Digital Divide vs Digital Inequality

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A paper on the differences between digital divide and digital inequality.

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Digital Divide vs Digital Inequality

  1. 1. Digital Divide vs. Digital InequalityDictionary.com defines divide as; to separate into parts, groups, sections, etc. It definesinequality as; the condition of being unequal; lack of equality; disparity: inequality ofsize.Digital Divide: The gap between those who have access to digital technologies andthose who do not; or the gap between those who use digital technologies and thosewho do not understood in binary terms distinguishing the “haves” from the “havenots”(Hargittai 2003)Digital Inequality: A refined understanding of the “digital divide” that emphasizesa spectrum of inequality across segments of the population depending on differencesalong several dimensions of technology access and use.(Hargittai 2003)The research I have done along with the information that Professor Stacey DeLooseprovided has brought me to the conclusion that most of the general public is unaware ofthe significant problem that not only our great country faces but all developed anddeveloping counties face. We are staring at a revolution that is leaving many behind,even with the greatest intentions of our government, nationally and locally.The inception of the World Wide Web saw a large gap between the haves and have-nots,this was also the case with the telephone, radio and TV in each of their inceptions.Figure 1. The percentage of the adult US population online, 1994-2001The encouraging aspect of this is that as the market grows so does the availability ofinternet access as long as pricing is kept in check. The graphs above show the gapsgetting smaller as we move forward in the internet generation. Research also shows thatthat cell phone service prices have dropped almost 25% in the last decade and internetservice has only come down 4%. The electronic devises that are available forconnectivity has increased steadily over the last decade and show no signs of slowingdown and prices have come down with the influx of new technology, but connectionprices have not come down to match. As wonderful as this new technology is, it does nogood for connectivity if the internet service provider has priced most of America out ofthe market. Along those lines, with the purchase of new technology, the user will need to
  2. 2. understand how to operate the new technology to its fullest potential. Without theunderstanding of how to use the internet other then to be the end user, the user does notgain the full potential of being connected.When we switch gears to digital inequalities we are opening up a much broader range ofdiscussion. We now look at differences between gender, age, ethnicity, demographics,annual incomes and education. As we look deeper there is a greater gap of inequalitythen was thought. The graph below shows the relationship between these.
  3. 3. There are ways of correcting the digital inequalities we face in the US so as to ensure ourcompetitive edge in the global market. The first comes with education by enforcing theknowledge of communication and understanding how to use technology as a means toimproving our way of life. Second, keep the cost of equipment and internet service downto an affordable level for all economic levels. Third, recycling used equipment to berefurbished and sold at a discounted price to those that can not afford new equipment.The last would come from training individuals on how to use the technology for morethen just being the end user, to have a more proactive role in the internet.The graph below shows the ranking between countries and their connection level and thatthis is not just a problem here in the US but also abroad. It also shows that we haveslipped in the rankings.
  4. 4. ReferencesBarzilai-Nahon, K. (2006). Gaps and bits: Conceptualizing measurements for digitaldivide/s. The Information Society, 22(5), 269-278. (PDF file)Computer and Internet Use by Students in 2003. (2006). Retrieved fromhttp://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006065DiMaggio, P., & Hargittai, E. (2001). From the digital divide to digital inequality:Studying Internet use as penetration increases. Princeton University Center for Arts andCultural Policy Studies, Working Paper Series number, 15. Retrieved fromhttp://www.princeton.edu/~arts...gittai.pdfDiMaggio, P., Hargittai, E., Celeste, C., & Shafer, S. (2004). From unequal access todifferentiated use: A literature review and agenda for research on digital inequality.Social Inequality, 355-400. Retrieved from http://www.eszter.com/research...uality.pdfHargittai, E. (2003). The digital divide and what to do about it. New Economy Handbook,821-839. Retrieved from http://www.eszter.com/research...divide.pdfITU Country rankings. (2010). Retrieved fromhttp://www.itu.int/net/itunews/issues/2010/03/26.aspxMcConnaughey, J., Nila, C. A., & Sloan, T. (1995). Falling through the net: A survey ofthe "have nots" in rural and urban America. National Telecommunications AndInformation Administration. Retrieved fromhttp://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fallingthru.html

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