The Digital Divide: Why the ‘The’ is Misleading
As the global economy proceeds headlong into the Information Age, greater attention is being given to the disparities between the information-rich and the information-poor. It is increasingly apparent that greater reliance on digital technologies may foster new, and widen existing, asymmetries among countries and population segments within countries. Central to this is the concept of the digital divide. This term is ordinarily used to denote disparities in access to the Internet and the Web. In this chapter I argue that the binary distinction between haves and have-nots conveyed by the term ‘the digital divide’ is inappropriate. The ‘the’ conveys a flawed view of what is, in fact, a compendium of interrelated social, economic and technological considerations that influence Internet access and use. It also presupposes the presence of uniform imperatives for using technology and the deriving of uniform benefits from that usage.