“The Digital Divide Will Cease to Exist”

According to IBM researchers, the digital divide will cease to exist in five years, with the prediction of 80% penetration of mobile divises in the world. The argument is that with this level of penetration, communities will be able to access the information that will lift them out of poverty. Weather reports will help them determine when to fertilize crops, and mobile technology will help them more easily determine when services will reach them.

I argue that this is a very narrow view of the digital divide. This argument does not take into account the fact that even if these communities have access to mobile phones, electricity may be a problem. More than that, accessing information in their own language, or knowing how to most effectively use phones (ie. mobile banking etc.) Along with this comes the fact that even as mobile devices are pentrating the developing world, the western world is still developing new technology every day. There is nothing to say that something may revolutionize our way of living just as mobile technology has, that the poorest of the poor will not have access to.

Though I do agree with the sentiment that in some very specific ways the digital divide is growing smaller, I believe IBMs argument lacks a broader view of what the digital divide is, and how hard it will be to truly change.


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