#Module2 #EID100 Digital Divide: Let’s Light Every Corner

The digital divide refers to the isolation of certain groups of people around the globe from having access to internet or a computer. These people are isolated due to any of the following reasons:

  1. Global: people living in third world countries do not have access to internet simply because they lack the money to purchase access.
  2. Geographic: geographically remote areas such as rural communities are less likely to be covered by an internet service provider because they are sometimes physically difficult to access (hills and valleys), but most of all, because the population sizes are so small that they are not worth the investment for service providers to install infrastructures there.
  3. Generational: the elderly are more accustomed to analogue instruments and information sources from their time (for example, radios and newspapers) so they are often reluctant to learn how to use the internet. Even if they are willing to learn, it is more difficult for them than for people of later generations because they have become used to doing things the old fashioned ways
  4. Economic: people who are wealthier can afford internet services whereas the poorer may not.
  5. Physical: if a person is physically disabled such that he/she is unable to interact with the computer, tablet, cellphone, etc., that person is digitally isolated if not for the aid of another person.

The following organizations have projects that are ongoing or underway that are putting in effort to bridge the digital divide:

  1. Facebook: a project called Internet.org is aiming to establish internet service in developing countries with a few partnering companies. Free Basics is the service that provides free internet access to a few websites, including Facebook and Wikipedia. Facebook is doing this because they make profit from selling the data of Facebook users, and giving internet access to developing countries will increase their revenue.
  2. One Laptop Per Child (OLPC): this non-profit organization is distributing low-cost laptops to children in developing countries where they cannot afford to have personal computers. This is purely out of altruism and has the goal that no kids are left behind in interacting with and learning from the digital world.
Retrieved from http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2009/04/india-embraces-olpc-buys-250000-xo-laptops/

3. Google: in order to reach people digitally isolated due to geographic reasons, Google is planning on installing internet routers on balloons and floating them above these places so that they can have access to internet. They are doing this because Google’s main income is made from their users’ data, so they can increase revenue by giving people the opportunity to use Google.

By bridging the digital divide and having more people involved on the web means that more people are communicating with each other and contributing to digital resources. We can raise awareness by learning more about the conditions in underprivileged societies, from people who are experiencing it first hand. Children in third world countries who are limited to minimal education can have a profoundly richer source from which to learn. By bridging the digital gap we create the opportunity to bridge social and perhaps economic gaps as well.

This blog has been written on the foundation of knowledge provided by professor Sagarwala’s lecture on digital divide (link to the lecture slides: http://slides.com/ahmedsagarwala/eid100-w2#/)

Citations:

Paul, R. (2009, April 27th) With no $10 laptop in sight, India buys 250,000 OLPCs. Retrived from http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2009/04/india-embraces-olpc-buys-250000-xo-laptops/

Sagarwala, A. Round 2… Access. Retrieved from http://slides.com/ahmedsagarwala/eid100-w2#/

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