Global Digital Divide, Global Justice, Cultures, and Epistemology

Global Digital Divide, Global Justice, Cultures, and Epistemology

Soraj Hongladarom (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-116-2.ch003
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The problem of global digital divide, namely disparity in Internet access and use among the various regions of the world, is a growing concern. Even though, according to some reports, the gap is getting narrower, this does not mean that the problem is disappearing, because the problem does not just consist in getting more people to become “wired,” so to speak. This chapter investigates the various relationships among the global digital divide, global justice, cultures and epistemology. Very briefly stated, not getting access to the Internet constitutes an injustice because the access is a social good that can lead to various other goods. Furthermore, as information technology is a second-order technology, one that operates on meaning bearing symbols, access to the technology is very much an issue of social epistemology, an attempt to find out the optimal way to distribute knowledge across the social and cultural domains.
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Narrowing Of The Global Digital Divide And The Persistence Of Old Problems

It was just only slightly more than two decades ago that personal computers started to make their way into our lives; and the Internet started to appear on the scene little more than a decade ago. Yet these seem to most of us like ages ago. This points to the extreme speed at which the technology is evolving and spreading throughout the world. When it was in its infancy, proponents of information technology usually hailed it as a harbinger of a time when time itself and distance were eliminated. A result of this would be, in their view, a complete merging of ideas and information in such a way that every piece of information would be at everybody’s fingertips. Ideas such as democracy and freedom would float around the world and enter the consciousness of the people who would presumably take these ideas as a basis for changes in their own communities and societies. Knowledge would be readily available and the whole world will be blessed with better-informed and knowledgeable global citizens.

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