Digital Divide and E-Waste

Posted on March 2, 2011

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The digital divide as defined in DME is “the disparity between what are sometimes called the ‘information rich’ and the ‘information poor” (p.126) but its much more than that. The digital divide isn’t just whether or not you have access to a computer or technology it is whether or not you know how to use technology to your advantage. But there is still more to it than that.

“The digital divide isn’t just about personal computers; it’s about training, access, education, content, telecommunications infrastructure, and more” (TRT, Ch. 1). The digital divide has another element to it that is expanding just as rapidly as new technology is, it being e-waste. After watching the movie “Ghana: the Digital Dumping Ground” you can see how wide the digital divide really is. The movie explains how over the past couple decades developed countries have sent their used/out dated electronics to third world countries where they are placed in e-waste dump sites. Before the development of technology these sites never existed and now you can find them all over the world.

In Africa, one the leaders in e-waste dumping, people make a living by burning the waste and collecting the precious metals these devices are made with. This process of burning the waste emits harmful toxins into the air and it is damaging the health of everyone in the area, but without the metals they won’t be able to survive either. This is happening all throughout the world in third world countries where they are not as technologically advanced as other countries and it is a growing problem throughout the world and further widening the divide.

If we are ever going to close this divide it is going to require effort to not take the easy road out. It will require teaching people how to use the devices, providing a safe place to gain access to them, and as of recently a safe place to dispose of them. It will take time and collaboration of many groups but it can be done and hopefully some day will be done.

Posted in: AMST 475