Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Digital Divide

“The New Digital Divide” an article written by Susan Crawford and published by The New York Times, discusses a new outlook on our current and future digital divide. This article explains that recently the quality of the internet has greatly increased, however this increase is only available to the consumers who afford it.
According to Crawford, “Over the last decade, cheap Web access over phone lines brought millions to the Internet. But in recent years the emergence of services like video-on-demand, online medicine and Internet classrooms have redefined the state of the art: they require reliable, truly high-speed connections, the kind available almost exclusively from the nation’s small number of very powerful cable companies. Such access means expensive contracts, which many Americans simply cannot afford.”
Simply put, America is divided into two parts. Consumers with high-speed web connection and consumers who either have second class web connection or no connection at all, so a complete divide between the wealthy urban consumers and the poor, rural minorities.
These wealthy urban consumers not only have access to the exciting world of high-speed internet, but they also are always a step or possibly a few steps ahead of the rest. Basically meaning these consumers have a hand up in education, the latest entertainment and local, national and global news and information. Therefore, the informed stay informed and the less fortunate struggle to keep up.
The problem we are having with the digital divide is it’s simply not affordable to everyone in America. In reality, that makes sense and that is just how the world works. However, this is a way America can be a step ahead in the digital world. If this high-speed internet access was available for everyone then the possibilities for us as Americans could be endless.
As a quick example, to truly show how fast this internet is, according to Crawford, “The connections are truly high-speed: based on a technological standard called Docsis 2.0 or 3.0, they can reach up to 105 megabits per second, fast enough to download a music album in three seconds.” This is incredible, even though downloading an album is not that big of a deal or that important compared to politics or foreign policy found online, however it just shows that the faster the internet is, the faster we as consumers can take it in and ingest the information.
In all, this digital divide is a setback for America. However, there is a possibility in the future, with how quickly our technology is developing, that this high-speed access will be affordable for many American citizens.