If you spend enough time on the internet and are interested in technology, you will eventually hear about the "Digital Divide". Wikipedia describes it as the "gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology and those without. It includes the imbalances in physical access to technology as well as the imbalances in resources and skills needed to effectively participate as a digital citizen. In other words, it is the unequal access by some members of society to information and communications technology, and the unequal acquisition of related skills. The digital divide may be classified based on gender, income, and race groups, and by locations. The term global digital divide refers to differences in technology access between countries or large regions of the world."
Just as with many other things, the Digital Divide usually makes people think about Africa as the best example of the problem. As a matter of fact, it is a problem. A huge one. Commerce, education, health care, even agriculture are increasingly dependent on and improved by these technologies. No one needs to be told that African societies are significantly handicapped when it comes to information and communication technology. The good news is that many organisations are involved in addressing this unacceptable technological gap. One of them is Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child (OLTP) organisation (www.laptop.org). OLTP has developed and is distributing inexpensive laptops to give to the poorest children of the world for free and to give them a leg-up and help them grow up with information technology.
In addition to organisations like OLTP, the natural evolution of society (well some societies anyway) is causing an acceleration of the adoption of technology into daily life. In some cases, these societies are actually "leap-frogging" older, more established technologies and adopting the latest and the greatest. For instance most of Nigeria never used wired phones - so called land-lines (some of us remember the military administrator who said telephones are not for the poor). Instead most of us use mobile phones. Societies like the United States however, started with land-lines, and most people and businesses still have land-lines as their primary line. So in Nigeria we have leap-frogged over land-lines to the more advanced mobile phones.
Digital Crossings, this blog, is about how we are crossing the Digital Divide. I'm an IT professional and deal with cutting-edge technology on a daily basis. I am also very interested in technology outside the workplace and what it can be used for in our daily lives. It's not just about communications (phone calls, emails and text messages) or entertainment (mp3's and video games), it's about all sorts of things that can make or already are making our lives significantly better. So this blog, will be a place where you and I can talk about computer and communications technology as used in or useful in our daily lives. It’s about how we have crossed, are crossing and can cross the Digital Divide. I'm a Nigerian living in Nigeria and my writing with be from the Nigerian perspective. However, it would great to hear from other Africans and know their own experiences.
The Game Plan
Every week, on Tuesdays, I'll post a new blog about some aspect of technology in our lives and hopefully stimulate conversation and ideas about how the technology works for us daily. As much as possible, the blog posts will not be about abstract concepts, but will take about real things we use or can use. In the weeks and months (maybe even years) to come, we will have interesting conversations about the best laptops in the land, which ISP is reliable (if any), how the Lagos State government is using technology in various citizen facing systems, free alternatives to Microsoft Office, vehicle tracking technologies, getting education on the internet, the best antivirus software out there, the simplest ways to get quality websites... Well you get the idea.
I’m just one person with only one perspective, so I can’t do this alone. I look forward to you and I making this journey together.
What would you like to be the very first real topic on Digital Crossings? Drop me a comment and let me know. Wouldn’t you like to have the bragging rights of choosing the very first blog topic for Digital Crossings?