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Digital divide

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The digital divide

 

ďThe digital divide is a social/political issue referring to the socio-economic gap between communities that have access to computers and the Internet and those who do not. The term also refers to gaps that exist between groups regarding their ability to use ICTs (Information and Communications Technologies) effectively, due to differing levels of literacy and technical skills, as well as the gap between those groups that have access to quality, useful digital content and those that do not. The term became popular among concerned parties, such as scholars, policy makers, and advocacy groups, in the late 1990s

Information from :- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_divide

The digital divide isnít just the access to the internet, it is access to information. In developed country they all have Television that relays information to them about current affairs and knowledge of all sorts. However basically they they have access to information. The Digital divide isnít just who does have access to the information services but the ability and technical know how of how to use them as well. So the digital divide isnít just something that happens in less developed countries. There are many people in Britain who are unable to use a computer (or other forms of information systems)  not because they havenít got access or canít afford it but because they do not have the technical know how of how to use them . An example of this is the elderly generation, Iím not saying that not of them use computer but a majority of them canít use computer because simply they are new and werenít around when they were learning, they may have in counted them at work and had to use them, but may not know how to do other things on them other then just the purpose they used them for at work. So the digital divide effects this country as well.

The digital divide can be measure buy the number of those who have access to the internet. There estimate of the number of internet uses ranges so massively from around 22.6 Million people to only 9.6 million people. This is because not all internet uses have access to everything on the internet. So consumers only have access to WWW or only mail.  There exact number of people who actually use the internet is extremely hard to measure, because it is growing so fasts, so any statistics that are found on the internet are purely estimates.

Below is an extract taken from a site explaining the problems with predicting the growth of the internet and estimating the number of users.

ďThe Internet is distributed by nature. This is its strongest feature, since no single entity is in control, and its pieces run themselves, cooperating to form the network of networks that is the Internet. However, because no single entity is control, nobody knows everything about the Internet. Measuring it is especially hard because some parts choose to limit access to themselves to various degrees. So, instead of measurement, we have various forms of surveying and estimation.Ē

Extract from :- http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~tonya/309m/class/internet.html , John Quarterman of MIDS

Information from: - http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~tonya/309m/class/internet.html

The affect of information systems are clear visible everywhere you look today. From adverts on Bill boards to the information and Television. It is all communicating information to you.

The use of information systems on the economy has been massive. It has allowed an entire new market place to open up, the Online Stores. The online stores allow you to buy and sell things online which all contribute to the economy. The communication of information in other ways has allow effected the economy. Think, you but the TV on today what is one of the first things you will notice if you channel hop. The number of adverts on the TV. This is communicating information about there product to you. It is trying to persuade you to purchase their products. This all affect the economy because it allow adverts to reach more and more people, therefore making them more effective as a marketing tool. 

In the western world, getting close to a majority of the people use the internet. This means that such developments like instant messaging and E-mail have become more popular. The disadvantage to this is that those people who are unable to use the internet are missing out on this opportunity. The use of ICT in people social lives has advantages and disadvantage it allow those people who use the internet for this purpose to use it however it also isolate those who donít because the technology is further advancing it is leaving them behind.

For those who have access to school where ICT is being used, the advantage are noticeable. It allow your learning to be totally flexible. You can do what you want to what you want to. There fore making your learning flexible, the use of ICT in education also allows all learning style to be incorporated into the lessons. For those who do not have access to ICT in the classroom then  learning can still be effective however more thought and energy has to be put into the lesson so that all the learning style are met. For Some people it is easier to learn with out the use of Ict. For example those who learn through reading and are academics, although computer offer an unlimited resource they may prefer the traditional book rather than the internet.

To define Culture : - a particular society at a particular time and place; "early Mayan civilization"

Extracted from :- http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&lr=&cr=countryUK|countryGB&oi=defmore&q=define:culture

To the question has ICT had an effect on culture? I would say that it has done. Almost everything that we do now is governed or has some form of ICT involved in it. Computer and the communication of Information is extremely important and heavily relied upon in todayís culture. You can turn on your TV and watch the news; you can go on to the internet and search for anything that you want. The use of ICT in developed countries is clearly noticeable as information flows freely, if some one wants to know something they will haven o problem finding an answer. However in countries were ICT is unavailable then it is harder to find information. In developed countries were the communication of information is free people can develop themselves and the technologies around them because they have access to information, were as in less developed countries were information isnít easily obtained they will find it hard to develop because they donít have access to information. In some ways they are stuck because they arenít developed and canít get information, however they canít get the information because they havenít got advanced enough technology to access it.

It is a fact that the development of a country will depend on its resources that is has. If the country doesnít have many resources available to it then it will not have much money available to develop itself further. I feel therefore that money does have an effect on the communication of information.  In countries where they do not have much money available spare to them there is a small chance that they are going to spend that little extra money on a computer just to access information. They are more likely to spend it on improving there lives and the way they live. To people who have very little have a computer just to access information isnít important to them, they are more concerned with the prevision of food, water and shelter. This is in the terms of less developed countries. An example in the less developed countries in Africa that have problem with famine and drought. Giving all the people in the population access to information service isnít really high up on the agenda when there are people dying because they do not have food, water or shelter. 

Giving people access to information gives them information about things that are happening which in some cultures and societies arenít allowed. An example of this is in China. China is/was communist. The movement and freedom of information is restricted massively, because that is the way communism work. The people donít have any information apart from what the government what them to know. So by not giving people information they are less aware of things and less likely to cause problems. It isnít a pleasant thing to think about, however with some society it is what happens. This type of Culture is going towards George Orwellís prediction of the future, where Big Brother had all the information and brainwashed people. 

The access to information should not be affected by anything, however it is.  The difference is Class makes a difference because it determines how much money you have. And although information is free the means to get the information isnít. So if you want to get information off the internet you have to have a computer and a connection to the internet, which both cost money that some people may not have. Religion I do not feel has any effect on the access to information if you are in the UK, however in the terms on the World, there are some societies and culture that are linked to religion that control and limited the access to information that people have, an example of this that no longer exists is what happened in Afghanistan which was under the control of the Taliban. They used to limit and censor all the information going into the country. By limiting the information that people have access to they loose their opinion on things because they are unable to see both sides of the argument.

Age is the biggest problem with the digital divide this is because the younger people today will be able to use the latest technologies because that is what they are taught to use. However a more elderly person may not be able to use the some resource because they are either unaware that it exists or do not have the technical knowledge to use the service. This however does not stop them from using the service if they are willing to learn how too.

Gender again has an effect on the use of ICT; there are several sites that will provide you with information about how gender affects the use of ICT. One of the key statistics is that there are more men holding technical ICT jobs. 

The link below is a report about Women in IT:-

http://www.isi.salford.ac.uk/gris/winwit/Gender.html

This report shows that there are far more males in the ICT services, and that more males take up courses to do with ICT. It also shows that men in ICT jobs get paid more then women in the same job, this is actually illegal under the sexual discrimination act 1984.

There is a direct positive correlation between social class and usage of the Internet and also a direct correlation between ages and use of the Internet. You will find that as the age increase the number of computer literate people declines, this is because the technology that is available today wasnít around when they were growing up and working. So they are out of touch with technology. The same can be said for social classes. The people who are members of the working class they may have restricted funds and therefore may not be able to afford the equipment to allow them to access the information. Where as the middle and upper class would be able too. So there is a divide between classes as well as in totally different countries.

In some ways the geographical position in which you live will affect how you use technology or even if you use technology. A majority of modern ICT device are powered by electricity. This means if you live away from any major town or city you are unlikely to have mains electricity, which will effect how you use the devices. In Britain all dwellings are linked to the national grid so there is no house in the UK that doesnít have mains electricity. So this isnít really a problem in the UK however abroad it may be.  In foreign countries such a Africa a majority of the people are without electricity, this will effect how or even if they can use electrical devices such as computers or phones.  To be able to connect to the Internet you must have a telephone. As some of the people in Africa donít have piped water there is a very small chance that they will have a telephone line. This will restrict the information that they can receive. These people may not have electricity or a telephone line it seriously restricts the amount of information that they can receive it also restrict the sources that they receive their information from. If they do not have access to out side information, from a computer or other communication device then they have to listen to what the government says and accept it, as they donít know any differently. This means that the government could tell them anything and they may accept it.

However providing you have access to fund to purchase the equipment terrain or geographical location isnít really a problem. To begin with, the problem of power. There has been great advancement in the technology in Solar cell to generate power from the sunlight. This power can be captured and stored, so your electrical devices can be used. A large amount of information travels through the Internet, it is possible to access the Internet from almost anywhere now providing you have a signal on your phone. Most modern phones are capable of receiving the Internet on them, or if they donít the phone can be used as a modem in conjunction with a laptop or personal computer. The problem of geographical location shouldnít affect your capability to use ICT, but it does. Again look at foreign countries were you have lots of small towns, all a part from each other. The news about new technologies isnít going to reach them. And if it does get to them then you have the problem again of funds to purchase the equipments. The equipment mentioned earlier, the solar cells and the satellite receivers for the Internet are expensive. If they do hear of the technologies there is a very small chance that they will be able to afford the equipment to take advantage of them.

This section has identified that a majority of the information is passed through the Internet; therefore it would be a good idea to measure the divide by seeing how many people have access to the Internet. Not just a home, but if they have access anywhere for example in the UK the library services offer free access to computer that are connected to the Internet.  People who are concerned with narrowing the digital divide would most likely be interested to begin with people who can gain access to the Internet, then working back to computers at home then people with more advanced communication systems such as phones. I believe that in the UK the digital divide is reducing this is because the younger generation are taking over from the more elderly generation. As people are leaving school they are leaving with the essential e-skill that are needed. So in the UK I believe that the divide is narrowing. However in the world on while, I can see the problem getting bigger this is because the statistic about divide is worked out from number, and the population is increase and the life expectancy is also increasing meaning that there will be more people are unable to use the information systems. This isnít because there are more people who are incapable of using computers but because the people who currently canít arenít going anywhere.

The more people who have access to these information systems the more know people will have. The more aware people are of current problems the more can be done about it. So by helping people get access to these systems we can improve our society and the surrounds in which we live. The more access to these services that people have the more knowledge they have. If people are better educated they can avoid problems that people have already had and further there own knowledge and that of the society.

There are many countries in the world where the access to these information systems is low. Examples of theses are third world countries. If you look at the economy in these countries it is very slow. This isnít just of an effect of not having access to the information. The economy determines how much money people have and what there spending habits are like. If the economy is slow then people wonít have the money to buy the equipment to access the information. And if they havenít got the equipment to access the information and the services then the economy will slow down even more because all the other countries are using it and are accelerating there economies. By reducing the digital divide it will put even one on a level playing field and make trade and competition equal.

In the UK access to these information systems and to the internet can be accessed through libraries and through community associations. Many of the larger libraries will offer free internet access they also provide book about computers to help reduce the problem of the lack of peoples technical knowledge about the computers. Also as part of Government and local council schemes some community center offer free ICT courses, these often do not carry a nationally recognized qualification however it helps people break there fear of computer and get people into it. These scheme do need more funding, the first thing that needs to be done held help get more people using these services are that you have to break down the link that computers are hard. So if more of theses taster session were given then people would find out that computers are hard to understand and use and may tempt more people into using them for personal and professional use.  The technology that is available has already been made simpler to use by the use of GUI (Graphical user interface) instead of the traditional command line interface. I donít feel that the software need to be made easier to use, it is use that the users have to become more confident and experiment with how they can use computers and the internet In there everyday lifeís.  Computer are already relatively cheap to purchase however for those who do not have the find to purchase them there are many other places that will provide you with access to the internet and to a computer. Cyber cafťs grant you access to the internet for a small cost. There are libraries that will give you access to the internet and also community association.  This will help people to get access to a computer however it still doesnít encourage people to use computer is they have a phobia of them, to get rid of this fear you have to show them things that would be practical and useful to them that are easy and quick to do. Once you have broken the initial fear of the computing then it is simply teaching people how to use different programs.