Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Digital Rift definition


This is a key concept to understand since this digital rift has become one of the main issue of some of the biggest high tech and Internet companies. Therefore, I will try to explain what this rift is about, and why it is important.

The social rift
To understand better the concept of digital rift, we should focus on the social rift. This is a concept invented by candidate Jacques Chirac while he was accessing French presidency in 1995. The fact is that at this time a social rift was emerging in France:
  • On one side, a population of rich people, benefiting of the economical growth, and of some tax relieves programs from the government.
  • A poor population, living thanks to governmental aid programs.
As a rift would do, the social pressure reaped the middleclass apart. The middle class population was either pulled to the poor side or was able to reach a certain status. The problem of this social rift is that the bigger the rift is, the more difficult it is to reach an upper social class (what in France we call the "social elevator", the opportunity to raise your social status), or to jump on the other side of the rift.

The digital rift
This is the same thing concerning high tech. A few part of the world owns phenomenal high tech skills, equipped with cell phones, easy to find & to use Wifi access, and powerful computers. On the other hand, you have a population which do not have access to the Internet because they lack of computers. Also, this very same population don't have access to mobility.

This rift has many dimensions. Within the US, the rift isn't that big as 75% of US Americans have access to the Internet. But on a worldwide scale, this is a real problem.
This is a big issue, as high tech technologies are developing & improving at a fast pace. This growth increases the digital rift. The issue is so important that the United Nations sent a warning to the Silicon Valley about this social rift.

Toward some solutions
Some solutions however seems to breakthrough.
  • Computers companies start offering low cost laptops & equipment: for less than 300 euros you can own now in France a laptop.
  • Thanks to open source, you have operating systems for cheap. Thanks to Lynus Solutions, or softwares like Open Office, you can nowadays get access to core functions of a computer for free.
    • Writting, editing document
    • Calculating
    • Internet browsing and email solution
    • Presentation, and brochure edition
  • Programs like Bill Gates' one aim to offer access to computing and Internet to third world countries.
  • New wiring  technologies like the WiMax or Internet by satellite allows some part of the world to be linked to the Internet



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