Is Web 2.0 Changing The Digital Divide?
Posted by telecommatt on October 6, 2007
Today I found a really interesting commentary by Thomas Scovell, and there was one paragraph in particular that intrigued me.
And maybe we don’t have a computer in every home or on every desk
yet. But when they do get online these people are using it in much more
radical and revolutionary ways. And its because, not in-spite of, their
lack of recognition or power during the mass-media era. The strength of
community, oral traditions and the like are what are being pulled into
their use of the Internet.
I live in a community that’s about as diverse as you can get in the upper midwestern United States. Actually, we have very strong immigrant populations here from all over the world. In the last decade, the number of languages I hear on the streets has exploded.
I don’t have strong ties to any of these communities. I’m just an observer. But what I’ve observed is exactly what Thomas writes about in his post. I can sit on the train in the morning and hear three or four languages being spoken on any given day. And they’re being spoken into mobile phones. They’re taking pictures and videos of their friends. I hear the words ‘Google’ and ‘Facebook’ and ‘YouTube’. And when I don’t hear anything, it’s because they are quietly sending someone a text message.
I know there’s a Digital Divide out there. It’s unfortunate. I think that our current economy pretty much guarantees that this will be the case for the foreseeable future. But I think that the trends we call ‘web 2.0’ are lowering the barriers of accessibility that were a serious problem with the World Wide Web from the beginning. Costs are declining and more people, immigrant and not, are finding the internet relevant to their lives. I think that anyone who calls the internet, and ‘web 2.0’ in particular, an exclusive domain of the 20-something-white-male needs to step outside their airconditioned office and walk the streets.
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