Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Government should force the IT industry to bridge the data divide

By Len Caune - posted Monday, 5 May 2003

The IT industry in its rush to bring faster, better and "more robust" product to market has ignored the impact of the so-called "data divide" where one group of people is considered "IT-aware" and the other group is considered "not aware".

This "not aware" group essentially comprises the public at large including professionals in many fields who have had little or no exposure to IT in the course of their careers and home life.

Many of us may consider this almost unheard of. Some may even consider the phenomenon of "IT-unaware" people as "not possible". After all, we are reading this article on an Internet-capable device and most of this group would probably consider doing without their PC or laptop and/or PDA a parlous state of affairs.


Yet this "data divide" is now having such an effect that it is causing considerable suffering in society and a noticeable loss to the economy.

Consider first the inter-personal side of the human dimension. How tolerant are you when attempting to explain how some of your information reaches its destination when speaking to an IT illiterate person (a sadly pejorative term)? How tolerant are you when trying to explain to this same person the benefits of research on the Internet as an almost limitless repository of information?

In most such cases, one party has the appearance of an ardent zealot of almost messianic proportions and the other party has a glazed look whilst muttering something about needing to immediately talk to someone else or needing to refresh their beverage.

All this angst occurs at just the interpersonal level. What cost is this discomfort (to the individuals concerned and society per se) including the inevitable distancing of persons whenever the subject of IT raises itself - usually instigated by the zealots?

Sadly, most of us who are attuned - albeit reluctantly - to today's demanding work and social norms will dismiss this aspect of "the divide" as trivial and "passing" but I suggest otherwise. Further study should not only continue to highlight but also quantify the cost to society of this.

Second, consider the impact of IT on all persons throughout their daily lives. That is, does anyone really care what impact IT has on the human soul or spirit considering that humans are exposed to some aspect of IT almost every minute of every day? Whether in the kitchen, commuting to work, or at work, microchips and IT control our day.


Again, this aspect of our tech-riddled "brave new world" is usually trivialised by the assumption that this is now the norm. How good for us is this vaunted progress?

History has shown us that a head-long and hasty dash down one path without suitable planning can have its negative consequences e.g. colonialisation, the early parts of the industrial revolution, the highly questionable benefits of "the nuclear age", allowing pharmaceutical companies to patent certain parts (if not all) of genome sequencing and, no doubt, more to follow.

At the risk of inviting mutterings such as "it has ever been thus" referencing the human condition and its insistence on progress via the painful method of trial-and-error, if there was ever a time for justifiable interdiction, it is now. In this information age the majority of our working day is preoccupied with data (information) manipulation as the mechanism for getting things done.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Len Caune has had 20+ years experience in the IT industry and is currently an IT Consultant.

Related Links
Department of Communication, Information Technology
Eszter's Internet Use Statistics
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy