Information Studies

The digital divide can be avoided

The digital divide: a phenomenon in which inequalities within socioeconomic regards grow due to the rising prominence of information systems.  Computers can divide the world, yet there are concrete mechanisms to alleviate the inequality problem.  Better yet, it is easier to solve the digital divide problem than it is to solve inequality in terms of income.

From UN programs to individual philanthropic endeavors, people agree that the world can become better if more people have computers.  After all, communication, organization, and education are some of many benefits that come with today’s personal computer.  Despite the glories of computers, we must remember why the computer was invented.  Besides the ambitions of people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the countless engineers working for IBM, the personal computer was the product of American culture.  Americans, given their lifestyles and priorities, ended up adopting the computer for uses only recognized in America.  People in Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, and Japan found no priority to create a computer.  And to augment the culture argument, Arab and European culture found no reason to try creating the concept of the personal computer.  As the personal computer grew in popularity, people began using it in their own ways.  Today, even though computer usage can be generalized, different cultures are diffused across cyberspace.

As a result of the history of computers, digital technology connotes western dominance.  After all, look at the very computer applications you are using today.  Most likely companies like Google, Apple, and Yahoo! were involved in your life somehow.  However, given the social empowerment opportunities behind computers, indigenous populations today are capitalizing on today’s digital age to practice and extend their identities.  For example, without the age of computers, CNN would not have done a report on the Circassians, a minority group residing in the Western Caucasus Mountains, and their situation in Sochi, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.  Websites like nosochi2014.com and Circassian YouTube channels have diffused messages across the world and have cultivated the Circassian identity.  Circassians today will utilize the digital age to overcome the obstacles of being a minority group.

Overall, if indigenous communities take advantage of the digital tools at hand, and if people recognize the criteria behind empowering minorities and 3rd world populations with technology (food, water, shelter, etc.), the digital divide would probably cease to exist.

 

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