23 March 2009

CyberBridge to Nowhere...or Not?

This is an interesting NY Times article about a small portion of the government’s giant stimulus package designed to expand rural broadband access. Naturally, there is controversy over whether this is an appropriate use of funds.


For a counterpoint to the NY Times, check out this viewpoint at the Center for Media Justice:

This is an interesting example of the digital divide that I, at least, don't often think about: the divide between urban/suburban users and rural users. One would assume that speedy access to the internet would be even more important for rural users, since they're spread out more geographically and have fewer community centers, such as libraries, with fast internet access. Having spent some time this past weekend in area of Illinois that is much more rural than I'm used to--the Northwest region near Dixon--I realize even more how critical it is for rural residents to have access to information and communication networks.


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  2. A couple weeks ago, we talked about the digital divide in one of my education classes and came to the conclusion that there is not one divide but many and on different levels. So I appreciate you bringing up an example of a divide that we may not often recognize. The Center for Media Justice article critiques the NY Times nicely, though I don't know how many people would seek it out on their own. I hate to think that the public would agree with the Times that this money could potentially be a "total waste," so let's not spend it in the first place. It is completely unfathomable to me that there are places in the United States without broadband access. While I'm checking my e-mail every five minutes and playing games online, some people are driving an hour away to the nearest public library to use the internet. Craziness! I know that I am definitely out of touch with rural America, and I wish that other city and suburban folk like myself could see the other side too. Anyhow, thanks for sharing!

  3. I guess this has been a hot topic lately. Here's another article about "the other digital divide" from the YALSA blog, specifically about teens' access to technology at home, school, and in the library.


  4. That's an interesting post from YALSA, Natalie, especially given the assumption that public libraries are LESS restrictive than some parents' "draconian" Internet restrictions. While the public library where I work does NOT filter the Internet, we do require library cards and/or some kind of I.D., as well as a signed "Internet permission slip" from a parent. No I.D. = no P.C. Kids are supposed to "check in" with us at the Reference Desk before they can log on.

    I've often wondered if this is really a legitimate requirement on the library's part. For elementary school aged kids, it probably makes sense to have a permission slip from a parent, at least from the library's point of view re: liability. But for high school kids, shouldn't they be able to get online without restrictions?

    Fortunately, or unfortunately, young people are smart--we have many kids who have memorized their library card barcodes and log on with those without ever having to "check in" at the desk with a librarian.

    I'd be interested to hear from other classmates/colleagues who work in libraries what THEIR Internet access policies are.