Call to bridge the digital divide
Dr Kieron O'Hara, Senior Research Fellow in ECS, discussed new ways for Information Communication Technology (ICT) to bridge the digital divide, at a conference in Portugal on 30 October.
Dr O'Hara, who is based in the ECS Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia research group, presented a paper entitled Digital Divides and Web Science at the Lisbon Research and Policy Workshops on Science, Technology and Social Change, organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union, which took place at the Portuguese Communications Foundation, Lisbon on 29-30 October.
In his talk, Dr O'Hara called for a better understanding of how ICTs can accelerate bridging the digital divide in the future. He argued that there is not one 'digital divide' but actually several divides, between young and old, rich and poor, trained and untrained, and so on.
Furthermore, much depends on what computers can, or should, be used for: communication, or personal use, or to play a full part in community life. He made this argument in a recent well-received book 'inequality.com'.
Dr O'Hara also suggested that Web Science, the study of the Web from several different angles, which is the main focus of the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI) a joint research collaboration between the University of Southampton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is an important part of the effort, combining as it does, science, social science and engineering.