The Digital Divide Hits Home

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Eric Martin, Interactive Media Specialist, has been working at Vision Maker Media since 1996. He helped create the AIROS Native Networks’ online presence working on live webcasts and podcasts.

The Digital Divide Hits Home

Date Posted: 
2012-04-10 00:00

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In March, I was on a panel at SXSW called "Popping Your Bubble: Stories of the Digital Divide." Working with technology and culture in Indian Country, I have seen how the lack of Internet access can be a roadblock for people to share or even get information about their culture. Because of this reason, I am so passionate about doing what I can to help bridge the Digital Divide.

The panel went well. I was happy to see so many journalists attend and have their eyes opened to the problem that still exists today, especially in rural areas. There were a lot of tweets about the issue during the event and a couple of articles were even written as a result.

It was after SXSW, as I was putting together a recap of the panel, when the subject came full circle. I got a call from my father, he was having a problem. He was applying to give nature tours for the state of Texas in the gulf region and hill country. He had to pass a test online in order to get the job. Part of the test was to identify animals in videos on the site and he couldn't get the videos to play. I stayed on the phone with him for about 30 minutes to troubleshoot the problem -- helping him find the right plugins, etc.

I never really thought of my father on the other side of the Digital Divide. He'd always encouraged my interest in technology and I was off to college about the time the Internet started to take off. But here, he was trapped on one side of the Digital Divide, unable to get fully employeed and a job he loved without a little help.

You see, something that a lot of people don't realize, and that was part of panel's discussion was that the Digital Divide is not just about having an actual physical connection to the Internet. It is also about training people, who are new to the Internet or maybe don't use it that often, how to navigate Web 2.0.

So this is my plea to the people reading this blog post: Take time and help those people in your life, in your community, in your Tribe that might have a little problem with technology; be a bridge builder and help close the Digital Divide.

I'll be putting up new posts on technology every Tuesday. I encourage you to share them in whatever way you wish, including non-digital media, like newspapers or Tribal radio.

Additional Resources About the Digital Divide:

"Innovating News in Native Communities" from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism "The State of the News Media 2012"

"Digital Nation: 21st Century America's Progress Towards Universal Broadband Internet Access"

"Scholars' Roundtable: The Effects of Expanding Broadband to Rural Areas"

FCC Eyes Broadband For Indian Reservations

Panel Recap for "Popping Your Bubble: Stories of the Digital Divide"

Listen to "Popping Your Bubble: Stories of the Digital Divide"

Questions:

Who in your life do you want to help cross the Digital Divide?

What do you think the biggest roadblock to people accessing the Internet is today?

 
 

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