The "Digital Divide" has been cited for years as the reason that electronic communication of information that can easily be transferred among those with computers and modems is an inherently unequal medium. I ran into the "divide" during my stints as president of a PTA here in Greensboro and continue to hear of it in other community activities.
Communication between electronically connected parents and administrators was fast, furious and complete. We, the connected, knew everything that was going on - instantly. But we often bemoaned the fact that such communication never reached many families that really needed the information to keep up with the goings on at school. My PTA board had many discussions on how to get our school's easily accessed information to parents on the other side of the divide to get more families involved at school. Evey idea we came up with ultimately failed because of the volunteer time and effort such heroic measures toward communication would necessarily entail..
The "digital divide" is code for ..., "poor folks just aren't connected like we are."
One of my favorite social commentators, Cobb, is proclaiming "The Death of the Digital Divide". Sez Cobb:
" ... Bottom line was there were all kinds of lame excuses for talking about (poor, ghetto) blackfolks not being on the net. My attitude? The internet is for me and people like me, the rest of y'all can take the bus. Today, I think there's a lot more people like me than those suffering the symptoms predicted by the socialist theories. Ordinary people buy computers and internet access with credit cards. ... (B)ut we'll always have the same problem with people. The goods will be right in front of them and they will fail to grasp. They will invent excuses to remain ignorant..."
Cobb's right, you know. Before I read his treatise, when I or someone else would lament the fact that a large portion of the population was getting left out of the loop because they didn't have a computer and modem at home, I looked at it as an economic reality - some folks just can't afford it. I'm over that quaint excuse. Computers are cheap, real cheap. Internet access is at least as affordable as a typical monthly cell phone bill.
There are certainly still exceptions to my new found realization, but, if a family with school age children doesn't have a computer in their home it is probably not because they can't afford it - they simply refuse to grasp this reality: For the most part, being on the wrong side of the "digital divide" is a self imposed limitation perpetuated by ignorance, not economics.