It’s been monts since last ITU’s World Telecommunication/ICT Development Report saw the light, but it’s not been until an accurate reading to prepare my tomorrow’s seminars that I realized the following statement:
ITU statistics show that over the last 10 years, the digital divide between the developing and the developed countries has been narrowing in terms of fixed telephone lines,
mobile subscribers and Internet users.
This was also stated by this year’s e-Readiness Rankings and I then disagreed. But now, now I got data.
[click to enlarge]
As can be seen, digital divide comparisons among developed and developing countries are relative, in %. According to this, its true: digital divide is narrowing. In 1994, mobile penetration for developing countries was about to 5% and less than 0.2% for developing ones. With a 77% penetration in 2004, developed countries have “just” four times mobile penetration than developing (19%). But take a closer look. In 1994, developed countries were almost 5 points ahead than developing in mobile penetration. Ten years later, they are 58 points ahead. If we look it this way, in absolute terms, the digital divide has widened 11 times the existing gap.
For fixed lines, either the way you look at it, the divide has narrowed, though the relative approach or the absolute one differs slightly. While the first one shows a very important decrease of the digital divide, the latter just tells us that the situation is about the same. Besides: who cares for fixed lines when the world is going mobile?
[click to enlarge]
The second image is even sadder: how can one say that the digital divide is narrowing when almost all 3G mobile phones are in developed countries? And how can one say that the digital divide is narrowing when almost all broadband is in developed countries? (don’t let you be tricked: America’s 30% of broadband is the old story about me having two apples, you having none and, hence, you and me having one apple in average).
Put in other words: yes, developing countries are having more and more bicycles to travel away. But the rest of the world is already driving fast cars. And the worst part of it: digital content and services provision requires more and more computer power and broadband. Unless things change and someone starts to design information containers and communication applications that run on $100 computers, noone cares about fixed telephone lines and 1G mobile phones.
So, can you explain to me again this thing of a narrowing digital divide?
To check yourself:
The Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences 40th edition is taking place on January 3-6, 2007 at Waikoloa, Big Island (Hawaii). There is a Digital Divide minitrack this year chaired by Karine Barzilai-Nahon, Information School, University of Washington.
The minitrack is calling for papers and reviewers. The subjects are
- Socio-demographic factors– gender, age, education, income, ethnic diversity, race diversity, language diversity, religiosity
- Social and governmental support – for example the use of supportive initiatives, policy and applications to bridge the gap, or how society and community impact einclusion
- Access and technology – infrastructure factors
- Use – skills, frequency and time, locus, autonomy of use, what do users do online and for what purpose
- Accessibility focusing mainly in populations with special needs
- Measurements index – e-readiness, DiDix and more
- Conceptualization and theory of digital divide
- Comparative analysis of policy
Liked to be there…
All the ICT4D blogosphere (Miguel Prado among others) is vibrating with the Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium organized by the ICT4D Collective at Royal Holloway next 14th-15th September 2006 in London.
The symposium has three main aims:
* To encourage the sharing of research ideas and practices among postgraduate students working in the field of ICT4D
* To provide an opportunity for postgraduates at all stages in their careers to present their findings in a supportive atmosphere
* To enable postgraduate students at an early stage in their career to gain advice and suggestions from those with greater research experience
I’ll try by all means to be there. Indeed, that’ll be a perfect place to present my thesis project…
(thanks Miquel for making sure I hadn’t missed the call)
Though it is designed as an open debate among students and the speaker, I’m giving unilaterally a name to the second seminar I’m imparting in Trento — From e-Readiness to e-Awareness (or the way back) — just to give an idea about what I guess it is going to deal with. I was asked by the organization to please suggest some basic bibliography for the students to read and prepare some questions so the debate could be started.
I here present v2.0 of my initial list, somehow improved (or impovered, yours to judge) with 3 more references. There it goes:
I’d like to add to these my following posts:
From all of these, Tongia et al. is quite long and specific (but interesting enough to be in this list). The other ones I think they are accessible to any kind of learner.
We are about to publish the results of a seminar about competences teaching under the framework of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA)
My paper is about digital literacy in online learning campuses, but stressing on the fact that digital literacy is not technological literacy, but something more — until it becomes a full functional digital literacy.
The paper is in Spanish and I guess I’ll soon have a translation… into Catalan. Nevertheless, an abstract in English follows.
Peña López, I. (2006). Capacitación digital en la UOC: la alfabetización tecnológica vs. la competencia informacional y funcional. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
If the goal of competences training in the new European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is adapting to new times, it is evident that a correct digital literacy is an essential basis to work in the informational society. There is, nevertheless, a sort of bias in the definition of the term “digital literacy”, a bias that tends to shift towards the most technological side of the concept. Notwithstanding, beyond the knowledge of technology, there is a new world to discover concerning its use, what it is usually called informational literacy – the efficient and effective use of Information and Communication Technologies – and that, along with technology, requires a functional digital capacitation in the use of ICTs.
At the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) the student has at his arm’s reach a collection of services that will help him out through his way over (a possible) technological illiteracy and, above all, he is taught – implicitly and explicitly – in the use of these technologies through the interaction in the virtual campus, in the following of specific subjects and in exercises and practices solving.
This paper tracks the path of the evolution of the different capacities that form, as a whole, the total development of what we could call functional digital competence, and presents the moments or experiences in which the student acquires these capacities by studying in a virtual campus.