Varieties of digital divide

Here is another journal entry from my Rutger’s course – this time  thoughts on the digital divide.

I’ve been very pleased to read the discussion this week.  The digital divide (IMNSHO) is a symptom  – a nicely quantifiable symptom – of social inequality.  It reflects a distance between the have and have nots in terms of a literacy apparently required to live a productive life in cosmopolitan society.

There are many ‘digital divides’, one is the inability for employers to hire cheap staff with the skills they require to be productive.  This is a failure on the part of the education system (from the employer’s perspective) to train employees who are ‘turnkey solutions’ to their productive needs.  Another divide is that of those who can afford access to essential information (civic/medical) in order to be informed, responsible citizens.  Similar to that, but separate are those who can not afford access to lifestyle information, which is packaged with advertising – a demographic that advertisers not only can’t reach, but can’t measure in the way they are able to do with those they currently access.  The market will resolve the latter commercial imperative, and hopefully meet civic at the same time, but we can’t rely on it, whatever the Heritage Foundation says.

The discussion picked up on many of these points, and highlighted the importance of the library as provider of technology and literacy training, as it has been since its inception.  It will play the space between social stop-gap, training people for the profit of those who employ them, and the higher needs of individuals and society in entertainment and facilitating agency, much the same as it always has.

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