In How to Close the Digital Divide in the U.S., Bhaskar Chakravorti argues that the digital divide in the United States is more than a mere infrastructure issue. Specifically, he shows how the digital divide is a problem of inclusivity, digital proficiency, and institutional disregard.
Chakravorti shows how policymakers can improve the digital divide in tangible, actionable ways. Before diving into his ideas, he analyzes perceptions of the digital divide in our country. He notes that “the true nature and extent of the divide is often under-appreciated.” While the digital divide is a gap between those that have Internet access and those who do not, there are more parts of the digital divide that many people do not recognize and/or understand. The four components of the digital divide, according to Chakravorti, are: infrastructure, inclusivity, institutions, and digital proficiency. He then goes on to discuss how the digital divide compounds historical injustices and inequities since access to the Internet is associated with information, schooling, education, remote work, economic opportunities, and much more.
To combat the digital divide in the United States, Chakravorti believes there should be initiatives and funding that come from both macro and micro level partnerships. He argues for a “Romer” tax to cover the budget deficit, local coordination to prioritize resources, assistance from the tech industry, public-private solutions for the most vulnerable areas, affordability programs for Internet capabilities, future-proofing of Internet infrastructure, and investment in digital literacy.
The thoughts presented in this article were interesting, well-explained, and supported. Discussing the definition and implications of the various facets of the digital divide is so important as the gap exacerbates inequities and injustices. Chakravorti included many statistics that supported his arguments, which made his points strong. It was impactful that he discussed how prominent the digital divide was during the pandemic. The example of residents in ‘internet-deserts’ being unable to schedule vaccine appointments was really salient and showed how pervasive the digital divide actually is. Overall, the article was interesting and showed how critical it is for the digital divide to be closed as soon as possible.
One thought on “11/11 – How to Close the Digital Divide in the U.S.”
I like your comment and that is an interesting topic. Besides “digital divide is a problem of inclusivity, digital proficiency, and institutional disregard”, the TED talk I watched also mentioned the relationship between Internet access and health problems. Adults living with chronic disease are disproportionately offline in an online world. I looked up the survey data from the Pew Internet Project and the California HealthCare Foundation, and the result was that adults living with chronic disease are significantly less likely than healthy adults to have access to the internet.