For several years now, scholars and pundits have been talking about the effects of what they term the “digital divide;” the widening rift between those who have access to and skills to use new information technologies and those who don’t. Often, they speak of this gap as if it has changed the face of privilege in the world–it used to be that material wealth separated the haves and have-nots, now it’s information.
The more I think about it, the more I believe this concept isn’t new. Access to information and learning has always been what separated the haves from the have-nots. One history of an ancient people includes this observation [and caution]: “And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.”
Whether the idea that knowldge and chances for learning divide haves and have-nots represents a paradigm shift or not, it has been sobering to remember this week that no matter how it’s delineated, I come down squarely on the side of the “haves” every time.