Digital “access” Divide

When I think of the digital divide, the first word that comes to mind is “access.” The digital divide refers to the existing gap between those who can access the internet and those who can’t. Internet access is one of the many resource that people in industrially developed areas take for granted. I think I can speak for my fellow college students (and probably most of our parents) when I say we get frustrated with slow internet connection – let alone no connection at all! We rely on the internet to engage with our community. Access to this form of communication has become a lifeline to the rest of the world – or at least that’s how the people see it who have used it.

Falling through the Net is one of the key documents that addresses the digital divide. In Part II, the authors focus on three main aspects of internet access and usage. Two are related to where and how the internet is accessed. Then, the final area focuses on how people use the internet. I venture to say that most people in industrially developed countries rarely have to consider the first two areas. We can connect to wireless, broadband internet from university campuses, our homes, office buildings, and even many public spaces. Accessibility is something that we take for granted – and this document forces its audience to consider how difficult it is for people in less developed regions to access internet.

Furthermore, whether the internet is accessed via phone or computer does not normally make much of a difference for those of us in the industrially developed world. We know that if for some reason we cannot access the internet through our computer, we can use our phone. Likewise, if we can’t access the internet at work, we can access it at home or any number of public places. It is important to point out that Falling through the Net reports that most people who access the internet outside of their homes do so through work. This says a lot about what we as a global society use internet access for. We not only use the internet for communication, but the nature of the communication has other societal byproducts. To continue this point, Macbride Commission Report argues that it would be shortsighted to see technological advancements as merely technological (78). The reason I am relating these two points is to demonstrate how central the internet is to our work life. It is not only a milestone in regards to technological advancements, but also in regards to economic and social connections.