The Future Information Society: In the future information society, the haves and the have not’s will be defined by whether they have access to a quality Internet connection. Judge the extent to which this is true.
Human Computer Interaction has greatly increased in the 21st Century and the ability to access information on computers and over the internet has become quite crucial for people to completely immerse themselves in the socio-economic and political aspects of the world. However, not everyone has access to computers and the internet and this creates the complex phenomenon known as the “digital divide” (Cs.stanford.edu 2014). The digital divide is the division between those individuals and groups who have access to, and can comfortably use information and communication technologies (ICT) (the haves) and those who lack access or cannot comfortably use ICT (have not’s) (Patridge 2007).
According to DiMaggio and Hargittai (2001), the inequality between the “haves” and “have not’s” is differentiated by the different measures of access to and the use of new technologies such as the internet. In this case, the digital inequality is defined in terms of the difference in access but also to the inequality among persons with formal internet access. There is also a growing gap between the underprivileged members of society such as the poor, elderly, handicapped and those in rural areas who do not have internet access; and the middle-class, wealthy and young tech savvy individuals living in cities and suburbs that have access (Cs.stanford.edu 2014).
A practical look at our society also reveals that wealth distribution is becoming unbalanced due to computer and internet access. The “haves” are seemingly becoming wealthier through the power of information, while the “have not’s” are becoming poorer when compared. According to William Kennard, the then chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) between 1997 and 2001, the society we live in is increasingly defined by access to information and people earn what they learn. He was speculating that those who do not have technology access, and more so the internet were going to be left in the digital dark ages.
The internet is supposed to blur the lines of education, ability, income levels, race and age by allowing users to access information resources and communicate globally off-limits but even then, the digital divide continues to grow unless sound initiatives are devised to fill the gap. This is because the divide further compounds the already existing socio-economic gap in today’s society. In short, it is not just the cost of computers and internet access that results in the divide, but also the existence of extended illiteracy among neglected population.
Cs.stanford.edu, (2014). The Digital Divide. [online] Available at: http://cs.stanford.edu/people/eroberts/cs201/projects/digital-divide/start.html [Accessed 26 Jun. 2014].
DiMaggio, P. and Hargittai, E. (2001). From the ‘digital divide’to ‘digital inequality’: Studying Internet use as penetration increases. Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Working Paper Series number, 15.
Patridge, H. (2007). Establishing the human perspective of the information society.. 1st ed. [ebook] BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA: Queensland University of Technology, pp.1-4. Available at: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/16572/1/Helen_Partridge_Thesis.pdf [Accessed 26 Jun. 2014].