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Monday, November 22, 2004

Digital (IT) Divide

Digital Divide:

The development in the world is a multiple speed process. Whether it is economical, political, technological, socio-cultural or even religious, development has never had a uniform pattern of growth across the surface of the earth. Individuals, communities or countries axe their development around personal circumstances (beliefs, financial situations, technological capabilities, geographic position, etc…) and because those circumstances are not the same for all categories, appears a distance between those who can really take advantage of some given area of development or modernisation whatever you want to call it and others who for numerous reasons cannot enjoy such “privileges” if they can be called so. In the world of technology and Digital technology in particular, Digital Divide is the name given to that phenomenon and as explained on the ‘Digital Divide Network’ web site (www.digitaldividenetwork.org ) is used to refer talking mainly about the use of information technology to the gap that exist between those who can effectively use new information and communication tools, such as the internet for example and those who cannot.

Talking about the internet if we just consider that example, some interesting facts taken from the site show that:

  • Only 6% (429 million people) of the world’s entire population are online
  • Amongst those online a breaking down of the figure shows that a vast majority of them live in so called “developed countries” or “rich countries” (north America, western Europe, north Asia, Oceania) with nearly half of them (41%) just in the United States & Canada

The facts also tell us that even in those developed countries the gap is still very wide between those labelled ‘highly developed’ and others and in a given country between those with good or big incomes and the rest.

Considering all the figures, we can safely draw the conclusion that people or communities or countries that make the most of the internet are those who created it at the first place and also have the means to develop such technologies.
We can extend our judgement on all the other sectors of technology and deduce that in the world, a very tiny minority of the world population really benefits from digital technology and most users from that minority reside in the so called “develop countries”.

Everyday we hear talks about sharing the wealth across the world but nothing seems to ever happen and even worse, a report of the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) from 1999 shows that the aid for development was about 29 billions dollars and beneficiary countries returned to those development countries the same year 120 billions dollars, no wonder why those countries are lacking behind because not finally really able to finance and sustain a consistent politic of development. This prompts a question as to know who is helping who? And the following one: with such attitude will we ever witness a world with any sort of decent representation from all parts in the use of digital or any form of new technologies altogether?

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