Technology Revolution

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 ‘What’s 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 world’s 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 individual’s 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 world’s
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.


"CEOs Discuss ‘Digital Divide’." New York Times 10 Sep. 1999.

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.