Information Access in Rural Communities: Bridging the Digital Divide
V.S. Venkatesan (University of Western Australia, Australia), Robyn Eversole (Edith Cowan University, Australia) and Kem Robinson (Edith Cowan University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2008
The concept of ‘digital divide’ draws attention to the social context of technology usage. Current IT solutions are technology driven and are focussed on elite consumers in cities. In contrast, regional Australian communities face a number of problems such as remoteness, small population and distance. Knowledge and resource constraints also impact on these communities and businesses. Any attempt to transform regions using new information and communications technologies should take into consideration these unique factors. This chapter focuses on information access in two rural communities in Western Australia. A qualitative study followed by a quantitative phase in two regional towns explored how people access information and where information gaps lie. Results of this research suggest that, along with technical infrastructure, equal emphasis should be placed on the human/community element. Without this, regional transformation will remain mere rhetoric.