The concept of a digital divide is the unequal access to information and communicative technologies (ICT’s) based on economic or social factors. Digital divides can manifest in many ways and for many reasons. For some their access to ICT’s is limited due to the lack of infrastructure that supports it. If the government cannot put in place the necessary infrastructure to support internet connection or even phone lines it is incredibly difficult for citizens to find ways to access these opportunities without traveling long distances. This issue is one that I have run across in my project about the arctic indigenous people. Many of the arctic groups live in extraordinarily remote areas in the cold north that their respective states have not spent any time developing. They have limited access to resources in general but almost no access to internet connections. This makes communication across long distances difficulty and isolates them even further. We live in a digital age where information on current events and political processes can mostly be accessed digitally. In order to stay connected to the modern world and current events indigenous groups need to be afforded the same access to ICT’s in order to develop at the same rate.
The Digital divide may also result from economic factors. While the government may not be able to afford the infrastructure to increase access to technology, the people themselves may be excluded from ICT’s based on economic inequalities. Even among developed states there are many people who cannot afford a home computer or to pay companies for internet access. They are forced to use public means to access technology in the same way as others whether through the public library, at school, or more.
One of the central issues with the Digital Divide is the general ideology surrounding technology. For many years technology has been treated as a luxury, something that one should only have if they have the disposable income. Technology connects us to our entertainment and other leisure activities. But technological innovation in recent decades has made technology essential to surviving in our society. People cannot continue to treat technology as something only for the privileged. ICT’s must be spread to people of all statuses if we are ever to be on equal footing. As long as the privileged continue to have greater access to resources that make them money, they will continue to get richer. Meanwhile the developing world will be left still struggling to access technology in a post-industrialized world and be unable to advance. These disparities need to be reduced as quickly as possible and through global partnerships. The Maitland Commission Report advocates for integrating technology into developing communities at affordable rates. More global partnerships are springing up to ensure equal access to ICT’s for all.