11thOct2010

The Threefold Digital Divide

The Digital Divide
The common gap in internet accessibility is mainly based on socioeconomic status, determined by skills and resources.  The digital divide has often emerged along the familiar fault lines of social inequality: class, ethnicity, gender, age, and geographic location. Therefore, people from all socioeconomic backgrounds have to be taught or familiarize the skills needed to effectuate the potential of the internet. The term has its origins from the mass media when a report by the NTIA (2010) came out.

The Double Digital Divide
The double digital divide is the gap in geographic disparity. Inequality in internet access is not solely contingent on individuals’ ability or resources. The term "double digital divide" was coined to describe the gap in internet access and use segregated by both geographic locations and individual socioeconomic status (Fong, et al., 2001). Connectivity should encompass all regions to make sure everyone gets the same chances.

The Threefold Digital Divide
I propose a third fold in the digital divide, one based on social behavior on top of socioeconomic status and geographic location. It’s a gap between social online discourse, non-participants and people without internet. There is a certain attitude needed to bridge this gap for people to join greater open social networks where otherwise inaccessible discourse is taking place. Twitter is a clear development within the threefold digital divide. A social network like Facebook is used among contacts which have to be mutually accepted and is therefore limited in a context of greater discourse. Twitter on the other hand is aimed at public conversation and transnetwork communication using retweets, hashtags and other cross connectivity possibilities using the @ sign. A quick off record survey on Twitter usage compared with Facebook shows that most people do use Facebook and use Twitter a lot less (also in account statistics: Twitter / Facebook, disregarding the potentially large number of inactive Twitter accounts). This could imply that Twitter is used by a more specific group of people than the generally accepted nature of a social network like Facebook.[....]

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