It's interesting that this news is viewed as "good news" and a victory. Good
news for who? A victory for who?
Is it "good news" that poor families are being forced to spend what little
money they have to join the "digital revolution"? Is it a victory that if
they don't, they will surely stay poor? Locally, for example, politicians
have been pushing the web as THE place to find employment. What they didn't
think about it that's there's a huge homeless population in Toronto who
don't have jobs, hence, don't have the luxury of internet access.
Consequently they've had to install computers in all their employment
centres to accommodate those without. Even still, without a computer at
home, and internet, it means waiting in line at the employment centre every
day to check their e-mail. Meanwhile, students -- on top of tuition and
books -- are now virtually helpless unless they have a computer (which means
spending even more money). A few years ago I was stunned when some
universities started listing computers as mandatory tools. Then there is the
cost of repairs, upgrades, software...
A common response is the current low-cost of much of this technology. Trust
me, if you're making less than $25,000/year, low-cost takes on a new
meaning. Food, clothes and rent take a huge bite. But today, in the year
2000, we have almost completely established a society that makes it
mandatory to have a personal computer and internet access. Even a few years
ago we starting hearing about homeless people, living under bridges with
nothing but a few scraps of clothes and a laptop. And this is what worries
me about the current drive of libraries to build their "field of dreams"
with DVDs. As long as the library is providing the equipment as well, that
sounds marvelous. If not, it's kind of like scrapping public transportation
and expecting everyone to buy cars.
Of course, our disposable western society depends on convincing consumers
that they must constantly buy "newer" and "better" products. Obviously even
librarians seem convinced of this. Remember, we're only a few years away
From: Sr. Gilmary Speirs [mailto:speirs@MARYWOOD1.MARYWOOD.edu]
Sent: Thursday, August 24, 2000 9:51 AM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: FW: Poor families now fastest-growing Internet demographic
You might find this message relevant to the DVD discussion.
Sr. Gilmary Speirs, I.H.M.
Collection Management Librarian for Non-Print
2300 Adams Avenue
Scranton, PA 18509-1598
Phone: (570) 348-6266
Fax: (570) 961-4769
>From Philanthropy News Journal...
There is good news to announce this issue, and it's because the digital
divide in America is slowly but surely beginning to close. A survey of
Internet users in June found low-income families represent the fastest
growing online demographic. That may be because most other demographic
groups - meaning wealthier families - are generally on the Internet by now,
based on the fact families making less than $25,000 a year still represent
only 10 percent of the online population.
Well, let's take our victories where we can, because these numbers are
likely to improve as American society in general moves to the Web. For the
international digital divide, a lot of work remains.
Poor families now fastest-growing Internet demographic
Low-income households are now the fastest growing online demographic
group, which means the digital divide is slowly closing. Overall,
however, poor families account for less than 10 percent of the online
population, according to a new report...
John Freund, C.M.
718 262 8826 718 262 8695 (fax)
www.famvin.org and vincentian.stjohns.edu