The Digital Divide

Posted 12 Jan 2002 at 08:16 UTC by nymia Share This

"The information revolution has brought rapid transformation in the economies of many industrialized countries, and sweeping promises of a better quality of life for all. However, people living in the vast majority of other countries have been left untouched and unimpressed by this 'revolution' and its promises, since it has failed to improve their lives." [ 1 ]
Within the boundaries of these countries, the promise of having access to internet resources have been mostly to the ones who have the means. What has been considered a technical tool for technical people are now considered necessary resource. With all the information stored, be they scientific, economic or political in content, access to these resources must be provided at all levels.

One may ask: "What the heck does it have to do with me? Why should I be aware of it?"
What Is The Digital Divide?

A good definition of the Digital Divide is best described in terms of access to electronic resources. There is a good definition of it and is shown below.
Simply put, "the digital divide" means that between countries and between different groups of people within countries, there is a wide division between those who have real access to information and communications technology and are using it effectively, and those who don't. [ 2 ]
Basically, access to electronic resources start with having electronic devices. And these devices can either be personal or community owned, depending on location. Most often, these devices are personally owned by mostly those who are financially capable. Leaving the others to either go for shared or completely just forget it.

Global Perspective

When the internet exploded in the 90's. The internet became one of the primary source of information access. From its acceptance, a lot of people from all walks of life started building information structures on top of it. As a result, with all the information that were built, devices used to access these information were elevated to the level of a 'must have.'

With all these constructions, more and more people went and browsed the internet. A quick information below show how many people connect to the internet.
There are an estimated 429 million people online globally, but even this staggering number is small when considered in context. For example, of those 429 million, fully 41% are in North America. Also, 429 million represents only 6% of the world's entire population. Other facts:

  • The United States has more computers than the rest of the world combined
When assessed by region, Internet use is dominated by North Americans:

  • 41% of the global online population is in the United States & Canada
  • 27% of the online population lives in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (25% of European Homes are online)
  • 20% of the online population logs on from Asia Pacific (33% of all Asian Homes are online)
  • Only 4% of the world's online population are in South America

[ 3 ]

Who's Not Online

Not everybody went and browsed the Net though. There were people, those who were be considered not impressed or found it useful. And there were those who simply didn't have the necessary means of getting access. Results from a study shown below reveal interesting numbers.

The majority of adults without Internet access say they are likely to stay away from the Internet. A third of non-users (32%) say they definitely will not get Internet access. Another 25% of non-Internet users say they probably will not venture online. Specifically, Pew found:
  • Half the adults in America do not have Internet access and 57% of those are not interested in going online.
  • 32% of those without Internet access now say they definitely will not get Internet access. That comes to about 31 million Americans.
  • Another 25%

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