This figure doesn’t seem to come from the report, so I don’t know if it includes the 7 million that aren’t online, but either way, it’s a fairly large number. I’m guessing there are many more than that in the U.S., which is a problem when you consider how much government information is now only online.
The fact that there are still people with dial-up seems to be widely ignored and it really shouldn’t be.
First, a growing number of people are using mobile as the only way they access the web. A pair of studies late last year from Pew and from On Device Research showed that over 25 per cent of people in the US who browse the web on smartphones almost never use any other platform. That’s north of 11 per cent of adults in the US, or about 25million people, who only see the web on small screens. There’s a digital-divide issue here. People who can afford only one screen or internet connection are choosing the phone. If you want to reach them at all, you have to reach them on mobile. We can’t settle for serving such a huge audience a stripped-down experience or force them to swim through a desktop layout in a small screen.
Most people who can afford ereaders can afford to buy books for them. Libraries are, in effect, providing those readers with a luxury, at least at the present moment. The whole ebook world is still evolving–we don’t know just where it will end. Maybe what we should be focusing on instead–right now–is providing the devices with content instead of the content alone.
However, libraries are ultimately about providing access. And the world is changing, rapidly. Instead of spending our ebook budget money on vendor subscriptions to “buy” disproportionately priced ebooks that we never own, maybe we should be spending more money on the devices. I know many libraries already do this, but maybe the focus should shift and more weight should be placed on the hardware–the means of delivery. Our customers may want to borrow ebooks for free, but if they can afford ereaders chances are they can afford to get the books they want. It is the group of people who can’t or don’t want to spend money on the devices that need our help, perhaps. As always, I am never sure of the answer. I simply like to point out alternatives.
The sub-prime mortgage meltdown that has swelled the unemployment ranks is dwarfed by the ongoing effects of the digital transformation of world markets. This transition started well before the financial crisis and will likely continue long after. In the U.S., the issue of the pervasive lack of technology adoption within low income, rural, minority, and other underserved communities is almost solely couched in terms of the divide between technological “haves” and “have nots.” While social equity and economic justice remain critical dimensions of the issue, there is not nearly enough attention paid to the impact of the digital divide on the overall economy.
Metcalfe’s Law states that each additional node added to a network provides greater value to the network as a whole, but the obverse is also true. Leaving broad swaths of the population out of the digital economy not only harms the technological “haves nots,” but also constrains the technological “haves” from benefitting from the potential network effects of including these communities. This means all of us are now feeling the pain of the digital divide—American CEOs of the one percent included.
If you live in a rich country, the Internet has probably changed the way you consume (and produce) information. But when you look at global-scale knowledge production, things are as they ever were: the Anglophone world dominates with the United States doing the lion’s share of academic and user-generated publishing.
Those are the messages of the Oxford Internet Institute’s new e-book, Geographies of the World’s Knowledge, from which the above graphics were drawn. The book’s authors, Corinne Flick of the Convoco Foundation and the Institute’s Mark Graham and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, reluctantly conclude that the Internet has not delivered on the hopes that it would make knowledge “more accessible.”
“Many commentators speculated that [the Internet] would allow people outside of industrialised nations to gain access to all networked and codified knowledge, thus mitigating the traditionally concentrated nature of information production and consumption,” they write. “These early expectations remain largely unrealised.”We’re not only talking about publishing in academic journals or Wikipedia. The researchers also sampled user-generated content on Google and found that rich countries, especially the United States, dominate the production of user content.
The fact of the matter is that people without money can’t afford to get the education necessary to publish in academic journals, Internet-enabled or not. The other fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people in very poor countries don’t spend their time producing content for free. Hope as we might, the Internet isn’t a magic wand that makes the world more equal.
Read more. [Image: Oxford Internet Institute]
Okay, I found the source for this map. It’s from here. That’s it in PDF,
This makes me feel ill.
Well doesn’t this just explain everything
AND… that just ruined my dinner.
The Digital Divide [infographic]
In a video, IBM put it this way: “In our global society, the wealth of economies are decided by the level of access to information. And in five years, the gap between information haves and have-nots will cease to exist due to the advent of mobile technology.”
The digital divide (a term that refers to the gap between people who do and don’t have high-speed Internet access) is an increasingly important issue for the nation, the economy and the world. Without Internet access, it’s getting harder to apply for jobs, get an education, stay in touch with friends and family — and keep up with news that affects your life.
Still, it will probably take much longer than five years — if ever — for significant inequities in access to digital information and services to disappear entirely. The digital divide may look quite different in five years, but it will probably still be with us.
Beside the divide in Internet use and in the context of technological infrastructure, there are other types of digital inequalities that move beyond internet access such as information literacy. Information literacy involves, for example, online search, digital, media and networked literacy or technical and cognitive, critical literacy skills in order to navigate online.
Infographic: What the New Digital Divide Looks Like
FOR the second year in a row, the Monday after Thanksgiving — so-called Cyber Monday, when online retailers offer discounts to lure holiday shoppers — was the biggest online sales day of the year, totaling some $1.25 billion and overwhelming the sales figures racked up by brick-and-mortar stores three days before, on Black Friday, the former perennial record-holder.
Such numbers may seem proof that America is, indeed, online. But they mask an emerging division, one that has worrisome implications for our economy and society. Increasingly, we are a country in which only the urban and suburban well-off have truly high-speed Internet access, while the rest — the poor and the working class — either cannot afford access or use restricted wireless access as their only connection to the Internet. As our jobs, entertainment, politics and even health care move online, millions are at risk of being left behind.
Over the last decade, cheap Web access over phone lines brought millions to the Internet. But in recent years the emergence of services like video-on-demand, online medicine and Internet classrooms have redefined the state of the art: they require reliable, truly high-speed connections, the kind available almost exclusively from the nation’s small number of very powerful cable companies. Such access means expensive contracts, which many Americans simply cannot afford.
While we still talk about “the” Internet, we increasingly have two separate access marketplaces: high-speed wired and second-class wireless. High-speed access is a superhighway for those who can afford it, while racial minorities and poorer and rural Americans must make do with a bike path.
Public libraries are taking up the slack and buckling under the strain. Nearly half of librarians say that their connections are insufficient to meet patrons’ needs. And it is hard to imagine conducting a job interview in a library.