John Daly has posted a great article entitled Can the Digital Divide be Closed?
His most impacting statement is not that not only the digital divide is growing — which I agree with, specially under a qualitative approach — but that developed countries do not want it to narrow — which is something we’ve been seeing for the last 150 years.
The key point in John’s article is approaching his arguments from a microeconomic point of view, distinguishing two different levels of technology — low tech and high tech — and how the different elasticities of their respective demands impact on the low and high tech digital divides.
Summing up: low tech is desirable in less developed countries at its efficiency (benefit vs. cost) to reduce powerty is bigger. On the other hand, less developed countries just cannot afford higher technology. But as basic (technological) needs are already covered in developed countries, they do demand more high tech. Both issues (less developed countries demanding low tech, developed countries demanding high tech) do widen the high tech gap, which is, indeed, the one that counts to keep international competitiveness. So, same scheme feeds itself and the system perpetuates.
Thus, how to break this Möbius loop? Surely grassroots divides (food, health, education) should come first… and honestly.
If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:
Peña-López, I. (2007) “Elasticity of ICTs and high-tech digital divide” In ICTlogy,
#40, January 2007. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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