INTEL-ethnographers challenge our assumptions of the digital divide
(via Bits and Bytes Interesting story by INTEL-etnographers Tony Salvador and John Sherry (one of them - Sherry - is actually an anthropologist!) on their work in India, Peru and Hungary. They summarize some of their findings after four years circling the world to find out how computers are being used by typical people in different cultures.
One of their main points:
The split between those with and those without access to digital technologies is referred to as the digital divide. But that phrase hides the complexity of the problem, because it focuses on the "having" and the "not having" of technology. Instead, what really matters is the ability to benefit from technology, whether or not that technology is personally owned.
They go on with various examples, among others they show how even the computer illiterate reap the advantages of the Web, made possible by public Internet facilities. The ethnographers remind us of that only about 10 percent of the people on the planet are familiar with the Internet and what it can do.
UPDATE Kerim Friedman comments:
I believe we can better understand the impact of new communications technologies if we emphasize the similarities, rather than just the differences, with older technologies.