There have always been various kinds of social, economic and other divides in all societies due to differences in what we are and what we have, so the ‘digital divide’ is not surprising. The technological tools that deal with digital media vary considerably in cost and…
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The global village feeling is not shared by everyone, and despite the convergence of digital media and falling costs, the divide remains. The question this blog considers is whether the commercial promises made about digital media are therefore just hype to cloud our vision about the digital divide.
The reality is that while someone can have the latest technologies and access to the far corners of the world, the person living next door may still have no such concept of this form of ‘global community’ as envisaged by Daniel Boorstin (1978) in ‘The Republic of Technology’. The two will have very different concepts and experiences of community life and its boundaries, and this is what also characterises the digital divide. For example, the first person may conduct business in the comfort of his or her own home, internationally and without even seeing the customers in person, whereas the neighbour would have to physically travel to do the same although the customers may be met in person. This could equally be applied to personal, social, cultural, political, and other engagements but they still illustrate two very different sets of experiences for each neighbour. Between geographically apart societies, the digital divide would be even greater. Let alone new digital media, according to the UN, over half of the world still lives “more than two hours away from a telephone” (Flew, 2008). Thus, some people are in the slow and fast lanes of the information superhighway, but many are nowhere near any needed telecommunications infrastructure.
Technological development has also always been taking place although the rapid pace and convergence phenomena are recent. They are all designed to make certain tasks easier for us and most do benefit us leading to the progress of society. But the extent to which the digital media revolution has penetrated into everyone’s homes and lives (or not) sustains the digital divide and ...
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