Monday, November 12, 2007
From origins to implications: key aspects in the debate over the digital divide: "Defined as the differential extent to which rich countries and poor countries benefit from various forms of information technology (IT), the global digital divide has been extensively measured and described in national as well as international debates. The problem, however, is that the topic is highly fragmented in the literature, with few attempts to put the parts into a coherent analytical framework. More precisely, there has been no specific attempt to pinpoint the main issues that influence one's view of the importance of the digital divide and the policies demanded by the different points of view. The goal of this paper, accordingly, is to fill this important gap in the literature in an analytical schema that recognizes the ways in which the impact of innovations depends heavily on how they are generated and diffused. At each stage of this sequential process are key issues that influence one's view of the digital divide. It matters a great deal for instance on whether the divide is in some sense unique, or just another manifestation of the general technological relationship between rich and poor countries. It is also the case that the size of the divide depends heavily on how it is measured. Yet another example is that the extent of the potential impact of IT will influence our view of the foregone opportunities associated with limited uptake of this technology in developing countries."