Social developments from digital environments

13. The Advantages Gap

Without intervention, the information marketplace will widen the gaps between rich and poor countries and people.

  • For example, private companies might "pitch in," both to help, and to keep gov. regulation off their backs.
  • Keep in mind: private companies also have "market-based" motivations for increasing access, esp. access that is through them. The more users of their products and services, the more $ they can make.
  • in the US, public libraries help close the divide
    • [we might note, though: when debating the divide, folks who say there isn't one tend to count libraries and their computer stations in the equation. Do you consider being able to use a computer at the library adequate access for a person? How many people would you count as "having access" if their only resource was the local public library?]

Haves and have-nots might get a better look at each other. These views may further widen, or may help narrow, the divides.

There are domestic (US) and international aspects and they don't necessarily "match."

-The digital divide (access aspect only)

-US broadband penetration by state

-Fastest countries

There isn't a "single" divide (never really was, though "access" was the focus." Sometimes the divides are by industry or segment.

One of the major risks is that we will end up with electronic resources and services that cater only to the wealthy, those who can provide ROI to technology providers, such that we get a bifurcated new media environment--yet another divide.

A second major risk is that we have a new divide: Infoglut, in which so much information/data (about us) is available that the only people who can make sense of it have (1) access to enormous databases and (2) access to enormous computing resources to process the data.

  • What are the top "advantages gap" risks in the U. S. today?
  • What are the top "advantages gap" risks on the international scene today?
  • What happens when American enterprise gets deeply involved?
  • What are the relationships between monopolistic business practices in the communications industries and advantages gaps?
  • Which monopolistic business practices in the communications industries currently appear ripe for anti-trust action and how might the advantages gaps be changed as a result?

Will the Americans with Disabilities Act tear a hole in Internet law?

When the topic/question first came up, there was skepticism

Eventually, however, the pendulum has started to swing in the direction of the need to accommodate. A significant factor is that a LOT of "public" business is now done online. Even, for example, in "private" places like BU... when schools take federal money, they begin to align themselves with federal laws.

Concept 13 Application Note article:

Digital Divide Is Wider Than We Think, Study Says

Want to learn more?

World InequityLab Report:

PEW Internet/Broadband fact sheet

The Global Information Technology Report 2012: Living in a Hyperconnected World. World Economic Forum, Executive summary, part 1: p. 11-20.

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