Although the computer and the Internet have become an integral part of most people’s lives that we’re familiar with, many people around the world are just now experiencing the introduction – and the related anxiety - many of us experienced a decade ago. Furthermore, technology is changing at speeds that make most of our heads spin. This presents a daunting challenge to remain properly educated and up-to-speed with the changes. This is even more true for the less privileged societies across the world. This concept has led to discussion of the "digital divide" which is shifting like a huge canyon being rapidly formed by the force of the constantly growing stream of new technology. The term "the digital divide" itself refers to the growing distance between the "haves" and "have-nots" of the Internet and technology, and the benefits that accompany it.
When first introduced, the "digital divide" referred to the people who have access to computers and who do not. In many cases, this is still the problem – but even in privileged countries such as the US it has also shifted to the people who have the Internet and now to those that have broadband access. I’m a big fan of the common saying "Knowledge is Power"- and I believe with the growing trend of globalisation, that it is necessary to make sure that all nations are able to sustain themselves. Within any government, I think it is important to focus on society as a whole. I do not believe that the people who are prosperous have always worked for it and therefore deserve it. Rather, as a society we will always function better when all people have equal chances and resources without leaving the weakest behind. In other words, the guy that started the race healthy and 20 minutes earlier isn’t necessarily faster than the last guy who was ill and having to battle hurdles along the way.
We can achieve better business and a better society if everyone has a chance to be educated. On a broader scale beyond business, it’s important we can all be on the same page. Many disputes and disagreements are a result of assumptions everyone thinks like we do. But understanding that they do not, and why, can often diffuse any friction – and information leads to knowledge that will build that understanding.
Because a smart person would never take just my word on the issue, here are some links to help educate yourself on the digital divide, as well as some other thoughts on this topic:
This site is very text dense, and you'll have to wade through some things. It also appears to be written a few years ago, so of course some minor things have changed. On the other hand, it is heavily sourced and therefore more informational and in-depth than my descriptions.
For a more case-study approach, especially a look at the problems, try here:
It's a simple PowerPoint drafted by a student discussing the problem. I'm sure this was also for a class, and so it's only slightly more detailed than my description. It gives a great number of links, however, and presents the topic in a case study style prose.
Finally, to see a plethora of people's outlook and discussion on the topic try here:
This is a great forum, and this site focuses on many technological things beyond the digital divide - in fact it usually focuses on more technical issues such as hardware, new software, etc. Additionally, these posts are quite old - from 2000. However, who better to comment on technology divides than those most familiar with it, and I find the posts to still be very relevant.