Monday, October 31, 2011

The Catch-22 That Allows the Digital Divide

I was a college student when the move from LP records to CDs began. I must admit that I was one of the late adopters. That statement seems strange coming from one who both embraces the ways in which technology makes our lives easier and also one who is a musician. Why was my collection still on LPs and cassette tapes when the rest of the world had moved to CDs?

The reason is really quite simple. I did not buy CDs because I had no CD player. What good are CDs if there is nothing to play them on?

I did not have a CD player because I had no CDs. What good would a CD player be if there were no CDs to play on it?

That "Catch-22" rocked on for years until one day someone innocently gave me a CD. Now I have a CD, but can't play it. What wold it take to resolve the dilemma? "I know," I thought. "I will buy a CD player!"

And so I did. Problem solved!

Once the CD player was set up, there was a need for CDs. CDs started showing up. A CD player with but a single CD created a void. CDs filled that void.

Many communities face this same Catch-22 when it comes to Internet access in the home. Since not all students have Internet access, we make allowances so that students can get by perfectly well without it. Because they can get by without it, parents fail to see it as a priority. We continue to dance this Catch-22 dance while the digital divide widens.

How can we move past a situation which has been in place far too long? For five years, I have argued we must re-frame the question from, "Do you have the Internet?" to "How do you have the Internet?" Once Internet access at home becomes a priority, this great resource we have come to depend on becomes available to a population which didn't know what it was missing.

Create the need. Allow the void to exist. See how quickly others will fill that void.
Post a Comment