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: The new Have and Have Nots
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Feb 17th 2008
I love hearing about the actualities and potentials of emerging technology, but I'm more of a social theorist myself, so a question.
How do you think the progression of technology will effect social class? Those with access to tech in the first place, along with an ability to use software systems that are not as intuitive as we've come to think, and on the other side those who couldn't adapt fast enough, didn't see it as a valid enough system, those who lived in areas without enough resources to have technology.
Peaceful divides between those with a tech-based culture with those who chose to not follow the trend, or weren't able to? Will the rich of today prize new gadgets or the 'purity' of old ways (think about wine as well as mp3s) as things progress? And maybe most importantly, how can we strive towards equality when we really just have another way to establish hierarchy?
Feb 17th 2008
I work in education and for years now folks have been talking about the "digital divide". It's a catchy idea, the notion that technology is creating new classes and stratas. You have relatively poor people who can completely change their lives by having internet access. Online education has moved out of the "University of Phoenix!" era and now allows for off-site classroom and instruction that's as good as being there. I know people teaching classes online in a vocal chat space that are then recorded to mp3 and stored for students to download. All you need is the most basic pc and internet access to get a life-altering education.
But even that basic access is a problem for alot people. Decent internet access runs you 20-30 bucks a month. Even a low end computer is 4-500 dollars, and that comes with nothing but bloatware. Add another couple hundred dollars for software. You start seeing a number that, while surmountable for most middle=class people, is getting out of reach for the poor or those on fixed incomes. Cheapie computers (like the ASUS EEE and Cloudbook) are very interesting to me, as they offer more for less and give mobility, something that someone who perhaps has to steal a lunch hour to do classwork can really use.
Libraries are helping with this. Go see how many adults are waiting in line to get online at your local library. Not even talking about all the kids looking to do so.
Personally, I feel the bite of this. We weren't poor in my house, but we didn't have money for alot of luxuries. I grew up in the 90's and used a typewriter until I was in college. Never had a computer until I graduated college, never had home internet access until after college. I could use these things at school for free. But having teachers assign you to watch something on cable, or having to work at the whims of the university computer labs really sucked. The people with computers in their dorm rooms, hbo on the tv...yeah...kind of hard not to have some class animosity there.
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