Showing posts with label Internet Access. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Internet Access. Show all posts

The Digital Divide is 25

Since the start of the pandemic, the phrase "digital divide" has probably been used more times than in its entire prior history. For too many people, it seems like this was first they had heard of it.

The concept was actually introduced during the Clinton administration. Since then, cascades of auspicious government programs have spent billions of dollars to resolve it. Yet the divide remains. In some cases, no different than in 1995.

The current remedy is called The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). Its second funding phase takes place on October 29, 2020. As stated on the FCC website, 386 Applicants May Bid for Up to $16 Billion in Support to Bring Broadband to Up to 10.25 Million Unserved Americans.

Introduced about six months before Covid-19 first hit the US, the RDOF will award an unprecedented total of $20 billion over various project stages. Yet despite the broadband deficits exposed by the pandemic, even this enormous effort may not be enough to finally fill the gap. Legislation, technology, public funding, corporate interests, and essential human needs are a scrambled maze of demand with no easy solution but plenty of opportunity for lucrative obfuscation.

One of the more fortunate consequences of the pandemic, though, is that "we the people" are again appreciating the democratic architecture of the pre-corporate Net and its potential to realize the vision Harley Hahn so reverently described in his 1994 guide, The Internet : Complete Reference.

In learning how to use the Internet, you are embarking upon a great adventure. You are about to enter a world in which well-mannered people from many different countries and cultures cooperate willingly and share generously. They share their time, their efforts, and their products. (And you will, too.)

...Thus, the Internet is much more than a computer network or an information service. The Internet is living proof that human beings who are able to communicate freely and conveniently will choose to be social and selfless.

The computers are important because they do the grunt work of moving all the data from place to place, and executing the programs that let us access the information. The information itself is important because it offers utility, recreation, and amusement.

But, overall, what is most important is the people. The Internet is the first global forum and the first global library. Anyone can participate, at any time: the Internet never closes. Moreover, no matter who you are, you are always welcome. You will never be excluded for wearing the wrong clothes, having the wrong colored skin, being the wrong religion, or not having enough money.

The Internet was designed, developed, and implemented with US taxpayer funding.
We the People are right to demand universal access to it.

Free Geek Provides Computers During COVID19 Crisis

For the sake of profit, technology has became a status marketing game of having the "New New Thing". Free Geek, in contrast, is an outstanding example of making the most of what's available. It's located in Portland but their mission needs to be universal. This story also clearly illustrates the illusion of universal access to technology from both a hardware and online access standpoint.

A good portion of requests come from students who suddenly need to get online in order to participate in K-12 education or college. Many people are reaching out on behalf of aging parents who are no longer able to visit their doctors. Others are desperate for access to mental health or addiction treatment services. 

Free Geek is currently handling several hundred requests a week, but the nonprofit is struggling to keep up with the monumental spike in demand. 

“The real limitation for us is having the technology to give away or sell at a low price,” Shohoney said. Their biggest need is for laptops with webcams and built-in microphones and speakers. 

 #digitaldivide #digitalrights @FreeGeek #nonprofittechnology #digitalinclusion #internetaccess #socialgood #internet #technology

OPB: Portland's Free Geek Provides Low Cost Computers During Coronavirus Crisis