Information and Communication Gaps in the 21st century
The beginning of the new millennium is characterized by the globalization of world economic and political processes, an integral part of which is the intensive use of the achievements of modern information technologies. As Jeffrey Sachs assumes the world at the turn of the 21st century is divided not by ideology but technology (Sachs, 2000).
In today’s world, information is the most valuable global resource. Information is constantly complicated, qualitatively changing, and the number of its sources and consumers is increasing. At the same time, the vulnerability of the modern information society to unreliable and sometimes harmful information, its untimely receipt, industrial espionage, cybercrime, etc., is increasing. Most scholars believe that the access to Internet is a basic component of any civilized society. Developing countries usually have poorer opportunities about the development of network resources. Internet, for example, is now used not only in business, but for learning and career growth. Even social welfare services are sometimes administered and offered electronically (Alampay, Heeks, & Soliva, 2003).
In spite of the information and communication technologies (ICT) grow rapidly, their usage does not distribute equally around the globe. Especially it concerns usage of the Internet (Haseloff, 2005). Diffusion of the specified technologies encourages provision of better access to the global information through Internet network, the uneven spreading of ICT substantially and not always positively influence on the inequality of the socioeconomic development. As a result social experience of ICT usage leads to the different gaps around the world (Srinuan & Bohlin, 2011).
The first ICT gap is “digital divide”. It appears between technology users and exists at the different economic and social levels. Also “digital divide” refers to the better opportunities to access ICT (Smith, 2003). This gap can directly or indirectly influence on the socio-economic life of population. The “digital divide” belongs to the problematic sphere of technology distribution, since the time when ICT appeared it takes the different forms and dimensions. This gap is especially challenged by the big multinational corporations and international organizations and serves an obstacle to run affairs by policy and business makers (Billon, Marco, & Lera-Lopez, 2009).
Another ICT gap is unevenness between urban and rural areas and between educated and uneducated people. Urban dwellers usually have better access to technologies and higher performance computers. They are more computer-educated because they have opportunities to study. The rural dwellers, as a rule, face low-performance computers and low-speed wireless connections. The statistics shows that there are approximately 757 mln adults all over the world who still cannot read or write. Among them 115 mln belongs to the age category of young people (The Digital Divide, ICT, and Broadband Internet, 2019).
There is a gap connected with existence of telephone systems. Some countries assume that the access to telephone systems is important element to support communication and information sharing, that’s why the governments implement special policies in order to provide telephone services affordable for population. Unfortunately, some countries challenge the lack of telephone lines.
The ICT gap is connected with the cross-national differences. In order to overcome this gap, it is necessary to be not only Internet ready but Internet sophisticated. The global network is a space where people of different nationalities, mentality and culture communicate and share experience (Drori, 2003).
Summarizing the above-said, it is established fact that ICT transforms the society contributing to the improvement of the mutual understanding between nations and cultures. They help to perform business and develop global economic benefits. The ICT gaps cause misunderstanding between people of different social categories, which have unequal opportunities to get information by means of Internet. ICT can be irrelevant to the poor people from rural settlements that can negatively effect on the life of people and their cultural formation. In order to provide equal opportunities, governments might offer some form of support. The development of information infrastructure and active use of it would be a shortcut to economic growth for less developed nations. Information technologies in general tend to be associated with productivity improvements. The exploitation of the latest technologies may give industries of certain countries a competitive advantage.
Alampay, E., Heeks, R., & Soliva, P. (2003). Bridging the Information Divide. National College of Public Administration and Governance; Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM),.
Billon, M., Marco, R., & Lera-Lopez, F. (2009). Disparities in ICT adoption: A multidimensional approach to study the cross-country digital divide. Telecommunications Policy, 10(33), pp. 596-610.
Drori, J. (2003). The Global Digital Divide. Social Science Computer Review.
Haseloff, A. M. (2005). Cybercafés and their potential as community development tools in India. The Journal of Community Informatics(1(3)).
Sachs, J. (2000). A new map of the world. The Economist.
Smith, R. (2003). Closing the digital divide: remarkable progress is being made. British Medical Journal(326), p. 238.
Srinuan, C., & Bohlin, E. (2011). Understanding the digital divide: A literature survey and ways forward. (p. 39). 22nd European Regional Conference of the International Telecommunications Society.
The Digital Divide, ICT, and Broadband Internet. (2019). Retrieved October 20, 2019, from Miniwatts Marketing Group: https://www.internetworldstats.com/links10.htm
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