and, the Digital Divide
Whether it’s business, government, education, or
community services, technology is changing the way we live and work.
And, wired or wireless, we are moving from a world of simple voice communication and isolated desktop computing to an
interconnected world. The landmark report, Living in a Networked World,
published by the Washington DC based Computer Systems Policy Project
chronicles the business, consumer and public policy implications of a
Networked World. The report reflects that the proliferation of the
Internet, mobile phones, communication devices, eCommerce and networks
marks only the very beginning of a new age of anytime/anywhere
connectedness where everyone and everything is connected at all times. This
"connectedness" is transforming the Internet into a network that
touches every aspect of our lives, changing our world and the way we live,
work, educate, and govern ourselves as well as interpersonal and
international relations. The convergence of voice, data and video, the
growth of communication bandwidth, and the low cost of access devices are
paving the way for a new, inclusive model of connectedness. The focus of
the next generation of information technology will shift from faster
computers, speedier connections and less expensive prices to creating
Key Points about the Networked World:
The Network will operate everywhere, connecting
people and devices seamlessly. The Internet is but a preview of a much
more powerful, valuable and user-friendly network.
The Law of Network Effects, which states that value
is created at an exponential rate every time a single person or device
is connected to the network, will be the driving force in the
Networked World, offering unparalleled opportunity for growth and
Faster, less expensive, and smaller computers,
appliances, and intelligent devices-combined with expanding broadband
capacity-will enable the Law of Network Effects.
Traditional barriers to productivity and
interaction-such as time, distance and cost-will be eliminated or
The Networked World will empower individuals to live
and work where they choose. There will be mobility without movement.
Reduced cost of access driven by the Law of Network
Effects will drive inclusiveness and help close the "digital
divide" based on ownership of technology. The challenge will
shift to assuring that everyone has the education and skills needed to
reap the benefits of the Networked World.
The Digital Divide
The Digital Divide is generally described as the gap
between the haves
and the have-nots
– those who have access to technology and the Internet and
those who do not. The have-nots
generally include minorities, low income, and some geographic areas.
This is a particular problem for many students who do not have equal
access to technology in schools and at home.
In a recent Tucson Link Forum presented by Tucson’s
Community Information and Telecommunications Alliance, it was determined
that the definition of Digital Divide should be expanded to
include the have’s and have-nots, the cans and can-nots and the wills
and will-nots. This definition recognizes that perhaps an even larger
problem than the haves and have-nots is the can-nots
– those who cannot effectively use the Technologies of
the New Economy. For example, many small business people are not
prepared to use new technologies for business-to-business eCommerce
transactions, new customer relations management strategies, the design and
manufacture of products, workforce development, and development of
strategic business partnerships. The Digital Divide also includes the many
people who do not have access to educational opportunities that will
prepare them for the workplace of the 21st century.
Then there are the will-nots – those people who
will not engage in the use and adoption of technology due to a variety of
reasons: cost, fear of technology, don’t see the value, etc.
Should we be concerned about the will-nots? If they are small
businesses that will not be able to compete effectively in the networked
world it will not only impact them, but also our economy.
Bridging The Digital Divide
Our challenge as a community
-Bridge the Digital Divide to insure that all Arizona’s citizens,
businesses and organizations will have:
public access at libraries, schools and retail sites - encourage
communities to open schools for after school hours, expand access in
libraries and other public venues; develop a network of Technology
Resource Centers to support businesses and citizens in the adoption and
effective implementation of technology.
To bridge the Digital Divide and prepare Arizona for
the Networked World we need links to the electronic future that include:
and strategies to promote and support the adoption of eCommerce and
other information technologies in business, government and education
state-of-the art telecommunications infrastructure including a
community network and affordable high speed Internet access
video and data networks and applications that ride over the
infrastructure that will link the Tucson community and support
Tucson’s educational, economic and community development
and resources to insure that all of Tucson’s citizens, businesses
and organizations will have the tools, technologies and skills to
participate in the electronic future