Sunday, May 3, 2009

Understanding digital inequality: Comparing continued use behavioral models of the socio-economically advantaged and disadvantaged

Your assignment, in preparation for our final, is to thoroughly discuss the remaining articles via our blog. Our collaboration will make the entire review a lot more productive for everyone.

Keep the following tasks in mind as you're blogging the article:

1.)Provide a summary
2.)Define key terms
3.)Analyze potentially weak points in the author’s argument
4.)Compare your article to our past readings
5.)Read the other groups’ blog posts and comparing it to your article
6.)Relate your article to the larger themes from the class

Feel free to comment on any other group's blog discussions as well. You should be reading them anyway, and providing extra commentary will help us all.

In addition, we'll be distributing a study guide later. Please use this same blog space to discuss that guide.


  1. Discussion of Key Terms:

    Digital Inequality: inequality in the access and use of information and communication technologies

    User Acceptance: an individual's continuance usage intention of the sponsored technology

    TPB (theory of planned behavior): psychological theory used to understand ICT acceptance in homes, TPB suggests that attitudes (A), subjective norms (SN) and perceived behavioral control (PBC) will influence an individual’s behavior (B)

    SED: Socio-economically disadvantaged

    SEA: Socio-economically advantaged

    Triandis's Argument: the impact of social norms decrease once behavior takes place

    Utilitarian outcomes: the expected utility (enjoyment) gained by using technology

    Hedonic outcomes: enjoyment derived from the process of using an ICT

    Personal Network Exposure (PNE): represents the cumulative proportion of adopters in one's personal network

    Perceived Critical Mass: represents a related construct, which refers to the degree to which a person believes that most of his or her peers are using a particular innovation

  2. 1). Summary:

    In relation to digital inequality, income and education were the two main factors focused on in the reading used to differentiate between the socio-economically advantaged and disadvantaged members of society and their behaviors in using ICT’s. Advantaged people tend to be wealthier and more educated than the disadvantaged. The Theory of Planned Behavior served as the theoretical framework for the study. It states that attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control will determine an individual’s behavior, in this case being one’s intention for continued use of ICT’s. In order to test this theory, a case study was conducted in LeGrange, GA, a community that had just enacted a Free Internet TV Initiative as a way to address digital inequality. The overall study results showed that attitudes of an individual play a greater role that social norms in shaping behavioral intentions of ICT use. Hedonic outcomes (entertainment derived from ICT’s) were more common for the disadvantaged, while utilitarian outcomes (instrumental purposes) were more prevalent among the advantaged. Personal Network Exposure (proportion of technology adopters in one’s personal network) was stronger for the advantaged. Government influence had little significance for either group. Behavioral Control Influence was more critical for the disadvantaged in terms of continued ICT use because even if technology is available, there are still psychological and material barriers.

  3. 4.) Comparing this article with past readings

    This article, written by J.J. Po-An Hseieh, was mainly about a research project done in LaGrange, Georgia studying the effects of social economic status on the digital divide. We have talked about the disparities that influence the digital divide for the entire semester, and social economic status is one of the largest influences because it is directly related to two other large components: level of education and income. There are similarities and differences between this article and our past readings.
    This article contradicted some things we've read about before and actually referenced authors that we have already read earlier in this class such as Kvasny and Van Dijk, saying that their original thoughts of solving the digital divide solely by technology access is actually wrong, and the lack of technological access can't be to blame for the divide.
    On the other hand, this article is very similar to projects that we have read about in the reader, discussed in lecture, and completed on our own for the first midterm. It discusses different data collection strategies, like surveying, which we've talked about before. The results of the project were very similar to past findings regarding what status people fall into depending on their race. It is also similar to the OLPC Act that we've read about because it provided internet access to disadvantaged individuals via their cable television connection. It also talks about the variety of Internet usage of advantaged vs. disadvantaged, explaining how theoretically disadvantaged people use the internet for entertainment purposes on page 101-102.
    In conclusion, without drilling this small assignment to death, this article is very similar to a lot of articles that we have read and topics in lecture, with very similar findings, but the much more recent publishing date of March 2008 explains for some of the differences that is has with the older, more outdated articles.

  4. Hseieh writes this article as a result of his research in a Georgian city. This city gave free Internet via cable TV. This action attempts to close the digital divide by providing "material access." Though, throughout this class we have learned that a major reason for the divide is the fact that access is a complex idea. These people now have access to the Internet, yet the author is looking for reasons why people either continue to use or discontinue using this service.

    The Theory of Planned Behavior is really unlike anything we have talked about thus far. It ceases to see people as unpredictable and basically states that we can predict certain behaviors. If you want to stretch, this could be linked to THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD in the sense that the people acted predictable ways dealing with exit, voice, and loyalty

    A major theme of this class deals with identifying inequities, formulating a way to eliminate them, and then proceeding to put that plan into action. Not doing any of those steps will surely cause failure. This study was designed to see if LaGrange, GA had accomplished its task of shortening the digital divide.

    The findings of the study show that individual attitudes and beliefs determine the usage of ICTs, not society. The Theory of Planned Behavior didnt seem to apply. Another theme of this class is that it is very difficult to address social issues like the Digital Divide. There are too many variables to make it an easy fix. In order to help the disadvantaged, society as a whole will have to take responsibility for the divide and work together.

  5. I am going to discus the potentially weak point in the authors argument.... Our reading was "Understanding the Digital Inequality...", while the author talks about how the people "polled" were studied before and after they were given the free-range, so to say to use internet access and respond. In class (both lecture and discussion), much of the conversation was in regard to people's perceptions of those users and not users-- and other groups discussed this as well. If hypothetically, everyone had free range to the use of internet and that information was not polled, does one think that behavioral controls and judging usage would be the same? The divide still exists especially with regard to the theory of planned behavior- if we see the digital divide as something of planned behaviors on the parts of people, it seems as though people will practice the notion of seeing what they believe. If there are polls and information written and a behavior is seen to be predicted, those in the study will actually execute that behavior and the digital divide will still exist.

  6. Comparison to other blogs
    Learn from Seattle: The blog post about learning form Seattle seemed to be focusing more on access than on what could be done with that access. The blog seems to focus on making the city more technologically literate and using that to stimulate economic development. The blog doesnt detail the specifics of how exactly it helped the city but it does say that the city has over 100 community technology sites which help people end the divide. Our blog article seems to be much more about numbers and much more about the application of the technology. Our blog article also does not just see more community technology centers as success but it sees how those places as used and gauge the success.

    Race Online: That blog article talks of how online assumptions about race aren't there because there is no skin color to see. It doesnt directly relate to our blog article but our article is similar in that it highlights races. The reading race online blog highlights a divide within the internet that could happen because of different cultures amongst the different races.

    Toward a New Agenda" in Bridging the digital divide: Technology, community and public policy: This article is similar because in the blog post is talks of how the newest technology do not necessarily close the divide. This article would like to see more training in the use of the technology which is similar to our blog article. Our article used making the technology useful and building personal connections online also helped one increase technology use. This articles are similar in that they focus on the use of technology and not necessarily getting access to it.