The Digital Divide and Geography   no comments

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I’ve decided to approach this assignment by focusing on a disciplinary at a time, as well as enhancing my knowledge on the Digital Divide. This week I have focused on Geography, Human Geography to be specific.

Research:

The chunky textbook┬á“An Introduction to Human Geography” ┬áby P. Daniels et al, has been the first to enlighten me on the foundations of Human Geography. Likewise to Web Science, it is known to be a multi-disciplinary field of study. “It is about the world around us” but this does not just mean the physical aspects, which we all initially think of when Geography is mentioned. Human Geography draws upon sociology, anthropology, politics as well as oceanography and geology (and many others). It’s focus involves people in places, spaces and landscapes that are modified by human interventions.

This book provided a significant insight to a range of topics covered within Human Geography, including Globalisation, Demography, Capitalism, Social Inequalities and Spatial Divides. The majority directly and indirectly affecting, the digital divide:

Globalisation:- “Shrinking World’; affected by technical, political, cultural and economical factors; Fast developing technologies and Satellite Communications = more global and connected world;

Capitalism:- Between 1500 and 1900 fundamental changes of the organisation of the western world; World Systems theory uses the socio-economic systems involving 3 categories – ┬áCore, Periphery and Semi-Periphery; Industrial Production is noted to be regionally diversified and geographically uneven; Newly Industrialised Countries’ (NIC’s) are ‘catching up’.

Social Inequality and Spatial Divides:- Labels with negative associations for the under developed; requires encouragement for solving development problems; 2-way relationship between society and space; mapping based on quality of life (needs and desires) in different places; measured by Human Development Index (HDI) taking into account a variety of factors including access to the internet/technology

Reference: Daniels., P, Bradshaw., P, Shaw., D, Sidaway., J,  (2012) An Introduction to Human Geography, 4th ed, Essex: Pearson.

 

Although going backwards with regard to the publication date, the Human Geography Issues for 21st Century┬áby P. Daniels et al textbook was also a worthwhile read. It discusses the focus Geographers have – an interest in ways places differ from one another and the similarities and interconnections between places. In terms of the digital divide this is relevant as it is vital to understand the cause of the divide, comprehend it’s effects and draw up solutions.

Population, Resources and Development:- the concern isn’t just about the resources running out, but the exchange and consumption of the resources that benefit rich nations at the expense of the poor and natural environment; The terms┬á‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ factors, related to migration, put pressure on resources and increase social tensions – access to, and use of, technology is a major push/pull factor.

Impact of technologies:- dynamic and linked to human society; A definite ‘technological progress’; Makes old technologies and associated resources redundant; The resource-rich are able to exploit the use and supply of resources – causing wars and conflict; Technological change improved link between economic development and energy consumption – the developing world could go through this development too?!

Digital Economy:-┬áI believe to be Geographer’s terminology linking to the Digital Divide; The Global Digital Economy is changing the geography of the economy, with the use of the internet, e-commerce and digital economies rapidly growing and diversifying; The challenge is connecting national economies to the internet, being excluded will widen a gap that already exists; Connecting countries to the internet is improving; ┬áStill major steps involving training and educating to be able to use the technologies; There is a clear geographical distribution of available computers/telecommunications/networks and software – all of which are needed to participate in the digital economy; Issue that introducing these technologies in the developing world will bring more negative impacts than positive, as it requires users to be highly skilled (a trait many in the developing world have unfortunately not been able to obtain).

Reference: Daniels., P, Bradshaw., P, Shaw., D, Sidaway., J, (2008), An Introduction to Human Geography: Issues for the 21st Century, 3rd ed, Essex:Pearson

My Thoughts/Questions:

The research so far has left me to ponder on the following:

– Was there already a significant gap before the Digital Divide was established?

– ┬áIs the Technology being blamed for a gap that already existed simply because it has been a major contributor to the expansion of the divide?

– Prior to the evolution of technology, were there actions in place to reduce the gap between the first and third world?

– We have caused this digital divide – but realistically, will it ever close or only expand?

– Have we simply created a vicious circle we now can’t control?

– If NIC’s are overcoming the divide, surely other developing countries can?

– Do the western/developed countries genuinely want to help improve/overcome the digital divide or is it too risky as it could jeopardise the benefits the developed world receive (i.e. could it lose their connections, cheaper access to resources etc)?

 

 

 

Written by Sophie Parsons on October 28th, 2013

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