Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series)


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Policymakers have a tendency to use a single factor, such as access, to judge ICT development.

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Digital inequality cannot be reduced, however, to a binary view of access. Governments and development bodies need to differentiate between types of online activity and pay attention to the inequalities among internet users. We can break the digital divide down into five dimensions of inequality. For example, lack of broadband in rural America has been shown to negatively affect socioeconomic opportunities, out-migration and social connections in remote communities.

The extent to which people have autonomy in their internet use depends on where, when and how often they use it.

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Contrary to previous assumptions, personal use of the internet at work is not only a distinctive trait of people who lack home-internet access, but also of those with higher levels of computer literacy. Evidently, inequality in skill — broadly defined to include technical, cognitive and socioeconomic factors — affects if and how the internet is used.

All this points to a need to rethink ICT development policies, to place greater emphasis on the socio-economic conditions that underpin access. We need to avoid policies that do not tackle inequality in a holistic manner.

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Critics argue that the policy was a populist campaign measure, not a well-thought-out plan to reduce digital inequality. Many doubted that teachers would receive proper training. Instead, they believed the government would dump the tablets onto teachers without a concrete implementation plan or consideration for those who did not know how to use them. It took nearly two years for the pilot project to roll out because the government could not get a manufacturer to produce the tablets at the price it had promised voters.

Even if schools received the tablets, some were not equipped to implement the program. A report based on 12 primary schools in shows that only half the schools had internet connectivity fast enough for tablet use.

It also reveals that school administrators were not provided with any guide for incorporating learning through the tablets, and not all teachers knew how to use and maintain the tablets. If the overall policy goal was to improve the education of Thai students in disadvantaged areas, the government neglected to set out assessment criteria. A similar project on a larger scale failed to even get off the ground in India. The politicians overpromised on technologies that could not yet be delivered.

When the policy was conceived, there seemed to be little discussion , let alone forethought, about the infrastructure and support for use. Poor teacher training in poorly equipped schools in remote areas has left many doubtful about the effectiveness of the program. One Peruvian education official admitted :.

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Policymakers who dream of digital technologies as the quick fix to their development problem need to think twice before committing financial resources to policies that look good on paper, but fail in practice. Part of this failure is due to the technologically deterministic approach officials take.

Another element is the view that a development gap can be closed by a tool or through internet access. The clear lesson from Thailand, India and Peru is that reducing digital inequality depends on much more than access to products.

Imagine what would happen if the negative stereotypes about Africa were laid to rest? As for us, we envision Africa where innovation and development are commonplace through access to the right information and resources. Access to solutions in agriculture are demonstrating impact on operations, leading to direct impact on household incomes.

Yet, PayPal, Google Checkout, wordpress, HostGator, and the likes still have not fully recognised several African countries in their e-payment network. And not to forget, several cases of IP address restrictions to many websites have been of great concern to internet inequality as well. While all these seem to be the consequence of an ongoing battle to mitigate cybercrime, this approach seems to overall be self-defeating and limits access to information and opportunities that may as well help young people in Africa, within these restricted confines, to succeed and live above the poverty line.

What a shame! Apparently, one of the important lessons of the past two decades has been the central role of innovation especially in the area of the Internet technology in economic development Organization for Economic Co-orporation and Development OECD A challenge, however, is to ensure that innovation and channels through which innovation can take place are inclusive; that is, to ensure that the benefits are shared more evenly across all groups and regions in order to improve the overall social well-being of mankind, because we are all human beings!

Good governance of the Internet economy and its related technologies is necessary for progress on economic, social, and environmental levels as we progress into the future. Creating a fair atmosphere that allows millennials in Africa to freely and fully connect to the rest of the world online is important. With unlimited access to the Internet economy, millennials in Africa not only have access to online information and opportunities, but can become actors in innovation as they transform from morally decentralized to digitally transformed role models in their communities.

IPPR, the Institute for Public Policy Research, is the UK's leading progressive think tank

Fighting internet inequality is a great way to create social inclusion and access to opportunities on the Internet economy. Opportunities, we believe, that will enhance development and build the capacity to promote ongoing sustainability that will elevate Africa from the abyss of under-development to the playing field of global competitiveness.

This cohort of young people are arguably the largest in the world cf. Ighobor , and are unique from the previous generation because of their technological exceptionalism cf.

How do we bridge the digital divide sustainably? - Mike Lindsay - TEDxThessaloniki

Such internet policies must include but not remain limited to providing full Internet usage access to our promising future African leaders. Other areas of access should be explored as well. In order to accomplish this, however, there must be grassroot reform that links the relationship between economic corruption and the freedom to access meaningful information and spread ideas online.

Regardless, adapting the internet into our society to fit and wrestle our morally challenging borders requires not just an overflow of cultural and contextual relevant opportunities but an inclusive internationalization of Internet governance—inclusive of all nations, and not regulated on geographical, racial, sexual, or individual basis—to assure a complete internet breakthrough in Africa. On humanitarian ground, internet vendors need to operate an open internet policy for the sake of human dignity, in order to empower the edges where Africans seem to settle of the Internet economy rather than the center.

With such kind of user-centric template, voices are given to even the end-users and everyone benefit at the end of the day Seidler We argued that this kind of internet structure represents the functionalist view of internet inequality, which fundamentally is created to benefit a particular social group in a social system. Using the narrative inquiry, we narrated stories of how millennials in Africa are sidelined on the margins of the Internet ecosystem as part of the functionalist agenda to apportion a large portion of opportunities available online to users from Western countries. Hence, citing how PayPal, Wordpress, Google check, HostGator, and other internet vendors are agents of internet inequality, carrying out this functionalist agenda within the Internet ecosystem.

Digital Inequality and Low-Income Households | HUD USER

Drawing from these stories, we contend for a full usage access to meaningful internet opportunities, which is the primary area of internet inequality experienced by millennials in Africa who are skilled with the knowledge of the internet technology. Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship December , Cite as. Authors Authors and affiliations A. Open Access. First Online: 16 January Part of the following topical collections: Innovation and entrepreneurship as sustainable enterprise excellence triggers, catalysts and accelerators.

Background In February , the Pew Research Forum came out with a comprehensive survey conducted in association with the PBS documentary series on millennials. Internet diffusion and internet inequality in Africa The Internet is the fastest diffusing innovation to date Dholakia et al. As of , the number of Internet users increased by one million every single month McLaren While there are predictable challenges which center around having more affordable and widespread access and usage of the internet on the continent, connectivity is definitely in motion in many African countries, according to Nicholas Seidler Hence, debates have shifted to other more pressing issues gravitating around the all-important question: once you are connected, what are you able to do with it?

Today, over million people living in Africa regularly use the Internet cf. Internet World Stats Seeing himself as an information activist, Amr had equally used technology to solve other problems that really interest him. With his undergraduate background in Pharmaceutical Science, Amr equally developed Dawaa —an online drug index that makes it easy to answer questions related to drug names, doses, brands, and prices. Before we continue with the stories, let us first begin with a personal experience one of the authors had in while living in Nigeria, which actually inspired this paper.

Victor is a trained web designer, even though he does not design websites professionally as his main source of income. A friend had asked Victor to assist in providing a web presence for their 5 Star Hotelas they plan on upgrading their services. Victor agreed to help the friend design the website. Victor paid for the web hosting at HostGastor. The payment went through successfully. However, the domain was not registered by HostGastor.


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The "follow through on the verification" see screenshot of email below they were referring to was to send a photo picture of the debit card Victor used for the payment, with a photo of him holding the bank card, and a copy of his International passport or ID—which he did. After waiting for almost a week to approve the domain hosting, HostGastor still delayed on verifying the transaction.

The truth was, as one of the HostGator staff told Victor in an honest disclosure, that the company does not accept users from his geographical location on their platform due to fears of Internet fraud since there was a general notion that everyone using the Internet from West Africa was either a fraudster or involved in some kind of identity theft online.

Open image in new window. User Normaljenny complaints on nairaland. See Marvid comments in the screenshot below.

Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series) Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series)
Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series) Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series)
Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series) Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series)
Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series) Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series)
Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series) Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series)
Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series) Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series)
Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series) Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series)
Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series) Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide (American Governance and Public Policy series)

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