Is the Internet creating a social divide?
What are the arguments against indicating that the Internet is creating the social divide?
How does the Internet is help eliminate social divides?
- Solve geographical divides. Free video conferencing is available across the globe.
- Solve education divides. The Internet can provide education to a worldwide student pool.
- Solve information divides. Internet users have access vast sums of knowledge.
- Solve wealth divides. Internet e-commerce eases constraints to worldwide trade. E.g. eBay
- Solve access divides. The Internet can provide services cheaper allowing more commerce.
Examples: Online banking, Online share trading, Online human resources, Online cloud computing services, Online VOIP PABX, Online servers and Online web hosting.
The Internet is available to those who desire it
We know now that the Internet is an interconnected computer network that has approximately 2.1 billion users. Considering that a public Internet browser application were only around in since 1993, this is a very quick growth rate. Most social divides existed before the Internet. The Internet is a useful tool with many forms of connection and applications to use. There can be free Internet connection at your school, university or workplace. Internet access can also be via fibre optic broadband, ADSL broadband, cable broadband, 3G mobile telephone, 3G modems, dial up telephony, WiMAX wireless networking and satellite. Computer training and Internet access can be available in libraries. Internet kiosks can often be found in shopping centres, airports and hotels. Access to the Internet can be available for those that desire it use in most populated locations.
Computer Hardware is becoming more affordable
The devices that can now connect to the Internet include desktop computers, laptop computers, netbook computers, 3 G telephones, gaming consoles, tablets, VOIP telephony hardware and servers. 3G telephones now can have Internet connectivity and cost only $200 AUD. Hand held computers like the Apple iTouch and small netbooks can be purchased for $200 AUD. VOIP adapters that allow telephones to use the Internet are under $100 AUD. The trends in computer hardware pricing is failing. This allows easier access to the Internet by more people.
One Laptop Per Child is a worldwide project to distribute computers in a non profit manner. There are over 2 million of these computers distributed including some in Australia. Each computer costs approximately $200 US to build. These computers come with grid networking allowing an organic geographical sharing of Internet access. One roll out method used was to buy a laptop and give a laptop to the needy world.
Computer software can now help with education
One Laptop Per Child netbooks come with a very interesting software suite. The free Linux operating system distribution is called Sugar. This is also freely available as a Live boot CD, boot USB or virtual computer appliance to allow non destructive use on most modern computers. A $10 AUD 2 GB USB memory stick allows the whole operating system, applications and your saved files to fit comfortably with the ability to plug it into most modern computers to use Sugar. The user interface is based in pictures so to allow use by almost anyone. Applications have a common similar simplified picture interface. Software provided includes language speech programs, drawing, writing, physics, instant messaging, music, flowcharting, memory games, mathematics and an Internet Browser.
Having this type of software free allows educational social divides to be broken. Other free Online education facilities exist to future extend your knowledge. If you have the desire then computer use and Internet use should be available to you.
Using the Internet does not discriminate
The Internet is potentially available to all independent of age, race, education, language or religion. Less than one days training can get you on to the Internet. Internet Browsers are available over 70 languages. There are Internet tools that can translate language. Email can now be hosted for free with access from any Internet access site with a browser. The price of an Internet presence can be free with simple messaging or more formal such as your own website. The location of a website can be in many possible places around the globe which can bypass restrictive local governance. Basic hosting of a website costs less than $100 AUD per year. There are no more gatekeepers of information flow and exchange. Your ideas can be read, played and watched 24/7. Exchange of ideas can be done with instant messaging, articles, video, presentations or groups etc. Once on the Internet your social communication options have greatly improved.
Non-Internet users are not disadvantaged
There are other forms of communication that can assist with social interaction.
- Telephone including mobile phones. This can include phone banking, phone bill payment etc.
- Mail - This can be one to one or in the form of newsletters etc.
- Radio - Media providers can help with community messages and talk back / feedback shows.
- and most importantly face to face discussions