Digital Divide

Jaime J. Davila, Hampshire College

Introduction

The Original Definition

“Problem Solved”

The S-curve Pattern of Diffusion

Access Outside of Homes

“A Problem Among Many”

New Definitions

Literacy

Relevance

Ability to Create Content

The Disabled

Broadband

A Look at Recent Data

The International Divide

Definition of United Nations Technology and Communications Index

Connectivity

Access

Policy

Quantitative National Differences

Other Potential Factors of the International Digital Divide

The Importance of Closing the Digital Divide

Complex Solutions for a Complex Problem

Conclusion

Glossary

Cross References

References

INTRODUCTION

While the origin of the term ‘“digital divide”’ is difficult to determine, by the mid-1990s conversations about the issues that define it were present at the highest levels of the U.S. federal government. On October 10, 1996, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore addressed the public at the Knoxville Auditorium Coliseum (Clinton & Gore, 1996). The main topic of their presentation was the government's effort to build “a bridge to the 21st century.” During the conversation, they address the existing digital divide, referring to varying levels of access to the Internet available to different demographic groups in the United States. During this same federal administration, several reports were published by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration that quantified these differences. In addition, important federal programs ...

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