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Digital ignorance in powerful circles September 24, 2008

Posted by Stuart Parker in goverment, Informal learning, social media.
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The Government’s response to tackling the digital divide has them coming up with a new scheme offering “vouchers” to low-income families enabling them to get online at home. This scheme is costing £300 million. Providing these vouchers will not address the problem, let alone overcome it. We’ve said it before and we’ll keep on saying it until somebody with ears in the appropriate places, gets the message.

It’s not about the access….

The ongoing evolution of the Internet..and it will be all about the Internet, means that people who are still to use the technology or have limited experience, are being left behind at an unacceptable rate. There are some small movements to address the real issues here but it’s all too slow and lacking in volume to make a difference.

I chatted with Nick Booth last night about the situation and we drew similar conclusions about what should actually be happening with that money. It should be providing training, guidance, communication, advice etc delivered by the people with the right skills and attitude and in a manner that recognises that the way we learn will need to change to make the most of what the internet is becoming. These “digital mentors” can be the answer to an as yet fully realised situation.

Our project is in the throws of equipping these mentors with the kind of knowledge and skills that will benefit those excluded from the digital community. Hopefully before too long, those who make the decisions will be aware of what’s actually going on and who knows, maybe do something about it.

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Comments»

1. Tim Rueb - September 24, 2008

Interesting post. I love to read the perspectives of other countries, especially what they are going through as it relates to the internet.

The fallacy in your argument is that everyone can be brought into a digital society. This will not happen. In any sector of life, there are the apathetic and non-compliant. Some by choice, some ignorance. The amount of energy needed to bring these in the fold is counter productive to a more pressing need: the future. The life-cycles of the non-users are finite, and will eventually solve itself.

The question becomes “How could the 300mil be used to improve society as a whole by creating new services or improving efficiencies in some part of society, before untouched by the internet”

If you were hell bent on making late adopters use the internet, create a service that they must use, but only have it on-line. Provide no other means of access. They would comply. But in the end, would that really have been the best way to spend 300mil?

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