The Great Digital Divide
The digital divide is defined as the gap between the information ‘haves’, the information ‘have-lates’, and the information ‘have-nots’. This disparity has arguably persevered from as early as the advent of the Gutenberg printing press, and continues to be pervasive and to flourish in the present day. There are many individuals who commonly perceive the digital divide to be solely comprised of the disparity of access to computers and the Internet, but this is not the sole case. It is vitally important to recognize that the digital divide is not only comprised of an access inequality to computers and the Internet, but additionally encompasses the right of use to other telecommunications or technological devices; for instance, cellular telephones, satellites, and even spanning into basic cable services for the rather universal activity of television watching. In chronological order, the following expose will present a comprehensive consideration of the premises of the digital divide, the cohorts affected and stratified by the digital divide, and finally the notions or initiatives that have been taken in an effort to halt this ever-widening gap.
As aforementioned, in general, the digital divide consists of a disparity in access to technology. In more complex terminology, it is the abyss in access to technology tools and related learning opportunities, most commonly imposed by socioeconomic status, race, gender, and so forth (Digital Divide Network, 2002). Knowledgeable critics have typically sub-divided those affected by the digital divide into a triad of distinct assemblies; the ‘haves’, ‘have-lates’, and ‘have-nots’ (Globalization: The Reader, p. 81). ‘Haves’ include individuals who are seldom affected by the digital divide. They covet early access to most available technological and telecommunication devices. ‘Have-lates’ are individuals who are, to a lesser degree, affected by the digital divide. This cohort has access to technology and telecommunications, but the right of use is not as prevalent as with the ‘haves’. Additionally, ‘have-lates’ access technology only after a considerable lag following its initial release, in most cases after it has enjoyed widespread use by the ‘haves’ for an extended period of time. Lastly, ‘have-nots’ are those individuals who seldom have access to the majority of daily used technology and telecommunication tools. Whether this disparity of access is due to socioeconomic class, gender, race, or ethnicity, these individuals are essentially sanctioned by the digital divide. It is imperative to recognize that the digital divide is far from beginning to diminish. In actual fact, the disparity between the so-called ‘information rich’ and the ‘information poor’ is widening, increasing by the day (Web Studies, p. 27).
Numerous scholars persistently affirm that computers and technology have played a key role in widening the social gap throughout...