DIGITAL AMERICA

Tag: United States


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The Digital Divide, or a Digital Abyss?

// Posted by on 04/23/2014 (11:34 PM)

A map showing internet connections around the world. Source.

The digital divide is the inequality of access to, as well as use of or even knowledge of, information and communication technologies. This divide is usually based in socioeconomic inequality,… Read more

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A map showing internet connections around the world. Source.

The digital divide is the inequality of access to, as well as use of or even knowledge of, information and communication technologies. This divide is usually based in socioeconomic inequality, but can also stem from other factors such as location. This divide can be recognized not only on a national level within a single country, but on a global level as well.

The term “Digital Divide” implies a problem within itself: there is a divide, an inequality, in access to digital technology. My research problem is to explore this divide more thoroughly with three main questions. 1) How much of an obstacle does the divide pose? 2) Should digital access be considered a basic human right? 3) Can the divide be solved/lessened? The main argument I’m focusing on is the question of whether or not digital access should be considered a basic human right, which I am arguing it should be.

On a human level, the digital divide looks like a single mother of 3 trying to find a job to provide for her family, but with little access or knowledge of computer, cannot apply to most positions because they require online applications. It looks like an intelligent 17 year old from a less developed neighborhood whose high school never taught her any form of computer literacy and who now has little confidence in moving on to higher education. It looks like an immigrant who doesn’t know he can call his family for free. The digital divide can manifest itself in an individual being unable to afford technology, them not knowing how to use technology, or them just not realizing the benefits of technology.

With nearly 7 billion people in the world, only about 30% of those people have ever even touched a computer before. The majority of the people who are digitally connected are concentrated in North America and Europe, well developed nations both socially and economically. This is a huge discrepancy in the representation of a global population within technology.

A map of connections around the world. Source.

If you zoom in on the issue of the digital divide within the scope of the United States, only 57% of individuals with an income less than $30,000 use internet, 80% with an income of $30,000-49,999, 86% with an income of $50,000-74,999, and 95% with an income of $75,000 or more. Again, there is an obvious gap in access to technology.

With my blog, I am exploring the who, what, where, when, how and why of the digital divide: what the digital divide even is, who it affects, where it is an issue, how long it has been and will continue to be an issue, how it can be solved, and why the digital divide even matters.

The majority of the information I have found so far is openly biased toward the idea of technology and access to the internet as a basic human right, which has been convenient since that is what the blog in general is advocating for. But it has been much more difficult to find resources that defend the opposing viewpoint, which is definitely something I want to include in my blog. I feel like an argument is not fully presented until it explores both the pros and the cons, so I still have some further research to do. But for the most part I want phase 2 of my blog to focus on potential ways to close the digital divide and testimonies as to why it is so important. For example, these two TedTalk videos give interesting perspectives on where the solution to the digital divide can be taken:

To keep up with my exploration, you can follow my blog at www.DAdivided.wordpress.com


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The NSA

// Posted by on 02/24/2013 (6:19 PM)

Lying just outside Washington, DC in Fort Meade, Maryland is the National Security Administration-the NSA. This uniquely enigmatic government entity  is one of the largest and most closely guarded branches of the United States Department of Defense (DoD). It is… Read more

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Lying just outside Washington, DC in Fort Meade, Maryland is the National Security Administration-the NSA. This uniquely enigmatic government entity  is one of the largest and most closely guarded branches of the United States Department of Defense (DoD). It is a cryptologic intelligence agency. Cryptology, the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties, has become an increasingly important aspect of national defense and cyber security.

The NSA is technically responsible for “the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign signals intelligence, as well as protecting US government communications and information systems, which involves information analysis and cryptanalysis/cryptography.” By law, the NSA is only authorized to collect foreign and international information although there have been incidents of the agency breaching this rule and interfering/monitoring domestic communications as well (see here).

The agency is unique in a few ways. It immediately draws attention from I-295 as it has its own highway exit (the sign simply reads “NSA”).

Second, the agency is kept so under wraps that the total number of employees is technically unknown. The scale of the operations at the NSA is hard to determine from unclassified data; some 18,000 parking spaces are visible in photos of the site. With roles in creating new encryption systems and monitoring telephone, fax, and data transmission, the NSA is heavily involved in daily life yet remarkably discrete. Even though the original DoD branch was founded in 1949 as the Armed Forces Security Agency, according to David Kahn author of The Codebreakers “a brief but vague reference to the NSA first appeared in the United States Government Organization Manual from 1957, which described it as “a separately organized agency within the Department of Defense under the direction, authority, and control of the Secretary of Defense [...] for the performance of highly specialized technical functions in support of the intelligence activities of the United States.”

This author takes the “well I’m not doing anything illegal, so I don’t really care how much wiretapping is done” point of view regarding NSA activity, but there are many citizens who believe that this agency is infringing on their rights. Do you feel comfortable knowing that your data-transmission activity may be monitored by a government agency? Clearly this organization raises questions as to the classic liberty versus security debate…

 

 

 

 

Ellen Nakashima (January 26, 2008). “Bush Order Expands Network Monitoring: Intelligence Agencies to Track Intrusions”The Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2008.

David Kahn, The Codebreakers, Scribner Press, 1967, chapter 19, pp. 672–733.


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Why We Support.

// Posted by on 02/25/2012 (2:53 PM)

After watching the documentary Why We Fight by Eugene Jarecki, I realized that the film was missing something very important. Why we support. The average everyday Americans aren’t fighting in the Iraq War nor… Read more

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After watching the documentary Why We Fight by Eugene Jarecki, I realized that the film was missing something very important. Why we support. The average everyday Americans aren’t fighting in the Iraq War nor have we ever been. We go through our daily routines, with the war far from our minds. Unless you know someone in the war or work in some way to supply or fund the war, you don’t think about what’s going on. The documentary in some ways turned against the war, because at this moment we don’t know what we are fighting for; so what’s the reason we are fighting? And while that makes a valid point, there are over 100,000 American troops in the Middle East fighting for our freedom because that is what they are told to do.

They are not allowed to question what they are doing; they don’t even have the time to. They are busy protecting themselves and their companies. Their goal isn’t to win a war, it’s to get home safe and alive. So, we turn against it because we don’t agree with why we’re fighting? Weapons are continually getting more advanced and the United States feels this is a reason for them to show off their muscles. Is it becoming less of a war based on an actual cause and more of a war based on making sure no one will challenge the United States again? We have bombs that are guided by GPS coordinates, guns that can hit over a mile away, and robot technology that basically does the fighting for us.

But those are all definitions to why we might be fighting. Not to why we support. We support because there are over two million soldiers in the armed forces, and over one third of these soldiers are in active duty. We support because they are Americans. They are average everyday Americans that made a choice to fight for what they believed was right, the least we could do is support. We support for the families they left behind, for the injured who return, and for the ones who don’t come back at all.

There’s nothing wrong with asking the question of why we’re fighting. It’s a reasonable and needed question. But that doesn’t mean you can support the soldiers who are fighting for you. So next time someone asks you about the war, what will you say? Will you comment on how we don’t have a reason to be there? Will you talk about how the United States is trying to show off? Or will you simply say I don’t agree with why we’re there, but I support the men and women who are fighting for our freedoms?


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