Well this late post comes in part from procrastination and in part from experiencing the digital gap/divide/inequality.
As we speak I am “borrowing” some internet access from a nice gentleman across the road in a rural area of Colorado. I am visiting family here after their relocation to the State as well as a recent illness and surgery by my Aunt. It took some rejigging of my work and personal life to get down here, and for me this also meant abandoning my connection to my internet social circle – including you. It took two days of driving from Calgary to Colorado which culminated in a snow storm that was reminiscent of southern Alberta last weekend. Some of you will know exactly what I am talking about – white-out blowing snow and newly formed ice rinks across interstate highways.
Luckily, I was able to participate in the past weeks communications via my new best friend – Evernote. When I was stopped at a roadside rest stop with my fantastic little Mac, I was able to log on to your blogs, grab your posts with Evernote and keep them on hand for breaks between books on tape (Catching Fire) and the alphabet game with my husband. However, posting is an entirely different matter. Can you believe there are hotels out there that DON’T offer WiFi to their guests? And it just so happens I was able to book one such southern Wyoming hotel room through an online travel site. I didn’t even think to ask if WiFi would be available – isn’t that a given? Speaks to the assumptions “we” make about access. What is a girl to do? Well….McDonalds does offer free WiFi zones around North America – just in case you’re ever wondering.
So through my second day of driving, I thought well at least I have all of my content to read – then I can begin writing my post and send it as soon as we either hit another WiFi zone or when I reach my family’s home… Well, it just so happens that the family I am visiting consists of three, over-sixty, retired women living in rural Colorado, who don’t particularly feel the need for internet connection. So my first night, which ended in two hours of the previously described snow storm, did not include internet access. However this evening is including access – if I position myself in the right room of the house, after asking a neighbor to please let me borrow his wifi – which if I’m not mistaken could be dial-up.
So what can I say about the digital divide – well I have had my eyes opened, through your posts this week and through my real life example of navigating only the access side of the issue. Thanks to Laura and this class, as a producer of social media – I bring to the table some significant assumptions about what should be out there, what I should be able to do and how I should be able to get it done. I have had myself a little chuckle while ruminating on Brian’s post on MOOC’s and the “McDonaldization” of education, while I sat in the parking lot of a McDonalds, downloading articles. And I also sit here wondering how organizations can expect to provide any digital equality if so much about the divide is based upon not simple access but repeated and “everyday” use. How can organizations be expected to take on the responsibility of teaching these “skills” when they are less skills and more like routines in how many of us function in our daily activities.
I don’t have any reasonable answers…just questions and a new insight into the impact of the digital divide.