Tuesday 12th December-7.30-9AM
The Digital Divide is code for several different issues that are the result of disparity between peoples. At an international level some nations have extremely limited access to new and emergent technologies and this raises concerns about those nations' ability to be players in the global economy. This in itself may lead to global security problems if those nations are unable to meet the basic needs of their people.
Even within regions there are some significant disparities. For example in the Asia-Pacific region, access to new technologies is limited for some people. This was highlighted at a recent APEC Womens Leaders' meeting by a woman from PNG who questioned why some developed nations were concerned about women's involvement in software development, when the technology her colleagues were limited by is a digging stick.
Bearing in mind that 80% of the world's populationhas not heard a phone ring, the digital divide we New Zealanders talk about seems to be "access to the Internet". In this regard the digital divide is partially code for wealth, but, as is observed in the US, It is also likely to be strongly related tp education level. A third, "luddite" factor is likely to be more prevalent in older age groups although this is likely to diminish over time.
We need to be cautious then in thinking that the digital divide can be bridged simply by focusing on getting New Zealanders connected. While that may put a bandaid on some of our immediate problems the bigger divide is deepening out there is the real world !
Dr Helen Anderson, Chief Scientific Adviser, Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, talks about the Digital Divide.
Phone 384 3550 Fax 384 3552 firstname.lastname@example.org www.evision.org.nz