Defeating The Digital Divide

The digital divide refers to the unbelievably large portion of society that has no access to the internet nor the skills to effectively navigate the web. According to The New York Times article Facebook Leads an Effort to Lower Barriers to Internet Access, there are approximately 4 billion people in the world suffering from the digital divide who lack internet access completely- a statistic that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would like to minimize through his new project, Internet.org. The internet is such a crucial component in today’s society; it is used in all elements of our lives from work activities, to leisure, to learning and beyond. As the majority of government paperwork, job applications, and business exchanges are done online, the two-thirds of society which are forced to function without internet access find themselves hindered in a personal and professional sense. According to the short film What Is The ‘Digital Divide?’, merely a 1% increase in American broadband access world create approximately 300,000 jobs, now that is something to consider!

 

Internet.org has set out on a mission to cut the costs of delivering internet access to cell phones in an attempt to bridge the digital divide gap for the global community of media users. Tech Companies including Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericsson have joined efforts with Zuckerberg to improve cell phone application software as well as the efficiency of internet networks to transmit more data while using less battery power overall. The organization believes that the poorer areas in Asia, Africa, and Latin America will be the most viable for growth in which they plan to employ the assistance of national governments as well as wireless cell phone carriers. In these countries where the masses are lacking internet access, the political economy can be rather dangerous as media ownership belongs primarily to the government, and much of the information is censored or manipulated in favor of the agenda setting by those in power.

The film “Bridging The Digital Divide in Uganda” depicts the wide array of benefits that internet access can provide. In this particular Ugandan village, the entire community thrives around their “Telecenter”, a building which houses a few computers as well as a library and other public resources. The Telecenter allows for a flow of information and communication through the use of technology that this community has never before seen. Students benefit from the internet access to advance their education. A farmer in the town uses the Telecenter to research information about cultivation and how she can improve her various crops. A local businessman who owns a hardware and bicycle repair store used to travel far and wide for purchasing his inventory, but now with the internet he can fax his suppliers without leaving town. In just one small community with a handful of computers, such a remarkable difference was made. People improved their livelihood, furthered their education, enhanced their businesses, and so much more. With the help of influential organizations such as Internet.org, we can defeat the digital divide altogether and bring the power of internet access to all ends of the globe.