A View from Brad King

Old, Poor Face Digital Divide

I just returned from Appalachia, in a small town just outside of Cincinnati. I spent the better part of my life there, the formative years from five until I was 22, and left for greener pastures down in Austin, Texas….

  • May 16, 2005

I just returned from Appalachia, in a small town just outside of Cincinnati. I spent the better part of my life there, the formative years from five until I was 22, and left for greener pastures down in Austin, Texas.

I get back home several times a year to see my friends and family, but it’s difficult to do – especially with my job – for 2 reasons: 1) I don’t know anyone with high-speed access (and only a handful with dial-up access), and there are decidedly few wireless hubs near my home; and 2) cell phone access there is spotty at best, which is troubling since I have no reliable way to access my email.

So that’s on my mind this morning, and apparently, I’m not alone. The BBC has a piece on the growing digital divide between the technologically savvy and those who aren’t (particularly the poor and the old).

I’ve spent the last 7 years writing about technology, and working in new media, primarily on the three coasts (California, Texas, and Massachusetts) – and in each stop, I’ve tried, unconvincingly I believe, to explain to those who are used to the massive infusion of technology in their lives that for a majority of this country (Appalachia has 22 million people for instance), emerging technologies hold little sway.

And, it’s not that I believe technology advancements are bad. Indeed, I feel exactly the opposite. I love technology. I embrace it. I’m an early adopter. However, I don’t believe that the technorati have a good understanding of the way of life in the heartland of the country. That disconnect, I fear, is creating a polarized society (speaking only in terms of science/technology) where the general population is largely left behind.

This isn’t a knock against them (and I feel a kinship with the technorati). Simply an observation.

Cut off? Read unlimited articles today.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.