Tuesday, March 23, 2004

here they are...

1. Connectivity seemed to be increasing up through the census conducted in September of 2001. According to the report, e-commerce was strong and growing. However, the dot-com bust began six months before and was still rolling along. Many, many dot-com companies were failing around this time. (835 companies from 2000-2002). Two-thirds of all failed companies were content and e-commerce sites, aimed at the "average American" (rather than businesses, academia, etc). In the next survey, is there likely to be a dip in connectivity? The public may have became weary of the Internet and its decreasing amount of sites/content or may have not had the money to connect because of the recession that followed... If sites go down, and there is a dip in connectivity, would this pose a public policy problem, rather than a purely economic one? If the Internet is viewed as a right, like the telephone increasingly is, should there be more government involvement in providing "universal service"?

If you're interested in the history of the dot-com bust, go here.

2. As more of America goes online, and companies spring up to serve the public, what happens to other countries who don't speak English? Continuing on the
universal service idea, once the Internet is viewed more as a right, will other countries perceive America to be infringing on its rights with its dominance online? Will countries that speak English prosper (e.g. India) while those who don't, won't?

3. Those groups whose connectivity increased usually accessed a computer at a library, etc. It seems to me that there's a big difference in what you can do in your home vs. at work, at a library, etc. This is where I thought the report's gloss was thickest.
It states in Chapter 3 that minorites use the Internet for different uses, states in Chapter 4 that "comparable figures" of blacks (18% -- over twice as many as whites) use the Internet at a library but never connects such facts.
And... just because you use a computer at work to connect to the Internet doesn't mean much. Working at Walgreens for a summer, I used the Internet all the time -- but only to do routine, boring tasks. It seems the survey makes it seem as if using the Internet -- for any reason -- is this noble, productive, useful, magical learning experience. At home, one can be entertained, learn and do business (selling or buying). Other places, this may be restricted in the time a user has or what a user can do. Would a better focus be on a digital divide in what one is capable of doing online?


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