The Digital Divide

Source: Internet

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Up Front

Netizens' are certain kind of people who are using the internet as an information gateway to gain knowledge in various spheres of life. In fact, the digital revolution is first of its kind, after the evolution of social sciences.

The Digital Divide, as we see, is very common among urban and rural populations due to differences in economically prosperous infrastructure. In the modern world, it has become a social issue. Interestingly, the digital divide is not only restricted to the internet, it has spread to TV, radio and telephone as well.

The Digital Divide phenomenon is mainly discussed by scholars, advocacy groups and policymakers, from the 1980's. Quite recently, Standford University students had done a research, in Silicon Valley on Digital Divide, focusing on the disadvantages of East Paolo Alto community. The factors which came forth are generally the same for any underprivileged community namely differences in income and levels of education. US President, Bill Clinton actually rectified the digital divide, as the greatest opportunity to lift its people out of poverty and ignorance.

According to Nielson Norman Group, there are three stages of digital divide namely economic divide, usability divide and empowerment divide. It is been ascertained that a community alleviating digital divide will bring better opportunities for the economy. In order to rectify the inequality, there are five factors important namely economic equality, social mobility, democracy, economic growth that will help in alleviating digital divide. It is hugely tragic that in a world of global technology, poorer countries will remain out of the internet gateway for twenty years or more.

The Internet has an array of technologies from which all players of information technology such as government agencies, profit-seeking corporations and non-government organisations seek benefits. Patterns of indifferences will reflect on an individual level as well as on social and political level. That's what really defines the characteristics of the digital divide and gives a credible ground for an institutional change. Very recently, Facebook's CEO, Zuckerberg, has run an initiative to end the digital divide amongst its users.

There are several ventures that are bridging the digital divide in terms of knowledge sharing such as UN Commission For Europe, Wikipedia Foundation, and economic growth initiatives such as Canadian International Development Research Centre, Aga Khan Development Network, Caribbean Development Bank and African Development Bank to name a few.

 A recent paper published by Princeton University, however, showed that interaction of firms, strategic choices, consumers responses, and government policies hugely affect the whole definition of a digital divide, and further suggests that there is really digital inequality prevalent in the society between haves and have-nots.

The research further suggested that public policy should strive to create a society in which the benefits of information technology are distributed equally, as a source of opportunity rather than as a reinforcement of privilege. Instead of asking questions regarding the internet home use and office use, people should ask questions regarding what are they able to do when they are online.


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