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Michael Furdyk

Joined: Nov 21, 2003
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Digital vs. Context Divide
Apr 19, 2001

The real problem, and the one that I think TIG will help to solve, is the context divide. In the process of "closing the digital divide", most solutions are simply dumping computers into areas, without sustainable mechanisms in place to ensure they get maintained and also are useful.

What are your experiences with the digital divide?

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MJ

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Re: Digital vs. Context Divide
May 8, 2001

I'm not quite sure what the divide is. It could be something that is relevant to what one experiences in their life.

If it is, I think that technology has moved to quickly for average people to catch on. Schools cannot keep up with the growth and speed of technology.

So in essence technology is creating it's own divide where eventually it will be too far ahead of it's time and will have to self-sustain itself until the masses are able to catch on, catch up or cop out.


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Terri Willard

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Defining what TIG means by digital divide
Dec 7, 2001

I think it's time to re-open the earlier discussion re: what we mean by the digital divide... I had a great discussion with Mike and Jenn last week on why we need to establish the scope of work on something like a digitaldivide.takingitglobal.org site/view. There are at least 3 different perspectives we could choose from:
1) Focus on improving access to information and communication technologies plus the training to use them
2) Focus on harnessing the power of information and communications technologies and global networks to assure opportunity, empowerment and inclusion for all (in economic, social and political spheres of life)
3) Focus on expanding participation of all stakeholders in the production, dissemination, and use of knowledge and information so as to achieve sustainable development

Different groups use different terms for each (digital divide, digital opportunities, global knowledge, etc.) so I've refrained from attaching a term to any of these.

Before we get too far (or could raise any $$ to support TIG activities), I'd love feedback from more people on what you are most interested in....


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Terri Willard

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Re: Digital vs. Context Divide
Dec 7, 2001

To add a bit more information into the discussion, the following is part of a message that Sam LanFranco sent to the GKD (Global Knowledge for Development) list yesterday. It has touched off some of the most honest reflection I've seen yet on the GKD list. He has given his permission for cross-posting here...

-------------
<snip>
It is worth recalling that the language of the Digital Divide sprang into our vocabulary after the Group of Eight meeting in Japan counld not reach agreement on their key agenda item, that being debt reduction for heavily indebted poor countries. Like schooling fish following a crazed leader the entire development community re-set its compass to that new navigational star.

This of course came as quite a shock to those of us who had been working on the challenges of ICTs and Development for the previous two decades. But, we had seen it before and there was no surprise. There is also little surprise to realize how little serious reflection has taken place with regard to what the digital divide means. Do we close it by closing the gap, by bridging the gap, by what and why?

To keep this short and simple, consider the following. What is the cost of closing the "transportation divide", the fact that some people have access to transportation and its benefits and that others do not. Does this mean "Cars for All?" Of course not. Does it mean "Bus Tokens for All?" Of course not. What does it mean. It usually means what can be done with transportation, as in intermediate instrument variable, to improve the conditions of life for some groups, usually the poor.

The same applies to the digital divide. Does it mean "Computers, Access or Connectivity for All?" It shouldn't but for some it seems to. If we measure success by access and connectivity we comit the mistake, well recognized in medical research of confusing efficacy with efficiency. They goal is to make the lives of some (usually the poor) better. If we try this by placing computers in the schools where the poor are not even students our efficacy may look great, and our costs will be high, but our efficiency in terms of the degree to which we attain our ultimate goal will be low. If we ask how might we use computers to increase the eductional achievements of the poor, a question where the answer might be to put them in telecentres where groups of local teachers are brought together for skills training, our costs are much lower but our efficiency is much higher.

Just as "Cars for All" doesn't make sense to solve the problems of physical distance and the poor, anything that confuses efficacy with efficiency in the deployment of ICT for development doesn't make sense. <snip>

Sam Lanfranco
Distributed Knowledge
York University


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