Wednesday, February 16, 2005

What should the government do about digital divides?

After looking at all these government reports on various digital divides, I am curious as to what people think the US government should actually do about it. This is, of course, assuming that you think it is the government's role to do anything at all.

I suppose my fantasy situation would involve making Internet access a utility like electricity or water, available to everyone for a reasonable monthly fee. Perhaps the government could cast a wireless Internet blanket across the entire country! Then all computer owners in both urban and rural areas could enjoy the same level of high-speed access.

However, I realize that most Americans do not support government regulated industries and many would not trust an Internet service that could be under the eye of Big Brother. My fantasy scenario also would not solve the problem of divides based on computer ownership rather than Internet access or connection speed.

3 comments:

  1. Internet use in comparison to electricity and water would be interesting if the availability would be the same. From a government standpoint, I'm not that political, however, I believe in the rights held that should be granted to the people. I think that in order for the internet availability that is necessary for everyone to have it easily accessed would take a lot on the governments behalf. In order for the government to agree with such access and the funding to provide the internet for everyone, I think that a "big brother" mentality would definitely be used. I don't necessarily agree with the thought of having everything that I do to be watched, so is there any other result? Who knows at this point. The cost of computers and internet would have to significantly decrease and target a whole different audience for there to be another way.

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  2. I agree that the government has a role to play in decreasing the digital divide or increasing access to the Internet. However, I think that society could best be served by the government addressing the socioeconomic factors that seem to (dare I say) contribute to the digital divide. I guess here I am assuming some causality -- that income, race, education, and geographic location, etc. are causes of the digital divide. So for example, if the government would address the income disparity that exists or the disparity in education levels, then maybe the digital divide will naturally close. But, then this seems like the chicken vs. egg ...

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  3. Don't you think that this would onle provide internet to the people who already have access somewhere? Throwing a wireless net over a city can only be used by those with a computer set up with a wireless modem. Those living without telephones, let alone computers, wouldn't even know this is available to them. As much as I, personally, would love to have wireless internet everywhere, I really don't believe it will get to the root of the problem. Indeed, it may even exacerbate it.

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