Digital Divide

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's January 2002

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THE DIGITAL DIVIDE AND ITS MORAL IMPLICATIONS It has been estimated that half the people of the world have never made a telephone call, and that half the world's people don't live within three miles of a telephone. Not only do most people in developing countries not have computers, they don't have telephones or even electrical power. In poor countries with minimal Internet services and with few people who can afford those services, not many people will use the Internet, and there is not much impact is to be expected. However, their are countries that have a comparable access to Internet services, and use those services in different ways, and see different effects of the Internet. The total of 163 million computer users has to be considered against a total world population of nearly six billion; that is, fewer than three percent of the people in the world are on line thus, we are describing the distribution of a tiny minority of the world's population.

Technology, a primary engine of economic growth and employment, is a sure vehicle for both opportunity and disparity, increasingly so in the new millennium. "We must close the digital divide and bring along all who have not shared in the boom of the last century"� (Goodman). But, every product has both a price (that may place it beyond the means of some consumers) and a profile of skills and values necessary to its effective use. Hence there must always arise disparity in benefits from technology. As with television, the telephone, and other developments, declining prices and increased ease of use should have a democratizing impact but that effect will not be completely equal, no matter how cheap or simple the product, because people (and groups) differ in skills and preferences. Cable television is accessible to...