Defining the Boundaries of the Digital Divide
The term “digital divide” is commonly used to refer to the gap between people in terms of access to computers and digital information. In general, this term brings to mind the idea of a line that separates two spaces. On one side of this line, you have those who enjoy the benefits of the digital age and on the other side you have those who don’t. One easily thinks about rich countries/people versus poor countries/people on each side of the line. This paper tries to show that the divide is not as simplistic as most people tend to see it. It is a very complex issue that is deeply rooted in the economic, political, linguistics, social and cultural orders that prevail at the national and international levels.
The first part of the paper focuses on three points: 1) define the concept of digital divide; 2) discuss access to computers and digital information; 3) discuss why the digital divide is an issue. The second part of the paper discusses the boundaries of the digital divide. In this part identifies different types of dividing lines which include the following dichotomies: the North vs. South Divide; the First World vs. the Third World; the Rich vs. Poor; the Males vs. Females; English speakers vs. non-English speakers. We also discuss other economic, political, ideological and cultural considerations that have a strong impact on access to digital information. The third part of the paper identifies ways to solve the digital divide.
In conclusion, we note that the digital divide is formed by many lines that crisscross one another creating a multitude of ‘divides’, not just one. Consequently, any approach to solve this issue must recognize the multiple divides and give equal importance to all of the different intersecting lines. Since the digital divide is deeply rooted in the prevailing the economic, political, linguistics, social and cultural orders, it would be a mistake to try to bridge the gap without dealing with the root causes that originate from these prevailing orders.
Keywords: Digital divide, boundaries of digital divide, definition of digital divide, digital information, access to computers,information and society, information and communication technology
Dr. Michel Nguessan
Head of LIbrary & Academic Technology, Governors State University Library, Governors State University