Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Digital Divides and the Future of Technology.

Access to technology is something that people of my generation have come to under value over recent years. It is not that we do not appreciate it, it is more that it has become such a staple in every facet of our lives that the thought of not having a computer or smartphone is almost unheard of. However, this representation is only of upper-middle class white America, and does not account for the rest of the nation that is struggling to pay for food, none the less a personal computer. Thus, it is hard to deny that there is a “digital divide” or “participation gap” in the U.S., considering blacks and Hispanics make up a relatively large part of the population. This divide is not only counter-productive for the nation as a whole when it comes to technological advancement, but is also harmful to the economy.

These days, most companies have turned to online resources when hiring, so those who are unemployed and can’t afford advanced technology, are more likely to stay unemployed because they are one step behind the rest of the competition. Also, many jobs require knowledge about at least some form of technology, and those who have not had access to certain programs may be at a disadvantage. In terms of social media, which has become one of the most important aspects of the digital revolution, having access to your device at all times is crucial, so those with only temporary access are not able to take advantage of these diverse websites.

Over the next 3-5 years, it is possible that the digital divide may indeed widen, especially with companies producing new and advanced products at an alarming rate. Recent mobile trends will unfortunately play a large role in worsening the divide. Dropped calls and slow download speeds are something every smartphone user experiences at some point in the life of their phone. Usually, the quality of the phone is directly correlated to the issues one experiences with it. Studies show that when compared to whites, Hispanic/African-American people experience these issues at a much frequent rate. Reason being that the phones that minorities can afford do not come with the amenities of the more expensive options. So even if they can manage to acquire a smartphone, it is more than likely that they will not be able to operate at the same pace as others and thus will be at a disadvantage.

My prediction for the future in terms of the mobile audiences is that they will ultimately expand to more users, but the digital divide will most likely grow. The reason for this is that while companies are finding ways to produce phones for cheaper while not sacrificing some of the key benefits, they are also making great strides in advancing what is already considered advanced technology. So there will continue to be progress in technology and it will be accessible to more people, but the gap will continue due to even more complex technical advancements. 

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