Monday, August 23, 2010

Overcoming the digital divide

Projects like One Laptop per Child and 50x15 though postive steps in reducing the divide, tend to rely heavily upon open standards and free open source software. TheOLPC XO-1 is an inexpensive laptop computer intended to be distributed to children in developing countries around the world,[39] to provide them with access to knowledge. Programmer and free software advocate Richard Stallman has highlighted the importance of free software among groups concerned with the digital divide such as the World Summit on the Information Society.[40]

Organizations such as Geekcorps, EduVision[41] and Inveneo[42] also help to lessen the divide, often doing so through the use of education systems that draw oninformation technology. The technology they employ often includes low-costlaptops/subnotebooks, handhelds (eg Simputer, E-slate, ...), tablet PCs, Mini-ITX PCs[43] and low-cost WiFi-extending technology as cantennas and WokFis. Other information technology material usable in the classroom can also be made diy to lower expenses, including projectors.[44][45]

In Digital Nation, Anthony G. Wilhelm calls on politicians to develop a national ICT agenda.[13]

Mehra and others say researchers in the field should try to better understand the lifestyle of the minority or marginalized community,what is meaningful to them, and how they use (or do not use) different forms of the Internet for meeting their objectives,[46] further stating, there is a need for a re-examination of questions based on traditional ways of looking at people, their social dynamics, and their interactions with technology.[46]

Researchers, however,still tend to set a ‘method’ for studying the impact of Internet use. Assuming a golden rule for application that will function in all situations will not work.[47] One strategy is to transfer goal-setting, decision making, and choice-determining processes into the hands of the disadvantaged users in order that they ‘fit’ Internet into their daily lives in ways that they themselves consider to be meaningful.[48]

International cooperation between governments is increasing, aimed at reducing the divide, such as a recent agreement between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Egyptian government. It's a sign of progress that such attempts at bridging the digital divide are seriously being made.[49]

Other participants in similar endeavors include the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development and the Digital Alliance Foundation.[50][51]

A technology named Moonitin has devised a means to deliver access to the Internet without an Internet connection, without the need for any literacy, and completely for free via the dialing of Hypermostlinks from all of the over 5 billion telephones in the world. The adoption of this technology may become the beginning of the end of the worldwide digital divide.

U.N. meeting on bridging the divide

The United Nations is aiming to raise awareness of the divide by way of the World Information Society Day which takes place yearly on May 17.[52] It also set up the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Task Force in November 2001.[53]

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the IMARA organization (from Swahili word for "power") sponsors a variety of outreach programs which bridge the divide. Its aim is to find and implement long-term, sustainable solutions which will increase the availability of educational technology and resources to domestic and international communities. These projects are run under the aegis of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and staffed by MIT volunteers who give training, installed and donated computer setups in greater Boston, Massachusetts, Kenya, Indian reservations the American Southwest such as the Navajo Nation, the Middle East, and Fiji Islands. The CommuniTech project strives to empower underserved communities through sustainable technology and education.[54][55]

Some cities in the world have started programs to bridge the divide for their residents, school children, students, parents and the elderly. One such program, founded in 1996, was sponsored by the city of Boston and called the Boston Digital Bridge Foundation.[56] It especially concentrates on school children and their parents, helping to make both equally and similarly knowledgeable about computers, using application programs, and navigating the Internet.

In the United States, minority ethnic groups have higher adoption rates for mobile communications devices than white Americans, to some degree leapfrogging over more expensive fixed-line Internet and PCs.[57]

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