The Digital Divide




I got this very cheerful passage in my email from a list-serve group:

Adults who didn't finish high school are the demographic group making the most gains as the digital divide closes.... Computer ownership increased 62%, from 45 percent of the study population owning a computer in 1998 to 73 percent in 2005. Internet connection in home rose 11%: from 47 percent in 2001 to 52 percent in 2005. ...Most of the jump occurred between 1998 and 2001. People of color are as likely as whites to be computer users, when ownership is accounted for.

I haven't read the report. Even so, I feel safe asserting that computer ownership and internet use are unhelpful indicators of the presence or lack of barriers to learning, technological, civic or social services. Here's one of my learners writing tonight:
I have a computer but it has a virus. Since it had the virus I not been using it. I don't no how to get rid of it.
Lots of people have computers sitting in their homes. Lots are paying for internet access. This does not mean the digital divide - or the income and social capital divide - is closing. It means lots of people have computers sitting in their homes, and are paying for internet access.

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