The Global Digital Divide Essay, Research Paper
The Global Digital Divide
The global digital divide in simple terms, refers to the lack of access less developed nations have to the Internet, as compared with more developed nations. While discussing this topic in class, I found it astonishing the amount that the US and a few other leading nations use the Internet. Almost one-half of the people in the world have never made a phone call, yet we use sources like the Internet without even giving it a second thought. What many of us also never give a second thought to is the types of opportunities that people miss out on due to the lack of technology and infrastructure in their homeland. Despite these facts, there are organizations that are out there trying to help bridge the gap of the global digital divide.
As I stated there are many groups whose purpose is to deter the affects of the digital divide. One of those groups is the UNDP or United Nations Development Program. The main goal of this group is to help poor countries gain access to the digital economy. One particular priority they have is to use the cuts in transaction costs offered by ICT to find new ways of expanding micro-finance initiatives for the poor. I think that this is a great idea. The more money that can be saved and used for business purposes in underdeveloped countries, the better. Why not take advantage of what the Internet has to offer, and allocate some of the funds to help strengthen the economy of a particular nation.
In addition to the idea stated above, the UNDP also trains small groups in developing countries in the uses and opportunities of the Net. Once again, I have to say that I agree with this technique. With a problem such as the one at hand, perhaps the best way to handle the situation is to chop away at it one piece at a time.
Many of the other groups involved in the fight against the digital divide use techniques similar to the UNDP. My personal opinion is that we need a combination of ideas and resources to help deter the problem. For example, I think it would be in our best interests to ensure that the infrastructure of poorer countries was improved dramatically. Without better communication/technology systems, little will be possible.
Another problem that we discussed in class was the whole notion that the Internet is not diversified enough regarding representation. Most sites on the Net are in English, and/or are tailored to English speaking nations. An organization called One World believes that the Internet should be structured as a hub or network in places around the world like Africa and India. Through doing this there is hope that there will be better representation of ideas and thoughts of people in poorer nations.
Personally I believe that if we combine the above ideas together with pressuring govt s into supporting these ideas, headway can be made. It is key that large corporations and govt s help pressure the govt s of developing nations to make changes.
If something is not done to help with this issue, there are many problems that could arise. It all boils down to the notion of the have s and the have-not s. If we ignore this issue, the gap will continue to grow. Those with access to the Internet will gain more knowledge and perspective on gov t, politics, etc while those without access will fall deeper into the divide.
In poor countries political views and standpoints could be dramatically changed with the addition of the Internet. I m almost certain that people s ideas about what they are entitled to would change. Perhaps those who live in developing nations would begin to question the motives of their governments and the political ideologies prevalent in them. I think it s probably safe to say that many governments would prefer not to have their citizens on the Net. It is hard for governments to hide information from the people when the people can use the Internet. It s na ve not to believe that governments hide certain aspects from the people which they govern. Once people begin to get a sense of the rest of the world around them, they get an urge for more; more information, more opportunities, etc. I think this is partially one of the arguments Shapiro made in The Control Revolution. My stance on this is great for them. Why should the rest of us get all the benefits and enrichments of the Internet while they remain in the dark?