Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Servon, Chapter 9. Toward a New Agenda.
Servon (2002) suggested several solutions for closing the digital divide (ex. policy makers, libraries, community-building organizations, among other solutions). Be familiar with each of them and think about which solutions would be helpful to various members of the Collins family.

There were many solutions suggested for closing the digitial divide. For one, the author suggested that government bodies help to close the digital divide by institutionalizing the problem, and working with other grassroot organizations to help them with the efforts and increase efforts to network between the groups. The government also needs to make better use of federal funds, grants, etc.

Policy makers need to recognize how large of a problem the digital divide is and offer suggestions to help solve it that don't just include access... but also things like training and education classes. They need to realize the potential technology has to help solve other, longer lasting inequality issues and be supportive of governments that want to help institutionalize the problem.

The authors suggested community building organizations work together to make sure their efforts aren't duplicated and work with policy makers to tell them what has worked and what hasn't.

Nearly all of these suggestions could have helped the Collins family. Since the family had a lot of interaction with the government, even just through meetings with case workers, had they known about education classes, perhaps they would have taken them. This would likely increase if the government help increase the number of classes throughout their area. The Collins also had interactions with community groups that could have helped them as well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Final Exam Review (relating themes from "Toward a New Agenda" to class)

Throughout this class we have learned many things about the digital divide and this information gap present in the society. The term access has come up many times in the readings and in class and is definitely one of the more important terms pertaining to the digital divide. The reading “Toward a new Agenda” can be related to the larger themes from class in many ways, but one of the most prominent themes from class (the theme of access) makes its way in this article. The author of this article brings up the idea that the digital divide is not necessarily only an aspect of limited access, but more so an aspect of mental access. He is saying that a lot of people have access to technology and computers but they do not know how to properly use them. This article does a great job of summarizing key concepts and ideas that the society can use to help teach people proper ways to get the technological education to be successful in our society. I am not going to summarize the article for you because that is someone else’s job, but I will say that this article not only blames the digital divide on material access, but gives most of the blame to mental access. We have also brainstormed many ways in class that would possibly narrow the digital divide and those ideas directly relate to this article. The author comes up with many ideas and programs that he believes would help close the divide and these ideas directly relate to our class studies. You should check out the summary to see the different ideas and plans that this author makes to help close the information divide.

In-class lecture: Dervin and Chatman


* "Community information system as an organic whole compromised of individuals, their information needs and problems, information sources, and solutions to needs and problems."
* Identified barriers to acces: “societal, institutional, physical, psychological, and intellectual barriers."


Four key concepts of the behavior of marginalized populations

* Deception
* Risk taking
* Situational relevance
* Secrecy

Chatman theorized that the information poor do certain things and react certain ways which perpetuate the cycle of lack of information. They see themselves as unable to obtains information sources. It is also associated with class distiction. Behaviors that are meant to protect themselves and their families, like secrecy and deception, from the outside world create barriers.

Chatman defines Life in the round: "A public form of life in which things are implicitly understood." People living in the round shy away from crossing boundaries to access information and help. Life is predictable, and therefore safe, so members have no incentives for improving their life. Basically, life in the round is a situation that impedes its members from moving up in life.
-Concepts of Life in the Round
1. Small world
2. Social norms
3. Social types
4. Worldview

"How did Elfreda Chatman’s theories about Information Poverty and Life in the Round match the experiences of the Collins family in the documentary Legacy?"

Life in the round is a perpetuation of poverty. There is no incentive to leave or improve your life. This is similar to Legacy in the fact that the Collins family stayed on welfare for a long period of time. Alaissa did not get a job in part because she was afraid of living without welfare. The family also fits the mold of the information poor because, apart from Nickcole, they see themselves as deviod of any means of attaining information and construct walls to protect themselves that at the same time prevent them from escaping Henry Horner

Review Questions Servon Article


A) While more than 3/4 of Seattle has access to internet technology there is still a digital divide. The Seattle residents that were less likely to have access to computers were residents 65 years of age or older (56%), African Americans (1 out of 3 don't have access) and low income and little education. Only half of the African American respondents have access to a computer in their home compared with 80% of Asian-American and 70% of caucasian respondents. "Rather than to remain complacent about its above average technology diffusion status, they have chosen to continue to work to close its technology gap and move toward the goal of technology leteracy for the entire citizenry.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Review-Bishop Article

The community members were mostly interested in community services and activities, resources for their children, healthcare information, education information, employment information, crime and safety information, and general reference tools to search for information. Some of the barriers that this population faced included lacking access to computers and the internet and lacking the experience necessary to operate the computers and the applications available. In several cases, families owned a computer, but it was broken, too old, or only temporary. This indicates another barrier: connectivity. Almost one-third had never used a word processor and nearly half had never used a spreadsheet or database program. Only about ten percent reported using the Web regularly. The Collins family did not own a computer. They had no access at home. Other than Nicole, the rest of the family had very little experience with computers and were in need of training. Also, based on the area their home was located, connectivity was another possible barrier.

Exam Review

Jaeger Article, The Policy implications of Internet connectivity in Public Libraries.

Jaeger et al. found that 99.6% of all public libraries provided Internet access on their public terminals. However, there were still things related to that access that continued the digital divide. What were the issues?

The issues that still exist are:
Sufficiency of connectivity, rural areas are being left behind in levels of connectivity. Being connected is not the same as having sufficient levels of connectivity. There is also no definition of what sufficient or appropriate connectivity is, causing a problem to achieve sufficient access.
Levels of Public Access, the library may be the only source of access for people, and recently the government has been encouraging more and more Internet use for basic governmental procedures. However, if the libraries may not be able to supply the public with enough access to do so.
Continuing gaps in access, rural areas are being left behind in the level of access and the level of connectivity available to them.
Sources of funding for technology, the libraries need to update their access as technology advances. This costs money and funding. A library needs continual funding to provide a community with access, and this requires support from federal, state, and local governments.
Questions of public access, as homeland security issues are being raised with legislation like the Patriot Act, Libraries are being forced to choose between monitoring what patron's are doing online vs. supporting patron's rights and Privacy.
Lastly, The digital Inclusion, this is the argument that focuses on the amount of people who have access. This is different than the digital divide, which focuses on who doesn't have access. This creates the impression that the problem of the digital divide is solved, and that nothing else has to be done, which is false.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Study Guide Review

In Response to the Study Guide:

Hsieh, Rai, Keil Article: How did computer use differ between disadvantaged (low-income) and advantaged (high-income) groups in this study?

Socioeconomic status (SES) refers to the differences in behavior based upon income and education.  The disadvantaged use the Internet for hedonic (pleasure) purposes, for instance entertainment; whereas the advantaged used the Internet in a utilitarian manner; in an instrumental way.  Through the implementation of TV Internet for the city of LaGrange, residents were given free Internet access with restrictions, including: no printing, limitations in sharing files, inability of browsing websites with a plugin requirement, and non-concurrent use of the Internet and TV.  While Internet TV fits the needs of the disadvantaged, it does not fit the needs of the advantaged.  When technology is made available to the disadvantaged, they still need to cross their personal psychological and mental barriers in use, as social norms don't guarantee a continued use of the technology.  Rather, "self efficacy and availability determine and intention for continued use for the disadvantaged." Whereas the disadvantaged do not readily own computers, the Internet TV gives them some access without a monthly charge commitment. Therefore, it is conclusive that the advantaged and disadvantaged behave differently toward technology.  "Access is not enough; material, cognitive and social reasons are required to address the digital divide."