My husband and I are probably among the digital elite. We have lots of options, including PC, laptop and tablets with high speed access to the internet. I’ve illustrated this with a sketch of our older iPad and new Nexus 7.
Every so often something brings to mind the digital divide. It was my concern over this that led me, about 10 years ago, to start teaching in what is now called the Tech Tutor program for the King County Library System (KCLS).
A local Seattle Times writer posted this column in Sunday’s paper. She acknowledges socioeconomic gap and that information technologies remain out of reach for too many. Access is not the finish line but the starting point.
For too many people, we aren’t event at the finish line. Every month, in every class I teach at the library, I have patrons who do not have a computer at home. For some, it’s a matter of not having the funds. For others, it is just not knowing how to use one, which is why they are in my “Intro to Computers” class. There are many who, even if they have a computer, do not have an internet connection at home. And there are many rural areas that still struggle with connectivity and do not have any high speed access.
It seems there might be an under class as far as digital access goes. Those of us with high speed internet service providers, computers, smart phones and tablets have one set of concerns that may divide us. But there is a long way to go before there is equality in computer use. So much of what we need to function in society now depends on having and being able to use one. The library patrons come to my class because they can not even apply for a job without going on-line and they do not know how to do so. That’s a huge barrier.
It’s why I started teaching at the library a decade ago. I saw it as a social justice issue.