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By Lisa B. and Christian B.

An Individual must be able to connect in order to achieve enhancement of social and cultural capital, now considered a gateway to financial prosperity. Lack of adequate infrastructure and lack of knowledge are two major obstacles that can impede connectivity.   Most of the world does not have access to the resources of the Internet we in the western world have, such as the Internets ability to help us advance our careers, participate in political conversations, communicate with our social networks, engage in online learning, and access valuable financial and health information.  These barriers limit individuals' capabilities in what they can do and what they can achieve in accessing technology.  

The Center for digital inclusion (CDI), largely Latin based, is an ongoing example how communities and grass roots organizations can thrive in their own communities and extend that to an even broader reach out. These centers work to strengthen low-income communities by providing access to information otherwise unavailable. It helps disadvantaged groups use information.  The community based organizations provide the infrastructure and CDI provides free computers and software, implements educational methods, trains instructors and monitors the schools.  Students can take the technical skills they’ve learned in class to mobilize their communities, engage in advocacy and awareness campaigns, and work together to solve that specific problem.   

The UK has also started similar programs with a broad base reach.  The social, political, economical, and psychological ramifications are powerful, in that within your very own community you can become known and create networks, as well as empower others, this ultimately can only improve an individual’s life by bringing more to the Users cachet, as opposed to media illiteracy-- it is an opportunity to reach out to a broad base of other individuals. In this sense everyone gets a chance to upgrade and share their knowledge.

The internet has also given many countries as voice, such as Egyptian rebels, and the government closing the internet down on the country. Some say militant regimes’ bombers communicated intricately through the internet. It can empower individuals that are stuck in agrarian societies or because of their locale have limited opportunities and resources. Those who have learned media access have built profitable business through eBay, and some “soccer mom’s” blogs can profit $ six figure annual incomes.  The advent of Wi-Fi in urban areas also offers the possibility for very low cost, or even free Internet access. This definitely levels the playing field, as previously it has been an economic privilege to have access to computer technologies.

Google started as a search engine and has grown into many other areas, some of which has had a very direct bearing on the digital divide. Google’s free email system Gmail, is widely used. The advantage with Google’s version is that you can access your calendar from any Internet computer.  This is a free web-hosting facility. Everyone can now host his or her own homepage. It is designed for either the novice or the expert. At the novice level, anyone can create a professional looking web page with no technical knowledge. This was borne out of competition, and is now often in demand in media sectors to use Google calendars and other applications. Important to closing the divide is appropriate computers(updated technologically) are installed in communities so others may compete, and WIFI may be helpful in accessing these much needed modalities, applications. The digital divide appears to be getting narrower, more inclusive, and not entirely based on economic divide. It is inclusive in that you can reach out while just staying in your home. With World economics and the age of the entrepreneur this can be used to an economical advantage to the media savvy. And, it could be in the form of the simplest idea applied correctly.

Which one of the following have you not used recently?

●    A magazine
●    A newspaper
●    A book
●    All of the above

I’m pretty sure in this day and age where checking your phone apps for the latest news, reading your twitter feed for the latest celebrity gossip and trending topics, and downloading your assigned reading for your class to your “Kindle” the majority of the answers will be “D” all of the above. Well at least for those who are fortunate enough and/or have the knowledge of how to analyze, evaluate, and create these modern day forms of media also known as being media literate. These new forms of accessing media is opening the digital divide, but by gaining media literacy it will help close that digital divide by not only the fortunate and/or young but the less fortunate and/or old having knowledge and understanding on how to analyze and evaluate the different forms of media that are presented in everyday life.

Access to media such as through the internet at the libraries, local television news at home or on public transportation, or listening to the radio helps close the digital divide for those that are less fortunate and/or unfamiliar with the new forms of media at which it is accessed. There are those who are fortunate enough to gain access to the newer technology but don’t have any knowledge on how to work them for they are use to gaining access to media through magazines, newspapers, or just by gossiping all of which are probably known as the “old school” way. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that, but if there is a faster and easier way to do something most likely that way will soon become seen as the only way and the others will be looked at as outdated and old.

Recently when I was purchasing a new phone I noticed they were offering free classes on how to use the new Android phones for those who weren’t familiar on how to use them. My mom for example isn’t familiar with the newer form of technology communication, so for her it’s not quite as simple as it is for us who are. Because of that she have me to show her how to use this new way of accessing media, so in a way I myself is contributing to closing the digital divide by giving my own mother media literacy.

I believe the ability to gain media literacy varies with the different age groups. Take for example the situation with my mom. Me being young im more exposed to the newer form of technologies that which has caused me to gain knowledge on how to work them. Rather than my mom who is older and don’t come in contact with these forms of technology as often. Not to mention it’s easier for my age group to access media for we are growing up with these newer form of technologies and are learning how to use these devices at a young age, while older people grew up with not as advanced technology or non technology at all with which they accessed their day to day media.

The Digital divide never really been closed and I doubt it ever will be because I’m sure there will always be at least one person who just won’t be able to understand how to analyze, evaluate, and create different forms of media, but just by people gaining media literacy can help get the digital divide close to be completely closed shut.