Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Digital Divide

Are the commercial promises made about digital media just hype to cloud our vision about the digital divide? Explain in the context of your profession.

It’s that time of year again, December; the holiday season is officially upon us. Millions of children all around the world have written their wish list and posted it to the North Pole in the hope that Saint Nick will be delivering them the latest IPhone, PS3 gaming console or MacBook Pro laptop. These newly updated digital technologies are expensive and are in high demand this summer by the youth of today who ‘require’ the devices for their personal entertainment, education and enjoyment. Devices such as these are what have created the digital divide and have widened further the gap between poor and rich technological cultures. In addition, these advanced technologies have been made more popular by an ever-growing media hype that promises consumers they are purchasing a life-changing product.

The latest technological devices have so called ‘transformed’ the digital environment over the past 12 months. The hype created around these products have created a must have attitude towards these products. Leading up to the Christmas period advertising for the latest products are in high swing, products that promise a clearer image then last years model of digital camera, an iPhone that promises consumers thousands of applications like no other mobile on the market and a multi-purpose storage device. However all of this hype is really just a ploy to get consumers to purchase the product, instead I believe that it is in the best interest of the global population to be using the monetary and technological resources available to narrow the digital divide. In addition, the technologies currently available are sufficed to improve education and communication in poor countries so the hype is just an attempt to blur our vision about the problem of the digital divide.

The concept of the digital divide is explained as “the differential access to and use of the Internet according to gender, income, race and location’ (Rice, 2002). The trends in new media tend to be in favor of the rich countries and disadvantage poor countries in particular most countries in Africa and most of Asia. Over the past decade the gap separating rich and poor countries has continued to expand. Developing countries still lag considerably behind in terms of broadband access and even though access is increasing the rate of increase in developed countries still exceeds that of developing countries. “The diffusion of information and communications technology (ICT) in developing countries is growing but still hang way below the industrialized world in the application of ICT and its use in business”(Unknown 2008). There have been many attempts to bridge or narrow the digital divide amongst rich and poor nations for the benefit of the global economy and for the individuals of poor nations who could benefit from a wider knowledge of the world that exists outside of their communities. The one laptop per child project is an initiative aimed at creating educational opportunities for many of the world’s poorest children and in the remotest of locations. The specially designed rugged, energy efficient and inexpensive laptops enable the children to engage in collaborative and self-empowered learning and enable the children to communicate with each other and the outside world (One Laptop per child, 2009). In 2002 project creator Nicholas Negroponte started the project after witnessing the direct benefits received by a small village in Cambodia when he gave them one of these efficient laptops. Negroponte is spear heading the project and aims for every one of the ill educated children in developing nations to have their own XO laptop in the near future. In achieving or even partially achieving this mission the increasing digital divide between poor and rich nations will hopefully be minimised as a more educated population would be able to contribute to and share their knowledge within the technological environment.

Projects such as the one laptop per child mission can be helped out by the marketing industry. Free promotion to encourage donations and sponsorship are just some of the ways to help create positive hype about the project. International marketing campaigns could increase awareness of such projects and as a result of increase in funding for the project the attempt to decrease the digital divide is more likely to be successful as a wider population will have the ability to self-educate and communicate with the global community.

Flew, T. (2008). New Media: An Introduction (3rd Ed.), New York: Oxford

Godin, S. (2005). The New Digital Divide, Retreived December 1, 2009 from

Rice, R. (1999). ‘Artifacts and Paradoxes in New Media’, New Media and Society, 1(1). Pp 24-25.

Unknwon (2008). Digital Divide: Widens between poor and rich countries, Retrieved December 1, 2009 from