The Global Digital Divide

The world may feel more connected than ever, however the truth is far from it.

In the last 30 years a global digital divide has emerged, as the quality and accessibility to the internet drastically varies worldwide. In 2015, Internet World Stats reported that 46.4% of the worlds population is an internet user. However the regional usage drastically differs, such as 87.3% of North America is online compared to 28.6% of Africa. 

digital-world

The definitions and causes of this ‘global digital divide’ are highly debated. Mauro F. Guillén notes that the internet has developed unevenly throughout the world as a “result of the economic, regulatory and sociopolitical characteristics of countries and their evolution over time”. Jon Crowcroft also believes that the digital divide is not a binary segregation, but a more complicated issue. For example just the other day the WiFi in halls cut out and therefore I wasn’t able to complete this blog post. So does this mean I was disadvantaged as I lost my internet access, which consequently disrupted my education?

This divide raises many ethical questions. Crowcroft argues that the internet should be a universal right as it is an extension of free speech and information. However this would be difficult for developing countries to provide. It could be argued that the internet is segregating the world further apart, as advancing technologies have caused developing countries to lag behind. To bridge the gap, in 2013 six technology companies launched Internet.org, whose goal was to expand internet access to those without it (read more here).

Useful links

A very interesting and visual site that delves into the causes and ways to bridge the digital divide- http://www.scidev.net/global/icts/data-visualisation/digital-divide-data-interactive.html

Refrences

Internet World Stats- http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

Mauro F. Guillén quote- http://sf.oxfordjournals.org/content/84/2/681

Jon Crowcroft interview- https://soundcloud.com/scidev-net/final-jon-crowcroft-digital-divide-mixdown

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1 Comment

  1. While we examine the internet, we may consider it as a process. This process changed and is still changing. Thus, I believe that those facts will change, in the growth of new generations, and along the developments (hopefully) of other processes in our world. Besides, I believe that even if the term of globalization is not absolute, we can still recognize the shift towards a mush more globalized society, thanks to the internet.
    Lastly, there are also efforts of the large media companies in recent years to provide internet to developed countries. For instance, Google last year launched a project of providing free internet in 100 railway stations in India. http://indianexpress.com/article/technology/tech-news-technology/explained-what-is-googles-wifi-at-railway-station-project-and-how-will-it-work/

    Anyway, I liked your post, I think you sticked to your opinion in an interesting way, in such an important matter of the internet!

    Liked by 1 person

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