Friday, January 28, 2005

The Horizontal Perspective

In the Lievrouw and Farb article, the authors say that, from the horizontal perspective, "The goal of policy is to ensure that individuals are able to accomplish their particular ends and purposes, and participate effectively in society, given the information resources available to them." However, they also cite Doctor (1991), who said that "Access will be of little benefit to large portions of the population, unless it is accompanied by equipment and training that allow effective use of access. What we need then is a 'right to access' in the broader sense of a 'right to benefit from access.'"

It seems to me that the availability of information resources and the ability to achieve benefits from access are not necessarily the same thing. So how can we make sure that policymakers understand this difference? How can we turn availability of information resources into achievable benefits of access? Does human capital play a role in that process? By that I mean, can there be a logical progression from availability of resources to involvement of an individual with cultivated abilities to the achievement of the benefits of access? When you throw in human capital, you throw in a lot more variables. For example, how does a person cultivate their abilities in order to come to this progression with the readiness needed to recognize that resources are available? This seems to become a cyclical problem, where the individual has to have some sort of access to information in order to know where and how to access other information that would allow them to cultivate their abilities... and on and on. My real question is, where is the starting point? How is someone without equitable access to information able to begin accessing the information they need?

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