[Air-l] RE: digital divide reading for syllabus--Effective Use: A Community Informatics Strategy Beyond the Digital Divide

Michael Gurstein mgurst at vcn.bc.ca
Sat Aug 23 06:57:29 PDT 2003

Colleagues may be interested in a paper where I've suggested an
alternative meme to the Digital Divide...  
"Effective Use: A Community Informatics Strategy Beyond the Digital

I'll be presenting the paper in a few weeks at a conference and it will
be published on line around the same time... 


"There is a need now to distinguish between an approach to the
"Information Society" and to ICT's which "stresses access/the DD" and
one which stresses "effective use".   

"ICT's when used effectively provide significant resources/tools for
transforming one's condition--economic, social, political,
cultural-whether through obtaining the means for effective use of
information and communications capabilities and tools; reaching new
markets for small and micro-enterprises; providing the means to bring
together dispersed diaspora linguistic communities; giving amplification
and the means for global distribution to unheard minority (or majority)
voices; facilitating informed participation in remotely managed
political and other decisions; and obtaining the services (if remotely)
of skilled practitioners and so on.

"The key element in all of this is not "access" either to the
infrastructure or the end user terminals (bridging the hardware
"divide").  Rather what is significant is having access and then with
that access having the knowledge, skills, and supportive organizational
and social structures to make effective use of the technology to enable
social and community objectives. "Access" is something that all can
support--better markets for AOL and Microsoft if nothing else;
"effective use" is the real goal (and the perceived risk to those who
only see ICT's in the context of E-Commerce) in that it means the
on-going reshaping of how individuals and communities interact with
their information/organizational/commercial/governance environments."

I'll be pleased to forward a draft to anyone who is interested.


Mike Gursteini

Michael Gurstein, Ph.D.
Visiting Professor: School of Management
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Newark, NJ

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