During my master program at Pitt, one of my favourite classes, Information Policy taught by an excellent professor and policy pioneer, Toni Carbo, inspired me to learn about how Americans anticipate and deal with their domestic digital divide issues. I wrote a paper and just got published by Libri this month (Vol. 56 No. 4). [Note: the full text is electronically available for subscribers with registered IP. Anyway, the article will be free available one year after publication]. Here is the abstract.
Since the emergence of information technology, the gap between information ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ has been broadening: the information rich become richer, while the information poor are poorer. This situation contributes to various issues related to individuals and society. Interestingly enough, although the United States is one of the leading countries in the information and communication technology (ICT) field, according to many studies, the digital divide still exists in many layers and from different perspectives. This paper critically discusses how the US anticipates these issues as well as how national information policy is emerging to close the digital divide.
It’s been a while. Thus, many aspects, in particular those from examples, are out of date. However, some of fundamental in the article remains valid.
What I learned after, particular in Thailand and many developing countries, is digital divide is a persistent issue like any other inequalities. I used to approach the issue as a problem, not a phenomenon. It can be intentional and unintentional phenomena (or artificial and natural). Academic and people “up there” pretty much look at the issue from unintentional perspective or intention from the richers’ side.
The issue still struggles me in the sense of the drive from poorer. Not only they can afford technology, what if they intentionally ignore them because they are appreciate their lives without technology. Why do we have to force them to adopt it? Of course, they potential obtain benefits from accessing the Internet. But.. does benefits from the Internet always contributes to happiness and prosperity?
And what if Thailand is really driving toward self-sufficiency economy, as His Majesty suggested and the government is working on it. Is the divide then matter?