I must say, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics! The NTIA survey provides an interesting demographics of whos online and what activities they indulge in. However, according to me, the survey seems to be 'conservative' and incomplete in its questionaire and analysis.
1. My first question is a two part question:
a)The important question that underlies 'digital divide' in many ways is how, it affects people, changes the face of society, commerce, and day to day living. Though the survey is longitudinal in its nature, it does not answer or touch on the above mentioned point. If quality of life, availability of information, and profeceincy of living is similar between so called 'haves' and 'have nots', does the digital divide matter? If digital divide due to access of internet is really a considerable problem one should look at ways on answering the above question.
b)I think the 'network effects' variable has been completely ignored. It could play a vital role as to why people have access and what kind of activities do they dominantly perform online. Other than education and income, 'network effects' variable could possibly explain the existing digital divide, the rate at which its growing or diminishing.
2. Activities that online users perform online also seem not to be explored to a full extent. Of course e-mail, search for news etc are dominant, but i think travel plans, booking tickets online is not far behind. Most of us nowaday book tickets online, we hardly go to a traditional booking agent for tickets. http://cyberatlas.internet.com/markets/travel/article/0,,6071_3304691,00.html. It would be safe to assume that at least people with Internet access indulge in online booking.
3. The survey lists no disparity among computer use in school regardless of race,income or household type, among 10-17 yrs of old, but there is a sharp disparity in Internet use in school for same categories for the same age group, especially when the survey mentions rise in Internet use among young adults of same age group. How does one interpret this irony, definitely the low income groups, hispanics etc are not using internet at home. Do public libraries account for such a vast difference?
Additional comments: the survey does not ask, how much 'time' on average a person spends online, it would be interesting to see the correlational relationship with activities performed online, education, type of Internet service, and location of use with amount of time spent online. Also, when the survey mentions 'Internet too expensive' what does it exactly mean, ISP service, paraphernalia required to go online?
I think I have stretched this too far..end of lies!!
See you in class!
Thank you, Abhiyan