The concept of the “digital divide” refers to perceived differences in opportunity and achievement caused by economic and social disparities that limit access to technology. In general, the concept represents that as technology advances, some groups within society gain greater access to more efficient technology while other groups that are unable or unwilling to participate in the use of technology are left behind. This lack of participation in the digital world is considered to place these individuals or groups at a disadvantage relative to their more connected peers. The term “digital divide” also describes information technology disparities between nations and technical accessibility disparities within smaller societal groups. Although this issue has been researched for over a decade, both the concept and proposed solutions to problems related to technology access are controversial. As the concept of a digital divide moves beyond economic issues, conflicts between technology and aesthetics are emerging as potential factors in the debate over the adoption of new technologies.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Technology Penetration: The rate at which a specific technical innovation becomes adopted into the everyday life of individuals within a social group.
Second Level Digital Divide: A distribution of available technology resources that prevents the efficient use of those resources by ignoring the lack of technical skills and emotional readiness among potential users of that technology.
First Level Digital Divide: A distribution of available technology resources that prevents the use of those resources by limiting access to those resources through physical support systems or economic means.
Technical Literacy: Entry level technical skills that allow a noncomputer user to begin using technology effectively and that serve as a starting point for the development of more advanced skills.
Tech-no: An individual who has made a conscious choice to limit or avoid the use of technology in life due to a value rather than a limiting factor such a literacy or economics.
Aesthetic Choice: An aesthetic choice is a decision based on a value that is believed to enrich the life of the holder through the selection of action that the individual find pleasurable or desirable.