The Digital Divide is a Myth
It seems only yesterday that computers were luxury items. Today, nearly everyone views them as a necessity of life. This changing viewpoint towards technology is creating battle lines in governmental and private agencies everywhere. Research indicates a serious problem, called the “digital divide,” runs rampant among the American population. Some studies even predict doom and gloom will befall us unless the government intervenes. No hidden Armageddon exists inside this problem, and no money wasting policies are needed. The true nature of the info-chasm is simply a matter of personal choice based on a mixture of income, cultural background, and the interest level of the individual, commonly referred to as the natural human condition.
Some researchers would like you to believe American firms are on the brink of being economically unstable because segments of our population lack Internet access and computer skills. Thomas P. Novak and Donna L. Hoffman, associate professors at Vanderbilt University, suggest economic Armageddon is right around the corner. They claim, “only 5.2 million African-Americans have ever used the Web compared to 40.8 million Caucasians, and the Internet may provide equal opportunity only for those population segments with access” (Novak and Hoffman). A few American businesses have joined the cause screaming the sky is falling because people are not using computers in abundance.
Technological industries helped to create the problem by following a concept known as Moore’s Law, which states that new technology will be developed and dumped on the public every eighteen to twenty-four months (Kurzweil). Reports about how many high tech jobs are being left unfilled assault the public’s ears daily. This alarmist attitude is partly to blame for keeping the digital divide fire going. Difference will persists as long as varying education and income levels between certain population segments exists and not because of skin color.
Our own Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Michael Powell, believes the digital divide is a natural part of capitalism and making sure infrastructures are in place so that all Americans have computer or Internet access is enough. Wealthier segments of the population will always buy more technology than lower income segments. Government intervention is unnecessary and may make manufacturers unwilling to even produce technology (McClintock). In effect, the feared Armageddon would become a reality if the politicians passed intervention policies. Most American businesses agree with this assessment.
Joe Nickell, reporter for Wired News, quoted presidents E. David Ellington of NetNoir Inc. and Lavonne Luquis of Latino Link as commenting, “This expectation of everyone having equal online access immediately today is almost juvenile. As prices continue to drop, Internet presence will be ubiquitous in households” (“The Digital Divide”). Using computers and accessing...