5% 7.6%
Commonwealth of
Independent States
 
2.3%
 
8.2%
 
13.5%
Europe 18.4% 23.6% 27.0%
Mobile subscriptions: 2007a 2010a 2013a,b
Africa 0.2% 1.8% 10.9%
Americas 6.4% 22.9% 48.0%
Arab States 0.8% 5.1% 18.9%
Asia and Pacific 3.1% 7.4% 22.4%
Commonwealth of
Independent States
 
0.2%
 
22.3%
 
46.0%
Europe 14.7% 28.7% 67.5%
a Per 100 inhabitants. b Estimate.
Source: International Telecommunications Union.[55][52]

The global digital divide describes global disparities, primarily between developed and developing countries, in regards to access to computing and information resources such as the Internet and the opportunities derived from such access.[56] As with a smaller unit of analysis, this gap describes an inequality that exists, referencing a global scale.

The Internet is expanding very quickly, and not all countries—especially developing countries—are able to keep up with the constant changes. The term "digital divide" doesn't necessarily mean that someone doesn’t have technology; it could mean that there is simply a difference in technology. These differences can refer to, for example, high-quality computers, fast Internet, technical assistance, or telephone services. The difference between all of these is also considered a gap.

The global digital divide versus the digital divide[edit]

The global digital divide is a special case of the digital divide, the focus is set on the fact that "Internet has developed unevenly throughout the world" [30]:681 causing some countries to fall behind in technology, education, labor, democracy, and tourism. The concept of the digital divide was originally popularized in regard to the disparity in Internet access between rural and urban areas of the United States of America; the global digital divide mirrors this disparity on an international scale.

The global digital divide also contributes to the inequality of access to goods and services available through technology. Computers and the Internet provide users with improved education, which can lead to higher wages; the people living in nations with limited access are therefore disadvantaged.[57] This global divide is often characterized as falling along what is sometimes called the north-south divide of "northern" wealthier nations and "southern" poorer ones.

Obstacles to overcoming the global digital divide[edit]

Many argue that basic necessities need to be considered before achieving digital inclusion, such as an ample food supply and quality health care. Minimizing the global digital divide requires considering and addressing the following types of access:

Physical Access

Involves, "the distribution of ICT devices per capita…and land lines per thousands".[31]:306 Individuals need to obtain access to computers, landlines, and networks in order to access the Internet. This access barrier is also addressed in Article 21 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the United Nations.

Financial Access

The cost of ICT devices, traffic, applications, technician and educator training, software, maintenance and infrastructures require ongoing financial means.[34]

Socio-demographic Access

Empirical tests have identified that several socio-demographic characteristics foster or limit ICT access and usage. Among different countries, educational levels and income are the most powerful explanatory variables, with age being a third one.[8][34] Others, like gender, don't seem to have much of an independent effect.[35]

Cognitive Access

In order to use computer technology, a certain level of information literacy is needed. Further challenges include information overload and the ability to find and use reliable information.

Design Access

Computers need to be accessible to individuals with different learning and physical abilities including complying with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 in the United States.[58]

Institutional Access

In illustrating institutional access, Wilson states "the numbers of users are greatly affected by whether access is offered only through individual homes or whether it is offered through schools, community centers, religious institutions, cybercafés, or post offices, especially in poor countries where computer access at work or home is highly limited".[31]:303

Political Access

Guillen & Suarez argue that that "democratic political regimes enable a faster growth of the Internet than authoritarian or totalitarian regimes".[30]:687 The Internet is considered a form of e-democracy and attempting to control what citizens can or cannot view is in contradiction to this. Recently situations in Iran and China have denied people the ability to access certain website and disseminate information. Iran has also prohibited the use of high-speed Internet in the country and has removed many satellite dishes in order to prevent the influence of western culture, such as music and television.[59]

Cultural Access

Many experts claim that bridging the digital divide is not sufficient and that the images and language needed to be conveyed in a language and images that can be read across different cultural lines.[32]

Concrete examples of the global digital divide[edit]

In the early 21st century, residents of First World countries enjoy many Internet services which are not yet widely available in Third World countries, including:

The bit as the unifying variable[edit]

Fixed-line phone and Internet 2000-2010: subscriptions (top) and kbit/s (bottom) per capita[61]

Instead of tracking various kinds of digital divides among fixed and mobile phones, narrow- and broadband Internet, digital TV, etc., it has recently been suggested to simply measure the amount of kbit/s per actor.[20][62][63] This approach has shown that the digital divide in kbit/s per capita is actually widening in relative terms: "While the average inhabitant of the developed world counted with some 40 kbit/s more than the average member of the information society in developing countries in 2001, this gap grew to over 3 Mbit/s per capita in 2010." [63] The upper graph of the Figure on the side shows that the divide between developed and developing countries has been diminishing when measured in terms of subscriptions per capita. In 2001, fixed-line telecommunication penetration reached 70% of society in developed OECD countries and 10% of the developing world. This resulted in a ratio of 7 to 1 (divide in relative terms) or a difference of 60% (divide in measured in absolute terms). During the next decade, fixed-line penetration stayed almost constant in OECD countries (at 70%), while the rest of the world started a catch-up, closing the divide to a ratio of 3.5 to 1. The lower graph shows the divide not in terms of ICT devices, but in terms of kbit/s per inhabitant. While the average member of developed countries counted with 29 kbit/s more than a person in developing countries in 2001, this difference got multiplied by a factor of one thousand (to a difference of 2900 kbit/s). In relative terms, the fixed-line capacity divide was even worse during the introduction of broadband Internet at the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, when the OECD counted with 20 times more capacity per capita than the rest of the world.[20]

This shows the importance of measuring the divide in terms of kbit/s, and not merely to count devices. The International Telecommunications Union concludes that "The bit becomes a unifying variable enabling comparisons and aggregations across different kinds of communication technologies" [64]

Global solutions[edit]

There are four specific arguments why it is important to "bridge the gap":[65]

  • Economic equality — For example, the telephone is often seen as one of the most important components, because having access to a working telephone can lead to higher safety. If there were to be an emergency situation, one could easily call for help if one could use a nearby phone. In another example, many work related tasks are online, and people without access to the Internet may not be able to complete work up to company standards. The Internet is regarded by some as a basic component of civil life that developed countries ought to guarantee for their citizens. Additionally, welfare services, for example, are sometimes offered via the Internet.[65]
  • Social mobility — Computer and Internet use is regarded as being very important to development and success. However, some children are not getting as much technical education as others, because lower socioeconomic areas cannot afford to provide schools with bundles of computers. For this reason, some kids are being separated and not receiving the same chance as others to be successful.[65]
  • Democracy — Some people believe that eliminating the digital divide would help countries becomes healthier democracies. They argue that communities would become much more involved in events such as elections or decision making.[65]
  • Economic growth — It is believed that less developed nations could gain quick access to economic growth if the information infrastructure were to be developed and well used. By improving the latest technologies, certain countries and industries are able to gain a competitive advantage.[65]

While these four arguments are meant to lead to a solution to the digital divide, there are a couple other components that need to be considered. The first one is rural living versus suburban living. Rural areas used to have very minimal access to the Internet, for example. However, nowadays, power lines and satellites are used to increase the availability in these areas. Another component to keep in mind is disabilities. Some people may have the highest quality technologies, but a disability they have may keep them from using these technologies to their fullest extent.[65]

Using previous studies (Gamos, 2003; Nsengiyuma & Stork, 2005; Harwit, 2004 as cited in James), James asserts that in developing countries, "internet use has taken place overwhelmingly among the upper-income, educated, and urban segments" largely due to the high literacy rates of this sector of the population.[66]:58 As such, James suggests that part of the solution requires that developing countries first build up the literacy/language skills, computer literacy, and technical competence that low-income and rural populations need in order to make use of ICT.

It has also been suggested that there is a correlation between democrat regimes and the growth of the Internet. One hypothesis by Gullen is, “The more democratic the polity, the greater the Internet use...Government can try to control the Internet by monopolizing control" and Norris et al. also contends, "If there is less government control of it, the Internet flourishes, and it is associated with greater democracy and civil liberties.[67]

From an economic perspective, Pick and Azari state that "in developing nations…foreign direct investment (FDI), primary education, educational investment, access to education, and government prioritization of ICT as all important".[67]:112 Specific solutions proposed by the study include: "invest in stimulating, attracting, and growing creative technical and scientific workforce; increase the access to education and digital literacy; reduce the gender divide and empower women to participate in the ICT workforce; emphasize investing in intensive Research and Development for selected metropolitan areas and regions within nations".[67]:111

There are projects worldwide that have implemented, to various degrees, the solutions outlined above. Many such projects have taken the form of Information Communications Technology Centers (ICT centers). Rahnman explains that "the main role of ICT intermediaries is defined as an organization providing effective support to local communities in the use and adaptation of technology. Most commonly an ICT intermediary will be a specialized organization from outside the community, such as a non-governmental organization, local government, or international donor. On the other hand, a social intermediary is defined as a local institution from within the community, such as a community-based organization.[68]:128

Other proposed solutions that the Internet promises for developing countries are the provision of efficient communications within and among developing countries, so that citizens worldwide can effectively help each other to solve their own problems. Grameen Banks and Kiva loans are two microcredit systems designed to help citizens worldwide to contribute online towards entrepreneurship in developing communities. Economic opportunities range from entrepreneurs who can afford the hardware and broadband access required to maintain Internet cafés to agribusinesses having control over the seeds they plant.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the IMARA organization (from Swahili word for "power") sponsors a variety of outreach programs which bridge the Global Digital Divide. Its aim is to find and implement long-term, sustainable solutions which will increase the availability of educational technology and resources to domestic and international communities. These projects are run under the aegis of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and staffed by MIT volunteers who give training, install and donate computer setups in greater Boston, Massachusetts, Kenya, Indian reservations the American Southwest such as the Navajo Nation, the Middle East, and Fiji Islands. The CommuniTech project strives to empower underserved communities through sustainable technology and education.[69][70][71]

Building on the premise that any effective solution must be decentralized, allowing the local communities in developing nations to generate their own content, one scholar has posited that social media—like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter—may be useful tools in closing the divide.[72] As Amir Hatem Ali suggests, “the popularity and generative nature of social media empower individuals to combat some of the main obstacles to bridging the digital divide”.[72]:188 Facebook’s statistics reinforce this claim. According to Facebook, more than seventy-five percent of its users reside outside of the US.[73] Moreover, more than seventy languages are presented on its website.[73] The reasons for the high number of international users are due to many the qualities of Facebook and other social media. Amongst them, are its ability to offer a means of interacting with others, user-friendly features, and the fact that most sites are available at no cost.[72] The problem with social media, however, is that it can be accessible, provided that there is physical access.[72] Nevertheless, with its ability to encourage digital inclusion, social media can be used as a tool to bridge the global digital divide.[72]

Some cities in the world have started programs to bridge the digital divide for their residents, school children, students, parents and the elderly. One such program, founded in 1996, was sponsored by the city of Boston and called the Boston Digital Bridge Foundation.[74] It especially concentrates on school children and their parents, helping to make both equally and similarly knowledgeable about computers, using application programs, and navigating the Internet.[75][76]

World Summit on the Information Society[edit]

Several of the 67 principles adopted at the World Summit on the Information Society convened by the United Nations in Geneva in 2003 directly address the digital divide:[77]

10. We are also fully aware that the benefits of the information technology revolution are today unevenly distributed between the developed and developing countries and within societies. We are fully committed to turning this digital divide into a digital opportunity for all, particularly for those who risk being left behind and being further marginalized.
11. We are committed to realizing our common vision of the Information Society for ourselves and for future generations. We recognize that young people are the future workforce and leading creators and earliest adopters of ICTs. They must therefore be empowered as learners, developers, contributors, entrepreneurs and decision-makers. We must focus especially on young people who have not yet been able to benefit fully from the opportunities provided by ICTs. We are also committed to ensuring that the development of ICT applications and operation of services respects the rights of children as well as their protection and well-being.
12. We affirm that development of ICTs provides enormous opportunities for women, who should be an integral part of, and key actors, in the Information Society. We are committed to ensuring that the Information Society enables women's empowerment and their full participation on the basis on equality in all spheres of society and in all decision-making processes. To this end, we should mainstream a gender equality perspective and use ICTs as a tool to that end.
13. In building the Information Society, we shall pay particular attention to the special needs of marginalized and vulnerable groups of society, including migrants, internally displaced persons and refugees, unemployed and underprivileged people, minorities and nomadic people. We shall also recognize the special needs of older persons and persons with disabilities.
14. We are resolute to empower the poor, particularly those living in remote, rural and marginalized urban areas, to access information and to use ICTs as a tool to support their efforts to lift themselves out of poverty.
15. In the evolution of the Information Society, particular attention must be given to the special situation of indigenous peoples, as well as to the preservation of their heritage and their cultural legacy.
16. We continue to pay special attention to the particular needs of people of developing countries, countries with economies in transition, Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States, Landlocked Developing Countries, Highly Indebted Poor Countries, countries and territories under occupation, countries recovering from conflict and countries and regions with special needs as well as to conditions that pose severe threats to development, such as natural disasters.
21. Connectivity is a central enabling agent in building the Information Society. Universal, ubiquitous, equitable and affordable access to ICT infrastructure and services, constitutes one of the challenges of the Information Society and should be an objective of all stakeholders involved in building it. Connectivity also involves access to energy and postal services, which should be assured in conformity with the domestic legislation of each country.
28. We strive to promote universal access with equal opportunities for all to scientific knowledge and the creation and dissemination of scientific and technical information, including open access initiatives for scientific publishing.
46. In building the Information Society, States are strongly urged to take steps with a view to the avoidance of, and refrain from, any unilateral measure not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations that impedes the full achievement of economic and social development by the population of the affected countries, and that hinders the well-being of their population.

See also[edit]

Groups devoted to digital divide issues:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). (1995). Falling through the net: A survey of the have nots in rural and urban America.. Retrieved from http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fallingthru.html.
  2. ^ a b Chinn, Menzie D. and Robert W. Fairlie. (2004). The Determinants of the Global Digital Divide: A Cross-Country Analysis of Computer and Internet Penetration. Economic Growth Center. Retrieved from http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp881.pdf.
  3. ^ Norris, P. (2001). Digital Divide: Civic Engagement, Information Poverty and the Internet Worldwide. Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^ Rubin, R.E. (2010). Foundations of library and information science. 178-179. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.
  5. ^ Mun-cho, K. & Jong-Kil, K. (2001). Digital divide: conceptual discussions and prospect, In W. Kim, T. Wang Ling, Y.j. Lee & S.S. Park (Eds.), The human society and the Internet: Internet related socio-economic Issues, First International Conference, Seoul, Korea: Proceedings, Springer, New York, NY.
  6. ^ Aqili, S., & Moghaddam, A. (2008). Bridging the digital divide: The role of librarians and information professionals in the third millennium. Electronic Library, 26(2), 226-237.
  7. ^ Buente, Wayne, and Alice Robbin. 2008. Trends in Internet Information Behavior, 2000-2004. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 59(11): 1743-1760. www.interscience.wiley.com
  8. ^ a b c d Hilbert, M. 2011. The end justifies the definition: The manifold outlooks on the digital divide and their practical usefulness for policy-making. Telecommunications Policy, 35(8), 715-736. Retrieved from: http://martinhilbert.net/ManifoldDigitalDivide_Hilbert_AAM.pdf
  9. ^ Huang, Chun-Yao; Hau-Ning Chen (2010). "Global Digital Divide: A Dynamic Analysis Based on the Bass Model". Journal of Public Policy & Marketing 29 (2): 248–264. doi:10.1509/jppm.29.2.248. 
  10. ^ a b c Mossberger, Karen, Carolina J. Tolbert, and Michele Gilbert. 2006. Race, Place, and Information Technology (IT). Urban Affairs Review. 41:583-620. retrieved from http://uar.sagepub.com/content/41/5/583
  11. ^ Galperin, H. (2010). Goodbye digital divide, Hello digital confusion? A critical embrace of the emerging ICT4D consensus. Information Technologies and International Development, 6 Special Edition, 53–55
  12. ^ National Telecommunications & Information Administration, U.S.Department of Commerce. (1995). Falling through the net: A survey of the‘have nots’ in rural and urban America. Washington, D.C. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fallingthru.html
  13. ^ National Telecommunications & Information Administration, U.S.Department of Commerce. (1998). Falling through the net II: New data on the digital divide. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://www.ntia.doc.gov/report/1998/falling-through-net-ii-new-data-digital-divide
  14. ^ a b c National Telecommunications & Information Administration, U.S.Department of Commerce. (1999). Falling through the net: Defining the digital divide. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://www.ntia.doc.gov/report/1999/falling-through-net-defining-digital-divide
  15. ^ National Telecommunications & Information Administration, U.S.Department of Commerce. (1995). Falling through the net: A survey of the‘have nots’ in rural and urban America. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fallingthru.html
  16. ^ Zickuher, Kathryn. 2011. Generations and their gadgets. Pew Internet & American Life Project.
  17. ^ "Technological information inequality as an incessantly moving target: The redistribution of information and communication capacities between 1986 and 2010", Martin Hilbert (2013), Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology; free access to the article through this link: martinhilbert.net/TechInfoInequality.pdf
  18. ^ Compaine, B.M. (2001). The digital divide: Facing a crisis or creating a myth? Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
  19. ^ Dutton, W.H., Gillett, S.E., McKnight, L.W., & Peltu, M. (2004). Bridging broadband internet divides. Journal of Information Technology, 19(1), 28–38
  20. ^ a b c d e "Technological information inequality as an incessantly moving target: The redistribution of information and communication capacities between 1986 and 2010", Martin Hilbert (2013), Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology; free access to the article through this link: martinhilbert.net/TechInfoInequality.pdf
  21. ^ SciDevNet (2014) How mobile phones increased the digital divide; http://www.scidev.net/global/data/scidev-net-at-large/how-mobile-phones-increased-the-digital-divide.html
  22. ^ Livingston, Gretchen. 2010. Latinos and Digital Technology, 2010. Pew Hispanic Center
  23. ^ Ryan Kim (25 October 2011). "‘App gap’ emerges highlighting savvy mobile children". GigaOM. 
  24. ^ Greyling, E., & Zulu, S. (2010). "Content development in an indigenous digital library: A case study in community participation". IFLA Journal, 36(1), 30-9. doi:10.1177/0340035209359570.
  25. ^ a b One Laptop Per Child. (2009).
  26. ^ Blau, A. (2002). "Access isn't enough: Merely connecting people and computers won't close the digital divide". American Libraries, 33(6), 50-52.
  27. ^ Lawton, Tait. "15 Years of Chinese Internet Usage in 13 Pretty Graphs". NanjingMarketingGroup.com. CNNIC. 
  28. ^ Wang, Wensheng. Impact of ICTs on Farm Households in China, ZEF of University Bonn, 2001
  29. ^ Statistical Survey Report on the Internet Development in China. China Internet Network Information Center. January 2007. From http://www.apira.org/data/upload/pdf/Asia-Pacific/CNNIC/19threport-en.pdf.
  30. ^ a b c Guillen, M. F., & Suárez, S. L. (2005). "Explaining the global digital divide: Economic, political and sociological drivers of cross-national internet use". Social Forces, 84(2), 681-708.
  31. ^ a b c Wilson, III. E.J. (2004). The Information Revolution and Developing Countries. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  32. ^ a b Carr, Deborah (2007). "The Global Digital Divide". Contexts, 6(3), 58-58.
  33. ^ Wilson, Kenneth, Jennifer Wallin, and Christa Reiser. "Social Science Computer Review." Social Science Computer Review. 21.2 (2003): 133-143. Web. 7 Nov. 2012. From http://ssc.sagepub.com/content/21/2/133.full.pdf html.
  34. ^ a b c d e Martin Hilbert "When is Cheap, Cheap Enough to Bridge the Digital Divide? Modeling Income Related Structural Challenges of Technology Diffusion in Latin America". World Development, Volume 38, issue 5 (2010), p. 756-770; free access to the study here: http://martinhilbert.net/CheapEnoughWD_Hilbert_pre-print.pdf
  35. ^ a b "Digital gender divide or technologically empowered women in developing countries? A typical case of lies, damned lies, and statistics ", Martin Hilbert (2011), Women’s Studies International Forum 34 (6): 479-489; free access to the study here: martinhilbert.net/DigitalGenderDivide.pdf
  36. ^ Karen Mossberger (2003). Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide. Georgetown University Press
  37. ^ United Nations Educational UNDay
  38. ^ "UN Information and Communication Technologies (ITC) Task Force Launched Today at Headquarters", Press Release, United Nations (New York), 20 November 2001
  39. ^ Gurstein, Michael. "Effective use: A community informatics strategy beyond the digital divide". Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  40. ^ Gurstein, Michael. "Open data: Empowering the empowered or effective data use for everyone?". Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  41. ^ a b Graham, M. (July 2011). "Time machines and virtual portals: The spatialities of the digital divide". Progress in Development Studies 11 (3): 211–227. doi:10.1177/146499341001100303.  Closed access
  42. ^ Sciadas, George. (2003). Monitoring the Digital Divide…and Beyond. Orbicom.
  43. ^ a b Reilley, Collen A. Teaching Wikipedia as a Mirrored Technology. First Monday, Vol. 16, No. 1-3, January 2011
  44. ^ Graham, Mark (2014). "The Knowledge Based Economy and Digital Divisions of Labour". Pages 189-195 in Companion to Development Studies, 3rd edition, V. Desai, and R. Potter (eds). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. ISBN 978-1-44-416724-5 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-415-82665-5 (hardcover).
  45. ^ Correa, Teresa. (2008) Literature Review: Understanding the "second-level digital divide" papers by Teresa Correa. Unpublished manuscript, School of Journalism, College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin. [1].
  46. ^ a b Schradie, Jen. (April 2011), The Digital Production Gap: The Digital Divide and Web 2.0 Collide". Poetics, Vol. 39, No. 2, p. 145-168.
  47. ^ a b Reinhart, J., Thomas, E., and Toriskie, J. (2011). K-12 Teachers: Technology Use and the Second Level Digital Divide. Journal Of Instructional Psychology, 38(3/4), 181.
  48. ^ "Percentage of Individuals using the Internet 2000-2012", International Telecommunications Union (Geneva), June 2013, retrieved 22 June 2013
  49. ^ "Internet users per 100 inhabitants 2001-2011", International Telecommunications Union, Geneva, accessed 4 April 2012
  50. ^ "Internet users per 100 inhabitants 2006-2013", International Telecommunications Union, Geneva, accessed 3 Feb 2014
  51. ^ "Total Midyear Population for the World: 1950-2050", International Programs Center for Demographic and Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, Retrieved 25 May 2013
  52. ^ a b c d "Key ICT indicators for developed and developing countries and the world (totals and penetration rates)", International Telecommunications Unions (ITU), Geneva, 27 February 2013
  53. ^ "Fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  54. ^ "Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  55. ^ "Key Global Telecom Indicators for the World Telecommunication Service Sector", International Telecommunications Unions (ITU), Geneva, 2011
  56. ^ Lu, Ming-te (2001). "Digital divide in developing countries". Journal of Global Information Technology Management, 4(3), pp. 1-4.
  57. ^ Krueger 1993; Attewell and Battle 1999.
  58. ^ Section 508 (1998). United States Government.
  59. ^ Tait, R. (2006). "Iran bans fast internet to cut west's influence", The Guardian, 17 October 2006.
  60. ^ This graphic illustrates the difference in fixed broadband penetration (History and Forecast) between the European Union and Sub-Saharan Africa from International Futures
  61. ^ Figures 11 and 12 in "Mapping the dimensions and characteristics of the world’s technological communication capacity during the period of digitization (1986 - 2007/2010)". Hilbert, Martin. Working paper INF/15-E, International Telecommunications Union. 2 December 2011.
  62. ^ "Information Societies or “ICT equipment societies”? Measuring the digital information processing capacity of a society in bits and bytes", Hilbert, M., López, P., & Vasquez, C. (2010), The Information Society, 26(3)
  63. ^ a b "Mapping the dimensions and characteristics of the world’s technological communication capacity during the period of digitization", Martin Hilbert (2011), Presented at the 9th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Meeting, Mauritius: International Telecommunication Union (ITU); free access to the article can be found here: http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/wtim11/documents/inf/015INF-E.pdf
  64. ^ "Chapter 5: Measuring communication capacity in bits and bytes", in Measuring the report Information Society 2012; ITU (International Telecommunication Union) (2012).
  65. ^ a b c d e f Digital Divide - ICT Information Communications Technology - 50x15 Initiative. (2014, March 21). Retrieved April 13, 2014, from http://www.internetworldstats.com/links10.htm
  66. ^ James, J. (2008). "Digital Divide Complacency: Misconceptions and Dangers". The Information Society, 24, 54-61. doi:10.1080/01972240701774790
  67. ^ a b c Pick, J. & Azari, R. (2008). "Global Digital Divide: Influence of Socioeconomic, Governmental, and Accessibility Factors on Information Technology". Information Technology for Development, 14(2), 91-115.
  68. ^ Rahman, H. (2006). Empowering Marginal Communities and Information Networking. Hershey, Pennsylvania: Idea Group Publishing.
  69. ^ Fizz, Robyn; Mansur, Karla (2008-06-04), "Helping MIT neighbors cross the 'digital divide'", MIT Tech Talk (Cambridge: MIT): 3 
  70. ^ IMARA Project at MIT
  71. ^ Fizz, Robyn, "CommuniTech Works Locally to Bridge the Digital Divide", IST News, MIT, April 8, 2011
  72. ^ a b c d e Amir Ali (2011), "The Power of Social Media in Developing Nations: New Tools for Closing the Global Digital Divide and Beyond", Harvard Human Rights Journal, Volume 24, Issue 1.
  73. ^ a b "Facebook Statistics", 2011.[dead link]
  74. ^ (Boston) Digital Bridge Foundation
  75. ^ "Mayor Menino, Boston Digital Bridge Foundation Host Evening on the Bridge 2.0 Celebration", Mayor's Office, Boston, Press Release, September 26, 2002
  76. ^ "City of Boston Receives $4.3 Million Grant That Will Give Training, Computers and Opportunity to Underserved Communities", City of Boston press office, September 14, 2010
  77. ^ "Declaration of Principles", WSIS-03/GENEVA/DOC/4-E, World Summit on the Information Society, Geneva, 12 December 2003

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]