Thinking about digital divides

Regular readers of this blog will know my views on enfranchising those that are currently disenfranchised, be it for physical, economic or social reasons. More specifically, I try and do whatever I can to push towards a goal of ubiquity of access to information, to information tools, and to connectivity. Which is why the very concept of the Digital Divide concerns me greatly.

With this in mind, you can imagine how I felt when I saw the ClustrMap for this site as of this morning; I know it’s very unscientific, and that my readership is infinitesimal, but for some reason the sample seems representative of the Divide.

5 thoughts on “Thinking about digital divides”

  1. Looks more like language divide..

    There were some talks at reboot about this..

    and I think machine translations are rapidly improving as well..

  2. I take your point, but to get a true sense of the divide, not only is it probably worthwhile to control for language as peter points out above, but even more importantly you need to adjust the map for population density. For instance I imagine that the emptiness of large swaths of northern Canada, Siberia and Amazonia, has less to do with the digital divide and more to do with the fact that nobody lives there!

  3. I agree with Peter and Sean that some adjustments would give a more accurate picture, but it would be a question of degree rather than a radically different map.

    Ethan zuckerman’s blog is excellent for discussions of some of these issues:

    I’m not sure of the current percentage of the population that has broadband in the UK, but of those who haven’t got it, it will frequently be people in our poorest and most often excluded communities.

    Many of those people may not have access to a computer and the Internet, but they do have a mobile phone. That’s one of the reasons I’m so interested in Twitter, because it can so easily be used through mobile devices.

    Again, Ethan Zuckerman has some interesting posts about mobile phone usage in developing countries.

  4. Nice broad sweep that nails the point home.

    Language isn’t as much of a barrier for page views, so we can pretty much ignore that. People surf in and leave if they don’t understand something. Standard.

    But the digital divide is a very, very broad descriptor and it is largely contextual. You are looking at the end, but it is difficult to consider a lot of the information that is missing here.

    Context is here. Ethan Zuckerman, mentioned above, handles some contexts well. Some contexts he does not.

    Ultimately, it is those that are being discussed that do not have a voice – and I find it hard to discuss what people want by their absence of voice. Even babies cry. The silence, you see, is the true issue. But silence is difficult to measure.

    With global internet penetration at almost 20%, some strides have been made in global internet penetration. Computers are only a problem for those that the OLPC is marketed for. Most of the time it is communications infrastructure, cost of bandwidth and the implicit bureaucracy surrounding it.

    Check out when you get a chance. Don’t listen to one person – listen to voices working on the issue from around the world.

Let me know what you think

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