Technology Revolution
By: Justin Bergknoff
E-mail: emailprotected
The technology revolution is upon us. In recent years there have been many
triumphs in technology. Now more than ever, people are able to communicate
over thousands of miles with the greatest of ease. Wireless communication is
much to thank for the ease of communication. What used to take weeks threw
mail, now takes seconds over the Internet. But just like any revolution there are
social consequences, especially when the revolution takes place around the
globe. Since the world does not evolve at the same pace, lesser developed
countries as well as minorities in developed countries have not even come close
to reaping the benefits of a world connected at the touch of a button. The
social argument is that as this revolution proceeds, the gap between the haves
and have-nots will widen to the point of ill repute. Others argue that because of
technological advances the world is a much better place. This seems to be the
debate at hand. The problem domestically is that providing high-speed Internet
services to rural communities is difficult. Tom Daschle, a senator from Senator
from South Dakota highlighted the digital divide between those who have
access to high-speed Internet services and those who live in undeserved areas
where such capabilities may not be readily available. The reason that this so
critical to Senator Daschle is because those without access to high-speed
Internet services could be cut off from affordable information on education and
healthcare. The major issue domestically is the distance problem. Rural areas
are so far from the more technologically advanced urban areas that getting
high-speed phone connections to these rural areas is difficult. To help remedy
this problem many phone companies are trying to enter the long-distance
market. By doing this, it will enable telephone companies to make greater
investments in rural areas at a lower more affordable cost. Another option to
connect this distant areas is the exploiting of wireless technology. Wireless
technology can be a way around the distance problem posed by offering these
rural communities Internet access over traditional landlines. John Stanton of
western Wireless says, Economically, wireless is a better way of providing
universal service. There is also another problem with Internet access on the
domestic front. This problem is that of race. According to a new Federal
survey, African-Americans and Hispanics are less than half as likely as whites
to explore the Internet from home, work or school. This study also reinforces
the fear that minority groups are increasingly at a disadvantage in competing
for entry-level jobs because most of these jobs now require a knowledge of
computers and comfort in navigating the Internet. Donna L. Hoffman, a
professor at Vanderbilt University says, The big question is why
African-Americans are not adopting this technology, its not just price, because
they are buying cable and satellite systems in large numbers. So we have to
look deeper to cultural and social factors. I think there is still a question of
Whats in it for me? Most division in computer use correlates to income
levels and education. Sixty-one percent of whites and 54 percent of blacks in
households earning more than $75,000 used the internet regularly, but the
figures drop to 17 percent of whites and 8 percent of blacks when families are
earning $15,000 to $35,000. It has become obvious that race and
socio-economic standing has something to do with the involvement in this
technological revolution. Internationally is where the largest problems lie. In
many corners of the world, there are dozens of developing countries where
widespread access to the Internet remains a distant possibility. While some of
the worlds most remote places have the internet, there are still no connections
in Iraq, North Korea and a handful of African countries. In many of the
developing countries with internet access, the access is basically concentrated
in the largest cities and is prohibitively expensive when set against an
individuals income. In order to shorten the gap of technology between
developed and lesser-developed countries, especially in the realm of the
internet, there is an annual conference called INET. The purpose of this
conference is to educate those who are not as technologically advanced and
sending participants home with additional technical and administrative skills for
running networks. Poor and expensive telecommunications play a large part in
the reason why these third world countries are lacking Internet access, but
another major factor is politics. In countries such as Laos, the communist
government considers the internet a destabilizing force because of the free
flow of information associated with the Web. Basically old hardware, a weak
telecommunications infrastructure and in some cases local political opposition
have rendered the promised benefits of technology elusive. In the developed
world, the Internet has ushered in the greatest period of wealth creation in
history. It has undermined traditional power structures and changed the way
industry conducts business. For many developing agencies, the was no reason
to think technology could not have a similar affect on third world countries. But
reality has not lived up to expectations. The real question is has the Internet
been an effective tool in helping these lesser-developed countries? The United
Nations thinks it can use the internet to help these countries. The United
Nations has teamed up with Cisco Systems, Inc. in order to help the worlds
poor. They are attempting to help by televising a concert called Netaid, which
will be seen, around the world. Contrary to popular belief this will not just be
another charity telethon. The heart of Netaid is the web site that is being
created to allow people around the world to participate in antipoverty efforts
long after the music is over. The Web sites intent is to get groups from
developed countries to contact and assist groups in these lesser-developed
countries. This could possibly be a solution to bringing the Internet into the
homes and lives of the entire world.
Work Cited CEOs Discuss Digital Divide. New York Times 10 Sep. 1999.

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Sanger, David E. Big Racial Disparity Persists in Internet Use. New York
Times 9 July 1999.

Hafner, Kate. Common Ground Elusive as Technology Have-nots Meet
Haves. New York Times 8 July 1999. Black,
Jane. For Developing World, the Internet has not Delivered Wealth. New
York Times 10 Sep. 1999. Schiesel,
Seth. With Concerts and Web Cites, U.N. Agency Attacks Poverty. New
York Times 12 Aug. 1999.
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