MISTICA: Re:Internet is only a matter for youths.......

From: Deirdre Williams (
Date: Tue Feb 27 2001 - 16:28:37 AST

Richard Heeks posted this message to the GKD list yesterday, and I think
his idea of "invalid models of connectivity" and the discussion it
generated may be relevant to what you are saying. I have my own very
serious concerns about the need to view computers, and the internet, as
tools to do things rather than things in themselves, ways to help solve the
problem, not solutions.
I was discussing homework assignments with my son's friend (14 years old)=
and asked him whether he found the internet helpful. He said he does not
like to use the computer/the internet for homework. He prefers to use them
for games.
Best wishes
Deirdre Williams
St. Lucia

The global digital divide between North and South - the
industrialised and the developing nations - is undoubtedly great.
But it is also overestimated.
Why? Because we tend to use invalid models of connectivity in
the South: models that rely on Northern notions of one email
account serving one individual; and pre-global notions of
Internet hosts and accounts merely serving their host country.
In practice, many individuals in developing countries are using
hosts and - especially - accounts based in the North. They are
also sharing access, with one account serving many people.
Hidden from the view of formal statistics, individuals are
connected - via their organisations, via family members, or via
friends, acquaintances and neighbours.
Recent research from Trinidad & Tobago puts some figures on
this (i). Formal statistics showed only one in twenty households
to be connected to the net. On-the-ground surveys, however,
showed one in three households had access to an email account.
The global digital divide is very much a reality, and very much
an issue to be addressed. However, these figures suggest the
divide may be misunderstood and up to seven times
Richard Heeks
(i) Miller, D. & Slater, D. (2000) The Internet: An
Ethnographic Account, Berg, Oxford, UK.
Dr Richard Heeks
Senior Lecturer, Information Systems & Development
Institute for Development Policy & Management
University of Manchester
Precinct Centre
Manchester M13 9GH U.K.
Phone: +44-161-275-2870 Fax: +44-161-273-8829

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