Digital DivideA project I am working on, has me wondering about the disconnect between the digital haves and have/want-nots and the impacts of this digital divide. This higher-ed marketing project requires me to contact academics and institutions throughout the world.

An educator in Iraq confessed

… in my country  this service ( buying books from internet ) not exist…

This is understandable, given the turmoil in that country. The infrastructure is obviously in disarray.

A leading academic in India indicated that many professors in rural areas felt their jobs were threatened by efforts to provide high quality, free higher-ed to the masses. This results in a situation in which the very people who should be actively encouraging technology adoption, are reluctant to do so. In this case, human insecurities were the culprit rather than any infrastructural limitations.

My experience shows me that even in developed nations the argument for and against technology in pedagogy is ongoing.

All this presents unique marketing challenges and I have had to adopt a multitude of tactics including telemarketing and direct mail campaigns in addition to email, SEO, Social Media, CPC/CPM etc. Suffice to say that a digital only marketing strategy would fail to tackle the complexity and objectives of this particular project.

It is fun; challenging too, considering that some faculty and students prefer traditional, hard copy learning material while others demand product support for multiple platforms and devices. Since the product development is also handled by my team, all this keeps us pretty busy, but I digress.

 Where does the digital divide lead?

On one side there is a section of society that seems to devote considerable amounts of time to a virtual world, complete with a sub-culture of content creation, sharing/curation, ecommerce; even social scoring and social stock trading.

On the other, there are those who are unable to access a simple online transaction.

Will this divide get more entrenched? Will it lead to a point where it so great that there is a complete social, economic and cultural disconnect between the digitally immersed and the digitally reluctant?

Do you think that this digital divide will add to the pre-existing schisms in the world? Or will technology ultimately triumph as the unifier that many of us envisioned it to be?



  1. I think “technology will ultimately triumph as the unifier” in theory. Yes, I can imagine people would feel their jobs are threatened. I worked free-lance on contract in telemarketing. The internet gave me the freedom to work from anywhere in the world (within reason). However, over the years contracts dried up because of the latest trend of reaching their audience through social media. This is fine providing their target market is looking for new suppliers. My job was to effectively oust the old ones. I digress…

    Gradually I feel a balance will be reached but I can understand human insecurities; they are real and in a way justified as jobs have been lost due to the advance of technology. I suppose the trick is to educate the influencers and those resisting change, to look at the new opportunites technologies will bring them for ex “WIIFM” – not what they will lose, but what they will gain.

    1. Hi Carole,
      You are right about the WIIFM approach. I just hope there is enough impetus to even the playing field before the disconnect becomes too great as to preclude discussion. e.g: An individual in rural Phillipines or China wrapping their head around ‘Klout’ or ‘Empire Avenue’, even if they get access to it.
      The world seems to be living in very distinct ‘realities’. Maybe this was always so. But tech was supposed to narrrow that gap (and it did to some extent).
      I hope you are right that a balance is achieved. Thank you for your astute comment, Carole.

  2. LOL how many folks NOT living in rural Phillipines or China, and who are internet savvy, are interested in “wrapping their heads around ‘Klout” or “Empire Avenue”? SM is pulling people in too many directions.

    Too much noise IMHO.

    1. :). The noise is inevitable in these growing years of the medium. Time should separate the fads from the mainstays. Imo g+, klout, ea and even everyone’s new favorite – Pinterest are fads. Not that they will disappear, but the ‘shine’ will wear off in time.

  3. Be it Iraq or India, its just a few people who don’t want the technology progress for personal gain.
    If you take the gulf countries its the clerics who want to pull the reigns as a there will be no need for religion or clerics in a developed country (so they feel)

    1. Hi Joe chetan, That was exactly my point. Technology is susceptible to human and political foibles. Even in the west governments try to muzzle and control media e.g: trying to pass bills like SOPA, at the behest of huge corporations and economic monopolies.
      I’m not sure that these restrictive practices will allow technology to achieve its full potential as an equalizing factor.

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