Digital divide shrinking in US?

Digital divide shrinking in US?

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The NY Times discusses a report regarding the use of the mobile Internet:

The report found that nearly half of all African-Americans and
English-speaking Hispanics (the study did not include a
Spanish-language option) were using mobile phones or other hand-held
devices to surf the Web and send e-mail messages. By comparison, just
28 percent of white Americans reported ever going online using a mobile
device.

Not only are African-Americans the most active users of mobile
Internet, they are also the fastest growing group to adopt the
technology: the percentage of African-Americans using mobile phones or
another type of connected gadget to share e-mail, exchange instant
messages and access the Internet for information on an average day has
more than doubled since late 2007, jumping to 29 percent, from 12
percent.

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3 Comments

Neil in Chicago

The "digital divide" always was a transient situation, worrisome only to people who understood neither "internet time" nor Moore's Law.

Lyle Mitchell

No doubt Neil is able to afford one of those fancy new Iphones and the monthly subscription and other costs associated with operating a mobile phone. Usually someone more priveliged who makes such a comment. I have seen same in debates against Net Neutrality and a Free Press.

Mary McF

The survey is about quantity, not content. Neither is it a measure of connectivity. To get that, all you have to do is look at a map of coverage areas for broadband or wireless to see that large swaths of the US are without constant accessibility.
There's no information in this survey about what people were looking for. What information there is on types of usage indicates that the digital divide isn't about quantity of use, but availability of high speed networks for more complex activities such as research and detailed searches. The real digital divide, the one that looks at the availability and depth of use, reflects the wealth and educations divisions, the class structure of the US.
There's still a huge divide between those who can get and pay for high speed connections at home – mid and upper class households that are mostly on the coasts and near large urban centers – and those who have to use public facilities. Categorizing laptops with mobile phones skews the results. People don't use mobile phones to find out details from the GAO, they look for restaurants or connect with friends.

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